Nation to Nation Consultation
Federal recognition means an American Indian group has asked for and received recognition as a tribe. Historically, tribes were granted recognition through treaties, by Congress, and by executive orders. In 1978 the Bureau of Indian Affairs created an official recognition process. Tribes seeking recognition must satisfy a list of criteria that requires historical, genealogical, and anthropological evidence. This process can take years to complete and many petitions are denied.
Federal recognition is important because it means the United States treats these tribes as sovereign nations that have the right to self-governance, land ownership, and self-determination. The federal government consults with recognized tribes in the manner of a government to government relationship.
Federal government representatives at Fort Bragg consult with American Indian Nations to ensure the appropriate and respectful stewardship and interpretation of all Precontact cultural resources at Fort Bragg. The Nations are signatories on important management documents. Another important reason for consultation is to ensure the proper treatment of human remains and funerary goods. In 1990, Congress passed the Native American Graves Protection Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). This act requires all federal agencies and all museums receiving federal funding to return Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony to the appropriate tribe upon request. If American Indian burials are found accidentally during construction projects, Fort Bragg has a plan to contact consulting Nations to ensure that all human remains are protected and treated with dignity and respect.
Each of the following Nations is a federally recognized tribe with historical ties to the land that is now Fort Bragg. Fort Bragg appreciates the time, effort, and support these Nations provide to the base in its efforts to manage and protect important American Indian cultural resources on the post.
Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma
The ancestral homelands of the Algonquian-speaking Shawnee were in the northeastern United States. Throughout the 18th and 19th century the Shawnee were forced west and south by expanding European settlement. In 1825, the federal government removed the Shawnee to land in Kansas. In 1845, the Shawnee people moved to Texas and became known as the Absentee Shawnee Tribe. Eventually the Absentee Shawnee moved to Oklahoma. Today, the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma has over 3,000 members and their tribal lands are located in Cleveland and Pottawatomie counties. The tribe gained federal recognition in 1938 and their government headquarters are located in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
Alabama –Quassarte Tribal Town
Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the Southeast, the Alabama and the Quassarte people lived in their own tribal towns as part of the Muscogee Confederacy in Alabama. As pressure from European expansion increased, many Alabama and Quassarte people moved west to Louisiana and Texas. The people who remained behind became the Alabama-Quassarte and stayed as members of the Muscogee Confederacy. With the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Alabama-Quassarte were removed to Oklahoma and settled in Hughes, Okfuskee, McIntosh, and Seminole counties. The tribe gained federal recognition in 1939 and today has 350 members living a thriving and active community.
Catawba Indian Nation
The Catawba Nation is centered in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The name Catawba or yeh is-WAH h’reh in the Catawba language means people of the river. Their ancestral homelands encompassed the lower Piedmont portions of North Carolina and South Carolina. It is likely the first Europeans the Catawba met were Hernando de Soto and his men as they traveled through the region in 1540. Juan Pardo and his expedition passed through Catawba territory in 1566. However, it was English settlement that had the greatest impact on Catawba culture. By the 1690s, English traders made regular trips from Charles Town up to the Catawba River region. Throughout the 18th and 19th century, the Catawba were loyal friends to the English settlers despite the ravages of European disease and warfare brought to their community.
In 1840, the Catawba signed a treaty with South Carolina in which they agreed to cede their land in exchange for land in North Carolina and an annual annuity from the State of South Carolina. While many people did leave the area, most people eventually returned to South Carolina where several hundred acres were set aside for them as a reservation.
In 1959, a bill was introduced in Congress to terminate the Catawba’s status as Indians and to divide and distribute their land. Termination was completed in 1960, however, the old reservation in York County continued to be held in trust by South Carolina.
In 1975, the Catawbas formed a non-profit organization to put forth a claim for federal recognition. They were finally successful in 1993. Today over 2,700 Catawba are listed on the official tribal role.
Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma
The Muscogee people are the direct descendants of the Mississippians. Mississippian culture and its highly structured political, religious, economic and social organization extended throughout most of the southeast from approximately 1000 AD until the time of European contact in the 16th century. The Muscogee people were a confederacy of tribal towns located along the Coosa, Tallapoosa, Chattahoochee, and Flint rivers in Alabama and Georgia. Like most American Indian communities living in the southeast during the 19th century, the Muscogee were caught up in the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and forced to move to Indian lands in Oklahoma. Between 1836 and 1837, over 20,000 Muscogee people left the southeast for the west. Today, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation is a federally recognized nation with headquarters in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.
Thlopthlocco Tribal Town
Thlopthlocco Tribal Town is part of the Creek Nation of Oklahoma and is one of three Muscogee tribal towns recognized by the federal government. The town is headquartered in Okemah, Oklahoma. The Thlopthlocco are headed by a tribal town king called a Mekko. Historically, the Muscogee people were a confederacy of tribal towns (Creek Confederacy) in what is now Alabama and Georgia. The Thlopthlocco Tribal Town was removed to the Indian Territory in 1835. Like other Indian people, they lost most of their land with the passage of the Dawes Act in 1887. Thlopthlocco was offered its own federal charter in 1936. At present, the tribe does not host a Web site.
