CHEROKEE, N.C. — Former Seminole Tribe Chairman Howard Tommie was honored Oct. 9 at the 2017 annual meeting of United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc., (USET) and USET Sovereignty
Protection Fund (USET SPF), held within the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians homelands.
Tommie’s family accepted gifts from USET Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Sam Lambert. Family members included Tommie’s wife Dorothy, daughter Karen Tommie Two Shoes, son Clinton, and sister Nancy Willie, along with Tommie’s grandchildren. Two Shoes accepted an honorary plaque and Clinton accepted a limited edition Pendleton “Standing Strong” blanket. Tommie passed earlier this year, aged 78.
“We were honored to be invited to the important event for my father,” Two Shoes said. “He was a very big part of USET and he did a lot to enhance the lives of people throughout Indian Country. We loved being in North Carolina. My father brought us there a lot when we were kids. And he sure did love his grandchildren. I’m especially glad they could attend the ceremony.”
The limited edition Pendleton blanket depicts three warriors. The wording on the label could hardly have been more appropriate of Tommie: “This image honors all those who have stood strong for us as Native Americans and this country.”
In 1959, Tommie enlisted in the Army and served eight years in the National Guard Reserves. He served as Seminole Tribe Chairman from 1971 to 1979 and brought closure to the Seminole Land Claim case that had dragged on for decades. Also during his tenure, Tommie provided the foundation for high stakes gaming in Indian Country, and the Seminole Bingo Hall opened on the Hollywood Reservation on December 14, 1979.
From 1973 to 1975 Tommie was USET President and was instrumental in moving USET headquarters from Sarasota to Nashville, as well as adding the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana and the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana as USET member Tribal Nations.
“I want to thank Steven Bowers for recommending Howard Tommie for the presentation,” Lambert said. “We give this honor not only to people who have served their country, but also for the service and leadership they provide their Tribe after returning from military duty.”
The honorary plaque states:
For his United States Army National Guard Service 1958-1959 as Infantryman and eight years of service in the National Guard Reserves; for his Exemplary Leadership as USET President and Board of Director; and for his Unwavering Determination and Guidance as a Seminole Tribe of Florida Tribal Chairman
Presented this 9th day of October 2017
USET Board of Directors
2017 USET SPF Annual Meeting
Throughout their history, the Florida Seminoles have been an exemplar of leadership and courage, from Halleck Tustenuggee to Bill Osceola to Betty Mae Jumper. Howard Tommie is but one example of the “unconquered” spirit and determination that has led to the success of the Seminole Tribe and benefited Tribal Nations throughout the United States.
Tom Gallaher, a former Seminole Tribe employee, is grants coordinator for United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc.