MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians Article

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians
Chahta Yakni
Choctaw Nation of Indians
Anthem: None; " The Star-Spangled Banner" used for some occasions
EstablishedJanuary 3, 1786 ( Treaty)
Choctaw Treaty of Doaks Stand (Mobile County Alabama)October 18, 1820 (7 Stat. 210)
Choctaw Treaty of Washington (Washington County Alabama)September 27, 1825 (7 Stat. 234)
Choctaw Treaty Dancing Rabbit Creek (Mississippi-Alabama Territory)September 27, 1830 (7 Stat. 333)
Non-Intercourse Act of 1834June 30, 1834 (4 Stat. 729) (Updated in 2015)
American Indian Policy Review Commission Final ReportMay 19, 1977
Indian Child Welfare Act1978
State recognition1979
Mobile and Washington County Band of Choctaw (Chactaw) Indians
Total population
3,600 total enrollment (10,000+) [1][ full citation needed][ clarification needed]
Regions with significant populations
Alabama, United States
English, Choctaw
Catholic, Protestant, traditional tribal religion
Related ethnic groups
Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek, Apalachee, Apache, Natchez

The MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians is a state-recognized Choctaw tribe in southwestern Alabama. The tribe is recognized by the United States Office of Native American Programs, which funded the Choctaw Nation of Indians Federal Reservation (held in trust under the Laws of the State of Alabama [27-7-1] and the federal NAHASDA, the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act of 1996 as amended from the Indian Housing Act of 1937, 42 U.S.C. 1437 and the Administrative Procedures Act as a Reservation for the Mobile and Washington Choctaw Indian Communities). "MOWA" is an abbreviation of the two counties in which the tribe is located: Mobile and Washington Counties. The tribe’s direct ancestors have been adjudicated as Choctaw in Choctaw Nation v. United States 119 U.S. 1 (1886), as represented by Peter Cole, Tom Gibson, and John Johnston (the Cajun/Huguenot); Cherokee in Stevens v. Cherokee, Johnston v. Choctaw Nation and Twiggs v. Chickasaw Nation; in the Supreme Court in 1899, on behalf of Dave Weaver and his descendants; as Chickasaw in S.7625 (a US Senate bill which was an addendum to the Dawes Rolls in 1913 and includes William Byrd and 376 members of his community), and as Creeks in US Federal Court of Claims cases in which heads of families of the Mobile and Washington County Choctaw Indians were on the Eastern Band of Creek Indian rolls in 1950–1951 under the name of Louisa Weaver Rivers and others.

The Mobile and Washington communities were recognized as Choctaw Indian communities under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 (Public Law 93-680) and the American Indian Policy Review Commission’s final report on May 19, 1977 (volume I, p. 468), where the tribe was acknowledged, recognized, and enumerated as having at least 4,000 members by the Department of Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of Federal Acknowledgment (OFA). The Alabama Choctaw were federally recognized by an act of Congress under the Mississippi Choctaw Jurisdictional Act of 1936, which includes the Mississippi Choctaw and the communities in Alabama in which Choctaws had lived since 1902. The Mobile and Washington Choctaw Indians, as members of the Alabama Inter-Tribal Council, were federally acknowledged by the 11th Circuit Court and the US Supreme Court in 2001–2002 (Taylor v. Alabama Inter-Tribal Council, 535 U.S. 1066 [2002]).


Frontier Alabama had been inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous cultures. [2] The Mississippian culture is believed to have been ancestral to the tribes of the Muskogean-speaking Choctaw (and, later, the Creek) when Alabama was dominated by the Choctaw Indians during recorded history. The Mobile and Washington County Choctaw Indians are direct descendants of the tribes shown on the Plan Figure Des Villages Chikachas (Chickasaw) Attaque Par Les Francois Le Vingt Six May in 1736 (Map of the Villages of the Chickasaw attacked by the French on May 26, 1736). [3] [4]

The first 18th-century Europeans in Mobile and southern Alabama were Roman Catholic French and, later, Spanish settlers. The area was governed by natives of these two countries before the British took over. English and Scottish traders arrived before the American Revolutionary War, and were followed by settlers in the early 19th century. Bernardo de Gálvez conquered Mobile in 1780 and Pensacola in 1781 during the American Revolution, and controlled them from the capital of Louisiana at New Orleans. De Gálvez was welcomed in Mobile by notable citizens, including Zenon Orso (ancestor of many MOWA Band members).

