The Chowanoke Indian Nation receives numerous questions from the public through telephone and email inquiries. We will attempt to answer some of them on our website.
**CHECK THIS PAGE EVERYDAY AS IT IS CHANGED AS DIFFERENT QUESTIONS ARE SUBMITTED**
Q. I read somewhere that the Chowanoke were decimated?
A. No. They weren't decimated, nor all dead. The bloodlines of the Chowanoke are strong, alive and well! It is a fanciful tale to describe the group as having disappeared.
Who hasn't heard of the "Last of the Mohicans", or the "Last of the Nottoway". After a period of time, the Chowanoke, like other tribes, lived in much the same way as their non-indian neighbors. These descendants continued to retain active communities with their own schools, stores, churches, and cemeteries. The Chowanoke were one of the largest Algonquian tribes tribes in eastern North Carolina. The first Indian school, and the first reservation in North Carolina belonged to the Chowanoke Tribe. Our tribal origins are traced back to persons who were listed as Chief Men of the Chowanoke on various governmental, deed, and court records.
Our Chowanoke ancestors have been the subject of numerous studies well into the early 1900s. The descendants have continuously lived in and around their original reservation, and tribal base since the reservation existed and are here today as the Meherrin-Chowanoke. The people never left the areas surrounding Gates County NC, and are still most assuredly here.
Q. Did the other eight state recognize tribes go through a petitioning process to meet 8 criteria for recognition?
A. No they didn't. There are currently eight recognized tribes in North Carolina including the Cherokee, a federally recognized tribe. The NC Commission of Indian Affairs was formed in 1971, approximately 41 years ago, all tribes by that time had been recognized by legislation, not a petitioning process. Since that time, only two tribes have completed the state petitioning process. Out of those two, only one has been recognized through the NC Commission of Indian Affairs. In fact, two tribes have since used legislation to further their independent tribal goals.
Q. Didnt the Occaneechi Band of Saponi go through the petitioning process after compiling years of research and were recognized by the NC Commission of Indian Affairs?
A. No. The OBSN did go through the petitioning process, but they were not recognized by the NCCIA.
Q. Are some Indian Tribes protesting the recognition of other Indian Tribes?
A. Well.... No.... To the general question at least. But yes, as far as certain individuals go. Indian Tribes do not protest against the advancement of other Indian Nations, but there has always been certain individuals who for what ever reason, rational or not, protest anything. Even if it is detrimental to their own advancement. Always consider the source and motives.
Q. Are the Meherrin-Chowanoke Nation the same as the Meherrin Tribe?
A. No. these are two different groups. While there are family ties among both groups, they are two separate entities, with two different origins, and histories. One Meherrin faction filed a letter of intent to petition for federal recognition in 1990 and were designated as petitioner Meherrin tribe 119A.
Subsequently 5 years later, a separate Meherrin Group filed a letter of intent in 1995. The later group actually submitted a petition which is currently pending a decision from the BIA. That group, as indicated on the BIA website, is still listed as Meherrin Tribe 119B.
Our group, the Meherrin-Chowanoke currently retain the 119A designation.
Q. Do the Meherrin-Chowanoke have Chowanoke ancestry?
A. Yes. Many members still retain the Chowanoke Robbins surname. Others have known Chowanoke ancestors. The Meherrin-Chowanoke are unique in that aspect.
Q. Where are the Meherrin-Chowanoke located?
A. Our tribal service areas primarily cover Hertford County, Gates County, Chowan County, and Perquimans County. But, we have some tribal members in other counties of North Carolina. And a few in other states.
Q. Would recognition of another Indian Tribe deplete Title VII education funding allotted to Indians in the state of North Carolina?
A. No it wouldn't. Only Federally recognized Tribes receive educational funding for College. Title VII funding is issued by the United States to fulfill the Federal Governments unique and continuing trust relationship with and responsibility to the Indian people for the education of Indian children. There is some funding issued to benefit state tribes for primary education.
There are thousands of tribes across the United States. It is highly doubtful that such a program would go bust due to the inclusion of a small tribe from NC.
Additionally, there are educational opportunities and programs available to all US citizens. Not just Native Americans.
Q. Does recognizing Indian Tribes cost the state any monies?
A. No. It doesn't.
Q. How did your name become the Meherrin-Chowanoke?
A. It was done through a vote by tribal members.
Q. What does the 119A designation mean?
A. Numbers are assigned to every tribal group that files a letter of intent to petition the BIA to re-establish their nation to nation relationship with the US government. The 119A number was issued to the Meherrin-Chowanoke Nation.
Q. Since there are two Meherrin groups, why don't you just become one?
A. The answer to that is simple. While there are family ties, we are two separate groups with different historical origins, different geographical areas, and different philosophies. We are not them, and they are not us. This is the same as someone asking why you do not attend the same church as your sister, brother, or relative. Why are there so many churches?
People choose to worship, or follow different leadership as a basic human right. Because we may all be Native American does not mean we are all the same, or should be forced together as a convenience. That practice was utilized in forcing different tribes on to the same reservation. We are a free people, free to follow our culture, and maintain relationships of our choosing. Just as everyone should be able to.
Q. What is the Meherrin-Chowanoke Nation's relationship with the other state recognized tribes?
A. Very good, excellent in fact. We have been involved in Indian policy here in this state for over 30 years. That being said, like with anything else, there will always be distractors. It is like that with any organizations. The Meherrin-Chowanoke Nation is focused on its people and doing what is best for our tribe. We are focused on the goals that we are concentrated on, not what other individuals are doing, or saying for that matter. To progress forward as a tribe, focusing on what you are doing as an individual, or group, is the way towards the success of the people that depend on you.
Q. I read somewhere that you had disenrolled former members, is that true?
A. No. we have not disenrolled members who did not request it, who withdrew their membership, or joined a different tribal group.
Q. How could the Meherrin and Chowanoke merge when they were different people, Algonquian and Iroquoian?
A. Algonquian and Iroquoian signified their linguistic stock, and or their language. Because people came from different family groups did not mean they did not intermarry, in the same way that persons from indian and non-indian backgrounds married. Both groups living in close proximity to each other where bound to interact in that way. Just as many english settlers took Indian wives, it would seem logical that other Native population would have married other Native populations. That's just being human.
Q. Has there ever been a historical tribe called the Meherrin-Chowanoke?
A. There has been a historical tribe called the Meherrin, and there has been a historical tribe called the Chowanoke. Tribal names evolve. In fact, most tribal names that exist today were not necessarily what the tribes called themselves. They were names the settlers called the Indian populations out of convenience. Tribes were sometimes nomadic, and may have been called different things in different areas. Fast forward today. In North Carolina, you have the following tribes, The Haliwa-Saponi, the Lumbee, the Occaneechi Band of Saponi, the Waccamaw Siouan, among others. Which of those are historical names, or names derivative of historical names?
All groups are Native Tribes . What is important is how tribes identify themselves, not how they are identified by others.
The Meherrin Chowanoke descend from one of the best documented groups in North Carolina. The lineage of this group is direct, and archived.
Q. Who is the Chief of the Meherrin-Chowanoke Nation?
A. Chief Thomas "Two feathers" Lewis.
Q. What is the best way to learn about the Meherrin-Chowanoke Nation?
A. An easy one..... Contact the Meherrin-Chowanoke people. The quickest way to obtain accurate information is to go straight to the source.
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