native americans at MOA

Chief Marilyn Berry-Morrison of Chesapeake, Virginia, poses alongside a display of the heritage of the Roanoke-Hatteras Tribe of Dare County, of which Berry-Morrison is a member. She and fellow Roanoke-Hatteras descendants were among three Native American tribes represented at Museum of the Albemarle’s ribbon cutting for its new “Guardians of the Land” exhibit on Saturday. The other two tribes were the Meherrin, represented by Chief Jonathan Caudill, and the Chowanoke, represented by Devonna Mountain.

Representatives of three Native American tribes indigenous to northeastern North Carolina attended Saturday’s opening of Museum of the Albemarle’s new exhibit, “Guardians of the Land: Discovering Indigenous Americans.”

Helping museum officials cut the ribbon on the exhibit were members of the Chowanoke, Meherrin and Roanoke-Hatteras tribes. The exhibit is located on the main floor of the museum.

The three representatives adorned in traditional attire included Devonna Mountain, of the Chowanoke; Chief Jonathan Caudill, of the Meherrin; and Marilyn Berry-Morrison of the Roanoke-Hatteras Tribe of Dare County. A video of the ribbon cutting and self-introductions of the guests is available at the museum’s Facebook page.

“Hello, I’m chief Jonathan Caudill of the Meherrin Indian Tribe,” said Caudill. “I’m here representing the Meherrin from the Hertford County area.”

Berry-Morrison told the audience that the Roanoke-Hatteras tribe also is known as “people of the coast.” That’s because her ancestors hail from both Hatteras and Roanoke islands.

“We have a strong tie to the land. Why?” she asked. “Because we have family who live there today. We never left.”

Mountain concluded the opening comments.

“I am representing the Chowanoke Indian Nation out of Gates, Hertford and Northampton counties,” she said. “We settled along the now present-day Chowan River and we are very, very happy that we were invited to be a part of this.”

The three also hosted table-top exhibits of items from their cultures and answered questions from visitors to the museum Saturday.

Berry-Morrison said the Roanoke-Hatteras tribe has been working with the state, specifically the N.C. Commission of Indian Affairs, for about 12 years to gain official recognition as one of the state’s indigenous tribes.

According to the commission, there are eight state recognized Native American tribes. They are the Coharie Tribe, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe, the Lumbee Tribe, the Meherrin Tribe, the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, the Sappony and the Waccamaw Siouan Tribe.