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Washitaw Nation

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Washitaw Nation at the Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday, New Orleans, 2014

The Washitaw Nation (Washitaw de Dugdahmoundyah) is an African-American group associated with the Moorish Science Temple of America who claim to be a sovereign state of Native Americans within the boundaries of the United States of America. Their name is appropriated from that of the Ouachita tribe,[1] who are also eponymous of the Washita River and of Washita, Oklahoma. The group is part of the sovereign citizen movement, whose members generally believe that they are not subject to any statutes or proceedings at the federal, state, or municipal levels.[2][3]

The Washitaw Nation was headed by Verdiacee Hampton Goston (also known as Verdiacee Turner, and as Empress Verdiacee Tiari Washitaw Turner Goston El-Bey, c. 1927–2014).[4] She was mayor of Richwood, Louisiana in 1975 and 1976, and again from 1980 to 1984,[5] and is the author of the self-published book Return of the Ancient Ones (1993). Goston asserted that the United Nations "registers the Washitaw as indigenous people No. 215".[1]


In 1999, the Southern Poverty Law Center estimated that the group had about 200 hard-core members, noting its popularity among followers of Moorish Science, a nationalist movement. The asserted legal basis for the establishment of the Washitaw Nation is a theory that individuals and groups may declare "sovereignty" and may separate themselves from state and federal governments, a concept earlier used by the Posse Comitatus. The argument is also made that Napoleon only sold "the streets of New Orleans and a military barracks" and that the rest of Louisiana was stolen from the Washitaw.[1]

Various United States courts have held that the Washitaw Nation is fictional and that it is not recognized as a sovereign nation.[6][7]


The Washitaw Nation is the accrediting agent for a diploma mill, the City University of Los Angeles.[8][9]

On July 17, 2016, an alleged Washitaw member named Gavin Long went on a shooting spree in Baton Rouge that left three police officers dead. Long had left a trail of websites, social media posts, and videos documenting his support of Black separatist movements and hatred of White people prior to the shooting.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b c "Born on the Bayou". Southern Poverty Law Center. Spring 1999. Archived from the original on April 19, 2005.
  2. ^ Erwin, James L. (2006). Declarations of Independence: Encyclopedia of American Autonomous and Secessionist Movements. Greenwood Press. p. 205. ISBN 978-0313332678. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  3. ^ Nelson, Leah. "Memphis Stew". Intelligence Report. SPLC. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  4. ^ "Former Richwood mayor dies". Archived from the original on 2014-05-12.
  5. ^ "Empress Goston's legacy continues in 40th Anniversary". Archived from the original on 2018-08-02. Retrieved 2021-07-03. Monroe Free Press
  6. ^ "U.S. v. HENLEY". Retrieved 17 February 2016. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals characterized the Nation of Washitaw as fictional. Bybee v. City of Paducah, 46 Fed. Appx. 735, 736 (6th Cir. 2002), unpublished. Other federal courts decline to recognize the Washitaw Nation as a legitimate sovereign.
  7. ^ "For Immediate Release: Wednesday - September 17, 2003". United States Attorney's Office (Press release). September 17, 2003. Retrieved February 17, 2016. Bowden and Peele ... talked to the taxpayers about the 'Washitaw Nation', a fictional place populated almost entirely by separatist tax protesters
  8. ^ Bear, John; Mariah Bear (2002). Bears' guide to earning degrees by distance learning. Ten Speed Press. p. 195. ISBN 978-1-58008-431-4.
  9. ^ Burgin, Aaron (September 19, 2008). "Lake Elsinore City Council candidate's doctorate from online school accredited by separatists". The Press Enterprise.
  10. ^ Webber, Tammy; Holland, Jesse; Tucker, Eric (July 18, 2016). "Baton Rouge police shooter said he was 'sovereign citizen'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
  11. ^ Kupfer, Theodore (July 19, 2016). "Who Was Gavin Long?". National Review. Retrieved November 26, 2020.

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