The Apalachicola River Community of Indians Tribal Organization (ARCITO)

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Lumbee Tribe secures White House meeting in bid for federal recognition

Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on August 22, 2017 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)


Posted: Wednesday, August 2, 2017 



The leader of the Lumbee Tribe remains as optimistic as ever for federal recognition.

Chairman Harvey Godwin, Jr. met with key lawmakers in Washington, D.C., last week to push for passage of H.R.2352 and S.1047 in the 115th Congress. The effort was apparently fruitful -- he was able to secure a follow-up meeting with the White House, The Robesonian reported.

"I spoke this week with senior White House officials who want to also be engaged in this process. There are various options we will consider and pursue to seek a positive outcome for the Lumbee Tribe,” Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-North Carolina), the sponsor of H.R.2352, told the paper last week, hinting of further developments. Godwin is meeting with the White House on Wednesday, the paper said in an editorial.

In 1956, Congress passed a law that identified the Lumbees as "Indians." But, amid the backdrop of the termination era, during which the United States was ending its relationship with tribes across the nation, the law denied them the services and benefits associated with federal recognition.

H.R.2352 and S.1047 would change the situation by granting the Lumbees recognition. Similar bills have been enacted for at least two other tribes that were stuck in the same status.

But the Obama administration also opened up another avenue. In a December 2016 opinion, the Solicitor at the Department of the Interior said the tribe could seek recognition through the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Read More on the Story:

Godwin upbeat after DC meeting with key congressmen (The Robesonian 7/29)


Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on August 4, 2017 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)



Our Apalachicola River Community of Indians Tribal Organization (ARCITO) is today the government of the Apalachicola River Community of Indians (ARCI), also known as Florida Cheraw or Florida Catawba. We are the descendants of the historic Scott Town, Scotts Ferry, Woods, and Mt Zion settlements of ‘Carolina Indians’. With the multiple (though interrelated) distinct Carolinas/Virginia area tribal origins of our founding population, in the mid 1990’s the Apalachicola River Community of Indians convened a formal tribal council and decided to settle on a name reflective of the unity of the modern community. With the tribes diverse origins notwithstanding the last century and a half of unity as population, we soon settled on the Apalachicola River Community of Indians. The name reflects the modern genealogical and social unity reflective of the many intertwined families of several related tribal backgrounds intermarriages which early on laid the framework of the modern tribe.

Previous to the 1950’s, our communities were fairly compact, identifiable, and heavily intermarried with one another. This would change during the years after WWII, as families moved away and new opportunities for persons of color opened up locally. The end of racial segregation meant the loss of our several small “Dominicker” schools which were composed mostly of just “our people”. After the impact of desegregation and its subsequent results of depopulation of the historic communities, our tribal structure underwent great change. The past leadership structure of the tribe was based on the “Old Heads” as family leaders were known, who negotiated relationships with local authorities and whites on behalf of the community.

During the 1960’s and 70’s the older forms of leadership were changed as the tribe began “formally” adopting a more modern type of governance, in council and cooperation with other Indian (and alleged Indian) people. Thus began the process of work on behalf of our (Cheraw) ‘Carolina Indian’ people in concert with others. This initial era of the late 1960’s and 1970’s was commenced principally in cooperative efforts with local Euchee and Creek Indian descendent families in Calhoun and Walton Counties who were our neighbors, by Chief Buck Bryant, Jewell Dean Hill, the late elder Essie Hill Syfrett, and others. During the 1970’s and 1980’s the cooperation among people of Cheraw, Creek, and Euchee ancestry across the panhandle saw many gains through intertribal organizations such as the Northwest Florida Creek Indian Council, the Florida Governors Council on Indian Affairs, and related venues.

For years the intertribal cooperation efforts between several organizations were largely uneventful, and mostly unfruitful, as multiple “Creek Indian” councils, then self-identified tribes proliferated and were subsequently denied recognition by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, with most emerging and fading within a decade. As described by the BIA Office of Federal Acknowledgment website in their responses to nearly a dozen such groups’ from our regions requests for federal acknowledgment, most for these petitioning groups had little or no documentable Indian ancestry, historic identity and were viewed collections of persons assembled for the purpose of petitioning, with little or no historical, political, or social affiliation with one another before that point. These groups’ petitions and the federal responses to them can be viewed on the BIA website. To be recognized, these groups had to meet several requirements, which of the many only the Poarch band of Creek Indians did, in 1986. The Assistant Secretary must acknowledge the existence of the petitioner as an Indian tribe if it satisfies all of the following criteria:

• The petitioner has been identified as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis since 1900. § 83.7(a).

• A predominant portion of the petitioning group comprises a distinct community and has existed as a community from historical times until the present. § 83.7(b).

• The petitioner has maintained political influence or authority over its members as an autonomous entity from historical times until the present. § 83.7(c).

• It submits to the BAR a copy of the group's present governing document including its membership criteria. § 83.7(d).

• The petitioner's membership consists of individuals who descend from a historical Indian tribe or from historical Indian tribes which combined and functioned as a single autonomous political entity. § 83.7(e). (The petitioner must provide an official membership list certified by the group's governing body. It must also submit a copy of each available former list of members based on the group's own criterion).

• The membership of the petitioning group is composed principally of persons who are not members of any acknowledged North American Indian tribe. § 83.7(f). (It can meet the criteria if: (1) the petitioner can establish that it has functioned throughout history until the present as a separately autonomous tribal entity; (2) that its members do not maintain a bilateral political relationship with the acknowledged tribe; and (3) that its members have provided written confirmation of their membership in the petitioning group).

• Neither the petitioner nor its members are the subject of congressional legislation that has expressly terminated or forbidden the federal relationship. § 83.7(g).

The Apalachicola River Community of Indians had since 1977 developed a working relationship with families and leaders from the Bruce Community in Walton County, the nearest group asserting Indian identity, and cooperation on Indian advancement issues got under way in the context of many grants, tribal initiatives, and representation at the tribal council meetings of the Florida Tribe of Eastern Creek Indians (FTECI) and at the Florida Governors Council meetings on behalf of our Indian people in Jackson and Calhoun County. In 1978 the FTECI submitted an initial petition to BIA which to this date remains unconcluded. As funding came to the FTECI through grants and other sources, development of the petition effort led to research and inquiry efforts by the FTECI Tribal Council to supply documentation of the Bruce community and its primary residents, descendants of the James and Elizabeth English Ward family having Native American origins. These research efforts soon revealed that most of the individuals and families involved in the FTECI from Bruce had little if any documentation of Indian ancestry. With this the leadership of the Apalachicola River Community of Indians realized that continued cooperation with the group was detrimental to the efforts to further the development of the Indian Community in Jackson and Calhoun Counties.

In 1995 tribal meetings began in Blountstown among the Florida Cheraw community members and the leadership of the Apalachicola River Community of Indians, to severe its 20 year working relationship with local Creek groups and leaders. The Florida Tribe of Eastern Creek Indians, later renamed the Muscogee Nation of Florida (MNF) in the early 2000’s was during 1980’s and 90’s primarily headed by Dr. Andrew Ramsey and Don Sharon, followed by John Thomas and Breck Mason, all Ward family descendants. After these men, the late 1990’s would see Ann Denson Tucker came to leadership with the FTECI becoming the MNF and securing more than 1 million dollars in grant and private funding for their federal recognition effort. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were given to a private ethno historical research firm called McClurken and Associates. Even with such money spent, no evidence surfaced supported the FTECI claims. (

Below is the excerpt form that report.

“BIA Summary of MNF federal petition (2016) finds that the majority of the group's members claim descent from Elizabeth (English) Ward. The petitioner claims that she was a Creek Indian child found alongside a river or a road and reared by a non-Indian English family. Evidence created and recorded in Elizabeth (English) Ward's lifetime - not all of which appears in the materials the BIA reviewed for the Eastern Creek claims - shows her participation in land dealings as an actual heir of James English, even while a minor.


In the absence of a legislative petition establishing her as an unrelated heir (as done in similar petitions in early Georgia), the evidence contemporary to her lifetime supports a conclusion that Elizabeth English was a biological child of non-Indian James English and his non-Indian wife, and was not an adopted Indian child. Analysis of the documentation that the petitioner submitted and OFA obtained did not verify Creek or other Indian ancestry for any of the petitioner's members, including the 515 current members who claim descent from Elizabeth (English) Ward, the 20 members who claim descent from her brother-in-law Elijah Ward and his wife Sarah Anne Cochran, or the 59 current members who do not claim English or Ward descent. OFA did not identify any current members who claim to descend from four of the 16 historical Creek individuals the petitioner asserts as ancestors (Nimrod Doyle, Richard Taylor, Daniel David Ward, and Joshua Wiggins). Members' documented ancestry demonstrates that they do not descend from another four of the 16 (James Earle, William Tarvin, Arthur Sizemore, and Mary Bailey). Evidence of Creek or Indian ancestry was insufficient for the remaining eight of the 16 claimed historical Creek individuals, and, therefore, it was not necessary to analyze whether each member's file included sufficient evidence to demonstrate generation-by-generation descent from the ancestor(s) claimed.”

