The Poarch Band of
Creek Indians is a segment of the
original Creek Nation, which avoided removal and has lived together
for nearly 150 years. Despite the policy of removal of Southeastern
Indians to Oklahoma, an indeterminate number of Creeks, with or
without the government’s approval, remained in the East.
The Creek Nation originally occupied a territory covering nearly all
of Georgia and Alabama. The War of 1812 divided the Creek Nation
between an Upper party hostile to the United States and a group of
Upper and Lower Creeks friendly to the government. The United States
provided military assistance when hostilities erupted from 1813 to
1814. Upon victory of the friendly Creek party and their federal
allies, the Creek Nation reluctantly agreed to an enormous cession
of land to the United States.
The treaty compelled the Creek Nation to cede much of the territory
of those friendly to the United States including the present site of
Poarch. Those Creeks who had actively fought with the United States
were permitted a reservation of one square mile. Thus one party of
the Creek Indians was separated from the larger portion of the Creek
Nation in separate parts of Alabama.
Several Creek families including the Gibsons, Manacs, Colberts, and
Weatherfords, secured reservations immediately after the treaty.
Others such as Semoice and Lynn McGhee were unable to file their
selections immediately. Congress in 1836 passed an Act allowing Lynn
McGhee and the others to set aside 640 acres as reservations under
the 1814 Treaty of Fort Jackson.
The United States continued to protect the Poarch settlement after
the removal of the main Creek body to Oklahoma in 1836. The
Government halted the Escambia County, Alabama tax assessor’s
illegal taxation of the federal trust land in Poarch in 1920. The
Government instigated litigation, which continued until 1925, to
penalize trespassers who had cut timber on the grant land. Despite
the treaty, rights the fact that no further legislation was passed
by Congress, patents were issued for land in 1924. Today, there
are nearly, 2,200 members of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians with
over 1,500 living in the vicinity of Poarch, Alabama (eight miles
northwest of Atmore, Alabama, in rural Escambia County and 57 miles
east of Mobile). The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is bound together
by a complex network of kinship. Being isolated, the members Poarch
Band of Creek Indians were excluded from the census of the Creek
Nation that the U.S. Government recognizes as a tribe. A 1972
national study found that among all Creek descendants in the
Southeast, only this group at Poarch is still “considered an Indian
Since the early 1900’s, organized efforts have increased to improve
the social and economic situation of the Poarch Creeks. Important
educational gains were made in the 1940’s. A leader of this effort,
Calvin W. McGhee, also pressed for a settlement of a land claims
case, Eddie L. Tullis, Tribal Chairman as of 1987, led the Poarch
Creek Indians in their petitioning the U.S. Government to recognize
a government – to- government relationship. These efforts culminated
in the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs’
acknowledgement that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians exists as an
Acknowledgement as a federally recognized Tribe brings an end to one
struggle and starts the beginning of another. In accordance with the
constitution, which was adopted on June 1,1985, the Poarch Band of
Creek Indians is governed by a nine member elected Tribal Council. A
full time staff is employed to provide administrative support for
the operation of the Tribal government and programs.
Tribal members and the Tribal Council engaged in many discussions of
goals for reservation development following federal recognition.
Community development needs and priorities are evident in the Tribal
Multi-Purpose Complex. This building provides a health facility, a
community meeting area, and office space for Tribal Administration
and program staff.
The Poarch Creek Indians Housing Authority was established in 1984
to provide new housing on the reservation for low-income Tribal
households and to meet the needs of elderly Tribal members.
In an effort to provide economic development and employment for
Tribal members the Tribal Council approved the building of the Creek
Bingo Palace, the Western Motel and Creek Family Restaurant, and
Perdido River Farms which all belong to Creek Indian Enterprises.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, in accordance with the
Constitution, strives to help our members achieve their highest
potential in education, physical and mental health, and economic
Alabama Indian Affairs Commission