American Indian leader called home

On the morning of July 13 Choctaw tribal leader Gallasneed Weaver was called home. Without question, Mr. G, as he was known to many in his community, was one of Alabama’s foremost Indian leaders and diplomats. Born in 1933 near McIntosh, Ala., Mr. Weaver would go on to positions within the National Congress of American Indians, Alabama Indian Affairs Commission and MOWA Choctaw Tribal Council amongst others.

Gallasneed attended the nation’s oldest continually operational Indian school, Bacone, in Muskogee, Okla., where he was a two-sport athlete and eventually gained distinction as a member of the board of trustees and inductee to their hall of fame. He made the long trek to Bacone in the 1950s as Indians were not allowed admittance to the area non-Indian schools, and Indian boarding schools became the primary means to obtain an accredited education past the eighth grade.

While a student he met his Cherokee wife, Laretta Adair Holt, who was also attending Bacone. The couple returned to Alabama a few years later, when Gallasneed entered into a long term career as a community teacher, principal and church pastor. His higher education accomplishments became an example for his children and many members of the MOWA Choctaw community, who worked tirelessly with he and his wife not only to assist in graduating Choctaw children from the local schools, but to ensure that they were provided with college opportunities.

This all led to his induction into the Washington County Hall of Fame and the naming of the reservation athletic center after him in 2003. On July 7, a biographical book on his life began the publication phase. It is fittingly titled, “No Need For Recognition: The Humble Legacy of MOWA Choctaw Elder Gallasneed Weaver.”

Mr. Weaver will be remembered for his graciousness, humble attitude and moral character, as well as his never ending efforts to uphold the integrity of his people and other non-federally recognized tribes. In 1993, he made a presentation to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. regarding Congressional Bill S.362, which had been developed to grant federal recognition to the MOWA Choctaw. The speech, now 17 years old, still resonates today and has been regarded as one of the most powerful in contemporary Indian country.

The following is an excerpt regarding the Bureau of Indian Affairs:

“The BIA has been self-serving and has produced a group of elite aristocrat-thinking Indian leaders, who have become much like some of the earlier Southern aristocratic whites who tried to defend the ways of the Old South in a system in which they would say to the Black and Indian, ‘Washington may have made you citizens, but we control the powers of the state and you must meet all of our local laws, pay poll taxes, recite part of the Constitution, and be able to read and interpret the Constitution, before you register to vote.’ In the meantime no whites were scrutinized through the same process. The federally recognized tribes have grandfathered themselves behind the walls of the system and they are able to use tax money to hire expensive lawyers and lobbyists and fly jet planes from place to place to fight against us as well as other worthy tribes. Such efforts help keep worthy tribes from getting recognized by Congress. The majority of these same tribes were once recognized by Congress themselves. Now they are saying, let me determine your fate. It’s almost like having the fox guard the hen house.”

He was the type of human being who made the world take notice and who practiced what he preached. In an e-mail sent only hours after Mr. Weaver’s passing, community member Barbara Weaver stated, “Mr. G will be so missed. He was a great leader, a great inspiration, a good all around man who looked after the needs of us all. He surely is at peace and will be a perpetual light for generations to come.”

A sentiment shared by virtually everyone who knew Mr. G.

-Cedric Sunray

Norman, Okla.