The Seal of the Muscogee Nation of Florida
Muscogee Nation of Florida:
PO Box 3028
Bruce, FL 32455
The Muscogee Nation of Florida began petitioning the BIA for recognition in 1977, and advocated for the tribal communities in the Pensacola area, Bruce, and in Blountstown, Florida for many decades. Officially incorporating into a modern style government in the mid 1970's from the traditional matriarchal styles, the MNF has dozens of programs and activities centered on tribal life and cohesion of a people facing the challenges of a modern world. The MNF currently has a bill before Congress for federal acknowledgement as well being on active consideration for the 1978 revised petition for acknowledgement.The leadership of the MNF is seated in a tribal council which means in Bruce, in Walton County Florida.
below is a painting of a young Creek woman from Bruce, 2008
below is Tribal Chairperson Ann Denson Tucker
Muscogee Nation of Florida Chairperson Calls BIA Recognition Process
September 19, 2007 Jon Wadsworth
DC/Manager, Strategic Communications
Bracewell & Giuliani, LLP
2000 K Street NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC – Muscogee Nation of Florida Tribal Chairperson Ann D. Tucker said the Bureau of Indian Affair's (BIA) tribal recognition procedures are overly burdensome, confusing and unfair in testimony to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs today. Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) invited Tucker to participate in a select panel of tribal officials who have experienced similar problems with the BIA recognition process.
"My Tribe needs and deserves federal recognition," said Tucker. "We have been trapped in BIA's bureaucracy for over 30 years and we have nothing but expense and frustration to show for it."
The Muscogee Nation of Florida has been, for over three decades, seeking recognition from the U.S. government. As tribal members struggle economically, and the costs associated with this process continue to grow, it has become increasingly clear that Congress needs to act to address this situation.
"The recognition process represents a clear failure of the federal government's trust responsibility to Indian Tribes and should be addressed by Congress," said Tucker. "My Tribe must not be just another victim of the recognition bureaucracy."
Tucker also praised the bipartisan group of Florida legislators who have introduced legislation in Congress to help the Muscogee Tribe finally receive its federal tribal recognition. Sens. Bill Nelson (D) and Mel Martinez (R) have introduced S. 514 in the U.S. Senate and Rep. Allan Boyd (D-2nd District) and Jeff Miller (R-1st District) have introduced H.R. 2028 in the House.
Federal recognition is a process which acknowledges the significance of tribal government and the U.S. government's responsibility to treat those governments with a proper measure of respect and concern, in light of government actions in the past. The process is extremely complex, and requires that applicants re-do and re-file papers and studies in order to comply with rules, regulations, and interpretations that did not exist when the initial application was made, can take several years and require
"Federal recognition is not only about self-determination." said Tucker. "It is about our very survival as a community of Indian people."
The types of services that the Tribe needs and is currently not able to receive because of delayed recognition are many, and include a range of services comparable to the programs of state and local government, e.g., education, social services, law enforcement, courts, real estate services, agriculture and range management, and resource protection
For a copy of Chairperson Tucker's testimony, please see: [ http://indian.senate.gov/public/ ]http://indian.senate.gov/public/ or call Jon
By Andrew Grant Washington DC -
Bruce, Florida (AP) 10-09
Ann Tucker laughs when she says her doublewide trailer in this rural area of north Walton County puts her in the upper-middle class.
She comes close to crying when she talks about the rest of her tribe.
“We deserve to win. We may not, but we deserve to,” Tucker said recently in the cluttered council house of the Muscogee Nation of Florida, a tribe of Eastern Creek Indians who say their ancestors were forced to leave home and settle here 150 years ago. “I may fail, but I’m gonna go down fighting.”
Tucker is fighting for the federal government to recognize her tribe. For decades, it hasn’t. Recognition would make the Muscogee Nation eligible for funding for health benefits, elderly clinics and scholarships.
Her last victory was in 2007, when U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez introduced the Muscogee Nation of Florida Federal Recognition Act. The bill, a giant leap after a series of baby steps, remains under consideration in the Committee on Indian Affairs.
U.S. Reps. Jeff Miller and Allen Boyd are co-sponsoring a House version.
The bill could take another leap later this month, when either committee could send it up for a vote.
