Are families, who received Creek Docket reparation payments in 1937 federally-recognized Native Americans?
Between 1924 and his death at the Little White House in Warm Springs, GA in 1945, Franklin Delano Roosevelt spent as much time as possible at Warm Springs. He originally went there to obtain treatment for the damage done to his body by polio. Roosevelt came to love the people of West Georgia and East Alabama, plus truly understand the depth of poverty in the region. His New Deal was a direct result of personally seeing the results of poverty . . . something that most presidents and politicians since then cannot say.
While at Warm Springs, he became aware of a 200 year old Creek Indian community hidden within The Cove . . . an isolated locale created by an ancient meteor or asteroid. Following the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, he was told by his Georgia Creek neighbors about the many depredations done them over the previous century, even though they were legally citizens of Georgia. This ultimately resulted during 1937 in small payments being paid as reparations to descendants of Creek families in the Southeast, whose land or homes had been stolen from them.
Most of the recipients lived in Georgia. For example, my mother received $38. That would be the equivalent of about $400 today. She was 14 and had never seen that much money in her life. Up until the late 1940s, Georgia only paid school teachers about $50 a month!
So, the short answer is . . . Yes, in 1937 a federal judge ruled that your family was legitimately Creek or Uchee Indian and that a federal, state or local government agency had illegally stolen real estate from your family because they were American Indians.
*I asked that question and the following question in 2006 to the Legal Department of the Muscogee-Creek Nation after members of the Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists sent a certified letter to the Principal Chief of the MCN, demanding that one of their members be given the contract to build an architectural model of a Creek village instead of me. The contract was actually between Judge Patrick Moore and myself, and did not directly involve the tribal government. The initial terms of the agreement had been made while Judge Moore was a guest of the home, while authorization for the contract had been made orally on a long distance telephone conversation. Thus, the Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists obtained the information from an illegal interstate wire tap of a federal judge . . . which is a serious criminal felony. It turned out that the information had originally been obtained in an illegal wire tap by a Georgia state law enforcement officer, who had then contacted the archaeologists. That means that both the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and archaeologists had committed a serious federal felony, but the State of Georgia refused to cooperate in the case.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation continued its policy of politically-motivated, criminal activities at least into 2007. The Site Director of the Etowah Mounds State Historic Site called me on his personal cellular phone late one afternoon and asked to purchase five books that I had written on Etowah Mounds for resale in the museum shop. That night, a GBI agent contacted Becky Kelly, Director of the State Parks and Historic Sites Division and instructed her to block the sale. She arrived at Etowah Mounds, early the next morning, in a chauffeur-driven limousine, just as I was delivering the books, and ordered the site manager not to purchase the books. Georgia residents . . . this is the type of shananigans that your tax money goes toward.
If my family received a Creek Docket reparation payment does that mean that we can automatically become citizens of the Muscogee-Creek Nation?
No . . . The Muscogee-Creek Nation has adopted stringent requirements for citizenship, which do not include being listed on the 1937 Creek Docket. The most important of these requirements are being a direct descendant of a person listed on the Dawes Rolls or being a close relative of a person, who is already a citizen of the Muscogee-Creek Nation. The Muscogee-Creek National Council has established a Citizenship Department to review applications for citizenship. Each application is evaluated on its own merits.
Are there other ways that I can legally call myself a federally-recognized Native American, even though I am not a member of a federally recognized tribe?
Yes, if while serving as a member of the United States Armed Forces, your service branch officially designated you an American Indian or Native American, you can legally call yourself a Native American in all endeavors.
*This happened to my Uncle Hal while serving in the US Air Force and my cousin, Judge Susan Sexton, while serving in the US Army. Both were informed that after having physical exams and blood tests, their ethnic classification was being changed to American Indian. Uncle Hal was subsequently promoted and named the liaison for American Indian personnel in his section of the Strategic Air Command.
A similar situation occurred with me. On my Science and Engineering Contract for Naval Officer Training, I listed my race as “White” since I didn’t look like the Indians on television. Later, after going through standard physicals and blood tests, the US Navy changed my race to American Indian. In other words, the US Department of Defense has been at the forefront of promoting advancement opportunities for Native Americans. Anyone, who says otherwise, doesn’t know diddlysquat about the subject.
Could descendants of those persons, who received Creek Docket reparation payments form federally-recognized Creek tribes?
Probably not, in most cases, but there are exceptions. In 1937, the Creek families along the Upper Savannah River, where my mother’s family lived, could have formed a federally recognized tribe, if they had established a formal tribal government and been recognized by a resolution of Congress. However, now almost all these families have dispersed.
Now the requirements for federal recognition are much more stringent and include long term existence of a Native American community with a tribal government. Probable exceptions in the Lower Southeast include a Uchee community in Allendale County, SC, The Cove in Meriwether County, GA and Waverly, Alabama in Lee County, AL. You might know of other such long-established Creek or Uchee communities.
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