Nakaya Leviner dances while Kaya Littleturtle at the podium performs a native song.
Nov. 21, 2019 – DHHS held its first-ever Native American Heritage Month event on Nov. 20 featuring members of the Lumbee tribe from Robeson County who were dressed in full regalia and provided native singing, dancing and storytelling.
Along with DHHS staff, Secretary Mandy Cohen was joined by NC Department of Administration Commission of Indian Affairs Executive Director Greg Richardson, Quinn West Godwin of Governor Roy Cooper's Office and David Locklear, Deputy Director of Economic and Family Services at the Division of Social Services and the organizer of the event.
“I’m so proud that we are recognizing our fellow employees and the people that we serve,” Secretary Cohen said, noting this was the first time the Department was holding such an event commemorating Native American Heritage Month.
From left to right, Godwin, Locklear, Secretary Cohen and Richardson.
More than 122,000 North Carolinians identify as American Indian, representing the largest American Indian population east of the Mississippi River and the eighth largest American Indian population in the U.S.
During the event Godwin read the proclamation declaring November American Indian Heritage Month in NC. The proclamation encourages North Carolinians “to learn more about the rich history of American Indian culture in our state and commit to preserve American Indian heritage and traditions for generations to come.”
In the tradition of Native American storytelling, Kat Littleturtle tells the audience a story about a woman who led a tribe to a battle victory.
A few ways to learn more about the Native American experience:
- Visit the NC Commission of Indian Affairs website, which provides detailed information related to all the tribes in NC.
- Watch historical documentaries.
- Visit a reservation. Reservations are not tourist attractions. However, some reservations welcome visitors to educate people. One example is the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, NC.
- Read the work of Native American authors, including “Crazy Brave” by Joy Harjo. This book tells how Harjo, a member of the Mvskoke Nation, became a poet.
- Attend the North Carolina Museum of History’s 24th Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration on Nov. 23 where North Carolina’s eight state-recognized tribes will gather.