May 29, 2023
– By Gabrielle Lamplugh –
A History of Service
Since 2020, Maggie Rivers has served as the Project Director for the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians, named for its location which stretches from Mobile (MO) to Washington (WA) counties in southwest Alabama. In 2022 she also joined the Equitable Neighborhoods Initiative as the Community Liaison for her Tribe.
In her role as Project Director for the Tribe, Maggie has been a part of the initiative to build a local Veterans Park, a project highlighting the incredible legacy of military service within the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians. In fact, so many veterans call the community home, that the initial plans for the Veterans Park had to be expanded.
“We found that of the 7,600 Tribal members we have [that] as many as 90% of those tribal members have had one or more family members serve in the military – one or more,” Maggie emphasized.
Tribal leadership is no exception. Maggie pointed out that both the tribal coordinator as well as the Tribal Chief have served in the military.
A Family Legacy
As to why so many community members choose to serve in the military, Maggie believes that the legacy of military service, as well as the benefits that the military provides, encourage many individuals to join.
“I think it’s for the love of family and for the love of our country,” Maggie shared.
“I also think some of it was for financial reasons,” Maggie said, noting the lack of opportunity many members of her tribe have reckoned with. “The military provides income and housing and everything for the family.”
And, after a while, service can become a family legacy.
“If the dad was in the military, then the son would be in the military and then his son will be in the military,” Maggie explained. “[It] passes down from generation to generation.”
From Maggie’s perspective, military service has also changed the fabric of the Tribe, creating a sense of community, pride, and belonging.
“I think for the most part, a lot of our tribal members have not really been recognized, for a lot of the good that they have done,” Maggie shared. “I think there’s that satisfaction, that they get to know that they’re doing something great for their families and for their country as well.”
As we approach this Memorial Day, I hope that everyone will stop and think about those who gave. We’re thankful for all of the sacrifices that the veterans and their families have made to protect our country.Maggie Rivers, ENI Community LIaison
Honoring Those Who Have Served
As for Maggie, she is looking forward to the completion of the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians Veterans Park as part of ENI’s healing zone effort. A park she believes will center the bravery, valor, and service of the Tribe’s military heroes. Although work continues on the Veterans Park, the Tribe hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony and groundbreaking last Veterans Day (November 11, 2022).
“As we approach this Memorial Day, I hope that everyone will stop and think about those who gave,” Maggie said. “We’re thankful for all of the sacrifices that the veterans and their families have made to protect our country.”
“I think I speak for the Tribe as a whole when I say I thank you,” Maggie continued. “We’re so grateful to everyone – tribal or not that has served.”
To learn more about the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians and the Tribe’s history visit their website. For more information about the legacy of military service among Native Americans – from the Revolutionary war to the present time – check out this resource from the U.S. Department of Defense.