North Carolina Indians

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Many of us base our concepts of American Indian life on Western movies and think immediately of the Indians from the Great Plains. When we think about North Carolina Indians, we may be aware of the Cherokees but have only a vague idea about other tribes. If you want to increase your understanding of our state’s Indians, start with these books.

Arnett, Ethel Stephens. The Saura and Keyauwee in the Land That Became Guilford, Randolph, and Rockingham. Greensboro: Media, 1975.

This is a short, readable book about the Indians who lived right here in Guilford
County and the surrounding area.Native Carolinians: The Indians of North Carolina

Purdue, Theda. Native Carolinians: The Indians of North Carolina. Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, 1985.

This book has general information about the Indian way of life and about Indian-white relations through the years, with individual chapters about the Cherokees and the Lumbees. It ends with a timeline of important dates in North Carolina’s Indian history. Black-and-white illustrations add to the book.

Ross, Thomas E. American Indians in North Carolina: Geographic Interpretations. Southern Pines: Karo Hollow Press, 1999.

While this title sounds terribly dry and academic, it includes a wealth of information, including sections about some of the less-known tribes and  unrecognized tribes. For example, there’s an entire chapter about the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, Indians who lived in my native Orange County. It includes many maps, photographs and other illustrations, and tables.

Wetmore, Ruth Y. First on the Land: The North Carolina Indians. Winston-Salem: John F. Blair, 1975.

This readable book includes information about the prehistoric period, the Indian Wars, and daily life in the traditional Indian cultures. There are short chapters on 29 tribes. If you want to know about the North Carolina Indians’ games, religion, or festivals, this is a good place to start. There are plenty of black-and-white illustrations.