The Tuscarora War began in 1711, a result of European incursion onto Native lands and the capture and enslavement of Indian children, and ended in 1713 with the massacre of over 950 of the Tuscarora at Fort Neoheroka. In total, over 2000 Tuscarora were killed or enslaved during the Tuscarora War.
After that, the remaining Tuscarora were eventually awarded a reservation in Bertie County, NC, but in the late 1700s, most of the Tuscarora sold the land and migrated north to join their Iroquoian brethren in New York, becoming the sixth of the Six Nations. Not all left. Some had intermarried and stayed, and although the Tuscarora Nation officially disowned them, their descendants still today carry the blood of their ancestors, whether they are officially recognized as Tuscarora or not.
This past weekend, in an event coordinated by ECU, the Tuscarora people, both northern and southern, were honored by a memorial commemorating their loss of life at Fort Neoheroka, 300 years ago, between March 21 and 23.
A number of Tuscarora from North Carolina were present. Johnathan Chavis took this photo at the entrance of the new monument, with Timothy Jacobs on the left and Billy Oxendine at right.
Chris Hardison, also Tuscarora, present at this weekends events and has kindly graced us with the gift of his photography and videos he took of the dedication. His comments were that this event was a gift of bringing together of people who had been separated by miles, years and events beyond their control, but they were once again one. Hopefully, the healing has begun and the rift will be no more.
After looking at Chris’s photos, below, please take a look at the video links. Chris recorded the dedication, several songs and dances and some social time as well. Thanks to Chris and Johnathan for so generously sharing.
The monument before the dedication ceremony. The stumps, according to the artist, symbolize the Iroquois Nation.
The dark bands are bronze engravings.
This one shows the long house. The one below shows a wampum belt.
This wedge rock behind the arch represented the bunkers behind the fort, according to the artist, but to some of the Tuscarora from North Carolina in attendance, it represented the splitting of the people that occurred beginning with the massacre in 1713 and was completed in 1802 with the final removal trip North, accompanying the stragglers to New York to resettle. This was the wedge driven between the northern and southern Tuscarora, as anyone who remained in the south was no longer considered to be Tuscarora.
This photo shows the area at Snow Hill where the fort stood. It’s a field today.
This photograph is of the dedication. The arch symbolized the long house and walking under the arch symbolized the entry into the Six Nations.
Now, take a look at Chris’s videos of the event. Keep in mind when you hear the dedication songs that the northern and southern Tuscarora have joined their voices together after more than 200 years apart and they have never sung these songs in unison before. This is a heart warming, soulful event. As Chris said, this is an important chapter in Tuscarora history, just being written today.
There is even a group of Tuscarora youth walking back to New York from North Carolina, called the Tuscarora Migration Project. Their mission is to raise awareness of indigenous survival, climate change and the need for human powered movement. Take a look as these young people retrace the ancient steps of their ancestors on their 1300 miles, 70 day, relay event using bikes, canoes and walking. You can follow their blog, their progress, and support them on their historic journey.