This excerpt is included to illustrate reasons the ARCI leaders chose to break with ongoing cooperation with the group as of 2001. Ongoing questions of the legitimacy of the claims of Indian identity by the Ward family and “Chief” Andrew Ramsey were primary in this decision, and the ARCI doubts has been confirmed by the BIA in its response to the FTECI/MNF petition in the above recent report from 2016.The ARCI initiative was commenced in 1996 with the first annual Indian Community Conference held at the W. T. Neal Civic Center in Blountstown Florida. This community gathering led to the organizing of the ARCITO council to represent the interest of the descendants of the only DOCUMENTED Indian community across time in the panhandle, the Florida Cheraw. After an initial political struggle with Apalachicola River Community of Indians families of partial Creek ancestry as well as Cheraw over the councils long term goals, the ARCITO was able to move in a positive direction as council members determined to make a difference for their tribe worked though the annual community conference to identify and take action on tribal projects. Some of these included working with the state of Florida to maintain the historic Fort Gadsden site, meeting with the Governor on issues facing the community, and increasing ties to the Carolina tribes, all these efforts facilitated the growth of the tribe and the renewal of its government’s role in the Indian community.

Led by Tribal Chairman Pony Hill, the ARCITO Tribal Council legally incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) in 2003, formalizing its long standing role in the community as a governing organization of the Florida Cheraw tribal-affiliated Indians. Being incorporated as a 501(c) (3) allows for federal tax exemption of the tribe as a nonprofit organization, and specifically those that are considered public charities, private foundations or private operating foundations. It is regulated and administered by the US Department of Treasury through the Internal Revenue Service. For all tribes this is an important aspect of their role in the community. In 2003 ARCITO contacted the Bureau of Indian Affairs to begin the process of petitioning for federal recognition, though a previous inquiry to petition was made through the “Blountstown Indian Community” (BIC), a precursor name of ARCITO in 1999, with a letter of intention to petition for federal recognition being sent but later withdrawn in favor of what would ultimately be ARCITO (The BIC effort included families of Euchee Indian descent from Holmes County as well). From 2003 forward the ARCITO Tribal Council has been chaired by S. Pony Hill and after intense internal struggles and contention with some councilpersons regarding the direction of tribal affairs in the late 2000’s, the Tribal Council had by the 20th annual Indian Community Conference in 2016, accomplished a reorganization, had several books on tribal history available, and secured several grants.

Today, our Apalachicola River Community Indian Tribal Organization, Inc. is a modern affair seeking the good governance and economic development opportunities as are all tribes, yet is a continuation of the community and family authority leadership structure that extends back to the early times when our Apalachicola River Community of Indians ancestors lived in their sovereign tribal territories to the north. Indeed we as the tribal council must be working diligently toward improving the health, education, and economic condition of the tribal members who remain in the tribe’s historic territory. Our modern Apalachicola River Community of Indians tribe is governed by a Tribal Council, which consists of seven members including the Secretary-treasurer, Vice Chairman, and the Chairman. The Chairman doesn’t vote except to break a tie as needed. The recognized tribally designated jurisdiction area (T.D.J.A.) of the ARCITO consists of Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Holmes and Liberty Counties. The tribal government has tackled many economic, educational, cultural and health issues facing their citizens every day since 2003, including a partnership founded with the Florida state Park Service to provide maintenance and upkeep of the Fort Gadsden Historical site, Free G.E.D. training and testing provided to tribal citizens, referrals to Florida Kidcare to provide reduced or free healthcare, and recently a grant for a travelling exhibit and a beekeeping operation.

As of 2012, the United States government acknowledged 566 Indian tribes, bands, or communities, affirm the special fiduciary relationship between the federal government and each tribe. Federal acknowledgement grants specific legal status on tribes and imposes certain responsibilities on the federal government. These responsibilities are many and include an obligation to provide certain benefits to tribes and their members. Questions of identity are among the most challenging of issues facing Indian people in our time; addressing who is Native American, and who is not is shaping much of the social, legal, and political landscape of “Indian country”, and extends beyond its rarified borders.

Generally “Indian Country” can be defined as including "all land within the limits of any Indian reservation", "all dependent Indian communities within the borders of the United States", and "all Indian allotments, the Indian titles to which have not been extinguished." This important legal status defines American Indian tribal and individual land holdings as part of a reservation, an allotment, or a public domain allotment. All federal trust lands that the federal government holds for the hundreds of tribes across the United States is called “Indian country”. The question of who decides which definitions of identity prevails is a complex tangle of factors and forces. While many Native peoples are well known, communities with their federal acknowledgement by the U.S. federal government marked by past treaties and often the establishment of reservation lands specifically for them. For those tribes who do not enjoy the benefits of the special “government to government” relationship know as federally acknowledgement, survival in tedious, as most federal, state, and local governments use this category in their legal processes. In our look into the history of our people, we have seen how in the past the “legal processes” have at times been unjust at times.

The members of our Apalachicola River Community of Indians are not unique as an Indian people who do not live on a “reservation”; according to the recent federal census of 2010, over 78% of Native Americans do not live on an Indian reservations. In some sense “Indian country” today includes the many rural areas, small towns and big cities where contemporary Indian people live, said to be near two million Native Americans according to some sources.

For a small minority of tribes, sometimes known as “historically non-federally recognized tribes”, looming over the already challenging realities of maintaining a tribal identity in the 21st century is the fact that they are not part of this “Indian Country”, nor have access to the flow of federal funds that support the framework of life and governance on most reservations or Indian jurisdictional areas. While some tribal groups are not federally acknowledged but have qualified for and received funding from federal sources; some are state recognized and/or may be located on state reservations. State recognition is the case with a couple of tribes we are drawn from historically, including the Lumbee Tribe of Cheraw Indians in Robeson County, North Carolina and the Sumter Band of Cheraw Indians in South Carolina. Due to the nature of the laws of the State of Florida, it does not have a “state recognition” for tribes; it simply says that if you are a federally acknowledged tribe, such as the Seminole, Miccosukee, or Poarch Creek, then you are state recognized. If you are not federally recognized, neither are your recognized by the state of Florida. This is different from most of the states in the south, who have state recognized tribes.

A report from the Government Accounting Office found that of the approximately 400 non-federally recognized tribes that GAO identified, 26 received funding from 24 federal programs during fiscal years 2007 through 2010. A majority of the 26 non-federally recognized tribes designated were eligible to receive this funding via their status as nonprofit organizations or state-recognized tribes. Such realities motivated at least in part the push for formal governance in the early 2000’s that led to the Apalachicola River Community of Indians Tribal Organization (ARCITO) acquiring its status as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, and its high priority to implement more economic development opportunities for the tribe.

Evidence of the need for such ARCITO goals is recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) reporting that most of the 24 federal programs that had awarded funding to non-federally recognized tribes during the 4-year period examined were authorized to fund nonprofit organizations or state-recognized tribes. As discussed previously, the door to “state recognition” of the Florida Cheraw tribe by the state of Florida is firmly closed (and sealed via millions spent by Seminole, Miccosukee and Poarch Creek lobbyist). That there are many other Native communities who know their own tribal identity and yet continue to go unrecognized as such by the United States federal government is an ongoing challenges for the historically non-federally recognized tribes, and for many this struggle strangely parallels the struggles of generations past against Jim Crow segregation and social marginalization. Once called too “black” to be Indians, they are now called too “white” to be Indians in many cases.

The pressing question of the federal recognition of American Indian identity are complex, long-standing and oft highly charged emotional matters for communities. These issues are far reaching and affect access to the protection of treaty relationships and trust lands, established Indian health and welfare programs, and exercising of self-determination. The American government does officially recognize over 500 distinct Native communities, but the reality that there are still numerous Native communities who have documented histories and ongoing struggles for self-determination, tribes who know who they are but who remain formally “unrecognized” by the United States. This even when many receive recognition by states or localities and acknowledgement by federally recognized tribes yet are barred by particulars of the convoluted federal Indian policies of the past and present. Tribal communities with easily documented identities across the last 2 centuries but for whom many doors are closed politically.

In the 1930s, the groundwork for present realities were laid as the structure of tribal governments under the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), were established by Congress and many Indian communities, including some tribes who were treaty signatories, opted to not participate in the recognition process. Such a choice was often made because the tribes experience with the United States government in times past marked more by unwanted intrusion than by any obvious benefit to the tribe. The expansion of government harkened the increase of the capacity and reach of officially “federally recognized” tribal governments as the implementation of the Great Society programs occurred in the 1960s and in saw its appearance in Indian country with an official U.S. policy of Indian self-determination most noticeably.

Federal Indian policy grew through many legislative efforts such as the 1975 Indian Self Determination and Education Act and others. This act enabled tribal governments to exercise self-determination as governments by acting as contractors for government educational and social service programs that had been hitherto outside their prevue. Most vaunted in our current landscape, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act would formally acknowledge the innate authority of federally recognized tribal governments to participate in oft profitable economic development ventures in casino gaming. Native American tribal communities unrecognized to date by the federal government are unauthorized to participate in many of these type endeavors. They get no benefit from such programs and policies as to the federally recognized tribes. Some tribes have recourse with the state and become state recognized at least.

