An Independent Nation Inside Alabama

Where: Atmore, AL

Who: The Whole Clan

When: August 30-31, 2013

Not every group of American Indians in Alabama was forced to walk the Trail of Tears in the 1830s. One tribe was allowed to remain in its ancestral home on a reservation to this day.

The Poarch Creek Indians are the only federally recognized Indian nation in Alabama. Their reservation lies a few miles northwest of Atmore, which is almost on the state line with Florida and about 50 miles northeast of Mobile. The Poarch Creeks are descended from the Lower Creeks who allied with the United States against the Red Sticks during the 1813-1814 war. (For more on the Red Stick War, see our post from Horseshoe Bend.) In part because of their loyalty to the U.S., the Poarch Creeks were allowed to remain in Alabama at a time when most of the other Indians in the Southeast were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma.

The Wind Creek Casino outside Atmore, AL.

The Wind Creek Casino and hotel outside Atmore, AL.

Today, the Poarch Creeks seem to be doing pretty well. They operate three casinos in south Alabama: one in Montgomery, one in Wetumpka (just north of Montgomery), and one on the reservation outside Atmore. We visited this last casino during an overnight stay in Atmore last weekend.

To be honest, we were a little uneasy taking all five of the kids into a casino. In addition to the concern that one or more of them might get hypnotized by all the flashing lights and wander off, we had never seriously talked to them about the nature of gambling–“gaming,” if you prefer–and its ethical implications. But we couldn’t resist the lure of the surf and turf buffet the casino’s website advertised for Friday evenings. And when I saw that kids under four years old ate free, I figured the place had to be somewhat family-friendly.

Fortunately, the casino wasn’t very large, and we found the restaurant pretty quickly. The meal lived up to its billing; there was no lobster, but we had plenty of crab legs. The kids all found food they liked–this is no small thing–and the dessert section was quite impressive, chocolate fountain and all. As you can see, Sons #2-4 were enjoying themselves immensely. Total price for the seven of us: $119 (including tip).

Wind Creek buffet

We stayed the night comfortably at a Hampton Inn right next to the casino. I hit the treadmill as soon as we got back there in the hopes of working off some of the chocolate-covered strawberries, but I’m still trying to work that meal off a week after the fact!

3 Responses to “An Independent Nation Inside Alabama”

  1. Untemplater says:

    There are a few casinos in California and plenty in Nevada next door. I’m not really much for casinos, but they definitely are better nowadays than in the past b/c smoking is banned or restricted in most all of them. Makes a big difference. Cute pic!

    • Dr. Jewell says:

      Thanks! Unfortunately, this casino didn’t get the smoking memo. It was the first thing we noticed when we walked in. I wonder if the Indian-owned casinos aren’t subject to the laws about smoking in public places in many states.

  2. […] a final note, I want to commend the staff of the Hampton Inn-Atmore, where we stayed the previous night. I realized after we made it all the way to Tensaw that I had left a bag in my room! Fortunately, […]

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