On Nov. 12, the Land Acknowledgement Plaque Dedication occurred in the Office of Intercultural Engagement (OIE). The Native American Student Association (NASA) played a major role in this event, as well as the Intercultural Resource Center (IRC) and other students from UNCG and those within the community.
The purpose of a land acknowledgment plaque is, “to recognize the indigenous peoples who have inhabited these lands over time and their special connection to the territories,” as stated by NASA.
Many gathered in the OIE for a meet and greet before moving into the Meditation Room to begin the festivities. The chancellor gave a memorable speech, speaking on the power of being united and knowing the history of the land we live on. NASA students spoke briefly about some Native American tribes throughout the ceremony, while other students participated in a jingle dance.
According to Wikipedia, “the jingle dress includes ornamentation with multiple rows of metal cones which create a jingling sound as the dancer moves.” When women are dressed and dancing in the jingle dress, it is meant as a sign of healing.
NASA shared in their program, “The land we are gathered on has long served as the site of meeting and exchange amongst a number of indigenous peoples, specifically the Keyauwee and Saura.”
In the eighteenth century, the Keyauwee lived in the area by the Uwharrie River, which is now known as Randolph County. Due to their town being vulnerable to attack, the Keyauwee relocated around 1701. The Keyauwee tribe’s language and name were obtained from a Siouan family. They merged with the Siouans and in the process of doing so created relationships built on exchange, alliance, peace and trade.
The Saura, a small Siouan tribe, was located in what is now the modern-day Piedmont of North Carolina. “The ancestors of the Saura are believed to have migrated to the region many centuries prior to European contact, which first occurred with the sixteenth-century Spanish incursions into the Southeast.”
At one point the Saura were trading with Virginians who were involved in raids against settlers. The ending of the Yamasee War occurred, and the 1715 South Carolina census was underway. The census claimed 510 of the Saura people settled near the North Carolina–South Carolina border.
Three-quarters of the Saura tribe decreased, and are now known as Cheraw. Although most went to the Catawba Nation, they prolonged autonomy and political independence. These are only two remarkable tribes that lived, fought and traded with others for life and freedom in their homeland.
According to information shared by NASA, “North Carolina has been home to many indigenous peoples at various points in time, including the tribes/nations of: Bear River/Bay River, Cape Fear, Catawba, Chowanoke, Coree, Coranine, Creek, Croatan, Eno, Hatteras, Keyauwee, Machapunga, Moratoc, Natchez, Neusiok, Pamlico, Shakori, Sara/Chera, Sissipahaw, Sugaree, Wateree, Weapemeoc, Woccon, Yadkin and Yeopim.”
This list of tribes is displayed on the plaque that hangs downstairs in the EUC on the wall before the entrance of the OIE.
The importance of Native American tribes is not only important in the United States, but also in North Carolina, which was once plentiful with tribes. As of 2018, North Carolina recognizes nine tribes: Coharie, Lumbee, Meherrin, Occaneechi, Saponi, Haliwa, Waccamaw, Siouan, and the Eastern Band Cherokee.
The highlight of the Nov. 12 plaque dedication is that it took place during Native American Heritage Month.
Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Native, was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, New York. Due to Parker’s actions, he convinced the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans.”
President George H.W. Bush designated National American Indian Heritage Month starting in Nov. of 1990. Since that day, not only can indigenous people celebrate this historic month but all who enjoy the importance of Native American culture.