State leaders learn of Poarch history

Published 10:51 pm Monday, March 6, 2006

By By Janet Little Cooper
Members of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians converged on the State Capital Wednesday night bringing a little taste, sight and sound of the Indian culture to Alabama's state leaders.
The Poarch Indians hosted an "Alabama Native, Alabama Neighbor" reception at the RSA Activity Center in Montgomery for more than 40 state legislative leaders.
"We wanted to introduce the tribe to the Montgomery legislatures," Lori Sawyer, Marketing and PR Manager for PCI Gaming said. "We wanted them to know us better as people and neighbors, not just gaming. Our goal was to show them our culture, community and history."
More than 40 state legislators experienced a part of the Native American heritage during the reception. Twenty-one tribal stomp dancers performed for the group in their colorful headdresses and traditional costume to the beat of the drums in a welcome dance, while Robert Thrower, the tribe's historic preservation officer, said a prayer in the native Creek language.
Guest were able to sample the tribes popular roasted corn and fried bread at the reception along with a catered spread of traditional foods.
"The fry bread and roasted corn were a hit with everybody," Sawyer said. "These are our two most popular foods at the Powwow and we wanted to give them the opportunity to taste part of our heritage as well."
The event focused on the tribe's economic impact on the state of Alabama. The legislatures were presented with statistics showing that the tribe's gaming operations were responsible for $15.1 million in federal income, payroll, sales and excise taxes in 2004. Tribal enterprises also spent more than $35 million on goods and services in the state. Legislatures also learned that the gaming facilities are responsible for 506 jobs at its gaming centers in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka.
"We are proud of the role that our tribe has played in Alabama's history," Fred McGhee Tribal Chairman said. "We are delighted to share our Poarch Creek culture with our state's leaders in Montgomery."
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, the only federally recognized Tribe in the Sate, were instrumental in the settlement of Alabama. Early settlers used their Indian trails to travel through the wilderness territories that are now Alabama and Georgia. The Tribe's ancestors were known as the "friendly Creeks", and served as guides, interpreters and river pilots.
"Our ancestors were some of the few southeastern Indians not forced to move to Oklahoma," McGhee said. "We live on the same lands our ancestors lived on more than 150 years ago. Today, we are fortunate to be able to provide for our tribe through various industries, including gaming, and we are proud to be one of the largest employers in our region. It is important for us to continue our tradition of being good neighbors."
Economic Impact of the Poarch Creek Indians
Statistics from a study on the 2004 Fiscal Year show the large impact the Poarch Creek Indians have had on the state of Alabama.

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