Triangle native american society

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Map of N.C. Tribal and Urban Communities, from the N.C. Commission of Indian Affairs, American Indian Tribes in North Carolina

Originally published as "The State and Its Tribes"

by Gregory A. Richardson
Reprinted with permission from the Tar Heel Junior Historian, Fall
Tar Heel Junior Historian Association, NC Museum of History

See also: Native American Settlement; North Carolina's Native Americans (collection page)

North Carolina has the largest American Indian population east of the Mississippi River and the eighth-largest Indian population in the United States. As noted by the U.S. Census, 99, American Indians lived in North Carolina, making up percent of the population. This total is for people identifying themselves as American Indian alone. The number is more than , when including American Indian in combination with other races. The State of North Carolina recognizes eight tribes:

North Carolina also has granted legal status to four organizations representing and providing services for American Indians living in urban areas: Guilford Native American Association (Guilford and surrounding counties), Cumberland County Association for Indian People (Cumberland County), Metrolina Native American Association (Mecklenburg and surrounding counties), and Triangle Native American Society (Wake and surrounding counties).

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is the only North Carolina tribe officially recognized by the federal government. The federal Lumbee Act of recognized that tribe in name only.

Some may think of treaties involving land as the only example of government relationships with Indians over the years. But the General Assembly’s creation of the N.C. Commission of Indian Affairs in offers strong evidence that the state has a positive relationship today with its American Indian citizens, tribes, and groups. The relationship between North Carolina and its tribes is well documented in statutes; in rules and regulations that govern state­funded programs; and in rules associated with historic Indian schools, court rulings, and faith organizations. The modern federal government has likewise recognized North Carolina’s rich American Indian heritage and history.

The benefits of state recognition range from being eligible for membership on the Commission of Indian Affairs and for program funding, to securing a rightful place in history. Since the commission has coordinated procedures for recognition. A committee of members from recognized tribes and groups reviews applications. Tribes and groups must meet certain organizational requirements. Criteria that then may be used to support an application for recognition include traditional North Carolina Indian names; kinship relationships with other recognized tribes; official records that recognize the people as Indian; anthropological or historical accounts tied to the group’s Indian ancestry; documented traditions, customs, legends, and so forth that signify the group’s Indian heritage; and others.

The creation of institutions such as Pembroke Normal School and East Carolina Indian School offers an example of the historic relationship that Indians have had with this state. The reservation lands currently held in trust for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Historic Tuscarora Indian Reservation in Bertie County are examples of formal relationships between Indians and the federal government. Today, because 10, American Indian students attend public schools in the county, the Public Schools of Robeson County administers one of the largest Indian education programs in the nation, funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Statewide, 19, American Indian students attend public schools. The Haliwa-Saponi tribe has reestablished the old Haliwa Indian School in Warren County, which the author attended through the ninth grade. The new Haliwa-Saponi Tribal School is a charter school, attended by about students. Such arrangements, or ongoing government-to-government relationships, offer examples of modern-day treaties with American Indians.

The situations of Indians differ from state to state. The United States has more than federally recognized tribes and forty to fifty state-recognized ones. In North Carolina and nearby states, most Indians are members of state-recognized tribes and do not live on reservations. The latter is much the case nationwide, according to the U.S. Census, which found that more than 62 percent of Indians live off reservations. In Virginia there are three reservations, none of which is recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA); BIA does not provide the tribal members services or funding for such things as health care, schools, police, or fire protection. The tribes are not authorized to establish casinos or other gaming enterprises that federal recognition allows as an economic development tool. In North Carolina, only the Eastern Band of Cherokee tribe is eligible to receive BIA services and to operate a casino. In South Carolina, only the Catawba tribe has this status.

American Indians have long been studied and researched, especially by the academic community; however, for many years, little of that information found its way into history books. There are volumes of information on file about American Indians at North Carolina’s college campuses; only recently has much material begun to be included in textbooks used in public or private schools. Indians constantly question the common practice of focusing on Plains Indians in books and in popular media such as movies or television programs. The history and culture of Eastern Woodland Indians often get overlooked.

In North Carolina, before the Civil Rights era, Indians experienced discrimination and different forms of racism. At one time, some were discouraged to even admit that they were Indians. In several counties, separate schools were established for American Indians. These schools, built by volunteers and paid for by the Indian community, were small, mostly of one or two rooms. In some of these same counties, separate dining and other public facilities for the races were common before the s; often, there were no “Indian” facilities—only “white” and “colored.” For a long time, limited employment opportunities existed for American Indians.

