The Apalachicola River Community of Indians Tribal Organization (ARCITO)

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23rd Annual Indian Community Conference this Sunday

Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on March 13, 2018 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)



The 22nd Annual Indian Community Conference, sponsored by the Apalachicola River Community of Indians Tribal Organization (ARCITO) will be held March 18th 2018 2 p.m.-8 p.m. at the W.T. Neal Civic Center 17773 NE Pear St, Blountstown, FL 32424

The Apalachicola River Indian Community of Indians are the modern descendants of the Catawba, Cheraw, and Lumbee of the Carolinas who migrated to Florida’s panhandle in the 1820’s under General Jacob and Joseph Scott, founding Scotts Ferry. The ancestors of the tribe are identified as “Free People of Color” before the Civil War and as one of several “American Racial Isolate” groups afterwards. Common surnames historically associated with the tribal community: Ammons Ayers Barnwell Bass Blanchard Brown Bullard Bunch Bryant Brooks Chason Chavis Conyers Copeland Davis Goins Hall Harris Hicks Hill Holly 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, labeled during segregation as “Dominickers”, 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. Schedule of events will be

3 p.m. Annual Inter-tribal Stickball game

4 p.m. Traditional cultural presentation, Koweta Livingston

5 p.m. “State of the Apalachicola River Community of Indians” address by Tribal Chairman S. Pony Hill and Vice Chairman Hodalee Scott Sewell

6 p.m. Dinner

Free and all welcome. For more information or to be on the agenda for the Annual Indian Conference contact ARCITO V.C. Hodalee Scott Sewell 850-254-5426 or For more information on the Apalachicola River Community of Indians Tribal Organization (ARCITO) visit our website at



Poarch Creeks expand gaming enterprise with $1.3 billion acquisition

Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on March 13, 2018 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Poarch Creeks expand gaming enterprise with $1.3 billion acquisition 

poarch creek

Posted: Thursday, March 8, 2018 


The Poarch Band of Creek Indians continues to expand its gaming empire beyond the tribe's homelands in Alabama.

Wind Creek Hospitality, the tribe's gaming and entertainment arm, plans to acquire Sands Bethlehem, a commercial casino in Pennsylvania, for $1.3 billion. The deal is subject to regulatory review.

"The quality of the property and dedication of the team members to genuinely engage with customers was evident from the first time we visited the property," Chairwoman Stephanie Bryan said in a press release on Thursday.

Wind Creek runs three gaming facilities on the tribe's reservation in Alabama. Additionally, the firm operates commercial racetracks in Alabama and Florida, manages a casino in Nevada for the Washoe Tribe and recently acquired two gaming resorts in the Caribbean.





The Poarch Band isn't the only tribe with gaming interests in Pennsylvania. The Mohegan Tribe owns and operates Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre

Sands Bethlehem is about 70 miles south of Mohegan Sun. The 159,000 square-foot property is currently owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp. of Nevada.

"Sands Bethlehem has become one of the leading regional entertainment and gaming destinations in the United States and we are extremely proud of the positive contributions the property has made for Bethlehem, the Lehigh Valley and Eastern Pennsylvania," Sheldon G. Adelson, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, said

Tribal Council Meeting Dec 30th

Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on December 22, 2017 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

December 3oth at Chairman Pony Hill's house in PC at 3 pm will be the next scheduled ARCITO tribal council meeting.


Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on November 30, 2017 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)


[December 30th (last 2017 meeting) Saturday ARCITO Council meets in PC 3p]

March 18th 11 am

ARCITO Council meets in Btown at 11 am El Jalisco

March 18th 1 pm setup.

2 pm start for annual community conference

Ballgame, presentations, discussion, dinner, visiting

March 24 & 25th

ARCI tribal encampment and stickball games at Kunfuskee Grounds, Escambia County

April 21st Noon

Squirrel Soup Day at Kunfuskee Grounds, Escambia County

June 17th

ARCITO Council meets in PC 3p

June 23/24th

Green Corn Festival at Kunfuskee Grounds, Escambia County

September 23rd

ARCITO Council meets in Grand Ridge 3p

October 30th

Squirrel Soup Day at Kunfuskee Grounds, Escambia County

November 2-4th

Tribal representation at Thunderbird Powwow Niceville

December 16th

ARCITO Council meets in Liberty County 3p

for more info contact Hodalee harjo at 850 254 5426 or



ARCITO TO Provide TRAINING to Staff at Marianna Federal Prison Nov 22 2017

Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on November 22, 2017 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (0)

At the invitation of Lt. Hobbs of the Marianna Federal Prison at 3265 FCI Rd in Marianna, ARCITO will be providing a training sessions for facility staff on "Native Americans and Incarceration". The lecture will cover:


22nd of November 11:00 am Presentation Marianna C.I.

  1. Complexities of native identity; internally and externally (while incarcerated)

  2. Cultural diversity within contemporary Native American identities (in the south and nationally)




    -western populations


  3. Legal, social, and cultural realities of native life

    -Blood quantum and CDIB

    -Non-federally recognized tribes

    -Role of powwow, long hair, tattoos, and traditional jewelry


  4. Native American vs American Indian; not synonymous terms


  5. Traditional perspectives on spirituality

    -Indian boarding school experience

    -Sweat lodge, sage, and headbands


  6. Substance abuse in native life


  7. “Rez”, “rural” and “city” postures towards secular authority and identity


  8. Questions

ARCITO bringing proposal to restore the Calhoun County Indian Tribal Office in the New Year

Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on November 17, 2017 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

The tribe has been without an office in Calhoun for over a decade and is actively seeking to restore the office once there. Some may remember the former Indian Tribal Office on the 3rd floor of the New Courthouse for over a decade, my grandmother Sallie Kever was the Tribal Office Secretary during those years and with her death, we lost this valuable office space for providing the services we did to our Calhoun County citizens. The tribe had Indian language classes there taught by myself or others for over 30 years, and many projects were conducted from that office over the years. We would like to resume that good work once again with the help of the Calhoun County Commission.

the ARCITO displayed new traveling exhibit at Thunderbird Powwow in Niceville FL November 2017

Posted by Hodalee Scott Sewell on November 14, 2017 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (0)

the tribe hosted a booth at the powwow where we displayed our new traveling exhibit funded thru the grant we recieved in january from the St Joe Foundation. we also recieved a 3 year 50,000 grant for training of beekeping candidates in conjunction with our sister tribe the Sumter Band of Cheraw indians

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