PCI Office of Archives and Records Management holds library naming after Tribal Elder

Published 9:38 am Friday, April 14, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Poarch Creek Indian officials said April 12 they were delighted to name special collections library after a celebrated Tribal Elder.

A library naming ceremony and open house was held for the Leola McGhee Manac Special Collections Library.

The library is located in the Office of Archives and Records Management in the Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority building on Brookwood Road.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Office of Archives and Records Management Director Dr. Deidra Dees said the library was named after Manac, who was a Tribal elder.

“We are just delighted to name the library after Leola (April 12),” Dees said.

Dees said most of the Tribal Council attended the event, which included an archival slideshow, welcome and prayer, hymn, reading and ribbon cutting and library tour.

Manac was born in January 1928 to Girlie Walker McGhee and Luther McGhee. At 9, she encountered hardship with the tragic murder of her father in 1937. Times were hard, but the community helped and she became an outspoken force in the PCI community.

According to her biography, Manac became involved in Native American politics in the 1950s by becoming one of the first Tribal councilwomen to serve under the leadership of Chief Calvin W. McGhee. She served when no salary was paid several years with a group of male co-councilmen.

Manac, along with her husband, did a first together in starting their own café/bar in Atmore, called the Anchor, when Native Americans weren’t welcomed in Atmore.

“I believe that Leola McGhee Manac paved the way for our current Tribal Councilwoman,” Archives Assistant Leasha Martin wrote on Manac’s biography. “She was an excellent example for all young Native American women to follow as did her daughter, Susan Manac-Wicker, who became a councilwoman for the Poarch Creek Indians in 1993.”

Dees said the process of naming the library after Manac began a few years ago before the pandemic.

“We talked about the possibility of naming our library after an elder,” Dees said. “It came up several years before the pandemic. Because the cases (of COVID-19) were so low and we were getting back to our regular activities, our chief brought it up again.”

Dees said Martin suggested Manac’s name.

“The team really loved it, her history and the work she did for the Tribe,” she said. “We also considered others.”

Dees said once the staff agreed on Manac, they took it to the records committee, which approved the naming in January 2023.

“Naturally, we went to work to see about putting it on,” Dees said.

Dees said the library consists of adult and children’s books, and includes an array of reference and donated items.

Dees said the library is open to the public, and anyone is welcome. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. by appointment.