Julie Kinnaird | April 8, 2022
Last month, UNC World View’s virtual program We’re Still Here: North Carolina’s Indigenous Cultures introduced educators to North Carolina’s eight state-recognized American Indian tribes. Nancy Strickland Fields, Director/Curator or the Museum of the Southeast American Indian at UNC-Pembroke set the stage for learning about and from members of the Coharie Tribe, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, the Meherrin Nation, the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, the Sappony and the Waccamaw Siouan Tribe.
Dr. Amy Locklear Hertel, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Executive Vice Provost, led a thoughtful panel conversation that addressed the importance of community and identity, place and environment, and debunking myths and stereotypes. Educators in the audience were encouraged to change the narrative as they introduce American Indian history to students and to “do their homework” and teach truths about North Carolina’s American Indians, cautioning a greater awareness for myth versus reality. One suggestion echoed by all of the panelists was to change the language we use when talking about American Indian experiences from the past to the present tense.
This small change reflects a significant reality: that there are over 184,000 American Indians living and thriving today in our state, contributing to vital economic development and environmental protections, and preserving and adapting cultural and spiritual practices. Program participants noted the impact of language on students’ perceptions of American Indian history and contemporary experiences. One participant affirmed “the power of language and the need to be very thoughtful about the language used” when discussing Indigenous stories. They emphasized that lessons that engage directly with diverse American Indian voices can help “ensure that historical power dynamics and privilege are not reinforced”.
UNC World View appreciates the support from the UNC Office of the Provost, the American Indian Center, the Research Labs of Archaeology, and the Triangle Native American Society and hopes to continue to offer programming and resources for learning about and with members of the American Indian communities in our state. Below are several books recommended by presenters and panelists of the March 24, 2022 program and a compilation of web-based resources.
Keeping the Circle: American Indian Identity in Eastern North Carolina 1885–2004 by Christopher Oakley
North American Indians, Vol 14: Southeast, Raymond Fogelson and William Sturtevant (editors)
Books or writings by James Mooney to learn more about the Cherokee
We Will Always Be Here by Denise Bates
The Only Land I know: A History of the Lumbee Indians by Adolph Dial
To Die Game: The Story of the Lowry Band, Indian Guerrillas of Reconstruction by William McKee Evans
The Lumbee Indians: An American Struggle by Malinda Maynor Lowery
Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity Making of a Nation by Malinda Maynor Lowery
Whoz Ya People by Brittany D. Hunt and Bea Brayboy
(YouTube of author Brittany Hunt reading her book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XjqLX07AzI )
It’s Lumbee Homecoming Y’all! by Leslie Locklear, Christina Pacheco
Chicora and Little People: The Legend of Indian Corn by Arvis Boughman and Delora Cummings
The First Strawberries: A Cherokee Story by Joseph Bruchac
Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom by Tim Tingle
Wilma’s Way Home: The Life of Wilma Mankiller by Doreen Rappaport
American Indians in NC and Ancient North Carolinians Resources. Started for UNC World View’s 2021-22 Fellows program, this is a compilation of web-based resources on Ancient North Carolinians and today’s American Indians in North Carolina. It’s a work in progress! If you have suggestions for resources to be added please email firstname.lastname@example.org.