In honor of our nation’s first inhabitants, Governor Roy Cooper proclaimed November as American Indian Heritage Month, celebrating the history and heritage of North Carolina’s eight state recognized tribes including the Coharie, Eastern Band of Cherokee, Haliwa-Saponi, Lumbee, Meherrin, Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, Sappony and Waccamaw-Siouan. This month also honors our state’s four urban Indian organizations consisting of the Cumberland County Association for Indian People, and the Guilford, Metrolina, and Triangle Native American Associations.
“Diversity is our strength and our eight American Indian tribes here make North Carolina a more vibrant place for all,” said Governor Cooper. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the culture and history in addition to the meaningful and varied contributions members of these tribes make to communities all over our state.”
"American Indian Heritage Month is a great time to honor the legacy and sacrifices of our ancestors and recognize the steep price American Indian tribes have paid for this land we call home,” said NC Department of Administration Secretary Pamela B. Cashwell. “This month is not only an opportunity for North Carolinians to learn about American Indian history but for tribal communities to come together in unity to celebrate life, history and traditions of our ancestors.”
In 2021, Secretary Cashwell made history as the first American Indian woman to head a state cabinet department in North Carolina. In the same year, under the State Budget Act, the American Indian Heritage Commission was formed to advise and assist the Secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources, D. Reid Wilson, in the preservation, interpretation and promotion of American Indian history, arts, customs and culture.
According to the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau, more than 130,000 American Indians reside in North Carolina, making it the second largest American Indian population east of the Mississippi River and the seventh largest American Indian population in the nation.
For more than 50 years, the NC Department of Administration’s Commission of Indian Affairs has served as a hub for tribal resources, providing information on housing, educational opportunities, scholarships, health care, and workforce development to American Indian communities. Established by the NC General Assembly in 1971, the Commission remains committed to providing local, state and federal resources to support and advocate for North Carolinas American Indian population.
The theme for this year’s American Indian Heritage Month is, “Healing through Unity,” reflecting the power in bringing North Carolina’s Indian tribes together to continue the revitalization and restoration of Native communities.
In celebration of American Indian Heritage Month, the NC Commission of Indian Affairs is again partnering with the NC Museum of History, NC American Indian Heritage Commission, as well as North Carolina American Indian tribes and urban Indian organizations to coordinate a weekend of special events. The 27th Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration will be hybrid this year, kicking off with a virtual Education Day on November 18 at 9 a.m. featuring storytelling and dance performances among other activities. The November 19 celebration will be held in-person at the North Carolina Museum of History at 11 a.m. and will include various demonstrations and performances highlighting the artistry, customs and culture of North Carolina’s American Indian tribes. Both events are free and open to the public.
To learn more about the upcoming American Indian Heritage Month Celebration visit the North Carolina Museum of History website.