By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians invests millions of dollars annually in supporting Escambia County. In addition to helping fund community services and improvements, the Tribe’s Fire and Police Departments extend their coverage to neighbors who live off the reservation in the county. In the past three years, their fire department has answered more than 2,400 calls, 95 percent of which came from county residents not on reservation lands.
Contributions to the county’s services include: Escambia County Schools, $1,344,907 in 2011; Escambia County Commission for County Road 14, $400,000 ($100,000 per year beginning in 2008); Escambia County Drug Task Force, $360,000 (from 2008-2012); Escambia County Probate Office, $25,000 (2012) and Escambia County Volunteer Fire Association, $10,000 (2007 and 2009).
Their community improvements contributions include: County road projects, $1,949,852; Poarch Road Water Improvement with fire protection, $1,125,000; Jack Springs Road WAter Improvements with fire protection, $225,000; and sewage improvements, $4.2 million for a waste water treatment facility and $800,000 in general improvements.
Other community contribution include donation to: the Humane Society, $150,000 (2012); YMCA, $300,000 (2011); and the United Fund, $10,000 (2012).
The Tribe maintains their own form of government including a legislative branch of tribal government, nine members, all elected officials. Among those elected to the tribal council is elected a Chairman who acts as the CEO.
According to their site the Tribal Council’s principle function is “to enact statues consistent with tribal sovereignty, establish policy, and appropriate funds for the use of the government. The Tribal Council delegates most of its executive authority to the Tribal Administrator. Due to the legal concept of tribal sovereignty, which has been upheld by the United States Supreme Court, the Tribal Council has broad powers that include the authority to levy, assess and collect taxes.”
The Judicial Branch consists of the Tribal Court System which is composed of a lower court system and a supreme court that serves as a court of appeals. This branch also consists of a full-time law enforcement staff.
This branch is “operated exclusively for the benefit of the Tribal members as an important exercise of sovereignty. In support of the Judicial Branch, the following codes and ordinances have been enacted: criminal, civil, probate, traffic, juvenile, domestic relations, and gaming. The federal court system has judicial authority only over major criminal offenses which occurs on the reservation and also serves as an appellate system for the Tribal supreme court.”
An Executive Branch is responsible for the overall operation and management of the Tribe. Its departments are: Accounting, Community Relations, Chairman’s Office, Public Works, Employment and Training, Natural Resources, Health, Social Services, Public Safety, Education, Housing, Administration, Tribal Government Accounting, Personnel and Insurance, and Creek Indian Enterprises.
Two fire departments also provide services not only for the Tribe but also for others in Escambia County.
The Poarch Creek Tribal Police are cross-trained with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department and are on stand-by for additional assistance to the county.
Other Tribal enterprises in Atmore include: The Muskogee Inn, Muskogee Technology, Premier Family Eye Care, Perdido River Farms, Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve, and Creek Smoke Shop.
Other Tribal enterprises in Montgomery include: River Oaks Apartments and Riverside Smoke Shop.
Baseball and softball fields are available for all of the children in Tribe and in the entire county as well as a heated, olympic-size swimming pool.