Exiled to Indian Country: Alabama Quassarte Tribal Town

BY ADAM SEIBEL
Gaylord News
03/24/2020 04:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Alabama Quassarte Tribal Town seal
Main Cherokee Phoenix
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The Alabama Quassarte Tribal Town has its roots in Alabama. In the 1830s and 1840s the tribe was forcibly relocated to Oklahoma under the Indian Removal Act and now is headquartered in Wetumka with a tribal enrollment of about 400.

Chief Nelson Harjo said the Creek people called the Trail of Tears the “journey of suffering.”

“There was a lot of death that occurred, there was no time to bury the dead. They would just wrap them up in blankets and set them on the trail,” Harjo said.

The move made it difficult for the tribe to continue its way of life once in Oklahoma. There were no gardens to tend to, game to hunt or homes in which to live.

Harjo is third-generation Alabama Quassarte, with his great-grandmother coming from Alabama on the trail.

“When you put it in terms like that and think about it, that’s not very long ago,” Harjo said.

“It’s like over the years that particular march we had to take, that particular trail, still unfortunately still exists inside our people because we’ve always been made to adapt.”

Harjo said if the Alabama Quassarte warriors needed to fight, they would, but they also remained a reserved tribe and didn’t have to publicly display a fighting spirit.

Harjo spoke of modern-day difficulties his tribe faces, such as low economic development and the need for more upward mobility in society, as well as the extra hoops tribal citizens have to jump through to advance in society. He expressed the need for society to recognize the Alabama Quassarte people and attempt to understand the history and culture of his tribe. 

Editor’s Note: Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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