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Are families, who received Creek Docket reparation payments in 1937 federally-recognized Native Americans?

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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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.

7 Comments

  1. mlee@uwf.edu'

    Hi Richard
    My father & his cousin each received these Creek Docket payments in 1937. My questions is was there some kind of list used by the government to locate these families so they could be notified about these payments & when & where to go to receive them? Did the feds put an add in the local papers? If there was a list of names what sources did the feds use to generate one if they were not using the Dawes lists. I remember Dad told us they went to the courthouse in either Evergreen or Monroeville, AL to get their payment. Always have been curious as to how our family names came up for any list although they knew they were of Creek descent & forced to leave Georgia in the late 1830s for Alabama they did not talk about it outside family or with
    close friends also of Creek decent.
    Marcie

    Reply
    • Marcie,

      There are so many questions that I wished I had asked my grandparents, when they were alive. I am certain that the vast majority of my family don’t even know that an earlier generation received reparation payments from the federal government. The only reason I knew about the reparations program was because I asked my mother before she died about a strange call from Washington, DC when I was a kid. It was at that time she mentioned receiving a $38 reparation check, when she was 14. One of the extended family members had applied for the program because a huge tract land was stolen from us by a planter, using the law that Indians could not own real estate in Georgia.

      Apparently, someone, somewhere verified that claim and so all descendants were placed on a list approved by a federal judge for dispersal of reparation funds . . . hence the name, Creek docket.

      The telephone call . . . Out of the blue, my mother was offered half of a Creek allotment in Oklahoma in a separate reparation program by the BIA in the late 1950s. She did not want to move to Oklahoma or even have any of out neighbors in Waycross know that she was Indian. I never have been able to find out what reparation program that was. I have tried because eligibility for a Creek allotment is one of the criteria for citizenship in the Muscogee-Creek Nation. We do know that my grandmother’s oldest brother . . . by 28 years . . . was awarded a Creek allotment based on a criteria that Georgia Creeks could be declared Creeks by a judge in Oklahoma. However, nobody in the family signed the Dawes Rolls.

      Reply
    • PS . . . so you can imagine my fury, when between 2012 and 2014, Georgia archaeologists, employees of the US Forest Service, plus employees of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes made public statements and written statements, describing me as a white man, trying to steal a Cherokee heritage site. Grannies . . . State of Oklahoma officials came to me to design the Trail of Tears Memorial. I didn’t even know about the planned project until asked to design it.

      I actually had a consultation with a Downtown Atlanta law firm about suing the above parties for slander and professional libel because of these statements. Of course, I am mixed heritage with more Caucasian than anything else . . . but so are a lot other Native American descendants today. However, to publicly label me as someone who had no cultural connection to Creek heritage sites in Georgia was crossing over the line, when my family had received reparations in the past. The firm wanted a ton of money up front, when I had none at all. We were looking at going to court against bureaucracies with buildings full of lawyers, plus archaeologists, who were obviously hired guns for people with money to hire lawyers.

      Reply
  2. anadalv@yahoo.com'

    Hi Richard,
    Is there a paper trail of the names of the people that recieved monies through the Creek Docket reperations?
    It’s possible some of my family got money, but absolutley NO ONE wanted to talk to me about the possibility of our family having “Indian blood” and definitely avoided the, horror-of-horrors, admission of being Creek. My uncle had to whisper some information to me outside, away from the house, so his older sister wouldn’t kick him and his family out of her house – at Thanksgiving – after they traveled all the way to Griffin, GA from Ft. Meyers, FL. It really was that bad, and worse.
    Thanks,
    Raine

    Reply
  3. mlee@uwf.edu'

    Hi Raine
    I am in the same boat as you, Richard & others about this. I work in a genealogy/local history library & have met several patrons who have the same story about the Creek Docket Money. It follows the same line, it was a family secret at the time (1937) & was discussed only in the family by a few & no one seemed to have kept any of the paperwork. It seems the ancestors on the mysterious list were from Georgia where the lost land was. Just having a last name would be of help to confirm stories & suspicions as many of us have researched our ancestors at least three or four generations back which leads to the 1830s when our ancestors lost their land & most left Georgia for Alabama or Florida and began hiding their Creek blood from outsiders. Somewhere there is someone who knows the answer I only hope its before I die. In the meantime we keep on searching & if we find more info we post it to share with everyone else.
    Marcie

    Reply
    • anadalv@yahoo.com'

      Unfortunately, during those times it was a matter of survival that “outsiders” not know that you were Indian, and most especially not Creek.
      My Dad’s family (Yates and Rogers) is from Heard County, GA and their real proud of the Yates Cherokee connection, as cousin Donald Panther Yates has shared (I suspect that Elizabeth was really Creek), and there is a story about James B married a Creek woman, another Elizabeth. The problem is there’s no documentation on who James Bluford’s parents were. I suspect, and have told my cousin Selma Yates Bowen, that James B. may have married the sister of Elizabeth and Bluford is his son. Some have inserted the quesswork of James C. being Bluford’s dad as fact on their genealogies which can really mess things up.
      Unknown to many people, Creeks did allow polygamy, usually in the form of polygyny (one man with 2+ wives) where the man took sisters to wife since Creeks were a matrilineal and matrilocal society. This provided emotional and social support for the wives and helped them with raising their families without being worked to death – which happened to many white women.
      Anyway, part of the Yates / Dawlings or Darlings and others left GA for FL with their Creek and Cherokee wives before the “War of Federal Aggression” and are well documented down there.

      My mom’s folks are from Twiggs county – Barnes, Ward, Herring. My grandfather’s family, Barnes, owned the clay mine in Dry Branch where he was born. He spent a lot of years trying to get it back in the family after it was “stolen by the state and their agents”. No success. Every time you see a tanker car marked “Dry Branch Kaolin”, that’s from his family’s land. I found a census record once that he was listed as Mulatto. There was also a story about how he or his dad threatened to shoot the census worker that came around “snoopin'” so the wife had to go to the edge of the property to give answers to his questions.
      Might explain why so many people have trouble with their genealogy. One good point is, we southerners like to pass on family names. Maiden names become middle names, and family names get reused generation after generation. Just be REAL careful with the dates. The reusing of names becomes an issue, especially with census records and you have 2 cousins who have grandpa’s name and he’s still alive – talk about confusing!
      Raine

      Reply
  4. burniedsilcox@gmail.com'

    I wrote a bunch about my heritage On Cherokee Mvskogee Roots on My 4th & 5th Gp.of Blind Savana Clan frm Western S.C. Cherokees Silcox & Corderys on all Cherokee Rolls since1817 thru 1924 Eastern & Western Rolls. Raised by mothers people of Mvskogee Blood, Mannings & Presleys & Wiggins of S.Ala. & NW.FLa. Mvto& Wado oHMerretv…

    Reply

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