Today’s American Indians enjoy more opportunities. Their culture, heritage, and accomplishments are shared more often in and outside their communities. And the North Carolina government continues to increase its support of the many efforts of the state’s first inhabitants.

At the time of the publication of this article, Gregory A. Richardson was the executive director of the N.C. Commission of Indian Affairs. He is a member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe. He served as one of the conceptual editors for the Fall issue of Tar Heel Junior Historian.


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Promoting and protecting the identity of American Indians in the Triangle Area.

Triangle Native American Society (TNAS) was founded in to provide assistance and support for Native Americans in the Triangle and surrounding area, and was incorporated as a non-profit tax-exempt organization in

Since its inception, TNAS has endeavored to promote and protect the Native American identity in the Triangle area by increasing the public’s awareness of the cultural and economic contributions made by Native Americans and enhancing the public recognition of the needs of Native Americans.

Our organization is the official governing body for the Native American population in the Triangle area, as recognized by the state of North Carolina and the NC Commission of Indian Affairs.

Learn more about us!

This video that was created for the North Carolina Museum of History’s American Indian Heritage Celebration in and gives a great overview of our organization and accomplishments.

Native America - PBS Full Documentary

Commission Members

Commission Members

The Commission of Indian Affairs consists of 21 representatives of the American Indian community, two representatives appointed by the General Assembly, one representative or their designee appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Administration, the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources and the Commissioner of Labor.

These American Indian members are selected by tribal or community consent from the Indian groups that are recognized by the State of North Carolina and are principally geographically located as follows: the Coharie of Sampson and Harnett Counties; the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation; the Haliwa Saponi of Halifax, Warren, and adjoining counties; the Lumbee of Robeson, Hoke and Scotland Counties; the Meherrin of Bertie, Hertford, Gates and Northhampton Counties; the Waccamaw-Siouan from Columbus and Bladen Counties; the Sappony; and the Native Americans located in Cumberland, Guilford and Mecklenburg Counties. The Coharie shall have two members; the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, two; the Haliwa Saponi, two; the Lumbee, three; the Meherrin, one; the Waccamaw-Siouan, two; the Sappony Indian Tribe, one; the Cumberland County Association for Indian People, two; the Guilford Native Americans, two; the Metrolina Native Americans, two; Occaneechi Band of the Sapponi Nation,one; Triangle Native American Society, one. .

Of the two appointments made by the General Assembly, one shall be made upon the recommendation of the Speaker, and one shall be made upon recommendation of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Appointments by the General Assembly shall be made in accordance with NCGS § and vacancies shall be filled in accordance with NCGS §


Name Representing Appointment DateTerm Expires
Lenora LocklearCoharie June 3, June 30,
Isabell Freeman-Elliott Coharie July 1, June 30,
Gladys Hunt Cumberland County Association for Indian People July 1, June 30,
Helen CookCumberland County Association for Indian People July 1, June 30,
Joshua Rory WelchEastern Band of the Cherokee NationJuly 1, June 30,
Carolyn WestEastern Band of the Cherokee NationJuly 1, June 30,
DeVane Burnette, Sr.Guilford Native American Association July 1, June 30,
Sheila Kay (Epps) WilsonGuilford Native American Association April 21, June 30,
C Pete Richardson Haliwa Saponi Indian Tribe July 1, June 30,
Karen HarleyHaliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe September 20, June 30,
Ricky Burnett Lumbee Tribe March 2, June 30,
Furnie Lambert Lumbee Tribe July 1, June 30,
Larece Hunt Lumbee Tribe July 1, June 30,
Constance B Mitchell Meherrin Indian Tribe Sept. 17, June 30,
Rebecca LaClaireMetrolina Native American Association July 1, June 30,
Walter David Baucom Metrolina Native American Association July 1, June 30,
William Anthony (Tony) Hayes Occaneechi Band of Saponi Nation July 1, June 30,
Dorothy Stewart YatesSappony Tribe July 1, June 30,
Wanda Burns-Ramsey Speaker of the House Appointee July 1, June 30,
Danny BellTriangle Native American SocietyJuly 1, June 30,
Elton Ray Jacobs Waccamaw Siouan Tribe July 1, June 30,
Michael JacobsWaccamaw Siouan Tribe July 1, June 30,
Gerald GoolsbyPresident Pro Tem AppointeeSeptember 09, June 30,


