Native Americans resided across the North Carolina area long before the settlers came. Starting with the first European arrivals in the 16th century, the tumultuous history of NC contains a mix of interactions that led to high cultural and linguistic losses by Native Americans within the region.
Centuries of immigration brought an end to some of the bands or tribes within the state. Before European settlements, these included the Catawba, Cheraw, Cherokee, Chicora, Creek, Croatan, Tuscarora, Tutelo and Saponi, and Waccamaw. Today’s state-recognized tribes include the Cherokee, Coharie, Haliwa-Saponi, Lumbee, Meherrin, the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, Sappony, and the Waccamaw-Siouan — though only the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are recognized by the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs.
While much of their culture was lost through the years, organizations and Native American communities across North Carolina work to save and share their traditions and languages for future generations.
One of the many to learn more about the Native American traditions and history of NC is through local powwows, fairs, or harvest festivals held by Native American communities. Several may be scheduled in the Fall, including the Running Water Singers Powwow in Fayetteville, the First American Festival in Dunn, and the Meherrin Powwow in Ahoskie.
Pow Wows are gatherings of Native people, where both Native American and non-Native American people meet to dance, sing, learn, and honor American Indian culture. The calendar available at calendar.powwows.com may show upcoming events that may be open to the public.
November is Native American Heritage Month, making it a great time to learn more about North Carolina’s long and continuing native history.