Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Study Of How Congress Is Manipulated: Chapter 1

I’ve provided numerous commentaries about why and how newly made “tribes” seek federal or state recognition. This is the first of a series that will address a U.S. Senate and a House bill that has been introduced to provide federal recognition to an organization in Florida that is called the “Muscogee Nation of Florida“.

Both S. 514 and H.R. 2028, “To extend Federal recognition to the Muscogee Nation of Florida“, contain misinformation and is an attempt by this group to escape the scrutiny required to determine if it is actually a tribe or not. Should the Senate pass S. 514, and the House pass the comparable H.R. 2028 (which contains the same misinformation), a great disservice and carriage of injustice will be made against legitimate tribes and American Indians.

In order to address the misinformation given in both S. 514 and H.R. 2028, comments will be made in certain paragraphs of the bills so that both the Senate and House can be aware of the deceit that is being presented to them. Both bills are identical. The sponsors and co-sponsors of these bills are most likely unaware of the misrepresentations included in the bills, and merely accepted the information given to them by the “Muscogee Nation of Florida“ in good faith. However, this does not negate the potential damage that these bills can cause.

Members of Congress who have accepted the claims of this organization, apparently without question or raise of an eyebrow include: Rep. Allen Boyd (D-FL) Sponsor H.R. 2028; Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) Co-sponsor H.R. 2028; Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) Sponsor S. 514; Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) Co-sponsor S. 514.

Members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the “Indian” Committee without Indian members since Senator Campbell left the Senate, also have accepted testimony from the Muscogee Nation of Florida without question. (Hearing: On the process of federal recognition of Indian Tribes September 19, 2007).

The national media and Florida governmental entities have also fallen prey to the “Muscogee Nation of Florida“, rewriting and promoting a false revisionist history of American Indians in Florida. Perhaps the worst scenario includes the hundreds of individuals who have joined the organization under the belief that it’s claims are true.

Extensive documentation, plus dozens of images of historical documents and photographs, have been collected that disprove the Muscogee Nation of Florida claims made in the bills. Because of the limitations of space, only examples of the complete documentation will be provided in the comments. However, these examples will be more than enough to show the validity of my position.

Having filed their own petition and documentation for federal recognition in 1978, perhaps most telling of the true nature of the Muscogee Nation of Florida (formerly as the Eastern Creek Nation) is that some of the leaders and individuals involved in this organization were also involved with other groups claiming to be a Creek Indian tribe and that were petitioning the BIA for recognition during the same general period. In addition, many claims in the different petitions were similar. The other petitioning organizations were:

Creeks East of the Mississippi
Letter of Intent to Petition, Petitioner #010, 1972.02.21.
Receipt of Letter of Intent, Federal Register Notice, 1979.01.02, 44 FR 116-117.
Final Determination, Federal Register Notice, 1982.04.06, 47 FR 14783.
Not Acknowledged

Lower Muscogee Creek Tribe East of Mississippi
Letter of Intent to Petition, Petitioner #008, 1972.02.02.
Receipt of Letter of Intent, Federal Register Notice, 1979.01.02, 44 FR 116-117.
Final Determination, Federal Register Notice, 1981.10.21, 46 FR 5
Not Acknowledged

MaChis Lower Alabama Creek Indian Tribe
Letter of Intent to Petition, Petitioner #087, 1983.06.10.
Receipt of Letter of Intent, Federal Register Notice, 1983.08.18, 48 FR 37528
Final Determination, Federal Register Notice, 1988.06.23, 53 FR 23694.
Not Acknowledged

It should be noted that Walton County, Florida, played an important role in the claims of the above different organizations. For example, 26 percent of the MaChis Lower Alabama Creek Tribe was listed as living in Walton County. Walton County also plays a major role in the current Muscogee Nation’s claims.

It’s undeniable that there are residents and families in Florida that might be of Creek descent. However, a close study of Muscogee Nation of Florida will show that while it might have an enrollment of a few individuals with actual Creek ancestry to various extents, the organization is also comprised of individuals who have been solicited from disperse locations and who cannot document either a Creek genealogy or historical family ties with the group. An unbiased research will also show that there is no independent historical documentation or study that indicates the Muscogee Nation of Florida existed at all, in any form, before the 1950’s.

The Ward family of Bruce and surrounding Walton County is the primary nucleus of many claims made by the Muscogee Nation of Florida. Ward family records and documents were also included in the original attempt by the Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe - East of the Mississippi, Inc., which the Muscogee Nation of Florida (as the Eastern Creek Nation) was a part of. The Ward family records and documents submitted and showing them to be Creek Indians have since been shown by the foremost Ward family genealogist and researcher, Jerry Merritt of Pensacola, to be recent 1950’s forgeries. The claims that Elizabeth Ward, wife of William B. Ward ( father of William Joseph Ward in Walton County - where the Ward Indian ancestry stories take place) was Creek Indian have also been discounted as untrue.

Fabricated genealogies are common in groups claiming to be American Indian. Unfortunately, the fabricated Ward documents have found their place in Florida record collections beginning in 1978 and continue to mislead Ward family researchers into believing that the family was Creek Indian. These same documents have been used by local Florida organizations to present a false history of their area.

The Muscogee Nation of Florida first gained the attention of a good acquaintance and I in Arkansas early in 2006. This was during efforts to ensure that legitimate American Indians were given the opportunity to participate in American Indian workshops and presentations given by the Arkansas Arts Council, National Parks, State parks, and public schools within Arkansas.

At that time, it was discovered that enrolled American Indians were completely disfranchised from these activities. Every single identified workshop or presentation was being conducted by individuals who had no legitimate tribal connection and were only self-identified as being American Indian. This activity included the selling of arts and crafts in violation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, Public Law 101-644.

One of the individuals involved, Valerie Lynn Goetz of Arkansas, is a member of the Muscogee Nation of Florida. She claimed that the Muscogee Nation of Florida was a state recognized tribe. However, she was extremely unknowledgeable about the history of the group, and was still in the process of researching her own genealogy on internet genealogy boards. Ms. Goetz was very active in presenting American Indian craft workshops in both National and State Parks in Arkansas and Missouri, and is promoted as an American Indian artisan by the Arkansas Arts Council. Besides selling her crafts in Arkansas and Missouri under the guise of being American Indian, her crafts are also being sold by the Pensacola Historical Society, Inc. in Florida as being American Indian made. (Ms. Goetz, under her maiden name of Hanks, had applied as Eastern Creek for the 1971 Creek land claim awards census. She and all other family members were rejected.)

As a result of our inquiries to the Florida Attorney General’s Office, the Florida Governors Office, the Florida State Legislature Office, and the Governor’s Commission on Indian Affairs, we learned that the Muscogee Nation of Florida was not recognized by the state as a tribe - as widely claimed. The synopsis of this discovery is included as a comment under the state recognition claim made in the Senate and House bills.

A spokesperson of the federally recognized Miccosukee Tribe of Indians in Florida told me that she had never heard of the Muscogee Nation of Florida.

The comments that will be made in following posts are directed to certain paragraphs of S.514 and H.R. 2028 are introductory comments only. They are the result of a preliminary look at the claims made in the bills, which are easily identified as misleading by those who make even the smallest effort to research the organization past the story it promotes. These comments provide a stepping stone for my readers and those who are involved with the approval and passage of these bills to use for further investigation before they make a final determination whether or not the Muscogee Nation of Florida should be recognized as a legitimate historical tribe.

As with all my posts, it will be up to the reader to make up their own decisions concerning the veracity of my comments and opinions.

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