Showing posts with label Indians. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indians. Show all posts

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Today we attended the 16th Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration in Raleigh.

It was a lovely day for a beautiful event.

We usually think of Indian country as being out west. But North Carolina is Indian country, too. Our state is home to some 122,000 Indians, by US census count - more than any other state east of the Mississippi.

The two largest tribes in NC are the Lumbee and the Cherokee. The NC Cherokees, known as the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, have a particularly sad but heroic history. The Eastern Band are descended from those Cherokees who evaded US and state militia troops bent on rounding them up in the late 1830's and forcing them along the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma.

Resisting a century and a half of efforts to take away not only their lands and possessions, but also their customs, religion and culture, the Cherokee have survived. But today's observance was not a lament - it was a celebration of the strength and beauty of a culture that survived.

At one point in the celebration, young girls from each of the tribes in North Carolina, each dressed in elaborate and lovely native dresses, introduced themselves to the audience. The four Cherokee girls introduced themselves in fluent Cherokee before translating what they had said into English. An impressive accomplishment for a people whose language they had been forced by authorities to forget.

But the language hasn't been forgotten. So long as members of the tribe speak the language, so long as they keep their the tribal customs, so long as they pass down the traditional stories and share the life of the tribe, the nation will survive.