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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. My name is Jovon and I have been picking my grandmother's brain for ages trying to get her to think back to her mother whom is from the rocky mount area possibly. She says she doesnt remember much because she was the youngest of many but my grandmother is a Hawkins (paternal) and a Lucas (Maternal) can anyone help me find my past?


Dear Jovon,

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

We would be glad to try to help you.  By email, I'm connecting you with Reference Services at the N.C. Government & Heritage Library.  A librarian will contact you shortly to help suggest ways you can go about researching your past and family history.

I’m also including a link to a free online learning resource at the Government & Heritage Library.  It’s called “RootsMOOC” --  It’s a short online tutorial on how to go about doing family history research. There are four “modules” and they are all self-paced.  You can access the video and tutorials online at that link and watch them at your leisure. 

Good luck with your research and best wishes,

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library


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


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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.

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