Since 1999, ARCITO tribal leaders have been communicating with Florida legislators and congressmen regarding benefits and privileges available through official recognition of the tribe by the State of Florida, though this process has been stalled much of the way; Florida unlike all other southern states has no “state recognition process”, outside of already being federally recognized.

Since the regulations regarding the federal recognition process were first implemented in the late 1970’s there have been many communities asserting their identity as Native American tribes that have come forward to apply for federal recognition. Having worked over the decades as consultants to several such “petitioning” groups as well as periods of being employed by federal tribal governments, my cousin S. Pony HILL and I know all too well the excruciatingly lengthy, expensive, laborious, and political process this is. It is often intensely emotionally charged and costly to those tribes which undertake its rigors.

Most famous of all tribes involved in the process of petitioning for federal acknowledgement are our genealogical “cousins”, the Lumbee Tribe of Cheraw Indians. For over a century the North Carolina Lumbee, concentrated in Robeson County have been struggling to get Federal Recognition and its accompanying empowerment and benefits. That the tribe would have already gotten the recognition which they have been fighting for since 1885 seems logical, but the recognition process is anything but logical. Recently Lumbee Tribal Chairman Harvey Godwin shared documents of the original Lumbee petition for federal recognition forwarded to the federal government in 1888, the ancient pages bearing the mark of his great-grandfather, Quinn Godwin, one of the 45 men who signed the document.

Recently the five decades long “logjam” that was a major hurdle to Lumbee recognition was cleared when on December 22 of 2016, the United States Department of the Interior reversed a long-held position that had hindered the tribes efforts for justice. This position was the 1956 Lumbee Act which both terminated our existing rights, benefits, and privileges as well as prohibited the application of future legislation to the Lumbee as an Indian tribe. While this recent opinion does not grant the Lumbee Tribe of Cheraw Indians full federal recognition, it does open up additional avenues for pursuing efforts it would have previously been unable to.

For tribes like our own and dozens of others similar to us in North and South Carolina, with shared Catawban roots in common with our much larger cousin the Lumbee Tribe, such events are good news. Unlike the Carolina’s, we know that in our state the deck is stacked and that Florida has in many regards not changed that much from the battles for dignity fought by Tom Scott, Hugh Oxendine, Armand Copeland, or David Martin. The unwillingness of the Florida state authorities to even provide an avenue for communication, much less acknowledgment of recognition of our existence, is par for the course for our people. Since a meeting with Florida’s Governor Jeb Bush a decade and a half ago, there has been little response to the efforts by the ARCITO tribal council to find routes for dialogue. Successful efforts by our Chairman Pony Hill over the last decade to assist our SC kinsmen, the Sumter Band of Cheraw ( to secure state recognition is one of the recent victories that encourage us onwards. In 2013, South Carolina acted to officially recognize its eighth Indian tribe; the action was the culmination of a 14-year mission by the Sumter Band’s Chief, Ralph Justice Oxendine, even as it begins a new chapter for the tribe there. Like our friends in SC, the work of securing a better future for our tribe is before us and we must continue a tradition of preserving our heritage and identity like those before us did.



The members of your community have entrusted you with the responsibility to lead and govern in an effective and fair manner. Becoming an effective council member does not just happen. You need to develop the skills and knowledge that will help you work harmoniously with your peers, resolve conflict and learn the art of compromise. Along with these skills, you need to develop the ability to understand multiple historical, social, political, and financial issues.

Serving on Tribal Council requires that we have a thorough understanding of the mission of our organization, our role and responsibility; and laws that pertain to our Tribal Organization. Council members are constantly faced with social, legal, and fiscal challenges, must have a good understanding of the legislative process, and have a full understanding of the doctrines of tribal sovereignty. The Tribal leadership will throughout the years receive training on constitutional principles, tribal governance, trust doctrines, federal Indian laws, and developments that pertain to tribal nations like our own. Some of these to be addressed areas include:

• Your role as an officer and member of the tribal council

• History of our tribe

• Federal Indian law and constitutional principles regarding federal, state, and historically non-federally recognized tribes

• Overview of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) and modern tribal governance

• Importance of separation of powers, Rule of Law, and Tribal sovereignty

• How Articles of Incorporation & By‐Laws work

• Overview of how the federal government’s fiduciary trust relationship works

• Developing tribal economic development (LRDA model)

• Importance of strategic short term/Long term planning

• Importance of traditional tribal culture in the 21st century




•The Chairman is the chief spokesperson for the Tribe, represents the Tribe by name and title, and corresponds with other governments and external entities on behalf of the Tribe.

•Calls for and presides over regularly scheduled meetings of the Tribe Council, general membership and other special meetings considered necessary to conduct Tribal business.

•Presents and explains the position of the Tribe on all matters of importance.

•Delegates tasks to members of the Council including but not limited to preparing reports, attending meetings, reviewing documents and implementing policies.


•The Vice-Chairman shall, in the absence of the Chairman, perform all duties and assume all responsibilities vested in the Chairman. The Vice-Chairman shall upon the request of the Chairman, assist in carrying out the duties of the Chairman.

•Calls for and presides over regularly scheduled meetings of the Tribe Council, general membership and other special meetings considered necessary to conduct Tribal business at the behest of the Tribal Chairman.

•Maintain the tribal membership roll and facilitate general internal governance functions.


•The Secretary/Treasurer shall keep the minutes of all regular and special meetings of the Tribal Council and of the general membership meetings and make copies available to the membership upon request.

•Act as the official custodian of all Tribal records including but not limited to: Tribal enrollment records; original Tribal Council Ordinances and Resolutions; minutes of Tribal Council meetings; real property records pertaining to the Tribe.

•Act as custodian of all tribal funds; disburse funds in accordance with orders and resolutions of the Council. Account for receipts and disbursements and report the same in writing to the Council at all regular meetings, and be bonded in such amounts as the Council may provide.

•Act as the official agent of the Tribe for purposes of service of process.

•The Treasurer’s records shall be subject to audit or inspection upon the request of the Tribal Council at any time. An annual financial statement shall be prepared in a manner prescribed by the council and made available to the general membership.


“I solemnly swear that I will uphold the Constitution and Laws of the Apalachicola River Community of Indians Tribal Organization, that I will serve the Tribe to the best of my ability, that I will work for the entire membership of the Tribe, that I will responsibly represent the Tribe, that I will carry out the directions of the Tribal Council, that I will declare when a conflict of interest could affect the performance of my duties on behalf of the Tribe, and that I will perform all duties required of me by the Constitution and Law of the Tribe.”


• "Leadership is based on the knowledge of knowing your community, knowing your people, knowing the visions, and knowing the culture."

• "A true leader not only mentors for the people who are following, but also shares the leadership and develops the leadership within the group or the membership."

• "If you want to be a leader, you have to also be the guy who is cleaning up the place. A true leader is a great follower. If you can't follow, how in the heck can you lead?"




“To promote self-sufficiency, improve the quality of life, and preserve the cultural identity for the Apalachicola River Community of Indians.”


Vision in tribal leadership is about looking ahead to the future. A good leader has vision or insight into the future, seeing the future needs of the people. Sometimes a vision comes during times of hardships. Tribal leaders have always had the vision to look ahead and plan and pray, not for themselves, but for everyone who is to come. This is what is meant when someone talks about praying for seven generations to come. Below is the Vision statement of our tribal government.

“To be a self-sufficient tribal community empowered to thrive in the modern world while preserving our cultural foundation.”




Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on August 4, 2017 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (0)




September 10- Council Meeting

November (Set date for Conference)

December 10- Council Meeting



January 14- Council training

March 11- Council Meeting

April 15- Council training

June 10- Council Meeting

July 15- Council training

September 9- Council Meeting

October 14- Council training

December 9- Council Meeting



Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on August 4, 2017 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (1)


The governor of Florida officially declared last May the opioid epidemic to be a public health emergency, several years after it began to cut a deadly path through our state. Gov. Scott’s declaration allows Florida to access more than $54 million in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant money. These funds can be utilized to pay for prevention, treatment and recovery services, all sorely needed. This is a good start, a down payment on what a real response must be to make a difference. This epidemic is felt as much among our Apalachicola River Community of Indians as well, just as is it among our neighbors. Our area like so many throughout Florida being one where opioid-related overdoses have skyrocketed in recent years and countless more people in the area suffer from increasingly visible opioid addiction. This struggle against addiction has affected every part of our society: Its impacts are seen in the economy, hospitals, schools and our homes. We all have seen its victims in town, on the streets, and among our neighbors and family. The young people of our community are especially susceptible to the epidemic, putting the very future of the next generation at risk. What can be done?

When I became Vice Chief of the Apalachicola River Community of Indian Tribal Organization, I made a commitment to work to protect the health and welfare of our nearly 300 citizens, about half of whom live inside our historic tribal area boundaries in the Florida central panhandle. Funding can’t solve our problems, but it can help. Our Economic Development Committee like so many others is actively seeking venues and funding for initiatives addressing the problem among our scattered Indian families; we feel the impacts of the opioid epidemic every day, as we watch our friends and loved ones grapple with the consequences of addiction. Despite authorities’ best efforts, the crisis is still ravaging communities unabated. A week ago a young women just a few houses away was found dead. This is truly a matter of life and death, which is why we all must be doing everything in our power to prevent friends and families becoming entangled with prescription opioids.

