In 10+ states — including North Cackalack — the second Monday in October is recognized as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. In its honor, we’re bringing you a look at some ways you can celebrate Indigenous folks locally, as well as a way to learn about NC’s 8 recognized Native American tribes.
- We recommend checking out “A Living Language: Cherokee Syllabary & Contemporary Art,” which highlights the indigenous language’s legacy as a form of cultural expression + pride. It’s currently on display at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian through Oct. 31. If you can’t make the ~1 hour drive, the exhibit will also show at the Asheville Art Museum from Nov. 19, 2021- March 14, 2022.
- There’s also The Basket, the Center for Craft’s Cherokee Basketry Public Art Parklet project. A collabo between the Center for Craft and members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, it will be a nod to Cherokee basketry, as well as the Cherokee language, traditions + culture. DYK downtown Asheville (and much of the area) was built on the ancestral lands of the Anikituwahgi (now known as the Cherokee)? Support the project here.
- If online is more your speed, check out the North Carolina Museum of History’s 26th Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration. Slated for Sat., Nov. 20 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., it offers opportunities to interact with American Indians from NC’s 8 recognized tribes through live presentations + panels. There’s also a slew of educational videos celebrating the history and culture of our American Indian communities.
Scroll on to learn a bit about each of NC’s recognized tribes.
Eastern Band of Cherokee
- Cherokee, NC near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- NC’s only federally recognized tribe + is governed within the US as a sovereign nation with 14,000+ members. In the 1800s, approximately 16,000 Cherokees were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma.
- Harnett + Sampson counties ~1 hour from downtown Raleigh
- Descended from the aboriginal Neusiok tribe and was officially recognized by NC in 1971; currently has ~3,000 members.
- Halifax + Warren counties near Rocky Mount
- Recognized in NC since 1965 and currently has ~3,800 members, with 80% living within a 6-mile radius of the town of Hollister.
- Robeson, Hoke, Cumberland + Scotland counties
- With 55,000+ members — NC’s largest recognized tribe and the largest tribe east of the Mississippi River. Currently seeking federal designations through the Lumbee Recognition Act, which was introduced to Congress in 2019 by Rep. G.K. Butterfield.
- Hertford County near the Albemarle Sound
- Closely related to the Iroquois Confederacy, tribe members — numbering ~900 — refer to themselves as “people of the water.” The tribe was officially recognized by the state of NC in 1986.
Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation
- Alamance County ~40 minutes from downtown Durham
- Recognized by NC in 2002 + purchased 25 acres of tribal grounds near Burlington in 2004. The tribe currently has around 1,100 members and is working to revive cultural traditions among the population.
- Person County along the Virginia state line
- Recognized by NC in 1911 and VA in 1913 + the only NC tribe whose ancestral lands cross the boundary with another state. At last count, the tribe had approximately 850 members.
- Columbus + Bladen counties ~45 minutes from Wilmington
- Also known as “the people of the falling star,” the tribe’s homeland is situated along the edge of the Green Swamp. Officially recognized by NC in 1971 + currently has approximately 2,600 members.
Want to learn more? Check out the following resources:
And, be sure to read our piece on Joara and Fort San Juan (a.k.a. both the site of a thriving Indigenous village + the oldest inland European settlement in North America).