Frauds perpetrated against the Choctaw Indians of Mobile and Washington Counties of Alabama, the Mississippi Choctaw and the Choctaw of Louisiana have been documented. [5][ better source needed] The Choctaw Commission of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana was federally recognized in 1945, largely through the efforts of Alabama Choctaw Wesley Johnson (the first chief of the Choctaw Nation east of the Mississippi River since the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830. However, the Mississippi Choctaw removed the Alabama and Louisiana Choctaw from their rolls to obtain a larger settlement of land and cash from the Indian Claims Commission. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians who were denied by the Choctaw Nation of the West (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in 1975) and fought with the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations of Oklahoma instead of paying any claims due to the Choctaw Nation of the East in accordance with the 1881 United States Court of Claims decision and the United States Supreme Court decisions in Choctaw Nation vs. United States [6] sought to deny the other remnants of the Choctaw Nation east of the Mississippi River. [5]

The MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians (formerly Mississippi/Indian Territory) is composed of Choctaw who refused removal to the west in 1830. By their treaty, they were guaranteed the right to Choctaw and United States citizenship and retain their sovereignty as Choctaw citizens; if they ever took a 640-acre reservation in Oklahoma, they would not be allowed to participate in the annuity. These Choctaws were provided for under Article XVIII of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit, in which the Choctaw land was not to be sold until the Choctaw moved; the money for the Choctaw to move would be obtained from their (sold) lands. The Choctaw did not have to remove until their lands were sold.

Other groups of Choctaw moved. The first group of about 960 Choctaw moved between 1831 and 1833 as a result of the requirement to remove. The next large groups moved during the 1850s. The Bay Indians, under John Johnston, remained. The Choctaw group under William Fisher, who applied for removal in 1851 (or 1852), moved; Fisher was accused of fraud in 1854 when he returned the Choctaws to their home in Alabama. The chiefs of the Choctaw Nation until (at least) 1871 were noted as buried in the "Old Indian Territory". Their wills are recorded in Mobile, Alabama, near where the treaties were signed by the United States and the Choctaw Nation (typically near the Tombigbee and Mobile Rivers in present-day Mobile and Washington Counties.

The Treaty of (D)Oaks Stand in 1820 traded the lands east of the Tombigbee River in the old Choctaw lands (the "Old Fields") for the state of Oklahoma, and was later attempted to be corrected in the Treaty of 1825 (when five million acres were taken from the Choctaw Nation from land ceded by the United States to the nation). The Choctaw Nation of Indians, under the Chief Robert Cole (father of Chief Coleman Cole, Peter Cole (Ashi or Hoshi Homma), Charles Cole and Charles Frazier) did not cede their lands—as suggested by the United States—but demanded compensation for the more than 6,000 people who settled along the Red River (the Arkansas-Oklahoma boundary).

The Treaty of 1820 is commonly understood to have conveyed (or ceded) the lands west of the Mississippi from the United States (then in possession of Spain) to the Choctaw Nation of Indians in exchange for the Choctaw lands east of the Tombigbee River (present-day Clarke and Monroe Counties). According to Peter Pitchlynn, only one Choctaw took advantage of the treaty: Captain Fulsom, son-in-law of the One Weaver. The treaty rendered all previous treaties null and void (in Article I), reverting all Choctaw-land ownership back to the Choctaw Nation of Indians.

The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek of 1830 guaranteed the sovereignty of those who moved to lands in the west (such as Oklahoma) in the Choctaw Nation of Indians, but did not convey title, covenant or any other term intended to diminish from the right of possession, usage and occupancy of the Choctaw Nation of Indians under the leadership of Peter Cole (Hoshi or Ashi Homma, also known as Red Bird), John Johnston and Tom Gibson (Elah Tubbee), who remained along the Tombigbee and Mobile Rivers (Mobile, Washington, Choctaw, Baldwin, Clarke, Sumter and Monroe Counties in Alabama) near their sacred mound at Indian Graves Creek and Indian Springs (present-day Cedar Creek). It was known for the Battle of the Horseshoe; an aerial view reveals the stockaded fort which was said to have been encountered by Andrew Jackson during the Creek War. The Horseshoe was surrounded by cannons, which were used to attack the fortification (on a higher elevation and virtually impregnable). In 1835, the federal government built the Weaver Indian School in Mount Vernon, Alabama with Choctaw labor. The Choctaw, Chickasaw and Cherokee occasionally intermarried with European Americans. Tribal ancestor John Johnston, Jr. testified before Congress in 1842 that he was threatened for his property rights; a road in the town of McIntosh is named after him. [7] Johnston led the Choctaw group known as the Bay Indians.

