Bookmark and Share

Printer-friendly versionPDF version
Average: 4.3 (7 votes)

Haliwa Indians

by Ruth Y. Wetmore, 2006

"Haliwa-Saponi Tribe  In NC." Photo courtesy of Flickr user Neil Smith, taken on May 20, 2009. The Haliwa Indians were recognized as a tribe by the North Carolina legislature in 1965. The tribal name is a combination of Halifax and Warren Counties, where the majority of the Haliwa live. One tradition relates that the present Indian communities in this area were founded by wounded survivors of the Tuscarora War and other colonial conflicts who were unable to rejoin their original tribal groups. In addition to North Carolina coastal tribes, Accomac, Cherokee, Nansemond, Occaneechi, Saponi, Tuscarora, and Tutelo Indians are claimed as Haliwa ancestors. Since 1975, the Haliwa have referred to themselves as the Haliwa-Saponi.

Although Indians were living in this area before the American Revolution and some served as soldiers in that war, the emergence of the Haliwa with a collective Indian identity has been relatively recent. The Haliwa Indian Club was organized in the 1950s, and its membership roll became the arbiter of Indian identity. As they were for other state-recognized tribes in North Carolina, schools and churches were important in strengthening Haliwa group identity, although a separate Haliwa school was not established until 1957.

In 1965, when the Haliwa became a state-recognized Indian tribe, nearly 400 persons successfully brought suit in Halifax County court to change the racial designation on their birth certificates, marriage licenses, and driver's licenses to "Indian." In the early 2000s there were approximately 3,000 Haliwas living in Halifax and Warren Counties. The tribe holds an annual powwow in April and conducts a number of economic and educational programs for its members.


J. K. Dane and B. Eugene Griessman, "The Collective Identity of Marginal Peoples: The N.C. Experience," American Anthropologist 74 (1972).

Alfred Tamarin, We Have Not Vanished: Eastern Indians of the United States (1974).

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

Additional Resources:


Image Credit:

"Haliwa-Saponi Tribe  In NC." Photo courtesy of Flickr user Neil Smith, taken on May 20, 2009. Available from (accessed May 23, 2012).


Origin - location: 



Hello. I was always told I had ties within the Haliwa-Saponi tribe through my mother's side. She is in the Hart family and they reside in Rocky Mount NC. I would love to know if they have had ties to the tribe because I would love to learn more about my heritage.


Dear Courtney,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia  and taking time to share your history and question. 

I am also replying to the email address you included with your post and cc’ing Reference Services at the NC Government & Heritage Library.  A librarian will contact you shortly to suggest resources for researching Haliwa-Saponi heritage in North Carolina.

Good luck with your research and best wishes,

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library


I have always known that as a child i belong to a special people. This year i have had the wonderful experience of meeting them through NASA at NCSTATE. Thank you


I was trying to find out info on my other family heritag. Grandfather was a saponey and grandmother was Haliwa . Could you help me ?


My family heritage is also Haliwa Saponi. I'd be happy to share the information and genealogy I have of the CH Richardson Family.


I know this post is about 3 months old, but I thought that I would attempt to reach you. I don't know if it's the same CH Richardson but my great-grandfather was THE Reverend Charlie Horace Richardson. If we're talking about the same one I'd love to chat, and if it's not the same 1 it could still be family. My paternal grandmother was also a Richardson before she married a Richardson (They say it's 2 completely different sets, however I call b.s. on that !)


Well K Richardson...I don't want to try to guess which cousin of mine this is but since Rev. Charlie Horace Richardson was my great-grandfather too, I have sneaky feeling that I already know:-).


I believe i may be a relative of yours as well. I believe Horace to either be a brother or nephew to my grandfather. His name was Prince Richardson Sr., and had other siblings in the Hollister area (one i remember well was Roosevelt, his youngest brother - Sisters named Pattie Richardson and Seal Richardson)
All that being said, I would love to reach out and meet my blood relatives. My grandparents are deceased now and my father is also. He has one sister living who is familiar with the blood line but she is not too familiar with anyone past her generation.... (age 65).
Thank you


Angela - I believe that you are correct. I have been doing research on our family and I do remember a Roosevelt and a Prince as relatives of our family. I too am the great-granddaughter of Rev. Charlie Horace Richardson.


Lol...yep u got me, not too many of your first cousins have a name that starts with a ''K"! I was just talking to dad today about great grandpa. I was also asking him if he knew where our great, great grandparents came from. While we were on our cruise last week we were asked over and over if we were from puerto rico and while in saint maarten i had someone speak to me in spanish. It makes me wonder if at some point our family did have some ties to south america, there are tribes there. Dad said to talk to Aunt Nancy and Uncle Earnest because with them being as old as they are they know more about the generations before them.


Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. Complete guidelines are available at

Copyright notice

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.

Educator Resources on North Carolina American Indians

NC Humanities Council, 2009 - 2011. "Teaching about North Carolina American Indians." Online at Learn NC.

Grey Squirrel - Click me to return to the top of the page