“It’s time they finally get the recognition they deserve,” Nelson press secretary Bryan Gulley said in an e-mail.
The tribe, comprised partly of construction workers who have been underemployed since the collapse of the housing market, has been asking for recognition since 1947, when Tucker’s great-grandfather wrote to the Bureau of Indian Affairs asking for compensation for lands taken in 1814.
The BIA’s response: “You cannot possibly be who you say you are.”
That skepticism has survived, Tucker said. Today, years after she claims segregation-era Jim Crow laws erased much of the Creek tribe’s existence from historical records, she still has her motivation questioned.
At issue is some $1.1 million billed by Washington lobbyists, categorized by one watchdog organization as casino lobby money, a label both Tucker and lobbyist Mike Pate of the firm Bracewell & Giuliani denied.
“I don’t have any hidden investor behind the door,” Tucker said of speculation that some other entity must be bankrolling her poor Creek tribe.
And in Washington, Pate said simply, “I haven’t been paid in years, but I believe in what she’s trying to do.”
Federal recognition is required before any casino could be established.
On its Web site opensecrets.org, watchdog group The Center for Responsive Politics reported the tribe spent $1,102,966 in lobbying since 2005. It categorized all of that as casino money.
The tribe does not have much land for a casino near its lodge in Bruce. It does own about 13 acres near Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, but Tucker said that land is a protected archaeological preserve with 4,000-year-old shell mounds on it.
It also has a cell tower on it, built to blend in with the trees.
About a week after The News Herald began its own investigation into the casino question, Center for Responsive Politics Executive Director Sheila Krumholz said the gaming category was her group’s mistake.
“We try to be very careful and conservative in how we apply that category,” Krumholz said. “Nine times out of 10, they’re only appearing in our databases if they also have casino and gaming operations or plans.”
Tucker responded: “I guess the business world is about that. In my world, it’s about people who have a very poor quality of life.”
She told of another tribe, based in New York, that never gained recognition and ended up with all its history packed in a storage unit. She told of one of her own members, a young drug user, who killed himself just a few days ago because he was about to go back to jail.
She insists her quest for federal recognition – and money – is about the tribe’s well-being, not about opening any doors to casino development.
“We’re decent people here,” Tucker said. “Our church roll is our tribe roll, and for us to be dragged through the mud, that’s why I don’t talk to people a lot.
“It first and foremost has to be about people. The casino question, it blurs the issue of Indi
SENATE INDIAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE TO REVIEW FEDERAL PROCESS FOR TRIBAL ACKNOWLEDGMENT
U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, announced Tuesday the panel will hold a congressional oversight hearing at 2:15 PM on Wednesday, November 4. The hearing will examine Department of Interior efforts to repair the federal acknowledgement process for Indian tribes. It will also review proposals for improving the system.
Securing formal, federal tribal recognition is vital. It establishes a formal government-to-government relationship between the tribe and the U.S. government. Once federally recognized, a tribe has access to federal benefits and programs.
Yet, the acknowledgement process is broken and has been since it was established in 1978. Tribes routinely wait decades without getting a decision. Some tribes, including one tribe which will present testimony at the hearing, have been stuck in the federal acknowledgment process since 1978 with no decision. The prolonged process cost tribes funds urgently needed elsewhere, and denies tribes that are eventually recognized access to benefits and programs, often for decades.
WHO: U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Senator Byron Dorgan, Chairman; Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Vice Chairman, and other members of the committee.
WITNESSES: George Skibine, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of Interior; Frank Ettawageshik, Chair, Federal Acknowledgement Task Force, National Congress of American Indians; John Sinclair, President, Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Havre, Montana; Ann D. Tucker, Tribal Chairperson, Muscogee Nation of Florida, Bruce, Florida; and Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Director, Indian Legal Clinic, Tempe, Arizona.
WHAT: Congressional oversight hearing
WHEN: 2:15 PM, Wednesday, November 4, 2009
WHERE: 628 Dirksen Senate Office Building, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.
WHY: To review Department of Interior efforts to repair the federal acknowledgement process for granting formal recognition to Indian tribes.
ans. And that’s not something I caused, but it’s something I have to contend with.”
By Andrew Grant
Washington DC -