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PCI hosts Secretary of the Interior

The Tribal Council and Secretary of Interior, from left, Sandy Hollinger, Arthur Mothershed, Robbie McGhee, Keith Martin, Stephanie A. Bryan, Secretary Deb Haaland, Justin Stabler, Amy Gantt, Charlotte Meckel.

Special to Atmore News

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland on Monday, January 15, made a historic visit to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians reservation in Atmore. Secretary Haaland is the first Native American to serve as Secretary of the Department of the Interior, which has jurisdiction over a wide variety of governmental programs, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
In fact, this is the first time that any member of that Department has been to the Tribe’s lands in Atmore, and Secretary Haaland’s tour of Poarch’s reservation was heralded as both an important milestone and a distinct honor for Alabama’s only federally recognized Tribe.
“Secretary Haaland has been a tireless advocate for Tribes throughout her years of service to our country, both as the Secretary of the Interior and as a Member of Congress,” Poarch Band of Creek Indians Chair and CEO Stephanie A. Bryan said. “She truly understands how critically important it is for us, as an independent, sovereign Indian nation, to maintain a strong government-to-government relationship with the United States.”
As Secretary of the Interior, Haaland has advocated for Tribes to have a “seat at the table” when policies that affect Indian Country are shaped. As evidence to that, she created the Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC) of which Bryan is a member. Formed in 2021 as part of the White House Tribal Nations Summit, STAC’s mission is to further strengthen relations between the Department of Interior and Indian Country, and to ensure that tribal leader members have direct, consistent communication with the Department’s executive leadership and staff.
Bryan, who has known Secretary Haaland for several years said, “Personally, it has been both an honor and a privilege for me to have the opportunity to work with her and to see her commitment to finding solutions to some of the toughest problems facing Indian Country. She is a true public servant and our country is blessed to have her in this important role.”
During her visit to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Reservation, Secretary Haaland met with the Tribal Council to hear first-hand about the Tribe’s journey and challenges. She was briefed on the Tribe’s recent multi-million dollar investment into reliable, high-speed internet service for the reservation and surrounding communities. Secretary Haaland toured several locations on the Reservation including the Tribe’s Assisted Living Facility, Senior Activities Center and the Poarch Creek Community Center where preschool children shared with her a Mvskoke language presentation; she met several youth Tribal princesses and watched a traditional stickball game. She continued her visit with a stop at the Poarch Creek Museum where she received an in depth guided tour of the Tribe’s history. At the conclusion of the visit, Poarch Creek Tribal Leaders and several Tribal Princesses presented Secretary Haaland with the Tribe’s book, Woven Together, to commemorate her visit.
The Secretary of Interior was hosted by the Tribal Council: Council Chair & CEO Stephanie A. Bryan; Council Vice Chair Robbie McGhee; Council Secretary Charlotte Meckel; Council Treasurer Amy Gantt; Council Members Sandy Hollinger, Keith Martin, Arthur Mothershed, Justin Stabler.