Perspectives into the factors involved I have researched lately surrounding the epidemic seem to suggest that McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health, Inc., AmerisourceBergen, CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. and even Walmart Stores, Inc., as well as other corporations have in part fueled this epidemic by saturating many communities with these highly addictive painkillers, ignoring warning signs that these drugs are not landing in the right hands. This epidemic has cost our community health services tens of millions of dollars, not to mention the thousands of lives lost and ruined. That’s lives we can’t get back, futures now cut short. That's dollars lost, that we could use for our schools, college scholarships, hospitals, roads or housing. We must not allow our fellow citizens to suffer while corporations make huge profits at everyone else’s expense. Our fellow Floridians must know they are not fighting addiction alone, and our actions as citizens, communities and governments will reveal our strength of intention.

No one has felt the impact of the opioid crisis more than our children. For children born into families struggling with opioid addiction, their lives are often a tragic cycle of abuse and neglect. A recent study found pregnant Native American women are up to 8.7 times more likely to be opioid dependent. This means more babies born with lifelong physical, mental and emotional deficiencies. Sadly, these infants are then often immediately placed into foster care. These families are torn apart before they ever have a chance to be whole, and our whole society suffers as a result. The drug distributors and retailers have avoided their duty as a “check” on the system by failing to monitor, report and prevent illegal opioid activity. We must show that enough is enough. This growing epidemic is ripping apart families, straining our community resources and wreaking havoc across the nation and we must act now. We must ensure distributors and corporate pharmacies are held accountable for their negligence and greed, so costly to everyday folks. Putting people before profits must be communicated to them.

H. Scott Sewell

Vice Chairman, Apalachicola River Community of Indians Tribal Organization


A Rocky Road Ahead for Indian Country by H. Scott Sewell

Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on July 28, 2017 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

A Rocky Road Ahead for Indian Country by H. Scott Sewell

Ah, the good old days. When President Obama was in office, he and his staff many times met with native community members across the country seeking information and insights to set the direction of his administrations efforts. Once he visited young Indian people at the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in North Dakota and heard about their struggles there, and was so inspired by meeting them and what they shared that he came back to Washington, D.C., with clear instructions for his Cabinet to be doing everything it could to expand economic and educational opportunity for Indian youngsters. Few of the Indian reservations in the United States have functioning economies and more often have real economic problems. They lack in large part institutions in which residents can be employed, cash checks, and spend money within the community, and during the Obama administration the effort to make change happen was occurring even if not as fast as everyone had hoped. Indian youth especially find difficulty their lot on many reservations.

The Wind River Indian Reservation and its Wyoming Indian High School is one such community among many struggling for native youth’s future. As it does in so many tribal communities across Indian country, high unemployment persists in Wind River, the seventh largest Indian reservation in the country. Encompassing more than 2.2 million acres, the Wind River Indian Reservation is home to the Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho tribes. Despite this obstacle of few jobs available, hopes and dreams for their futures motivate many kids there. They all are aiming high and some want to become nurses, business owners and computer programmers, others desire to work in language preservation and cultural rejuvenation These Indians know how to fight and succeed at their goals as their basketball team has won 11 titles since the mid-1970s. During the previous administration the Department of Labor invested millions to expand job training and increase economic opportunity in Indian Country, places like Wind River.

A new state-of-the-art Wind River Job Corps Center will help student’s at Wind River to earn their high school diploma or GED, and provide them with the training and skills they need to pursue successful careers in fields like diesel mechanics, construction, and facilities maintenance, welding and accounting. The Wind River center also is the first and only in the country to offer training for aspiring petroleum technicians. Its petroleum technician training program was developed in partnership with employers Marathon Oil, Conoco Phillips, Devon Energy and Encana Corp. This is the type of investment that will provide native young people, including many reservation tribal youths, with the skills they need to compete and thrive in today's workforce, one that is increasingly technology reliant. The lack of economic development on reservations is a major factor in creating the extreme poverty, unemployment, and the accompanying social issues that Indian nations face. Tribal governments can help solve this problem by increasing the number of privately and tribally owned businesses on reservations.

The need to address ways to expand access to capital in rural communities, including an examination of the unique challenges facing Indian Country and reservations in increasing the flow of credit to Indian reservations, is ongoing under the new administration. Economic development and job creation in Indian Country is dependent in some measure on having access to capital. If business owners can easily borrow to finance business start-up and growth of existing ones, the economy thrives and grows. One thing heard often from tribal leaders, however, is that Indian Country is a difficult place to borrow money for. Reasons range from difficulties in using tribal lands as collateral, to the small number of lending institutions that serve Indian Country. As well the lenders’ perceptions that lending to tribal members or tribal governments is risky adds to the difficulty.

Since much of tribally-owned land is held in trust by the federal government, this means it cannot be sold outside the tribe to cover lender costs should a borrower default on a loan. Though the trust status of tribal land preserves a communal land base it also makes the processes for using land as collateral more challenging for doing business in Indian Country, more so than it is in neighboring non-Indian communities. There are few lending institutions serving tribal communities unsurprisingly, it is more difficult for these institutions and those native start up efforts in Indian Country seeking to borrow to gain experience with extending and gaining credit. Lenders are reticent to enter into financing with tribes and tribal corporations related to real and perceived concerns over the status of Indian tribes as governments, a challenge long facing tribes.

Tribal governments help when they provide the laws, regulations, and ethical court systems that will assist and protect incoming business and property rights; few will locate their business and risk their time and money on a reservation where the odds against being successful are high. Indian nations must make their reservations fair and reasonable locations for businesses to locate if they expect to attract investment and build economies, and truly find self-determination so long pursued.

Recently while speaking directly to Intergovernmental Affairs Officer Billy Kirkland, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said that Indian tribes need to own their lands to foster economic and infrastructure development, a view controversial in some corners. Tribes must take more initiative to be the driving force behind federal policies targeted toward new jobs and economic development in Indian Country. Having an attitude that is consistent with the policy of Indian self-determination can be crucial, but the trust status of lands lies at the foundation of Indian political identity. Any changes are often seen as threatening, with the status quo better than what is possible of too much change runs amok.

The transition in presidents has brought into stark relief the challenges that are still confronting Indian communities and the fragility of tribal sovereignty. The Trump administration thus far has few ideas beyond exploiting Indian Country it appears. Native American reservations cover just 2 percent of the United States, but they may contain about a fifth of the nation’s oil and gas, along with vast coal reserves. These resources have long been sought by many corporate interests across the years of changing federal policy. Trump’s aim of slashing regulation to boost energy production, could and most likely will deeply divide tribal leaders.

They unsurprisingly hold a range of opinions on the proper balance between development and conservation of tribal lands and resources. Trump’s main domestic policy goal is job creation, an endeavor which presents an opportunity for tribes seeking to exercise their oft professed goal of economic development. The Indian treaties negotiated in generations gone by are not a business plan, and change is needed on many reservations. The tribes need a new beginning, a new federal policy, but will Trump and his perspectives be the hoped for opportunity?

Despite success in the gaming arena, reflected by the news the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) released concerning the Fiscal Year 2016 Gross Gaming Revenue numbers totaling $31.2 billion, an overall increase of 4.4 percent, the next 4 years may be bleak. Most of the many social problems on Indian reservations can be traced directly to the staggering unemployment rates, and job creation beckons as a primary route for improvement of Indian lives. Recently Trump laid blame at the feet of the federal government for smothering prosperity in Indian Country in an official event with tribal leaders, and said tribes stand to gain financially by developing their natural resources and that he will make it "easier" for them to do just that, he promised. Trump is manifesting fears across Indian Country in his actions so far by seeking drastic cuts in education, health, housing and other key programs. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service and other agencies are among the many losers in Trump's fiscal year 2018 budget, which showed them often reduced to levels not seen in nearly a decade. Many postulated that Donald Trump’s policies would be threatening to tribal rights, tribal sovereignty, cultural identity, and too many of the established relationships between Indian Country and the other governments.

Many are asking if President Trump will attempt to eliminate the BIA. Recent comments by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke promised ‘bold’ Interior Department reorganization, but in the current environment of chaos and uncertainty, few have confidence on what that really means. Federal funding for Indian people has been perennially reduced for the BIA and other agencies for years, but the Trump White House continues the diminishing of the supply to Indian Country in its recent budget proposal. It appears with only $2.5 billion designated toward Indian affairs. This reduction of $370 million for the BIA and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) alone is shocking to many tribal leaders. This is happening even as there are more federally recognized tribes, now enumerated at 567 groups with more needs than ever before. The slices of pie are getting thinner and thinner, the jostling for resources with sharper elbows. Indian Country should take a deep breath and brace for one of its most difficult chapters in generations and be prepared to pull together to weather the storm that’s brewing on the horizon.



