Thrower ‘keeper’ of Poarch’s culture

Published 9:07 am Monday, June 13, 2011

With more than 30 years of service to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, last week’s death of Nina Gail Thrower has stirred memories of the contributions she made to the community.

Thrower, 68, passed away June 4, 2011 in McDavid, Fla., where she made her home. She was a native of Atmore and a lifelong resident of McDavid. She attended the Walnut Hill Baptist Church.

She is survived by her husband, Robert G. Thrower, Sr., a son, the Rev. Robert G. Thrower, Jr. of Atmore; a daughter Lori Ann Sawyer of Walnut Hill, Fla., and six grandchildren.

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Robert Thrower, Jr., said his mother was a dedicated member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and was an important part of many achievements by the Tribe.

“She worked for the Tribe for more than 30 years,” Thrower said. “She was encouraging cultural activities before the Tribe was federally recognized.”

Thrower said his mother, along with other key members of the Tribe, worked tirelessly to gather proper documentation to gain the federal recognition for the Tribe in 1984.

“My mother worked to do all of the genealogy for the Tribe by hand,” Thrower said. “The genealogy along with some other historical work was necessary to be considered for federal recognition. The work she did was critical in the Tribe becoming federally recognized in August 1984.”

Instrumental in continuing cultural awareness within the Tribe, Gail Thrower was the beginning of what became the Calvin McGhee Cultural Management Authority, her son said.

“She kept some type of museum going and provided cultural education,” Thrower said. “In the beginning she was probably the only person doing cultural education. She believed in what she did.”

Thrower, who stepped into his mother’s footprints in 1991 at the Calvin McGhee Cultural Center in Poarch, said she knew the history and culture of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and wanted to see it kept alive.

“She was a keeper of our culture,” Thrower said. “There are a number of us here now that are continuing her legacy alive through our work. We won’t let what she pioneered go away.”

Funeral services for Gail Thrower were held June 5 in Atmore. Burial was held in the Walnut Hill Baptist Cemetery.

Gail Thrower