Thlopthlocco art show has successful first displaying during last day of WoodyFest

As a first for their tribe, members of the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town showcased their artwork with a walkthrough display that attracted hundreds of viewers throughout Saturday, July 14 during WoodyFest.

The show was held at the Citizens State Bank on Broadway in downtown Okemah, running throughout the day as concerts and other events happened around it. 

Artwork like this, by Thlopthlocco members such as Steven Paul Judd (two pieces on the right) and many others, was on full display Saturday as a last-day event for WoodyFest. The art show ran throughout the day inside Citizens State Bank and attracted hundreds of viewers. 

Gwen Scott-Espinosa, Thlopthlocco member and one of the primary organizers of the event, said the art show was about “promoting the arts — educationally and culturally — from our tribe.” 

“We wanted to get something going because it’s important that we pass this down to our younger generations,” Scott-Espinosa said. “The Creeks didn’t do a lot of document keeping back in the past. Most of it was through spoken word and stories over the years. 

“That’s why we need to try and pass it down … our elders are getting thin, and once they’re gone, all that history is gone,” she continued. “That’s what this is all about — preserving that — preserving our — history.”

She explained that her and her two sisters had the idea and organized the art show.

Through various contacts between the three of them, they got artists within the Creek Nation to volunteer and got the WoodyFest coalition to support their cause and make it part of the festival’s calendar of events.

Foot traffic was steady through the exhibit, which featured handmade crafts, hand-painted or drawn artwork and a variety of other artistic Thlopthlocco endeavors. 

The group made small water bottles available to visitors who were surely hot from walking between the various WoodyFest events that day in the 100 degree heat.

“This is our first ever art show, and if it goes well, it’s going to be a continued thing,” she added.

The Thlopthlocco Tribal Town is located about seven miles east of Okemah. Scott-Espinosa explained some details about the way her tribe works, which is actually a part of but stands alone from the Creek Nation. 

“We are a matrilineal tribe, which means that you have to be a member (of Thlopthlocco) through the female lineage,” she explained. “In other words, our mothers are members before we are.” 

“We are members of the Creek Nation, but we are also a federally-recognized tribal town with a sovereign government of our own,” she added.

By Josh Allen, ONL Staff Reporter

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