History of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians
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.
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 Community.”
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 Indian tribe.
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
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 development.