The Apalachicola River Indian Community of Indians of Florida Informational Narrative

Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on July 14, 2017 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

The Apalachicola River Indian Community of Indians of Florida

The Apalachicola River Indian Community of Indians are the modern descendants of the Eastern Siouan Indian people (including Catawba, Cheraw, and Lumbee) who migrated from the Carolinas to Florida’s panhandle as early as the 1820’s. The ancestors of the tribe are identified as “Free People of Color” before the Civil War and as one of several “American isolate” unique racial groups afterwards. These are common surnames historically associated with the tribal community: Ammons Ayers Barnwell Bass Bennett Bird Blanchard Boggs Brown Bullard Bunch Bryant Brooks Chason Chavis Conyers Copeland Davis Doyle Goins Hall Harris Hicks Hill Holly Ireland Jacobs Johnson Jones Kever Long Lovett Mainer Martin Mayo Moses Oxendine Perkins Porter Potter Quinn Scott Simmons Smith Stafford Stephens Sweat Thomas Whitfield and Williams.

Historically, the Apalachicola River Indian Community of Indians lived predominately in several small settlements at Scott Town in Jackson County, Scotts Ferry in southern Calhoun County, and Woods across the Apalachicola River in Liberty County, and Mt Zion in Holmes County. These communities were similar to many of the Indian settlements in the Carolinas and most of the ancestors of the Indian people in the Florida settlements migrated to the panhandle originally came from Union and Sumter Counties in South Carolina and Robeson County in North Carolina, during in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

These settlements faced persecution under the racial miscegenation laws of the Jim Crow Era, a situation which would last until the desegregation of American society a century later. The people of these communities would constantly have to fight prejudiced local authorities and institutional racism to maintain their identities, as documented in the hundreds of archival records which identify these persons race as "Indian", via dozens of court cases and school board records, military enlistments, and tax records. Formally established in 2003 as a 501c3, the Apalachicola River Community of Indians Tribal Organization (ARCITO) was created to provide services for the Florida panhandle area Indian communities. ARCITO’s Annual Indian Community Conference (ARCITO-AICC), began in 1996, is a free open to the public event which focuses on gathering information on the needs of the Native American population as well as surrounding communities and devising, implementing, and executing responses to these.

ARCITO Tribal Chairman S. Pony Hill; [email protected] (850) 597-5034

ARCITO Vice Chairman H.C. Scott Sewell [email protected] (850) 254-5426


Local Native American Author to Visit Calhoun County Library August 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th 2017

Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on July 14, 2017 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Local Native American Author to Visit Calhoun County Library August 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th 2017

H.C. Scott Sewell will be presenting on the legal and social history of the areas Native American communities and signing books he has authored, as well as assisting those seeking to document their Indian ancestry from the area, during the month of August on Monday nights from 530 to 730 pm central time at the Blountstown Library. He has written several books on subjects related to the areas rich Native American heritage and currently serves as the Vice-Chairman of the Apalachicola River Community of Indians Tribal Organization (ARCITO). His works are available on Amazon, and local libraries and historical societies and some will be available at the events.

The Indians of North Florida: From Carolina to Florida, the Story of the Survival of a Distinct American Indian Community (2011) in the early 1800s, dozens of Siouan-speaking Cheraw families, including Catawbas and Lumbee’s, fled war and oppression in the Carolinas and migrated to Florida, just as native Apalachicola Creeks were migrating away. Being neither Black nor White, the Cheraw descendants were persecuted by the harsh “racial” dichotomy of the Jim Crow era and almost forgot their proud heritage. Today they have rediscovered their past. This is their story.

Belles of the Creek Nation (2015) Belles of The Creek Nation is an innovative and modern perspective investigating the problematic linkages between preservation of cultural heritage, maintaining cultural diversity, defining and establishing cultural citizenship, and ancient tribal rite of passage. It follows the descendants of the Hill family in both Florida and Oklahoma.

The Cherokee Paradox: Unexpected Ancestry at the Crossroads of Identity and Genetics (2016) Genetics has brought to light in stunning detail the origins, continual migrations, and intermixture of humanity as how our ancestors spread across the planet. The complexity of this story has taken many by surprise.

Indians of Alabama: Guide to the Indian Tribes of the Yellowhammer State (2016) Unknown too many outside of their small communities, there are still many Alabamians who identify as Native Americans and their tribal communities are thriving.

We Will Always Be Here: Native Peoples on Living and Thriving in the South (Anthology, 2016) The history of Native Americans in the U.S. South is a turbulent one, rife with conflict and inequality. This anthology gives voice to their struggle and triumph.

Redbone Chronicles (Anthology, 2016) the history, genealogy and origins of the people known as Redbone, the Redbone Heritage Foundation began publishing a collection of conference presentations, articles and essays and genealogies in the Redbone Chronicles, edited by Don C. Marler and Gary "Mishiho" Gabehart We have combined those here and updated the January 2007 issues.

The author is a member of the Apalachicola River Community of Indians Tribal Organization (ARCITO), a local tribal organization that works for the political, social, and legal welfare of the Indian people across the panhandle, and is focused on documenting historic archival research into the tribe’s history, increasing economic development, fostering the communities unique cultural identity, and providing venues for communication, awareness, and growth of tribal members and the public alike. Historically, the Apalachicola River Community of Indians lived in several small settlements; Scott Town in Jackson County, Scotts Ferry in southern Calhoun County, Woods (across the Apalachicola River in Liberty County), and Mt Zion/Simmonsville in Holmes County. Apalachicola River Community of Indians people were in the past sometimes known as “Dominickers”, and historically maintained a “third race” status during segregation between the 2 dominant races.

The Apalachicola River Community of Indians are culturally and genealogically connected to many of the Indian settlements in the Carolinas, as most of the ancestors of the Florida settlements migrated to the panhandle originally from the Catawba Indian reservation at Rock Hill, from the nearby Sumter Band of Cheraw in South Carolina as well as from communities of the Lumbee Tribe of Cheraw Indians in Robeson County North Carolina, during in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Apalachicola River Community of Indians began its Annual Indian Community Conference in 1996 and it continues to provide a forum for addressing issues of concern to the panhandle Indian people. It is held at the WT Neal Civic Center in Blountstown Florida each spring and is open to the public.

For more information on the author as well as the tribe’s Apalachicola River Community of Indians history co to, or contact H. C. Scott Sewell at (850) 254-5426 or at [email protected]



Baker Block Museum Annual Heritage Festival

Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on July 14, 2017 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)


Baker Block Museum


Corner of Hwy 189 & State Rd. 4. Baker, FL. 32526

Annual Heritage Festival                 

origins of the holmes county Indians

Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on June 20, 2017 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (0)

origins of the holmes county Indians







1677………Treaty of Middle Plantation negotiated between the Colony of Virginia and the Meherrin Tribe. Signed by Ununteguero, the “Chief man” and Harehannah, the “Head Chief man.” Resulted in the Meherrin abandoning their northernmost territories and confining themselves to the Virginia/North Carolina border.


1696…….The Meherrin have abandoned all of their previous territory in present-day Virginia. The main Meherrin village is located on the Meherrin River in the area of present-day Murfreesburough, Hertford County, North Carolina.


1705……..Virginia establishes first reservation for the Meherrin on the Meherrin River in present-day Hertford County, North Carolina.



1707……..The Meherrin reservation is attacked by a militia of 60 North Carolina men commanded by Thomas Pollack. 36 Meherrin men are captured and held prisoner by the militia. Virginia intervenes and negotiates release of the Meherrin men.


1711-15…Meherrin divide into two factions: the “hostile” Meherrin who join the Tuscarora in the Tuscarora Wars, and the “friendly” Meherrin who flee north into Virginia and settle alongside Chief Thomas Blount’s “friendly” band of Tuscarora.


1711 Map – Meherrin Indian Towns


1713…….Executive journals of Virginia mention “Mister Thomas, a Meherrin Indian.”


1714……..Virginia establishes Fort Christanna, an outpost, church and school for Virginia’s southernmost Indians, on the upper reaches of the Meherrin River. A one-mile square ‘reservation’ is established around the Fort; Siouan tribes settle on the southern portion of the ‘reservation’ while the Meherrin and Nottoway settle on the northern.


1716……..Two children of Meherrin principal chief Ununteguero taken hostage by the Virginia Colony at William and Mary in Williamsburg.


1727……..Meherrin are reported to be attacked by Saponi and Catawba Indians.


1728………Virginia and North Carolina negotiate a final border survey. The area of the former Meherrin reservation now falls within the borders of North Carolina.


1729………North Carolina General Assembly passes the “Act for the More Quiet Settling the Bounds of the Meherrin Indian Lands.” A new reservation is established at the confluence of the Chowan and Meherrin rivers.



1733 Map – Meherrin Indian Towns

1733……….Edward Moseley’s map of North Carolina marks the Meherrin Indian Towns on both sides of the Chowan River at the confluence of the Meherrin River.

1757……….Seven Meherrin, along with King Blount and 33 Tuscarora, 10 Saponi, and 13 Nottoway, enlist at Williamsburg with George Washington’s regiment in the French and Indian War.

