Gov. Roy Cooper issues proclamation making November American Indian Heritage Month in North Carolina

Gov. Roy Cooper issues proclamation making November American Indian Heritage Month in North Carolina

Earlier this month, Gov. Roy Cooper proclaimed November as American Indian Heritage Month, which celebrates the history and heritage of our state’s Indigenous people.

Many of us are probably still recovering from yesterday’s Thanksgiving food coma, so as we sit with our stretchy pants on, let’s take a look at what the governor’s proclamation is celebrating and why we must honor the people who lived on this land for thousands of years before Europeans arrived.

North Carolina has eight state-recognized tribes: the Coharie, Eastern Band of Cherokee, Haliwa-Saponi, Lumbee, Meherrin, Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, Sappony and Waccamaw-Siouan.

In addition to those eight tribes, four urban Indian organizations are being honored this month: 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 Cooper. “It is important that we help make sure our indigenous communities have the resources they need to thrive in North Carolina.”

North Carolina Department of Administration Secretary Pamela B. Cashwell, who in 2021 made history as the first American Indian woman to lead a state cabinet department in North Carolina, explained why it’s important – especially at this time of year – to honor our state’s American Indian population.

“This month many of us will take time with family and friends to reflect on the things that we are most grateful for,” said 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.”

According to the 2020 census, more than 130,000 American Indians live in North Carolina – the second-largest American Indian population east of the Mississippi River and the seventh-largest in the country.

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,” a news release from the governor’s office said.

Click here to read the governor’s proclamation and click here to view a message from Sec. Cashwell.

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Patrick Zarcone

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