22th Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration Raleigh, NC Nov. 14th, 2017

Members of the tribe attendedĀ the 22th Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration in Raleigh, NC on November 14, 2017. Representatives from all eight state recognized tribes were present in the state’s capital. There were crafts, storytelling, singing and dancing, and hands on activities. Here is an example of a social song sung by Arnold Richardson and his group:

The following is one story about the meaning of the Canoe Song: “The women of the village are paddling canoes down to the river to do some washing. They see the men of the village paddling upstream. The men are tired from the hard work of the hunting. At first the men pass the women, but they are so happy to see each other that the men turn around and they all paddle downstream together.

Many artists were present demonstrating screen printing, bead work, pottery, flint knapping, wood carving, andĀ  many other forms of native crafts.

Tribe members attended two symposiums. The first was entitled “Where’s Your People?” and focused on the geographic distribution of people of Native descent within Robeson County. Robeson County is the home of the state recognized Lumbee tribe. It was interesting to note that while the Natives of Robeson County originally inhabited the undesirable land and swampy areas of Robeson County, by the 20th Century they controlled more of the desirable land in the county.

The second symposium was entitled “Spiders, Panthers, and Snakes, Oh My! Southeast Indian Symbols” and was presented by Lumbee Tribe member Jamie Oxendine. Mr. Oxendine discussed the origin and meanings of many of the symbols most associated with the Southeastern Indians. One of those is the spider symbol seen below.

One Native American story described by Mr. Oxendine says the spider was the creature that brought fire to mankind. She carried the first ember in a web on her back, thus becoming a sacred insect to Native Americans. Mr. Oxendine went on to discuss the four directions and the medicine wheel.

The day was wrapped up with singing from two champion drum groups, Stoney Creek and Southern Sun. Stoney Creek hails from the Haliwa-Saponi tribe and sings in the style of the Northern Plains. This style has the men singing in a high falasetto and frequently incorporates Native languages into the lyrics. Southern Sun is a southern style group led by veteran singer and Native culture advocate Joe Liles. Southern style groups sing in the style of the Southern Plains which originated in Oklahoma and nearby areas. Southern singers sing in deep bass tones and use vocables, which are words with no real meaning. Examples of a vocable phrase would be “yo whay ay ya ah ha, yo whay ay yo hey yo hey”. Vocables were used by tribes as a universal language so that members of different tribes could share songs without sharing languages. This has made modern powwow music a cultural bond between tribes all across the country. Here is a song from Stoney Creek (with members of champion groups WarPaint & Blue Moon Singers):

“It was a great day and a wonderful experience.” said Chief Jamie Harris. “It was amazing to see all the tribes come together and create such a beautiful day of culture right in our state’s capital.” said Harris. Jamie hopes to attend the celebration again in 2017.

  • written by Seth Harris