OKLAHOMA CITY – Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes Association has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Bureau of Indian Affairs about Muscogee (Creek) Freedmen.
“We are using open records processes to investigate how the Bureau of Indian Affairs has handled Creek Freedmen issues,” said Marilyn Vann, president of the DF5CTA.
Enacted in 1966, FOIA is a federal law that allows the public to gain access to government information in the interest of open government, accountability, and transparency.
DF5CTA will publicly release any documents obtained from the FOIA request. The organization’s request seeks documents about Creek Freedmen.
Muscogee (Creek) Freedmen are Creeks with African ancestry descended from people enslaved by Muscogee Creek tribal members and free people of African descent who lived in the Muscogee Creek Nation before 1866. They have sought recognition and civil rights within the tribe for decades.
“Creek Freedmen are committed to seeking our rights under the Treaty of 1866,” said Ivory Vann, DF5CTA member and a Creek Freedman living in Muskogee.
The BIA is the agency within the Department of the Interior responsible for implementing federal laws and policies related to American Indians and Alaska Natives. BIA records are subject to FOIA and may be released if statutorily defined exemptions do not apply.
After a federal agency receives a FOIA request, the agency makes several steps before releasing records to a requester.
“Under FOIA, the agency has 20 working days to determine whether to comply with the request,” said Shelby Ward, DF5CTA Tennessee Representative.
DF5CTA’s request was electronically submitted Jan. 9.
Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes Association is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. Its mission is to educate the public about the history and culture of Afro-Indigenous freedmen of the Five Southeastern Tribes: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole. The Association also advocates for freedmen citizenship, civil, and treaty rights.