Courtesy MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians
Framon Weaver, chief of the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians.

Chief Framon Weaver: NMAI’s Meet Native America Series

Dennis Zotigh

In the interview series Meet Native America, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian invites tribal leaders, cultural figures, and other interesting and accomplished Native individuals to introduce themselves and say a little about their lives and work. Together, their responses illustrate the diversity of the indigenous communities of the Western Hemisphere, as well as their shared concerns, and offer insights beyond what’s in the news to the ideas and experiences of Native peoples today.

Please introduce yourself with your name and title.

Framon Weaver, chief of the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians. In our Choctaw language we call our leaders miko. In contemporary times we have begun using the term "chief" as our official designation for those who are democratically elected.

Where is the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians located? Where was your band originally from?

Our tribe resides upon lands in what is today southwestern Alabama, lands that have always been occupied by our Choctaw people since the beginning. Nanih Chaha (High Hill) in the northwest corner of our territory is further proof of our continual land occupation here in this area.

How is your tribal government set up?

Our Tribal Council is comprised of 11 members and a chief. This is similar to many tribal governments that were set up in the era of the Indian Reorganization Act. This form of governance was created to interact more easily with federal and state agencies who require such models and who are not knowledgeable of our traditional ways of governing ourselves. Our tribe also has state-sanctioned tribal police and a tribal court system that engages issues arising on reservation lands.

Is there a functional, traditional entity of leadership in addition to your modern government system?

Traditional leadership has always been held within our 10 inhabited communities and reservation lands, which all are within a 20-mile radius of one another. This form of leadership takes place in our iksa—a term that traditionally defined our clan system, but is now used today to define our churches. From our churches there has always been an abundance of leadership, which has kept our communities intact. Though informal in their roles, in contrast to elected tribal positions, these are the long-standing and long-acknowledged places and people that have contributed to our communities' survival.


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