Chickasaw chief William Byrd was married to Armenia Cole, daughter of Peter Cole and granddaughter of Robert Cole (the Choctaw chief who signed the Treaty of Washington in 1825). William Byrd and Armenia Cole are buried in the Byrd Cemetery in Mount Vernon, Alabama. The cemetery was established by Byrd and Luke Rivers in 1800. Methodist and Baptist missionaries served the area until the 1940s. The Indians of Mobile County dismissed the missionaries for cultural alienation, but Quaker missionaries are still active in Washington County's Sank Town community. There is a longstanding Catholic community in Mobile County at the Byrd Settlement of Charles Cole and Tom Gibson.

Choctaw chief Silas D. Fisher was deeded land in Mount Vernon, according to a plat and written accounts in the National Archives and 1896 Mobile County maps. Fisher, Elah Tubbee (Tom Gibson) and chief Pierre Juzan were named in the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.

Choctaws Noah Wall (also named in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek) and his wife, Delilah Brashears, were the plaintiffs in Wall v. Williams, Wall v. Williamson and Brashears v. Williams in Alabama. Delilah was previously the wife of Jesse Brashears, who received a land patent from the treaty. Alexander Brashears received his land patent as a named Choctaw captain. He was the son of Rachel Durant, who was the daughter of Sophia Durant McGillivray (whose brother, Alexander McGillivray, claimed a Spanish land grant one mile below the confluence of the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers in present-day Mount Vernon, Alabama. Sophia Durant McGillivray was the daughter of Piamingo Hometak (known as Red Shoes), a Chickasaw chief who assisted George Washington during the French and Indian Wars. George Washington Byrd was also a leader and ancestor of the Choctaws of Alabama's Mobile, Washington and Choctaw Counties.


Historical records note the presence of Choctaw Indians in this region of Alabama. Indian schools existed in Mobile and Washington Counties; the last two were Reed's Chapel in McIntosh and Calcedeaver Elementary School in Mount Vernon.

The MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians is recognized by the State of Alabama. [8] Its constitution recognizes an elected chief, an elected tribal council with one member representing each of the tribe districts, and an appointed tribal judge. Ad hoc committees are formed to assist with projects and address community needs. The tribal council and chief are elected every four years.

The band is a member of the Alabama Inter-tribal Council, a council of chiefs who were deemed to possess the inherent sovereignty recognized by the federal government in all Indian tribes (whether or not they are recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Federal Acknowledgement) (Taylor v ITC, United States Court of Appeals 11th Circuit No. 0012280, December 9, 2001). [9] [10] The case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court in 500 U.S. 1066 (2002); the decision by the US Court of Appeals was deemed consistent with the Supreme Court's position regarding the inherent sovereignty of all Native American Indian tribes and councils. All Indian tribes are deemed sovereign not because of Bureau of Indian Affairs status, but because Indians are Indians by federal statute. [11] The doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity was deemed applicable to Taylor v Alabama Inter-Tribal Council, which is composed of non-federally-recognized tribes.

With increasing Native American activism across the country, the Choctaw insisted on their right to self-identification and recognition. In 1979, the Choctaw in this region of Alabama organized as the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians. Its tribal office is in McIntosh, Alabama. Although the band was the first tribe recognized by Alabama in 1979, it is not federally recognized and probably never will be. [12]

Ethnic identity

Historian Jacqueline Anderson Matte notes that the Choctaw have preserved their cultural identity:

The strongest evidence of the MOWA Choctaws' Indian ancestry is not, however, found in written documents; it is found in their lives. Their ancestors passed to them their Choctaw identity and traditions, persevering and preserving their heritage despite a long history of persecution and discrimination. Interviews with elders reveal stories of survival by hunting, fishing, trapping, and sharing the kill; rituals related to marriage, birth, and death; customs associated with gardening, medicinal plants, logging, dipping turpentine, and restricted communication with outsiders; and ancestral relationships told generation to generation. Despite hardships, the Choctaw Indian community north of Mobile persisted as a system of social relationships solidified within ceremonial gathering areas, churches, schools, cemeteries, and kin-based villages. Reduced in numbers, and increasingly a dominated minority in their own homeland, the ancestors of the MOWA Choctaws made new alliances. [13]