1761………..Report of Arthur Dobbs: Northampton/Granville Counties – Meherrin – 20 fighting men.

1790………..Joseph Hall (the son of a white man and a half-breed Meherrin Indian woman) founds “Hall & Read,” a merchant trading company traveling between the Meherrin River and Norfolk, Virginia.

1792……….Joseph Hall Jr (1/4 Meherrin Indian) marries Elizabeth Bass (1/2 Nansemond Indian). [October 23, 1792 Norfolk County Bond]


1782 French Map – Meherrin Indian Towns

1795……….Meherrin Town marked just south of Potecasi Creek, in Hertford County, on map of Samuel Lewis.

1802……….A small band of Meherrin immigrate north to New York where they settle among a group of Tuscarora who had removed there prior.

1822………Remnant of Meherrin in Hertford County petition North Carolina complaining in regards to a new law that would allow slaves to testify against “free persons of color.” Signors of the petition include Whitmell Chavers, Allen Hall, Harvey W Hall, and Isaac Hall.

1830………White citizens of Norfolk, Virginia challenge the ability of “Hall & Read” to conduct business as they were “…free persons of color.” Norfolk County Court upholds their retail merchant licensure by decision of the Court on November 16, 1830.

1833………George Hall, who had been residing with his mother’s Nansemond Indian family in Norfolk, is issued a certificate by the Norfolk County Court stating “…on satisfactory evidence of white persons [George Hall] is not a free negro or mulatto but of Indian descent.”

1840………Tax list of Walton County, Florida [would later be divided to form Holmes County]:

Allen, Betsey…….2 male free persons of color….4 female free persons of color

Mayo, Alfred…….8 male free persons of color….4 female free persons of color


1843………Numerous Meherrin Indian descended families from Hertford County, North Carolina arrive in North Florida. Included in this migration are Joseph Blanchard, William Chavers, Israel Copeland, Wiley Hall, John ‘Jack’ Jones, Betsey Perkins Smallwood, William Stafford, and Benjamin Thomas.


1847………Tax list of Walton County, Florida [would later be divided to form Holmes County]:

Chavers, William…….taxed $3.00…..a free man of color

Hall, Wiley…………..taxed $6.00……a free man of color

[double taxed as his wife was also non-white.]



1855………Tax list of Walton County, Florida [would later be divided to form Holmes County]:

Benjamin Thomas…….taxed $3.30…..a free man of color


1850 census Walton County:

#109: Hall, Wiley……..age 45….farmer…born NC

Catherine…age 40……………born NC






1850 census, Homes County, Florida:

#109: George W. Mayo (son of Alfred Mayo), wife and 2 kids

#110: Jane Thomas (wife of Benjamin Thomas), 5 children

#111: Micajah Stephens (son of Henry Stephens), wife and 3 children

#112: Alfred Mayo, wife and 5 children

(NOTE: Alfred Mayo would lead a mixed-blood “wagon train” to Louisiana and settle among other mixed-bloods there to form what would later be called the “Red Bones.”)

1860 census, Dale County, Alabama:

#1431: [family of] Ward, Thomas J……35..Male.…”W”………………..…..b. ALA

Simmons, Henry….14…Male….”M”…laborer………….b. ALA



1870 census, Holmes County, Florida:

#320: Thomas, Berrian…………45..Male…”M”…………..b. GA

Mary L [Rally]…34……….”W”……………..ALA

Christian A……. 5 (female) “W”…………….FL

Hall, James M……………13………..”M”……….……FL

Benjamin F………….10………..”M”……………FL

Ruth J………………..8…………”M”…………...FL

#321: Hall, Ann Catherine…..62……..”W”………………b. GA

Elizabeth M…..…20…….”W”…………………ALA

Amelia A……..…18…….”W”…………………ALA

Willis F……….…16…….”W”…………………ALA

#322: Thomas, Mary [Hall]…..38…….”W”……………….b. GA

Mary J………..8……...”W”………………….FL

Sarah F…….…6……..”W”………………….FL


#323: Bland, William……………...32…….”W”……………….b. FL

Martha [Thomas]……33……”M”………………….FL

Clara J…………….…13……”M”………………….FL

June E……………..….4…….”M”………………….FL

William B…………..…2……”M”………………….FL


1870 census, Washington County, Florida:

#7: Simmons, Henry…24..Male…”Indian”…………..b. ALA


1880 Holmes county census:

#142: Hall, Jeff………..”Indian”…34…………..b. FL


#208: Hall, James……..”W”……….23………….B. FL



#209: Thomas, Berry……..”Mu”………57…………..b. GA


Christian….”Mu”……...16 (grand-daug) FL

Hall, Benjamin……...”W”……….21 (step-son)..…FL

#210: Forehand, Sarah (Thomas)…..”Mu”…….52……………b. GA



#211: Bland, William (Thomas)………..”W”……..34……………….b. FL








Hall, Sarah………………………..”Mu”…….15………………..FL…niece

Franklin (Nephew)………... “Mu”…….13………………FL…nephew

1885 Holmes County census:

#531…..Hall, James M………”W”…..25

Alice M……….”W”…..26

Mary J…………”W”…..6




#532……Thomas, Benjamin…….”Mu”…..60

Christian A…..”Mu”…..19…daughter

#533…….Bland, Martha (Thomas)…………”Mu”…..44

Clara J…………………….”Mu”….28





Ailsy Ann………………….”Mu”….4

Forehand, Sarah (Thomas)….……”Mu”….55….sister [widow of Richard Forehand]


Thomas, Sarah……………...…….”Mu”…18….niece

#534……Forehand, John………………………”Mu”….23

Pallis (Goddin)…………...”W”…..30



Harris, Jr…………………..”Mu”…11/12

#535…….Mayo, William…………….”Mu”…..35


Melvin, Catherine…………”W”…….4…..niece


World War One Civil Enlistment of Elijah Simmons (son of Henry Simmons & Mary Cooley).

Race is listed as “Indian.”






Allan Colley Sr (born circa 1810) ~m~ Rhojo (born circa 1810)

A white man an Indian woman


1. Gillis Cooley (born 1833) ~m~ Martha Fountain (born 1843)



Gillis Cooley (born 1833) ~m~ Martha Fountain (born 1843)

1/2 Indian a white woman


1. Mary Catherine Cooley (born 1863 Florida) ~m~ Henry Simmons (born 1844)

2. Daniel J Cooley (born 1866)

3. Martha J Cooley (born 1868) ~m~ Thomas Shavers

4. Emma Cooley (born 1875) ~m~ Vandy Yates

5. Margaret Cooley (born 1877) ~m~ Tilton Shavers

6. Missouri Cooley (born 1881) ~m~ Isaiah Locklear

7. Joel Cooley (born 1882) ~m~ Zadie Woodard

8. Stephen Cooley (born 1885) ~m~ Rhoda Goddin





Richard Forehand (born 1852 FL) ~m~ Sarah Thomas (born 1826 Georgia)


1. John Forehand (born 1861) ~m~ Mary P Goodin (born 1852)

2. Daniel Horace Forehand (born 1865) ~m~ Epsey E Curry (born 1865)

3. Harris Forehand (born 1866 Florida)


John Forehand (born 1861) ~m~ Mary P Goodin (born 1852)


1. Lettice Forehand (born 1882) ~m~ Will Hall

2. Horace Forehand (born 1885) ~m~ Emma

3. Jim Forehand (born 1887) ~m~ Mary Addie Thomas

4. Billy Forehand (born 1892)

5. Johnny Forehand (born 1896) ~m~ Dora Morrison Bland


Daniel Horace Forehand (born 1865) ~m~ Epsey E Curry (born 1865)


1. Sarah Forehand (born 1886) ~m~ James Simmons (born 1888)

2. Allison Forehand (born 1891)

3. James Forehand (born 1892)

4. Daniel Forehand (born 1893)

5. Troy Forehand (born 1998)

6. Tempey Forehand (born 1900) ~m~ Bonnie Dell Brown






Joseph Hall (born 1710 Norfolk, Virginia) ~m~ Margaret (Peggy) (born circa 1750 Hertford Co, NC)

A mixed white/Powhattan Indian a Meherrin Indian woman.


1. Thomas Hall (born circa 1738) ~m~ Mary ___?___ (born circa 1740)

2. Ebenezer Hall (born circa 1740)

3. Stephen Hall (born 1746)

4. Absalom Hall (born 1747) ~m~ Rachel Nickens

5. Naomi Hall (born 1748) ~m~ William Bass (born 1725)

6. Jemima Hall (born 1750)


Thomas Hall (born 1738 Hertford Co, NC) ~m~ Mary (Polly) (born circa 1740 Hertford Co, NC)

½ Meherrin Indian/mixed Powhattan a half-blood Meherrin Indian woman.


