Members of the tribe attended 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, and 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
How often have you heard or said “I’m part Indian or American Indian”? If you have, then some Native American elders have something to teach you. A very touching example was told by a physician from Oregon who discovered as an adult that he was Indian. This is his story. Listen well:
Some twenty or more years ago while serving the Mono and Chukchanse and Chownumnee communities in the Sierra Nevada, I was asked to make a house call on a Mono elder. She was 81 years old and had developed pneumonia after falling on frozen snow while bucking up some firewood.
I was surprised that she had asked for me to come since she had always avoided anything to do with the services provided through the local agencies. However it seemed that she had decided I might be alright because I had helped her grandson through some difficult times earlier and had been studying Mono language with the 2nd graders at North Fork School.
She greeted me from inside her house with a Mana’ hu, directing me into her bedroom with the sound of her voice. She was not willing to go to the hospital like her family had pleaded, but was determined to stay in her own place and wanted me to help her using herbs that she knew and trusted but was too weak to do alone. I had learned to use about a dozen native medicinal plants by that time, but was inexperienced in using herbs in a life or death situation. She eased my fears with her kind eyes and gentle voice. I stayed with her for the next two days, treating her with herbal medicine (and some vitamin C that she agreed to accept).
She made it through and we became friends. One evening several years later, she asked me if I knew my elders. I told her that I was half Canadian and half Appalachian from Kentucky. I told her that my Appalachian grandfather was raised by his Cherokee mother but nobody had ever talked much about that and I didn’t want anyone to think that I was pretending to be an Indian. I was uncomfortable saying I was part Indian and never brought it up in normal conversation.
“What! You’re part Indian?” she said. “I wonder, would you point to the part of yourself that’s Indian. Show me what part you mean.”
I felt quite foolish and troubled by what she said, so I stammered out something to the effect that I didn’t understand what she meant. Thankfully the conversation stopped at that point. I finished bringing in several days worth of firewood for her, finished the yerba santa tea she had made for me and went home still thinking about her words.
Some weeks later we met in the grocery store in town and she looked down at one of my feet and said, “I wonder if that foot is an Indian foot. Or maybe it’s your left ear. Have you figured it out yet?”
I laughed out loud, blushing and stammering like a little kid. When I got outside after shopping, she was standing beside my pick-up, smiling and laughing. “You know” she said, “you either are or you aren’t. No such thing as part Indian. It’s how your heart lives in the world, how you carry yourself. I knew before I asked you. Nobody told me. Now don’t let me hear you say you are part Indian anymore.”
She died last year, but I would like her to know that I’ve heeded her words. And I’ve come to think that what she did for me was a teaching that the old ones tell people like me, because others have told me that a Native American elder also said almost the same thing to them. I know her wisdom helped me to learn who I was that day and her words have echoed in my memory ever since. And because of her, I am no longer part Indian,
- shared by Pam Lewis
for my NC Sampson County Manuels
Since 1830, every year on the Census
my third great grandfather disappeared in his
First Indian, then Mulatto in 1840,
in 1850, he was eventually white.
What were we?
My fourth great grandfather
could have left an easier trail to follow.
One of cornbread, drum songs, splintered
Anything to locate their breath on the ravaged
The scent of pokeweed
something to wet my finger and test the wind
of a three hundred and forty-four years’
all the way back to North Carolina and
A porous golden map of some kind:
deer bone, a horse shoe
that told us how to interpret the dreams we
dreams that scared the shit out of us
when dead people came to call, when the
unfolded like a horror movie in our dreary
We knew them, the ghosts folding air-dried
clipping wooden pins off a clothing line
walking away with a full basket of my
wet, white bones
into mist, into shadows.
We will never find him.
Shonda Buchanan – Who’s Afraid of Black Indians? – http://amzn.com/B009LC6U6G
More about the author: Poet, memoirist, and fiction writer Shonda Buchanan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Hampton University teaching creative writing, composition, essay writing, editing, and research. Author of Who’s Afraid of Black Indians?, which was nominated for the Literary of Virginia Literary Contest and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Awards, and editor of Voices from Leimert Park, Shonda is an award-winning poet whose expertise includes Narrative Nonfiction, Contemporary American, African American, American Indian and Women’s Literature, and Comparative Literature, as well as canonical texts. She freelanced for the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, AWP’s The Writer’s Chronicle, and Indian Country Today. She commentated for Marketplace Radio, and was featured on National Public Radio’s Tell Me More. A culture and literary arts ambassador, her presentations, workshops and lectures demonstrate her passion for exploring gender, ethnicity, family, heritage, landscape, environment and ancestry. For more information, visit: www.shondabuchanan.com, or Poets & Writers.
Great documentary on today’s modern Virginia native tribes. Their story parallels that of the Canawhay Appomattoc tribe.