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The name of this traditional Creek town is difficult for English-speakers to pronounce, causing occasional amusement among native speakers. The sound of [thl] is usually spelled with an R in Muskogee, and is pronounced by placing the tongue half way between the [th] position in English, and the [l] position. Thlopthlocco is one of the central core of Mvskoke-speaking towns that were the original members of the Creek Confederacy in Georgia and Alabama. Sometime before 1832 Thlopthlocco split off from a large tribal town whose name is variously represented as Hoithle Waule, Clewalla, and Thlewarthle. Thlopthlocco town was removed to Indian Territory with the rest of the Mvskoke Creeks in 1835, and ultimately settled in an area eight miles south of Okemah, in Okfuskee and Hughes counties. Like other Creeks, they lost most of their land with the passage of the Dawes Act in 1887 and the subsequent assignment of small individual allotments to each family.

Thlopthlocco was offered its own federal charter, separate from that of the Creek Nation, in 1936. The motive of the town in accepting this charter and its implicit separation from Creek Nation was apparently to take advantage of the credit available through the Thomas-Rogers Act, also known as the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act. This legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1936, just after the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, and was directed at the special situation of Indian tribes in Oklahoma. At that time, the Thlopthlocco citizens were described as hardworking and business-oriented, and they were apparently anxious to begin new economic ventures. This attitude continues with a statement issued by their leadership in 2002 that "capitalism can serve the interests of American Indians." The tribal town has recently opened a cabinet shop at its headquarters near Okemah and is making plans to develop twenty-five hundred acres of trust land held by the town. The current membership is 650 persons.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: John R. Swanton, Early History of the Creek Indians and Their Neighbors, Bulletin 73, Bureau of American Ethnology (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1922). Muriel H. Wright, A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951).

John H. Moore

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