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Records of two institutions, the Muscogee Nation of Florida’s school and its church, provide written evidence that the Creeks in and around Bruce survived throughout the twentieth century. Pine Level School was established in 1890. The name itself is historical, located in old Creek territory, and was brought to the Tribe’s new settlement at the base of the Choctawhatchee River, as was Antioch, the Tribal Cemetery and Tribal Ceremonial Grounds. Antioch is the site of the Battle of Cowpens, the most violent battle fought in Walton County, Florida during the Creek Wars. Pine Level School served primarily Indian students who were taught almost exclusively by Indian teachers. The school was renamed Bruce School during the hardest years of the Jim Crow laws.
A board of Creek Indian men administered the school with an elected liaison to the county education system. The school closed in 1954 because of a decreased population of Indian children in the area. During its years of operation, it afforded the community a place for social and political activities. The women met regularly to quilt, play bingo, and trade feed sacks to make clothing for the children in the community. The annual records of the school document the community of the Muscogee Nation of Florida for over 60 years. The school building became the property of the Bruce Women’s Club, an organization of Creek Indian women that still exists today.
The Bruce Women’s Club proudly returned this building to the Tribal Government for the Muscogee Nation of Florida.
For the past 150 years, Muscogee Nation of Florida has continued to maintain ceremonial and traditional practices. During the late 1800s, the community made a move to incorporate some sort of organized religion into the community through the work of outside missionaries and circuit riders. The institution of the Church was another example of the community’s efforts to co-exist with a dominant, dangerous and encroaching white society.
Muscogee Nation of Florida History: