Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe to be Featured on N.C. Highway Historical Marker

Apr 9, 2024

The Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe will be recognized with a North Carolina Highway Historical Marker during a ceremony Friday, April 19 at 11 a.m., at the Haliwa-Saponi Tribal Headquarters in Hollister, N.C.

The Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe is a confederated tribe that is a political successor to the historical Saponi Nation and the Nansemond and affiliated tribes that inhabited the Piedmont and coastal regions of what now is Virginia and North Carolina. Over 80% of enrolled Haliwa-Saponi tribal citizens can be traced through genealogy and geography to the Nansemond, who migrated west and south after the American Revolution to North Carolina. They settled in a territory known locally as the Meadows of Halifax, Warren and adjoining counties. “Haliwa” is a geographical designation derived from the physical location of the tribe, which is primarily in Halifax and Warren counties.

The Haliwa-Saponi spent the late 1800s attempting to organize its tribal government and to establish separate Indian schools. In the 1870s the Haliwa-Saponi began meeting at Silver Hill, which is a remote location within the Meadows. These early efforts at formal organization resulted in the Bethlehem School (1882) and the Secret Hill School.

During the World War II-era, tribal leaders sought recognition of their birthright with the help of Lumbee Indians of Robeson County who had already asserted their separate Indian identity and status years before. In 1957, the tribe established the Haliwa Indian School and the Saponi Indian Baptist Church (renamed the Mount Bethel Indian Baptist Church) in 1958. The school operated until 1969 and was the only non-reservation, tribally supported school in the state. Subsequently, the Haliwa-Saponi Tribal School was established in 2000, and currently operates grades K-12.

The state of North Carolina formally recognized the Haliwa Indians on April 15, 1965. The tribe incorporated in 1974 and added Saponi to its tribal name in 1979 to reflect the historical origins of its people. Federal recognition through the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Branch of Acknowledgement and Research (BAR) or through the United States Congress remains a top priority of the tribe. The tribe submitted a formal petition in 1989 and had a bill introduced by N.C. Congressman G.K. Butterfield in December 2022.

The marker is the first of seven markers being dedicated this year that highlight state-recognized tribes. Historical markers were approved for the Coharie, Lumbee, Meherrin, Occaneechi Band of the Saponi, Sappony, and Waccamaw Siouan tribes. In addition, historical markers were approved for the site of the East Carolina Indian School and the Buie Mound site in Robeson County. The N.C. American Indian Heritage Commission staff worked closely with N.C. tribes to complete applications to be considered for the historical marker program.

For more information about the historical marker and the event, please visit https://www.dncr.nc.gov/blog/2023/12/14/haliwa-saponi-indian-tribe-e-130, or call (919) 814-6625.

The Highway Historical Marker Program is a collaboration between the N.C. departments of Natural and Cultural Resources and Transportation.

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) manages, promotes, and enhances the things that people love about North Carolina – its diverse arts and culture, rich history, and spectacular natural areas. Through its programs, the department enhances education, stimulates economic development, improves public health, expands accessibility, and strengthens community resiliency.

The department manages over 100 locations across the state, including 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, five science museums, four aquariums, 35 state parks, four recreation areas, dozens of state trails and natural areas, the North Carolina Zoo, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, the African American Heritage Commission, the American Indian Heritage Commission, the State Historic Preservation Office, the Office of State Archaeology, the Highway Historical Markers program, the N.C. Land and Water Fund, and the Natural Heritage Program. For more information, please visit www.dncr.nc.gov.

Related Topics: