Students experience Ma-Chis Creek Tribe traditions, last Success Quest trip of school year

Published 11:24 pm Thursday, May 30, 2024

By Staff Reports

On May 7, students from Crenshaw County Schools rounded off their school-year Success Quest trip series with an enriching visit to the Ma-Chis Lower Creek Indian Tribe of Alabama in Elba. The immersive cultural experience introduced students to the rich history and traditions of the Creek/Muscogee people through a series of hands-on demonstrations and presentations.

The day was filled with demonstrations that showcased traditional skills and crafts including flint knapping, hide tanning, primitive pottery making, pine needle basket weaving, cooking traditional fry bread, corn husk doll making and Native American dancing.

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Tribal citizen Amy Mitchell Daugherty of Dozier, with assistance from Grey Godwin of Brantley, led the hide tanning demonstration. Raised in an environment where skills like bow making, flint knapping and hide tanning were everyday activities, Daugherty shared her deep commitment to preserving her cultural heritage.

“It’s just a way of life for us and how we choose to get by,” Daugherty said. “In today’s world, I believe everyone should experience getting back to the basics. Our tribe aims to help people do that, to get back to what matters by teaching young people the old ways and, in the process, keeping our unique history alive for generations to come.”

Haley Mitchell Godwin, tribal citizen from Brantley, gave a presentation on DNA inheritance and the randomness with which Native American ancestry and physical traits present themselves. With insights from Dr. Daniel Hudson DMD, an expert in Native American dentistry, Godwin discussed the challenges faced by individuals with significant Native American ancestry, especially regarding the effectiveness of anesthesia and modern day medicine. Godwin also displayed a collection of Native American artifacts and photos, illustrating her Creek/Muscogee heritage.

“I have a nagging, innate desire to preserve and promote local history and my heritage,” Godwin said. “Sharing knowledge with the students about my Native American roots, the fickleness of DNA and the generations that came before us was a privilege. However, my heritage is no more important than theirs (the students), and it is the unique differences that we should celebrate and preserve.”

Godwin encouraged students to document and share family oral histories with the Crenshaw County Historical Society.

Vice Chief Nancy Carnley was present to share significant and unique facts about the Creek people, providing students with a deeper understanding of the life of Native Americans in Alabama.

“It is very important that we maintain the knowledge of the old ways,” Carnley said. “Not only may these techniques keep us alive one day, but preserving and actively participating in traditional Creek ways pays homage to our ancestors and promotes unity among the tribe and beyond. I want to thank Crenshaw County Schools for bringing the students to the tribe for a cultural education day and for giving us the opportunity to share our heritage.

Brantley student Houston Rodgers said the field trip was very unique and enjoyable.

“The flute making was very interesting,” said Rodgers. “But I really liked the arrow head making, how the process started and everything inbetween. I’ve never seen anybody do that.”

The visit concluded with a catered meal from Cutts Restaurant. 

The Success Quest program, initiated by the Crenshaw County Board of Education (CCBOE), aims to provide students with enriched learning experiences and broader career awareness. Earlier Success Quest trips included an April 23 visit with Melissa Warnke at her business, Candles & Home, where students made candles or wax melts and learned about small-business ownership. The outing also featured an exhilarating experience at Escapology, a high-adrenaline escape game venue. One of several Success Quest trips took students to the Johnson Center for the Arts at Troy University, where they explored careers in art, photography, videography, journalism and marketing.

Funded by a grant from the Alabama State Department of Education, the Success Quest program will continue throughout the summer, offering trips that include career planning, academic support, college tours, industry visits and team-building activities. Plans are also underway for international trips during the 2024/2025 school year.

For more information, follow the Crenshaw Career Academy on social media.