The Poarch Creek Indian tribe is a smaller band of Native Americans descending from the Creek Indian Tribe. The Creek Tribe once covered most of Georgia and Alabama. In Alabama, there was a small settlement named Tensaw. The Southern Creeks helped the government fight the Northern Creeks in the Creek War. As an act of appreciation for their assistance in fighting with them, the government allowed some Poarch families to stay in Alabama. 1
There was a major drawback to this transaction: The Poarch were forced into relinquishing their status as Native Americans and became citizens of the United States. Even though they were not federally recognized as Indians, they continued to practice their culture and traditions, passing them on to future generations. This group of people eventually becomes the Poarch Creek Indians that live today.
In the dawn of the nineteenth century, rising cultural tensions amongst the Creek Nation resulted in a divide between the Northern Creeks (known as the Red Sticks) who carried more traditional Indian values and practices, and the Southern Creeks (Poarch Creeks). The Poarch Indians invested in relations with the United States Government. This division of values was the
tipping point that sparked the Creek War of 1813. On July 22, 1813, the Red Sticks began to murder Poarch Creeks and burn down their plantations. 2
The Poarch Creeks, in return, burned a number of Red Stick towns. The first clash between the Red Sticks and American forces was on July 21, 1813, where the Red Sticks defeated the Americans at The Battle of Burnt Corn. As a result, the American forces, under the command of Andrew Jackson, allied with the Poarch Creek, along with the Cherokee Nation, to defeat the Red Sticks, who were coincidently British allies. 3
The Creek War came to an end with Jackson’s victory at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1814. On August 9, 1814, Jackson forced both the Upper and Lower Creeks to sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson. Jackson saw no difference between his Poarch Creek allies and the Red Sticks who fought against him, and took both their lands for the security of the United States. The Creek Nation ceded 21,086,793 acres of land to the United States Government. 4
On August 11, 1984, the United States Government, Department of Interior, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs official recognized the Poarch Band of Creek Indians as a “Tribe”. The government entrusted the Poarch with 231.54 acres of land in November of 1845
The tribe’s leading officials began planning construction of a 246-million-dollar casino expansion at the Muscogee ancient burial site, “Hickory Ground.” This proposal was especially concerning to the modern Muscogee Creeks were forced to move away from this sacred land during 1836 and1837. In 2012, the Muscogee filed a lawsuit for desecration of the sacred land, claiming that 60 bodies had excavated and moved. The case is currently ongoing and unresolved. 6
Presently, the Poarch Creek reservation site for the tribe is located in the southern part of Alabama, near the city of Atmore. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is in fact the only Indian
Tribe in the state of Alabama that the United States government formally recognizes. There are about three thousand and fifty-five enrolled members of the Poarch Creek Indians.
There are specific requirements for joining the tribe. Members must be of Muscogee Creek heritage, have (minimum) one-fourth American Indian blood and cannot be enrolled in any other tribe. The tribal chair rests in the hands of a woman named Stephanie Bryan. 7
Due to ongoing legal disputes and the success of the “Wind Creek Casino”, the Poarch Creek Indian tribe is known for Indian gaming, casinos to be more specific. This tribe is in a process of expanding their gaming operations. They plan on extending their business beyond the city of Alabama. The band continue their traditional celebrations today.
1 "Poarch Creek Band of Indians." Pc1-nsn.gov. Accessed September 20, 2016. History of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians
2 “Using Primary Sources in the Classroom: Creek Indian War, 1813-1814 Introduction”. Alabama Department of Archives and History 3 March 2010. http://www.archives.state.al.us/teacher/creekwar/creek.html. Accessed 21 September 2016
3 - “Using Primary Sources in the Classroom: Creek Indian War, 1813-1814 Introduction”. Alabama Department of Archives and History 3 March 2010. http://www.archives.state.al.us/teacher/creekwar/creek.html. Accessed 21 September 2016
4 -"Poarch Creek Band of Indians." Pc1-nsn.gov. Accessed September 20, 2016. History of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
5 Courey Toensing, Gale. "Muscogee Nation Sues Poarch Band over Hickory Ground Desecration. December 14, 2012. http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/12/14/muscogee-nation-sues-poarch-band-over-hickory-ground-desecration-146314.
6 McBride, Jessica. "Proposed Legislation Could Damage MCN Lawsuit concerning Hickory Ground." MUSCOGEE NATION NEWS, July 15, 2016. Accessed September 24, 2016. http://mvskokemedia.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/July_15_2016.pdf.
7 “Poarch Creek Band of Indians.” Atmore, Alabama." The Poarch Band of Creek Indians: Atmore, Alabama. Accessed September 28, 2016. http://pcinsn.gov/westminster/index.html.