Four groups in Oklahoma seeking federal recognition through BIA

Wallace Charles Moore Sr. is a member of the Muscogee Creek Indian Freedmen Band in Oklahoma. His great-great grandfather was a member of the Muscogee Nation. Photo from Facebook

Four groups in Oklahoma -- including two that claim ties to the historic Cherokee Nation -- are seeking federal recognition through the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The United Band of the Western Cherokee Nation, the Cheyenne Nation, the United Chickamauga Band and the Muscogee Creek Indian Freedmen Band have filed letters of intent, according to a 2013 list from the Office of Federal Acknowledgment. None appear to have advanced to a stage where they are close to a decision based on a summary of active cases.

Two of the groups have bad addresses, a sign of inactivity on their part. But the Muscogee Creek Indian Freedmen Band, whose letter was the most recently filed one in Oklahoma, is actively working on its petition.

"We submitted 8,000 documents in the petition," spokesperson Gail Jackson told The Journal Record. "We were good at research."

Only one Oklahoma group has completed the federal recognition process since it formally began in 1978. The Yuchi Tribal Organization was denied status in 1999 because almost all of its members are citizens of the much larger Muscogee Nation.

The Yuchi people have long been allied with the historic Creek Confederacy. Their culture, language and history are different from that of the Creeks, but the BIA's criteria require groups to consist "principally of persons who are not members of any acknowledged North American Indian tribe."

The Shawnee Tribe, whose leaders submitted a letter of intent in 1998, faced a similar problem because most of its members were citizens of the much larger Cherokee Nation. The tribe instead gained federal through an act of Congress in 2000.

The United Band of the Western Cherokee Nation and the United Chickamauga Band both claim Cherokee ties. They are not considered legitimate by the Cherokee Nation, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians or the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Little information turned up on the Cheyenne Nation in Longdale. The group's leader, George White Eagle, Sr., had a bad address on file with the BIA as of 2013.

The federally recognized Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes are headquartered in Concho.

Get the Story:
Experts say new rules could help 4 groups in Oklahoma (AP 7/1)
New rules could help four Oklahoma tribes (The Oklahoma Journal Record 6/30)

Federal Register Notices:
Federal Acknowledgment of American Indian Tribes (July 1, 2015)
Requests for Administrative Acknowledgment of Federal Indian Tribes (July 1, 2015)

Related Stories:
BIA adopts new policy regarding federal recognition process (6/30)
Lobbyists met at White House to discuss federal recognition (6/30)
BIA issues long-awaited update to federal recognition process (6/29)
BIA seeks comments about organization of California tribe (05/11)
Recently recognized Tejon Tribe to close enrollment next month (08/22)
IHS approves service areas for three newly recognized tribes (09/11)
DOI backs Larry Echo Hawk's decision to recognize Tejon Tribe (05/02)
OIG report slams Larry Echo Hawk for handling of Tejon case (05/01)
Tejon Indian Tribe to start preparing for future as newest tribe (01/04)
BIA places Tejon Indian Tribe back on list of recognized tribes (01/03)