As the only federally recognized Native American Tribe in Alabama, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians are preparing to celebrate their history with their annual Pow Wow, as part of Native American Heritage Month.

History of Native American Heritage Month

According to the official Native American Heritage Month resource,

“What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.

“One of the very proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans” and for three years they adopted such a day. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kans., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.

(Poarch Band of Creek Indians/Facebook)

“The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.

“The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted such a day in 1919. Presently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday.

“In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.”

(Poarch Band of Creek Indians/Facebook)

About The Poarch Band of Creek Indians

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is a sovereign nation within the borders of Alabama. They hold a long and incredible history as the original native people of the area. In addition, they are a wildly generous community that funds a number of causes that affect Alabama and the country. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians are considered a governmental partner that makes a notable economic impact within the state, and they share a goal of supporting the common good.

The first Poarch Creek Thanksgiving Pow Wow originated in 1971 as a way to celebrate the return of Tribal Members as their Tribe came from the original Creek Nation. The Poarch Creeks were able to avoid being removed from the land that has been their home for thousands of years when others were not so fortunate. The annual Pow Wow is a way for the Poarch Creeks to showcase their gratitude for their preservation over time. The event is also a way to celebrate their strong roots. Through their annual dance competition, roughly 20 tribal nations are represented.

(Poarch Band of Creek Indians/Facebook)

The Annual Pow Wow

“In the 1980s, the Poarch Creeks welcomed all Tribes and local citizens to experience their traditions with a two-day festival on Thanksgiving and the day after on the same original Tribal land. Since then, the festival has grown to welcome approximately 16,000 visitors for a wholesome weekend of cultural appreciation and family-friendly fun.

“Activities include dance contests for men and women, young and old, as well as a drum contest and the Poarch Creek Indian Princess Contest. Visitors also enjoy unique crafts and goods for sale by local artisans and vendors, and we have festival favorite foods such as barbeque, oak wood fire-roasted corn, buffalo burgers, ham, and fried chicken. Looking for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner? We’ll be serving turkey and dressing dishes, too!

“This two-day homecoming celebration highlights their rich cultural heritage in the state and is a favorite tradition for Alabama families, as well as visitors who travel to Atmore to experience the tradition and honor the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ place in Alabama history.  This annual celebration of Native American dance, songs and culture will be held November 23-24th.”