1. Nathaniel Hall (born circa 1771)

2. Joseph Hall (born circa 1775) ~m~ Elizabeth Bass

3. Lemuel Hall (born

4. Margaret Hall (born

5. David Hall (born

6. Anthony Hall (born



1790 census of Hertford County, NC:

Hall, Mary……………………………6 Free Persons of Color


1800 census of Hertford County, NC:

Hall, Isaac……………………………5 Free Persons of Color

Hall, Joseph…………………………..1 Free Persons of Color

Hall, Thomas…………………………7 Free Persons of Color


1810 census of Hertford County, NC:

Hall, Mary…………………………12 Free Persons of Color


Joseph Hall (born circa 1775 Hertford Co, NC) ~m~ Elizabeth Bass (born circa 1775)

¼ Meherrin Indian ½ Nansemond Indian


1. George Hall (born 1796 Hertford Co, NC) ~m~ Rachel Pitts (a “free woman of colour”)

[George Hall issues a certificate of Indian descent in Norfolk, VA Oct 23, 1833]

2. Sally Hall (born 1799 Hertford Co, NC)

3. Mary Hall (born 1802 Hertford Co, NC)

4. William ‘Wiley’ Hall (born 1805 Hertford Co, NC)

5. Priscilla Hall (born 1806 Hertford Co, NC) ~m~ James Ash


William ‘Wiley’ Hall (born 1805 Hertford Co, NC) ~m~ Catherine ____ (born 1810 NC)

3/8 Indian

++++ Moved to Baker County, Georgia circa 1839 ++++

++++ Moved to Holmes County, Florida circa 1843 ++++


1. Wesley Hall (born 1842 Georgia)

2. Elizabeth Mary Hall (born 1844 Florida)

3. James Hall (born 1846 Florida)

4. Margaret Hall (born 1848 Florida)

5. Amelia A Hall (born 1852 Florida)

6. Willis F Hall (born 1854 Florida)

7. Benjamin F Hall (born 1860 Florida)

8. Ruth J Hall (born 1862 Florida)




Henry Simmons (born 1844 Alabama) ~m~ Mary Catherine Cooley (born 1863 Florida)

Full-blooded Indian 1/4 Indian


1. Mary E Simmons (born 1885) ~m~ Mack Goddin

2. James Simmons (born 1888) ~m~ Sarah Forehand (born 1886)

3. Henry Wesley Simmons (born 1892) ~m~ Martha Bland (born 1897)

4. Martha Jane Simmons (born 1893) ~m~ Arthur Yates (born 1897)

5. Elijah Simmons (born 1895) ~m~ Rebecca J Wheeler (born 1898)

6. Thomas J Simmons (born 1899) ~m~ Lelia M Carnley

7. Eliza Simmons (born 1904) ~m~ Boney Thomas (born 1889)

8. Robert S Simmons (born 1907) ~m~ Lizzie Wheeler





William Benjamin Thomas (born circa 1800 Hertford County, NC) ~m~ Mary Jane “Polly” __ (b 1801 GA)

Full-blood Meherrin Indian (died before 1850, Holmes County, FL)

++++ Moved to Baker County, Georgia circa 1835 ++++

++++ Moved to Holmes County, Florida circa 1840 ++++


1. Sarah Thomas (born 1826 Georgia) ~m~ Richard Forehand (born 1852 FL)

2. Berrian Thomas (born 1828 Georgia) ~m~ Mary L Rally (born 1837 ALA)

[served in Confederate 4th Florida Infantry Company I]

3. Mary Thomas (born 1835 Georgia) – had numerous illegitimate children

4. Martha Thomas (born 1836 Georgia) ~m~ William H P Bland (born 1846)

5. John Thomas (born 1845 Florida)

6. William Thomas (born 1848 Florida)

7. James Thomas (born 1851 Florida)


Sarah Thomas (born 1826 Georgia) ~m~ Richard Forehand (born 1852 FL)


6. John Forehand (born 1861) ~m~ Mary P Goodin (born 1852)

7. Daniel H Forehand (born 1865) ~m~ Epsey E Curry (born 1865)


Berrian Thomas (born 1828 Georgia) ~m~ Mary L Rally (born 1837 ALA)


1. Christian Thomas (born 1864)

2. Boney Thomas (born 1889) ~m~ Eliza Simmons (born 1904)

3. Mary A Thomas (born 1892) ~m~ James Forehand (born 1892)

4. Asberyy Thomas (born 1894) ~m~ Willie G. Collinsworth (born 1887)

[shot twice and killed by his brother-in-law, Rufe Collinsworth in 1919]


Mary Thomas (born 1835 Georgia) – had numerous illegitimate children


1. Mary J Thomas (born 1862)

2. Sarah F Thomas (born 1865)

3. Franklin “Sank” Thomas (born 1868)


Martha Thomas (born 1836 Georgia) – had two illegitimate children then ~m~ William H P Bland (b 1846)


1. Clarkie J Bland (born 1858)

2. Jackson Thomas (born 1858)


3. Jennie Bland (born 1866) ~m~ William H Hall

4. William Benjamin Bland (born 1868) ~m~ Nancy C Goddin (born 1872)

5. Viola B Bland (born 1874) ~m~ William R Hollis (born 1864)

6. John B Bland (born 1875) ~m~ Martha M Curry

7. Sarah Bland (born 1878)

8. Vina Bland (born 1880) ~m~ Field C Curry (born 1877)






Students of Mount Zion Indian School, Holmes County, Florida





W/NE 36 4N 17W HALL BENJAMIN F 12884 H 1897/04/27

E/SE 36 4N 17W HALL JOHN M 12338 H 1896/09/25

SW/SE 36 4N 17W GODDIN REDDIE 15030 H 1901/04/09

NW/SE 36 4N 17W HALL JOHN M 12338 H 1896/09/25

NE/SW 36 4N 17W HALL JOHN M 12338 H 1896/09/25

SE/SW 36 4N 17W GODDIN REDDIE 15030 H 1901/04/09

W/SW 36 4N 17W MAYO WILLIAM W 10842 H 1894/02/24

E/NW 36 4N 17W HALL BENJAMIN F 12884 H 1897/04/27

W/NW 36 4N 17W MAYO WILLIAM W 10842 H 1894/02/24





The primary families in the Dominicker community were Hall, Thomas, Bland (white man married a Thomas), Forehand (white man married a Thomas), and Simmons, as the documentation present shows. The family name of Simmons did not marry in until quite late (after 1880). Specifically after the Simmons man (censused as a “Mu” farm laborer in Dale Co, ALA then as “Indian” in Washington Co, FL) came in. This individuals Simmons family connects back to the Simmons’ of Sampson Co, NC.


One origin legend as recounted in the Florida volume of the Federal Writers Project in the late 1930’s, and I have in the second copy, in bold italics, responded to the story based on the documentary record:

“The beginning of the Dominicker Settlement was before the Civil War in 1855 by a black man named Joe Thomas. A slave raised a family of four children one boy and three girls, by a white woman named Polly Thomas. She owned the black man and after her husband was killed she took her slave for a husband and raised the four children. Their son Berrian Thomas married a white woman named Rally Hall. Their daughter named Martha Thomas married a white man named Bill Bland. The other girls raised a family of children without being married for different colored men.”

“The beginning of the Dominicker Settlement was before the Civil War in 1855 (Benjamin Thomas’ family was on the 1850 census, so had to have arrived prior to 1855) by a black man named Joe Thomas (the progenitor of these Thomas’ was named Benjamin). A slave (Benjamin Thomas was taxed as a “free man of color” so obviously wasn’t a slave) raised a family of four children one boy and three girls, by a white woman named Polly Thomas (Benjamin’s wife was named Jane). She owned the black man (once again, Benjamin was never a slave) and after her husband was killed she took her slave for a husband (illegal under Florida law…she, the slave, and the minister would have been whipped and the marriage annulled) and raised the four children. Their son Berrian Thomas married a white woman named Rally Hall (Berrian Thomas married Mary Hall). Their daughter named Martha Thomas married a white man named Bill Bland. The other girls raised a family of children without being married for different colored men.”


The narrative below is an article published in 1939 in the Florida volume of the Federal Writer's Project State Guide Series. This effort was a part of President Roosevelt's many Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects that were implemented to create employment for people during the Depression, and is credited with helping many troubled Americans.

“PONCE DE LEON, 45.2m (64 alt, 382 pop), is the site of Ponce De Leon Springs, one of the many fountains of youth named for the Spanish explorer. In adjacent back country live 'Dominickers,' part Negro and part white, whose history goes back to the early 1860s. [Origin story #1A—Thomas family] Just before the War Between the States, Thomas, a white, lived on a plantation here, with his wife, two children, and several Negro slaves. After his death his wife married one of the slaves, by whom she had five children. As slaves often took the name of their masters, her Negro husband was also known as Thomas. Of the five children, three married whites, two married Negroes. Today their numerous descendants live in the backwoods, for the most part in poverty. The men are of good physique, but the women are often thin and worn in early life. All have large families, and the fairest daughter may have a brother distinctly Negroid in appearance. The name originated, it is said, when a white in suing for a divorce described his wife as 'black and white, like an old Dominicker chicken.' Dominickers children are not permitted to attend white schools, nor do they associate with Negroes. About 20 children attend a one-room school. As no rural bus is provided, he pupils often walk several miles to attend classes. An old cemetery, containing a large number of Dominicker graves, adjoins the school. Numerous curves and steep hills make driving west of Ponce de Leon somewhat dangerous; care and caution are advised. “

Excerpted from the Federal Writers' Project (Fla.). Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State. Sponsored by the State of Florida, Department of Public Instruction. New York: Oxford University Press, 1939.

