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.
“During American Indian Heritage Month, we celebrate the rich history and heritage of the thousands of American Indians who have been living on this land for more than 12,000 years,” said Governor Cooper. “It is important that we help make sure our indigenous communities have the resources they need to thrive in North Carolina.”
“This month many of us will take time with family and friends to reflect on the things that we are most grateful for,” said NC Department of Administration Secretary Pamela B. Cashwell. “I am truly thankful for the rich culture preserved and passed down from my ancestors, traditions that we are proud to honor and share today as we celebrate American Indian Heritage Month. I’m also equally grateful to live in a state that recognizes and values the many contributions of American Indians to our country and state’s history.”
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 the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, 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 resource hub for Native residents, 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 Carolina’s American Indian population.
This year’s theme for American Indian Heritage Month, “Many Tribes, One People,” underscores the unity and strength as well as the rich history and culture of North Carolina’s tribal 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 American Indian organizations to coordinate a weekend of special events. The 28th Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration kicks off with a virtual Education Day on November 17 at 9 a.m. featuring storytelling and pottery among other activities. The November 18 celebration will be held in-person at the North Carolina Museum of History 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.
About the NCDOA and the NC Commission of Indian Affairs
The NC Department of Administration acts as the business manager for North Carolina state government. Under the leadership of Secretary Pamela B. Cashwell, the department oversees government operations and advocacy programs. The department’s advocacy programs help to promote and assist diverse segments of the state’s population that have been traditionally underserved. The NC Commission of Indian Affairs advocates for the rights of American Indian residents in North Carolina. It provides programs and services to American Indian communities across the state, including education and resources to aid in social and economic development. The Commission also works to promote unity among American Indian and non-Indian communities.