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HCC hosts third annual American Indian Heritage Month Celebration


Halifax Community College hosted its third annual American Indian Heritage Month celebration, Nov. 9 at The Centre. The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Ogletree Richardson.


“When I was growing up, I was always a dreamer,” said Richardson. “One of my greatest dreams was to become a school teacher.” She described the history of the Haliwa Indian School and how her career in education began there. She also talked about the work to re-open the school as a charter school. Richardson achieved her dream of becoming a teacher when she decided to enroll at a community college in 1981 to pursue a degree. At the time, she had five sons and a full-time job. She did not stop going to school until she had earned a doctorate in education.


Tim Evans, a corporate attorney in the Washington, D.C. area and a member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe, gave a national perspective on American Indian affairs. “One of the biggest problems facing Indian peoples at the national level that works its way down to the local level is a problem of perception,” said Evans. “Tribes are made of living, breathing people who are alive and well. We are not some historical artifact.”


Alfred Richardson, executive director of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe, talked about tribal affairs. Federal recognition is a major concern. “We are the only people in the United States who have to fight to have our own government recognize us for who we are. No other race of people has to do that,” explained Richardson. He also highlighted programs and services that support tribal members.


Special recognition was given to former Chief Jessie W. Richardson. Honored, Chief Richardson said that he had tried to be a leader. “I love my people and I’ll always work for them the best that I can,” he added.


During the program, poet Belle Frye shared some of her poetry with the audience. Plus, there was a presentation by Patricia Richardson who described ceremonial dress and culture.


North Carolina’s American Indian population totals nearly 100,000. It is the largest American Indian population east of the Mississippi River, sixth largest in the nation. There are eight American Indian tribes in North Carolina.


 See Caption Below


HCC student Laura Richardson, left, and Roanoke Valley Early College student Tyneisha Richardson, right, perform the Ladies’ Jingle Dance during the third annual American Indian Heritage celebration,

Nov. 9.