Original USET Board Meeting, taking place in 1970
On October 4, 1968, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida met in Cherokee, North Carolina with the shared idea that some form of unity between the Tribes would facilitate their dealings with the federal government. The result of their vision of “Strength in Unity,” was the inter-tribal council United Southeastern Tribes. Incorporated in 1969, United Southeastern Tribes operated first out of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and then moved to Sarasota, Florida. In 1975 it relocated again to Nashville, Tennessee, where it resides today. The organization changed its named in 1978 to United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. to better reflect its membership, as federally recognized Tribal Nations from the Northeastern Woodlands to the Everglades and across the Gulf of Mexico affiliated themselves with the organization.
Today, United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. is a non-profit, inter-tribal organization that collectively represents its member Tribal Nations at the regional and national level. USET has grown to include thirty three federally recognized Tribal Nations, operating through various workgroups and committees and providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and information amongst Tribal Nations, agencies and governments.
United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. was established in the Fall of 1968. The vision of USET’s four founding Tribes (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida and Seminole Tribe of Florida) was to build strength by working in unity with one another and to ensure that there was a strong voice for Tribal Nations east of the Mississippi River. This vision evolved into USET’s organizational mission to enhance the development of federally recognized Indian Tribal Nations, improve the capabilities of Tribal governments, and to assist USET members and their governments in dealing effectively with public policy issues and serving the broad needs of Indian people. USET’s “Because there is Strength in Unity” motto continues to be the foundation of all its efforts to this day.
Today, USET has grown to become an inter-tribal organization with 33 federally-recognized Tribal Nation members. While defined as a regional organization, USET has developed into a nationally prominent and respected organization due to its broad policy platform and influence on the most important and critical issues facing all of Indian Country. Supporting all of its issue specific advocacy is a foundation built upon the goals of promoting and protecting the inherent sovereignty rights of all Tribal Nations, pursuing opportunities that enhance Tribal Nation rebuilding, and working to ensure that the United States upholds its sacred trust responsibilities to Indian Country.
USET represents and promotes the interests of its member Tribal Nations through conferences, associations, work groups, partnerships, etc. Additionally, it serves as a forum for the exchange of ideas, works on behalf of its membership to create an improved quality of life for American Indians through increased Health, Education, Social Services, Housing, Economic Development, Transportation, and Justice opportunities, and works to promote Indian leadership to ensure Indian Country’s continued growth, development, and prosperity as Tribal Nations.