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).
"Haliwa-Saponi Tribe In NC." Photo courtesy of Flickr user Neil Smith, taken on May 20, 2009. Available from http://www.flickr.com/photos/crowdive/3552177043/ (accessed May 23, 2012).
1 January 2006 | Wetmore, Ruth Y.