1930 federal Writers Project

The following are transcripts of two unpublished, anonymous articles written for the Florida volume of the Federal Writers Project state guide series in the late 1930's; The original typescripts are in the library of the University of Florida at Gainesville, from which these transcriptions were taken.


The Dominecker [sic] Settlement is located in Holmes County, about half way between Westville and Ponce de Leon, Florida. Westville prides itself on being the one that made bootleg liquor famous, and the Domineckers owned and operated the stills. Ponce de Leon is a small village -a trading post for farmers. During the time that lumber and turpentine were leading industries, the town thrived. Now, a small sawmill employs a few people and cull lumber is shipped to the paper mill at Panama City. People trade one product for another and there is very little money spent. The town derives its name from a small spring on the Pea River, called Ponce de Leon Springs. The spring claims to be the original “Fountain of Youth” discovered by Ponce de Leon. The Domineckers live in their little settlement and have few outside interests. The children are not allowed to attend the white schools. For a child from the settlement to attend school was unheard of until 10 years ago, their efforts to enter their children in school caused such an upheaval, the school board finally compromised by establishing a grammar school for them. A few exceptions have been made in Westville for high school students, but they are never allowed to actually graduate. Two families have moved to Shamrock, Florida to send the children to a white school.

The Domineckers attend the Mt. Zion Baptist Church. It is supposed to be a white church, they are allowed to go to any church to “preaching” but cannot take a part in church affairs. They seldom attend any services but their own -unless it is a holiness revival. These people are sensitive, treacherous and vindictive. They never start a disturbance but if any one bothers them – the whole family will do childish things to get revenge, to steal a hog or mutilate a crop is as good as a want. They are pathetically ignorant and en entire family will work hard for little compensation. The Domineckers come to town once a week for supplies. Their dilapidated wagons are drawn by anemic looking oxen. Each wagon is literally spilling over with children. Thay attend their business quickly and quietly and leave as unceremoniously as they came. They are treated witht the same courtesy that a Negro receives -never served at a public fountain nor introduced to a white person. It would be ridiculous to prefix “Mr.” or “Mrs.” to their names. The Domineckers differ in size but they are practically the same type. Their skin is dark, swarthy and thick looking; some have medium skin with big brown freckles, their eyes are brown and sharp, usually deep-set. They have beautiful white teeth and bright pink gums. Most of them have black straight hair, none of them have real kinky hair and one family has three children that are decided blonds – their skin looks sun-burned. They are a type of people that age quickly, probably from lack of care. The men are big and burly looking, noted for their strength and famous for “halter breaking” calves and horses. The women are low in stature, fat and shapeless, they wear loose-fitting clothes and no shoes. One woman 74 years of age has never owned a pair of shoes. When a person is the smaller type his is almost dwarf-like in size. There seems to be no in-between size. The people move from one hut to another, often living alone for awhile and then moving back into the family group. Men, women and children work in the fields. Some houses are scrupulously clean while others are filthy. They just live from day to day -certainly not an ambitious group. Each generation marries into the lower class of white people; their original group will soon be extinct.

Common law marriage is practiced, as a matter of fact -most of them “take-up” with each other. Local people claim that the Domineckers are 95% Negro. This statement is absurd. They are about three fourths white and one eighth Negro and one eighth Indian. “

The following unpublished article, from the informative archive on the rich past of the Florida panhandle, including the Dominicker Community is from Mr. Hood. A rich collection of information is maintained by Mr. Hood, and is reproduced here by kind permission of Mr. Beale, formerly employed by the U. S. Public Health Service and the U. S. Census Bureau. The report was written as part of his field notes during a research visit to Florida.

Beale’s Report from 1956


November 28, 1956

By Calvin Beale

I first went to Bonifay, the county seat, and visited the county health nurses, Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Sims. They immediately mentioned he letter of inquiry from Dr. Witkop of Public Health Service and asked if I had any connection with it. I allowed as how I did. Both were glad to talk about the Dominicker group. Only one family is among their current patients. The patient is an elderly man, Jim Simmons, who has diabetes. The nurses, especially Mrs. Sims, a native of the county, knew other Dominickers. The term Dominicker is not acceptable to the group and is not used in their presence. They do not wish to be considered colored. One became very angry with Mrs. Lee when she, not knowing the family, listed a new-born child as Negro because of the somewhat Negroid appearance of the family. I believe she changed the record after the protest. The appearance of the group was said to be variable. Jim Simmons claims to be part Spanish and Indian. The nurses knew of the Forehand, Goddin (the present spelling), and Thomas families but had not been sure of the connection until I confirmed it. They also mentioned a Curry family. The names were all said to be held by white people too. The teeth of the Dominicker children were said to be better than the average for white children. There is no dentist in the county.

Some in the group suffer from TB. The group extends over into Walton County, where a couple of children in one family have a congenital malformation. (There is a Negro family in Holmes family [sic] with three albino children. I did not get the spelling of the name, which sounded like Hodah or Hoodah.) The nurses knew nothing of the origin of the Dominickers. They said Jim Simmons was approachable and probably would be glad to talk. All in the group were said to be poor. A separate elementary school is still maintained for the group, called the Mt. Zion School. Current enrollment is 12, said once to have been about 25. The nurses estimated the population of the group at 40. I next visited the Soil Conservationist, who knew of the group, but, not being a county native, took me to the man in charge of the Selective Service office. The S.S. man went over some of the same ground covered by the nurses. He said the Dominickers were sensitive on the race question and might not get information unless the questioner were referred in by someone accepted by the group.

It was his opinion that the children attending Mt. Zion school were essentially the darker ones and that some of those who looked white were in surrounding white schools. The teacher of the separate school is a white woman, Miss (?) Dupree, who lives in Westville. The present building was erected after World War II at a cost of $8,000. The S.S. man did not know how the Dominickers were drafted racially during World War II. Some farm, others work in forest industries. He said they were low in culture”

The Mount Zion Community School, known locally as the “Dominicker” School (photo courtesy of Mr. Hood, a scholar and archivist of northern Florida’s history)




Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on June 20, 2017 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)

PRESS RELEASE: June 19th 2017


The Apalachicola River Community of Indians Tribal Organization (ARCITO) has recently received a $1,700.00 grant from the St Joe Community Foundation to create an exhibit highlighting the history, identity, and culture of the area’s Florida Cheraw Indian people. The St Joe Community Foundation funds grants for such diverse areas as education, healthcare, the environment, and cultural arts. These are the areas of funding provide the greatest long-term returns for those that live, work and play in the communities of the panhandle. It has pledged and funded over $18 Million in grants to area nonprofits that care about Northwest Florida an believe that over time, such grants will continue to impact the quality of life in Northwest Florida for generations to come.

The Apalachicola River Community of Indians Tribal Organization (ARCITO) is a local tribal organization that works for the political, social, and legal welfare of the (Eastern Siouan) Cheraw Indian people across the panhandle, and is focused on documenting historic archival research into the tribe’s history, fostering the communities unique cultural identity, and providing venues for communication, awareness, and growth of tribal members and the public alike. Today’s tribal members are descendants of the Indian people who lived in several Indian settlements from the 1830’s to the 1960’s whose history is documented in the 2010 book “The Indians of North Florida” by S. Pony Hill and C.S. Sewell, available on Amazon and at local libraries. Some surnames in the community Ayers, Barnwell, Bass, Blanchard, Brown, Bullard, Bunch, Brooks, Chason, Chavis, Conyers, Copeland, Davis, Goins, Hall, Harris, Hicks, Hill, Holly, Ireland, Jacobs, Johnson, Jones, Long, Lovett, Mainer, Martin, Mayo, Moses, Oxendine, Perkins, Porter, Potter, Quinn, Scott, Simmons, Smith, Stafford, Stephens, Sweat, Thomas, Whitfield, and Williams among others.

Historically, the Florida Cheraw people lived predominately in several small settlements; Scott Town in Jackson County, Scotts Ferry in southern Calhoun County, Woods (across the Apalachicola River in Liberty County), and Mt Zion/Simmonsville in Holmes County. Florida Cheraw were in the past sometimes known as “Dominickers”, and historically maintained a “third race” status during segregation between the 2 dominant races. The Florida tribal communities are culturally and genealogically connected to many of the Indian settlements in the Carolinas, as most of the ancestors of the Florida settlements migrated to the panhandle originally from the Catawba Indian reservation at Rock Hill, from the nearby Sumter Band of Cheraw in South Carolina as well as from communities of the Lumbee Tribe of Cheraw Indians in Robeson County North Carolina, during in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The Apalachicola River Community of Indians began its annual Indian Community Conference in 1996 and it continues to provide a forum for addressing issues of concern to the panhandle Indian people. It is held at the WT Neal Civic Center in Blountstown Florida each spring and is open to the public. More information on the tribe’s history is found at, or contact ARCITO Vice Chairman H. Scott Sewell at (850) 254-5426 or at [email protected]