The Choctaw Indians of Mobile and Washington County were acknowledged under §25 U.S.C. 450 et al. or Public Law 93-638, the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 (in which the American Indian Policy Review Commission was created). On May 19, 1977, the American Indian Policy Review Commission completed its final report to the Congressional Committee of Indian Affairs and listed the Choctaw Indians in Volume I, page 468 as a "nonfederal recognized tribe" and one of the more than 100 tribes which the commission recommended to be "federally acknowledged" as soon as possible or as soon as a government-to-government relationship could be re-established with each tribe. [14] Elder Leon Taylor testified to Congress in 1985: "Today, I am Choctaw. My mother was Choctaw. My grandfather was Choctaw. Tomorrow, I will still be Choctaw". [15]

The MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians, as a member of the Alabama Intertribal Council, was deemed sovereign over its members, intramural matters and self-governance when the MOWA Choctaw chief (acting as the director of the Alabama Intertribal Council) practiced employment discrimination by hiring an Indian male who was less qualified and experienced over an African American female for a position at the Alabama Intertribal Council, which is composed of chiefs who are not administratively acknowledged by the Bureau of Indian Affairs but are recognized as possessing inherent tribal sovereignty as Indians. [16] [17]

Taylor v. Alabama Intertribal set a precedent in defining (and defending) tribal sovereign immunity. It has been used successfully to defend the neighboring Alabama Poarch Creek Inc. Gaming Commission and that tribe's interests in at least one other case. [18] Other tribes have used Taylor v. Alabama Intertribal Council, Title IV J. T. P. A., 535 U.S. 1066 (2002) in instances where a lack of jurisdiction due to the doctrine of sovereign immunity is to be applied to cases in which a precedent of tribal sovereign immunity can be used to realize tribal sovereignty. Michelle Taylor was an African American female who was found to be discriminated against when Chief Framon Weaver of the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians acted as director of the Alabama Intertribal Council, a consortium of Native American chiefs of state-recognized tribes, and hired a male Cherokee for the position. The MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians was found to be protected by sovereign immunity with regard to tribal governance and intramural matters, even in a civil-rights violation.

See also


  1. ^ U.S. Census
  2. ^ Alabama Legislature Joint Act of 1994, 94–123
  3. ^[ dead link]
  4. ^[ dead link]
  5. ^ a b Choctaw Nation; Hurley, Patrick J. (Patrick Jay) (17 March 2018). "Choctaw citizenship litigation". [S.l. : s.n.] – via Internet Archive.
  6. ^ Choctaw Nation v U.S. 119 U.S. 1(1886)
  7. ^ Choctaw Nation v. United States, 119 U.S. 1 (1886)
  8. ^ Alabama Legislative Act of 1994, 94–44
  9. ^ "FindLaw's United States Eleventh Circuit case and opinions". Findlaw.
  10. ^ CIRCUIT, UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALSFOR THE ELEVENTH (17 March 2018). "261 F3d 1032 Michele Taylor v. Alabama Intertribal Council Title IV Jtpa Charlotte Stewart". F3d (261).
  11. ^ United States Constitution Article I, Section 8, Clause 3
  12. ^ "".
  13. ^ Martin, Grant. "UAB - Magazine - Alabama's Lost Tribe".
  14. ^ United States. American Indian Policy Review Commission (17 March 1976). "Final report". Washington : U.S. Govt. Print. Off. – via Internet Archive.
  15. ^ Martin, Grant. "UAB - Magazine - A Culture Reclaimed".
  16. ^ Taylor v. Alabama Intertribal Council Title IV J.T.P.A., 261 F.3d 1032, 1034 (11th Cir. 2001), 535 U.S. 1066 (2002)
  17. ^ No. 01-9205. Supreme Court of the United States. May 13, 2002. C. A. 11th Cir. Certiorari denied. Reported below: 261 F.3d 1032
  18. ^ Alabama v. PCI Gaming Auth., No. 14-12004 (11th Cir. 2015)

External links