Poarch Band of Creek Indians
|Regions with significant populations|
|United States ( Alabama)|
|Protestant, traditional beliefs|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Other Muscogee Creek tribes|
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is the only federally recognized tribe of Native Americans in Alabama. (The state has recognized nine other tribes.) Speaking the Muscogee language, they were formerly known as the Creek Nation East of the Mississippi.
They are located mostly in Escambia County. Since the late twentieth century, they have operated three gaming casinos and a hotel on their reservation. This has enabled them to generate revenues for education and welfare.
The Poarch Band members descend from Muscogee Creek Indians of the Lower Towns who sided with the United States against the rebelling Northern Creek "Red Sticks" in the Creek War of 1813–1814. Their ancestors had adopted more European-American practices as they had closer working relationships with them. Many of these Creek remained in Alabama despite the Indian Removal Act of 1832, by which the majority of the tribe ceded their land and were forcibly moved to Indian Territory, west of the Mississippi River.
The Creek in Alabama had to give up their tribal membership, and were considered United States and state citizens, as a condition of remaining. The people maintained their community ties and culture, living in Alabama as an identifiable, distinct community for the last two centuries.
They gained recognition as a tribe from the federal government in the 20th century, and re-established their own government under a written constitution. The Poarch Band represents only some of the descendants of those Muscogee who were not removed.
Over the decades, many Indians in the Southeast have intermarried with African-American or European-American neighbors. Some of their descendants assimilated into those social and cultural groups. Others identified as Creek, particularly if born to Creek women. The Creek kinship system was historically matrilineal, with children considered born to the mother's clan and taking their social status from her. Descent and property passed through the maternal line. Such mixed-race children of Creek women are full members of the tribe.
Tribal membership requirements
To be eligible to enroll in the Poarch Band tribe, people must be descended from one or more American Indians listed on one of three rolls: the 1870 U.S. Census of Escambia County, Alabama; 1900 U.S. Census of Escambia County, Alabama; or 1900 U.S. Special Indian Census of Monroe County, Alabama. Besides being of direct Muscogee Creek heritage, they must have a minimum blood quantum of 1/4 American Indian blood (equivalent to one full-blooded Creek grandparent) and not be enrolled in any other tribe. Each federally recognized tribe has the right to make its own rules of citizenship.
Gaming and racing
The Poarch Band has several casinos and racetracks, operating under Wind Creek Hospitality, a tribe-owned company. Three of its casinos are located on sovereign tribal land in Alabama: Wind Creek Atmore, Wind Creek Montgomery, and Wind Creek Wetumpka. They have gradually expanded their gaming, resort and entertainment businesses beyond those on their reservation.
Beyond its reservation, the tribe owns majority stakes in Mobile Greyhound Park in Alabama, and Pensacola Greyhound Park and Creek Entertainment Gretna in Florida. In the Caribbean, the tribe owns two hotel casinos operating under the Renaissance Hotels brand in Aruba and Curacao, which it purchased in October 2017.
In Gardnerville, Nevada, the tribe financed and manages the Wa She Shu Casino, owned by the Washoe Tribe. The casino opened in May 2016. In D'Iberville, Mississippi, Wind Creek purchased land for a planned casino development in March 2016.
In Pennsylvania, the tribe agreed in March 2018 to purchase Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem for $1.3 billion. The sale was approved in May 2019 and the casino was renamed to Wind Creek Bethlehem.
In 2012 the tribe announced plans to expand their gaming operations at Hickory Ground in Wetumpka, Alabama. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma filed suit to prevent this, arguing that the expansion would require excavation and reinterment of remains from an historic Creek burial ground at the site.
The tribe made a deal in 2016 to purchase the Margaritaville Resort Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana, which would have been rebranded as a Wind Creek casino. The sale was canceled, however, because of a dispute over licensing payments for the Margaritaville name.
In late 2019, The Poarch Band of Creek Indians presented the state of Alabama with a grand bargain that would afford the tribe exclusive rights on casino gambling in exchange for $1 billion.
- "Culture." Archived 2010-07-27 at the Wayback Machine Poarch Band of Creek Indians. (retrieved 16 July 2010)
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- Brad Harper (June 27, 2016). "Alabama tribe strikes deal to buy Margaritaville casino". The Times. Shreveport, LA. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
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- “Alabama Tribe Pitches State $1B Deal to Obtain Exclusive Gaming Rights”. Casino.org. 13 Nov 2019
- Littlefield, Jr., Daniel F. and James W. Parins, ed. Encyclopedia of American Indian Removal, Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2011. ISBN 978-0-313-36041-1.