The Tuscarora Nation is headquartered in Lewiston, New York. They are members of the Six Nations that includes the Onondaga, the Oneida, the Cayuga, the Mohawk, and the Seneca. These six nations call themselves the Haudenosaunee, which means People of the Longhouse. Long before the arrival of Europeans in North America, the Tuscarora lived along the Neuse, Tar, Pamlico, and Roanoke rivers. In addition, they considered large portions of the Sandhills, including Fort Bragg, to be their hunting territory. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Tuscarora were the largest indigenous group in North Carolina. The Tuscarora, which means Hemp Gatherers, People of the Hemp, or Those Who Wear Shirts were Iroquoian speakers who migrated south from the Great Lakes region sometime in the distant past.
For many years, the Tuscarora were great friends to the early English settlers. However, by the early 18th century constant encroachment on their lands, slave raids, and ill-treatment pushed the Tuscarora communities into armed conflict with the settlers. North Carolina Governor Edward Hyde called out the militia and with help from South Carolina attacked the Tuscarora. More than 300 Indians were killed and another 1200 people were taken prisoner. After the Tuscarora Wars of 1711 to 1715, most Tuscarora people moved north through Pennsylvania to New York. After the war, the Tuscarora who remained in North Carolina signed a treaty with the colonial government to create a 56,000-acre reservation on the Roanoke River. The reservation, known as Indian Woods, was chartered in 1722.
Despite the treaty, over the next few decades the Tuscarora lands were gradually reduced by encroaching settlers. In 1763 and 1766 more Tuscarora people chose to leave Indian Woods and move north to New York. The last group of people left for New York in 1804. The rights to the last 2,000 acres of Indian Woods were sold in 1831.
In New York, the Tuscarora were sponsored by the Oneida and accepted as members of the Haudenosaunee. The Haudenosaunee, including the Tuscarora, maintain their history through long-held, oral traditions that are actively taught in their schools. All tribal business is conducted in the traditional languages. Clan leaders, appointed by their clan mothers, serve in councils that govern the Six Nations and interact with state, federal, and foreign governments. Today the Tuscarora Nation has approximately 1,000 tribal members and is recognized by the federal government.
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
The United Keetoowah Band is a federally recognized Cherokee tribe headquartered in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Keetoowah is the name of an ancient Cherokee town and considered by many to be the original name of the Cherokee people. Members of the United Keetoowah Band are descendants of Cherokees who moved west to Arkansas and Oklahoma in 1817 before the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Today the United Keetoowah Band has over 14,300 members, most of whom live in Oklahoma.
The original Shawnee ancestral lands were located in Ohio. In the 18th century, European settlement forced many of the Shawnee to leave their traditional homeland and reside in Missouri. By the 1817 Treaty of Fort Meigs, the remaining Shawnee people were granted three reservations in Ohio – Wapakoneta, Lewistown, and Hog. With passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830, members of the Wapakoneta and Hog reservations moved to lands in Kansas while Lewistown Shawnees moved to Oklahoma. In 1854, the Kansas Shawnees were forced to move to the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and entered into an agreement giving the Shawnee citizenship in the Cherokee Nation. In the 1980s, efforts began to create a separate Shawnee Nation. Separate federal recognition was granted to the Shawnee Tribe in 2000.
The first Europeans encountered by the Chickasaw Nation were Hernando de Soto and his men in 1540. The Chickasaw’s ancestral lands were located in Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Like many Southeastern Indian people, the Chicksaw were swept up in the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and forced to relocate to Oklahoma as one of the Five Civilized Tribes (including the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole). The Chickasaw resettled with the Choctaw until 1856, when they regained their own governing authority and establish a new capitol, now Tishomingo, Oklahoma. After the Civil War, the Chickasaw became successful farmers and ranchers. The Chickasaw Nation adopted a new constitution in 1983.
The Cherokee Nation has over 300,000 members and is the largest federally recognized tribe in the United States. Headquartered in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the tribe drafted a new Constitution in 1975 and received federal recognition in 1976. Their thriving community has developed successful businesses, industries, universities, and entertainment companies. Each Labor Day, the Nation hosts the Cherokee National Holiday. Thousands of Cherokee citizens come to Tahlequah for the festivities.
The Cherokee are an Iroquoian-speaking people who moved south from the Great Lakes at some time in the past. Their name Tsalagi, means Principal People. In 1674, explorer Henry Woodward noted that the Cowatoe and Chorakee lived on the head branches of the Savannah River. For awhile, their rugged Appalachian homeland kept the Cherokee isolated from the ever-expanding European settlements. In 1735, there were 64 Cherokee towns and villages.
However, the Cherokee soon became important participants in the deerskin trade and aligned themselves with the British to fight the French. Wars over Cherokee lands in North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina would rage off and on throughout the 18th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Cherokee organized a national government. They invited missionaries to teach Christianity and run schools. In 1809 Sequoyah developed a written form of the Cherokee language. In 1825 New Town became the capital of the Cherokee Nation and was renamed New Echota. The Cherokees drafted a Constitution modeled on the United States with executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
When gold was discovered on Cherokee lands at Dahlonega, Georgia, the state government sought to remove the Cherokee to reservations in the west. The 1830 Indian Removal Act authorized the forcible relocation of all American Indians east of Mississippi to the Indian Territory in Oklahoma. Eventually over 16,000 Cherokees were forced to move to Oklahoma by the 1835 Treaty of New Echota. Four thousand people would die from exposure, exhaustion, and starvation along the Trail of Tears. Several hundred people remained in hiding in the mountains until they were finally granted a reservation in 1842. Today, they are the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and live on the Qualla Boundary in western North Carolina.