The Modern Tribe
The Apalachicola River Catawba Indian Tribal Organization, Inc. is a modern extension of the community and family authority leadership structure that extends back to the early 1800s when their ancestors lived in their sovereign nations. Considering themselves a community service organization, the leaders of the Tribe are working diligently toward improving the health, education, and economic condition of their Indian citizens.
Membership in A.R.C.I.T.O. is determined by documented descent from an Indian person who appears on the 1920 federal census of Scotts Ferry, Scott Town, or Woods. The Apalachicola Catawba calculate the blood quantum of their citizens by using a base figure of ½ blood for all persons appearing on the 1920 community censuses. Though all admit that there were many individuals of the community in 1920 who had more than 50% Catawba blood, and numerous citizens today appear physically to have a higher blood quantum than the tribal calculations reflect, they all admit that none of the persons living in 1920 were full-bloods. No person of less than 1/64th Catawba blood is presently eligible for tribal membership. Apalachicola Catawba leaders state that the final membership roll will contain less than 400 adult members. The modern tribe is governed by a Tribal Board of Directors, which consists of six members and a Chairman. Three Board members represent the Catawba citizens living on the eastside of the Apalachicola, and three represent the citizens residing on the west side. The recognized tribally designated jurisdiction area (T.D.J.A.) of the Apalachicola Catawba consists of Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, and Liberty Counties.
Tony Davis, a typical Florida Catawba
The tribal government has tackled many economic, educational, cultural and health issues facing their citizens everyday. A partnership has been founded with the U.S. Park Service to provide maintenance and upkeep of the Fort Gadsden Historical site, Free G.E.D. training and testing is provided to tribal citizens, and referrals to Florida Kidcare to provide reduced or free healthcare. Since 1999, 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 their success has already had a positive impact, leaders of the Florida Catawba understand that their dream of a healthy, educated, and economically successful Indian community will still require a great deal of work. Regardless of the outcome of this endeavor, the Catawba descendants of Florida will always hold fast to the memory of their ancestors, those patriot chiefs and loyal braves.
Dot Hill Grantham & Essie Hill, two Florida Catawba elders
Copyright ©2006 by Steven Pony Hill, all rights reserved.
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Copyright ©2006 Steven Pony Hill, all rights reserved, and may not be sold, nor given to anyone who may attempt to derive profit from same, without written permission of the author. It may be used in your family history or genealogy, for which purpose it was intended.