The MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians was the first tribe in Alabama to become incorporated and state-recognized in 1979. Tribal reservation lands and ten small settlements constitute the majority of residences for the 3,600 member tribe. Tribal members are situated in Mobile and Washington counties between the small southwestern Alabama communities of McIntosh, Mt. Vernon and Citronelle.
The name “MOWA Choctaw Indians” is used to identify the Indians in Mobile and Washington Counties who are descended from several Indian Tribes: Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Apache. The primary Choctaw lineage of the community comes from small groups of Choctaw people of Mississippi and Alabama who avoided removal to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma at the time of the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. These families were joined by a smaller number of marginalized Indians from other tribal communities. Prior to the enactment of the 1965 Civil Rights Act, MOWA Choctaw community members were sent to federal and mission boarding schools exclusive to American Indians in various states in order to receive an accredited education, which was prohibited to them in Alabama. This tradition of Indian school attendance continues to this day.
Tribal chief and 11 council members govern the operations of tribal affairs. The Tribe’s jurisdiction is exercised to the fullest extent through the Tribe’s constitution and sovereign powers. The Tribal Council provides services primarily to Mobile County and Washington County areas. However, services are provided throughout other continental United States areas if permitted by law or program regulations. Currently, the MOWA Choctaw Tribe is one of only four state-recognized tribes to have an Indian Health Center located within the tribal community.
The MOWA Choctaw Tribe has several departments or committees that operate within the tribal organization. Each department or committee generates funds from grants, fundraisers, and donations to foster economic development, social development, and welfare (energy, housing, and food) development. The main department within the Tribe is the MOWA Choctaw Housing Authority. The Housing Authority’s primary role is to initiate funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These funds are used to build houses for tribal members. The Industrial Development Department is managed by a 7 member appointed board. This board’s primary responsibility involved promoting economic development for the tribe. The MOWA Choctaw Services, LLC functions within this development. The Athletic Department is managed by a 9 member appointed committee. These committee members’ primary responsibility center on health and recreation for tribal members. The Pow-Wow Department is managed by a 5 member appointed committee. This committee’s primary responsibility is to promote tribal heritage and cultural events. The MOWA Tribal Police Department is managed by a council member. The tribal police department provides security to tribal events and to tribal property. The Museum Department is managed by a 7 member committee. The committee’s primary responsibility is to gather, restore, exhibit, and maintain tribal artifacts. It is also their responsibility to maintain the historic building that houses tribal artifacts.
An inter-tribal “pow-wow” occurs on the second weekend of October on the Tribal reservation lands. This tribal event includes an annual cultural festival, which includes Choctaw hymn singing, Choctaw social dancing, stickball games, and a Choctaw princess contest. Tribal members and visitors enjoy Native American food, Native drums and dancing, demonstrations, and a variety of entertainment.
The MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians Reservation is located on Red Fox Road in Mt. Vernon, AL. Driving directions to the reservation include: From 1-65 take Exit 19 and follow US-43 North to Calvert, AL. Turn left on Red Fox Road. Drive approximately 3 miles and arrive at destination.