McGhee touched the lives of many

Published 2:39 am Monday, May 22, 2006

By Staff
Special to the Advance
Fred McGhee served as the leader of the nine-member Tribal Council for the federally recognized Poarch Band of Creek Indians. As Tribal Chairman, McGhee oversaw all aspects of Tribal Government operations and administration. This responsibility covered 20 tribal service departments, including Health, Housing, Education, Senior Services, Public Safety, Family Services, Public Works, Tribal Court, Economic Development and Cultural Archives.
Fred McGhee was first elected Tribal Chairman from 2000-2001. He was particularly interested in Indian culture and historic preservation, and during his first term the Poarch Creeks hosted the Atlanta History Center's award-winning traveling exhibit "Native Lands: Indians and Georgia". Chairman McGhee participated in Section 106 Tribal Consultations under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), resulting in the establishment of Memorandums of Understanding (MOU's) with the U.S. Army, Army Corps of Engineers, and National Guard. These MOU's represent formal declarations of tribal sovereignty, and establish government-to-government relationships between the Tribe and federal entities.
Chairman McGhee also represented the Tribe as part of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). NCAI is the oldest and largest tribal government organization serving as a forum for consensus-based policy development among over 250 tribal governments. He was also involved in developing roads and transportation infrastructure on tribal reservations through T-21 Transportation grants. Following his first term, Fred McGhee remained involved in Tribal Government. He served on the Tribal Council three of the four years until his re-election as Tribal Chairman in June 2005.
Born on Sept. 8, 1949, Fred McGhee grew up in the rural Indian community of Poarch, Ala., and attended the Poarch Consolidated Indian School. His family lineage includes a long line of Poarch Creek leadership, including his paternal uncle "Chief" Calvin McGhee and his maternal grandfather "Chief" Fred Walker. His family history and early experiences taught him the importance of education, equal opportunity, job development, and compassionate leadership.
Chairman McGhee was driven by a desire to improve the quality of life for all tribal members. He also understood the importance of being a good neighbor within the state. Through dedicated resources and astute diplomacy, Chairman Fred McGhee invested in "win-win" partnerships with surrounding communities, state governments and federal agencies. He believed mutually beneficial growth and positive economic impact allows communities to grow together and ensures the success of future generations.
Under Chairman McGhee's leadership, the Poarch Creek Indians made significant donations to schools, youth athletics, senior centers, and charitable organizations such as the March of Dimes. The Tribe's Emergency Management department had coordinated disaster relief and recovery with FEMA, the American Red Cross, and other Indian Tribes following recent hurricanes impacting the Gulf Coast.
As Chairman of the Creek Indian Enterprises Board of Directors, Chairman McGhee was involved with all the Tribe's economic enterprises. He supported environmentally-sensitive development of the Tribe's recently acquired 4,000-acre Magnolia Branch Wildlife Preserve. He was also a member of the Tribal Gaming Board, and as an advocate of tribal self-reliance, led gaming expansion within the tribal community. He recognized tribal gaming as one of the most significant sources of revenue used by tribal governments to support essential services such education, healthcare, elder care and housing.
Chairman Fred McGhee held an optimistic vision of the future of the Poarch Creek Indians, and was proud to help make this vision a reality. He was a patient man who found strength in doing the right thing. When facing adversity, he was calm and resolute. Tribal leadership involves many challenges, and Fred McGhee understood that within our greatest challenges, we often discover our greatest opportunities.

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