Native American tribe donates $184,000 to cover funeral costs for Alabama tornado victims

A Native American tribe in Alabama is donating $184,000 as part of an effort to cover the funeral costs for the 23 people who died this week in an outbreak of tornadoes.

“The Tribe is making a $184,000 donation to the East Alabama Medical Center Foundation to assist in the burial of the victims from last Sunday’s devastating tornado in Lee County, AL," Stephanie A. Bryan, Tribal Chair and CEO of Poarch Band of Creek Indians, said in a Facebook post last week.

"It is at times of greatest need that we often see our communities coming together to help one another, this is one of those times. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected.” 

Lee County coroner Bill Harris confirmed the size of the donation to CNN. The coroner told the network that the tribe agreed to increase its donation by more than $100,000 after another donor backed out of the initial arrangement. 

The money from the tribe will be donated to East Alabama Medical Center Foundation to make sure none of it is spent on administrative costs, CNN noted.

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"My goal was to be able to provide what the families wanted" for "this casket or this service without having to scrimp because they didn't have the money," Harris said. "These folks have stepped up for a community need, and I appreciate that."

Harris added that other local organizations have pitched in to cover funeral costs. He said that a notable person from Alabama pledged to donate $10,000 for footmarkers for graves.  

The community effort comes as Lee County grapples with the damage incurred by an outbreak of tornadoes that killed 23 people, including several children.  

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According to its website, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians is the only federally recognized Native American tribe in Alabama. The tribe manages a number of businesses, including gaming facilities and hotels.