NamePositionTribe / OrganizationAppointment DateTerm Expires
Ricky BurnettChairmanLumbee TribeJuly 29, June 30,
Dorothy Stewart YatesVice-ChairmanSappony TribeJuly 1, June 30,
Wanda Burns-RamseySecretary/TreasurerLumbee TribeJuly 1, June 30,

State Officials

Secretary Pamela Brewington CashwellNC Department of AdministrationDavid Elliott
Commissioner Josh DobsonNC Department of LaborJulie Ryan
Secretary Machelle SandersNC Department of CommerceBetty Marrow-Taylor
Secretary Elizabeth S. BiserNC Department of Environment QualityJohn Nicholson
Secretary Dr. Mandy CohenNC Department of Health and Human ServicesMelanie Bush

State Official - Ex Officio

John Mintz, State ArchaeologistAdvisorCultural Resources

Youth Ex Officio

NC Native American Youth Organization (NCNAYO)Kaloni Walton, Co-Chair and
Dylan Hammonds, Co-Chair
NC Native American Council on Higher Education (NCNACOHE)Joshua Lamar Richardson

Meeting Minutes

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September 20, CIA Meeting Minutes Approved
July 26, Public Hearing
June 7, CIA Meeting Minutes Approved
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September 7, (2 of 2)CIA Meeting Minutes Approved
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July 11, CIA Meeting Minutes Approved
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December 4, CIA Meeting Minutes Approved
Meeting Dates 
March 12, (10am - pm)
June 5, (10am - pm)
September 4, (10am - pm)
December 4, (10am - pm)

Native american society triangle

About Triangle Native American Society

Triangle Native American Society (TNAS) was incorporated in to promote and protect the identity of Native Americans living in Wake and surrounding counties by providing educational, social, and cultural programs.  TNAS was granted official state recognition in by theNorth Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs and serves as the official governing body for the Native American population in the Triangle area.
TNAS seeks to foster a local Native community while bridging the various cultural and traditional practices members bring from their respective home tribal communities.  This will be accomplished by the following:

  • To obtain and administer funds to address the needs of the Indian constituency residing in the Triangle community;
  • To provide residents residing in the Triangle community information and referral services;
  • To educate, stimulate, and cultivate cultural awareness through programming and other forms of media;
  • To promote unity and leadership to achieve political and developmental strength while providing effective advocacy for the American Indian population; and
  • To further strengthen educational achievement through providing a culturally relevant learning community.

TNAS HNNC Supported Initiatives

TNAS developed a native plants community garden and an aquaponic educational garden, which are both being utilized and enjoyed by the community.  The TNAS gardens are cared for in collaboration with the Wake County Title VII Indian Education program, with an educational emphasis on a holistic blend of indigenous cultural preservation, science, nutrition, and physical activity.  The community has also developed a presentation to share their journey through the planning and development of their community and aquaponic gardens.  Additionally, as an ongoing project, the community is compiling lists of seeds and plants used (or to be used in the garden for future generations) and includes indigenous knowledge of uses for each plant as cultural education and preservation.  In addition, TNAS is integrating efforts around the garden to promote the preparation and consumption of healthier food and beverage choices.  TNAS has also purchased outdoor games and sporting equipment to integrate active options into their community events and encourage more individual and family physical activity among its members.
1 Garden Prep & Tilling
11 March tilling, garden prep
2 Planting Boxes3 Planted BoxesTOSHIBA CAMCORDER5 Summer garden growthTOSHIBA CAMCORDERTOSHIBA CAMCORDER8 Winter Garden Harvest Gwen Locklear Collards (1)8 Winter Garden Harvest10 Collecting Seeds12 TNAS Annual Picnic June Tonia Jacobs
Pictured above are garden preparation stages, summer and winter harvests, and summer healthy, TNAS fun!

Triangle Native American Society HNNC Partners & Collaborators

TNAS Contact Information

Kerry Bird, President
Triangle Native American Society
PO Box
Raleigh, NC 
[email protected]
Gwen Locklear, Coordinator
Title VII Indian Education Program
Wake County Public Schools
[email protected]

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