Tuscarora Confederacy History


Our Peoples once inhabited all the lands from near the Virginia Border almost to South Carolina, from North to South, and from the Piedmont to the Coastal Plains from East to West . This included most of North Carolina. We had villages on every tributary and waterway criss-crossing North Carolina. We traded with other tribes.

Some or our people were known as the Skahrooreaga - hemp gatherers, kgahtenoowahgah - people of the pines, and agawahntehgah - people of the water, I know the spelling may be wrong, but we are still retrieving lost knowledge. We wear the Gustoweh, not a South Western head Bonnet or (war bonnet) as they are called. Our villages or clans went of their matrilineal (mothers) line. We still honor our Clan Mothers even though we know we will not be able to go back to the old ways, we still remember, (the blood always remembers).

In the latter part of the 1600's our villages were many, we were slowly and methodically either annihilated by the white settlers, our people were moved off most of the tributaries and waterway and relocated to Bertie County on a Reservation. The Indian Woods Reservation was over 58,000 acres in 1717. Bordered by the Roanoke River, Deep Run Creek, and the Roquist Creek encompassing Merry Hill, Lewiston, Windsor, Woodville, Snakebite, Mitchell's, Grabtowne etc.. We numbered over 800 families strong. By 1721 the invaders realized the land they forced us to dwell on wasn't just a swamp, but rich fertile land, they moved us on to the reservation. As their history repeats itself they made faulty land leases with some of the Tuscarora, if the Tuscarora wouldn't sign their leases they would let another put an X in their spot, the other wasn't even Tuscarora.

In 1748 the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law that no person could buy, sell, or trade or lease any parcel of land on the Reservation, and if leased it was null and void. Then in 1766 Lord Granville gave the land leased to the leasee's free and clear.

By 1777 the House of Commons recognized the swindle of the Tuscarora and prohibited further entreaties onto the land, and appointed an Indian Commission to "help" the Tuscarora, these were the same men that were given "leased land" free and clear.

During this time a lot of the Tuscarora fled and tried to escape the persecution they were forced t endure, they tried to assimilate into other races, but stayed in the surrounding counties. In 1803 155 families or clans and 7 Chiefs of the remaining Tuscarora left to go to New York, from New York these Chiefs sold the remaining land away forever.

The ones who refused to go ran and dispersed into the countryside. 645 families or clans and 5 chiefs dispersed "like seeds in the wind" according to Dr. David Phelps Archeology East Carolina University Greenville, some were loaded up in bused and were taken to Robeson County, North Carolina. they were told they were going to Robeson County the town which lies on the outskirts of Martin County North Carolina. There was a Tuscarora village named Kahukee, there is a College there now in Kahukee Park, which still has one of our Tribal burial grounds behind it. Some of our people joined other tribes, some clans migrated to mill villages, and moved to the Piedmont of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia and kept silent about their Native Heritage for fear of further persecution.

When the Southern Band reconstructed we followed on of the original trade routes, our territorial limits go from East to West, from Gates, Hertford, Bertie, Martin, Washington, and Craven Counties.

We are of the Bear Clan. Our Seal acknowledges the Skahrooreaga - hemp gatherers, in the West, Kgahtenoowahgah - people of the pines, in the South the agawahntehgah - -people of the water, in the East. The Gustoweh is in the North. The fire of our Nation burns in the center of the Longhouse, we come in the Eastern Door, and Honor the Moon, Sun and Stars. WE ARE TRADITIONALISTS.

Taken from a letter to John Wigle, Vice Chairman of the Baltimore American Indian Center, by Councilwoman Marilyn Mejerado.

Return to Table of Contents

Last Updated February 12, 2006