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Coharie Indians

by Ruth Y. Wetmore, 2006

"Blackwater River, North Carolina  The Great Coharie Creek flows into the Blackwater River. The Chowan River is formed by the merging of this river and the Nottoway River." Image courtesy of Flickr user eutrophication&hypoxia, uploaded on May 4, 2010. The Coharie Indians in North Carolina have been recognized as an official tribe by the state legislature since 1971 and are represented on the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs. The tribal name is derived from the two Coharie Creeks and the Coharie River, all of which flow through Sampson County. The Coharie's history is similar to that of the Lumbee Indians, with whom they have many ties. Community members built the first Indian school in Sampson County in 1859. State funds were used for a separate Indian school in 1911, but for the most part their Indian schools were supported by private subscriptions from the community.

Despite a long history of group unity, Coharie tribal structure developed relatively late. The Sampson County Indian Organization, formed in 1969, was the forerunner of the modern-day Coharie tribe, which was established in 1971. The tribe sponsors an annual powwow and administers both educational and housing programs. There were approximately 1,500 Indians, most of them Coharies, living in Sampson and Harnett Counties in the early 2000s.


George E. Butler, The Croatan Indians of Sampson County, North Carolina: Their Origin and Racial Status. A Plea for Separate Schools (1916).

Ruth Y. Wetmore, First on the Land: The North Carolina Indians (1975).

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Image Credit:

"Blackwater River, North Carolina.  The Great Coharie Creek flows into the Blackwater River. The Chowan River is formed by the merging of this river and the Nottoway River." Image courtesy of Flickr user eutrophication&hypoxia, uploaded on May 4, 2010. Available from (accessed May 24, 2012).


Origin - location: 



what languages did they speak


Thank you for posting your question.

There is some information about the tribe’s history on the LearnNC site ( as well as on the tribe’s site ( I did not see other languages specified, however. So, I forwarded your email to Reference Services at the State Library of NC’s Government & Heritage Library. Their contact information may be found at

Someone from Reference Services will follow up with you soon.  

Good luck in your research!

Michelle Underhill
Government & Heritage Library


What gives the Coharie Intra Tribal Council Inc. or the Lumbee the right to claim the Croatan Indians of Sampson County's history as their own? We existed prior to the creation of the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs and it appears that the work of our ancestors such as Enoch Emanuel's Sketch of the Classified Indians of Sampson County, and the NCGS 1917 signed on Wed 3 Jan for the Separate Schools foe the Croatan Indians. The works of our ancestors have been hijacked by the Coharie and Lumbee Indians and through ties between the UNC system been allowed to pump as much historically bias and inaccurate propaganda to fuel the watering down of historical facts to keep the Croatan men, women, and children from knowing the truth and breaking away from these brands. I have a question, please show me the cite or reference from any historical document with the words Lumbee Indian(s) prior to 1950 or Coharie Intra Tribal Council which is a nonprofit 501 (c) organization. Just because a ri er exists in a state doesn't mean a group of people can start a company and call themselves Indians of that river name. Goodyear Tire Company is close to the Cape Fear River, I suppose the owners could change the name of the company to the Cape Fear River Indians Tire Company?

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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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