Native Americans embrace their heritage
New center will feature cultural education and Lost Colony research

Washington Daily News, Washington, NC, September 10, 2006
Written by Christina Hale, Staff Writer


William "Wise Bear" King

    Evelyn Frances King and her husband William have spent most of their lives embracing their Native American ancestry in Martin County through genealogical research and area events. Although William King has retired as chief of the Mattamuskeet Indian Coalition, he continues to organize and pay for annual powwows.

    She said the powwows are important because they "keep the people together and support coming into the community."

    This year's powwow was held last month at the Williams Community Center in Williamston. The celebration was open to the public and featured authentic native dances. There was no charge for the event and vendors sold native arts and crafts.

    The traditional way to start a powwow is to set up the circle, then honor the four directions and the four winds, she said. A person will bless the circle by walking around with burning sage and flapping smoke with a feather while a prayer is recited.

    The Native American flag and the U.S. Veterans flag are brought into the area during the grand entrance dance. The veteran dance can include "any veteran that served in the military regardless of what you are wearing," she said.

    There are many different dances, including the women's traditional one, in which female participants place "jingles on their clothes" and the drum beats come together to create a significant sound.

Evelyn "Two Braids" King

    Last month's event was a daylong one. Although it lasted eight hours, the event can only be called a "mini-powwow" because traditionally, the celebrations last several days, she said.

    In the past, the Kings have not been able to organize a larger event because of the cost, but a new cultural center has offered to sponsor their future powwows.

    A center for Lost Colony research is in the developmental stages in Martin County and will feature cultures of all kinds, including the Native American culture, said Evelyn King. The idea of the center started with Fred Willard, who has been researching the Lost Colony for five years, she said.

    He was given an old school building in the rural community of Farm Life in Martin County. The Kings have been asked to be on the board for the new center.

    Evelyn King hopes to use the four acres on the property for future powwows. "We won't have to take the money out of our pockets .. it will be sponsored by the center. My husband and I will still be instrumental in organizing the event."

    She hopes to use the land to display "a replica of our Native American village," she said.

    The Native American culture will be a prevalent part of the new center because "that's the Lost Colony," she said.

    Evelyn King has been researching Native American ancestry for 15 to 20 years. She said the Croatan Indians "didn't get lost except to the people. We migrated from the coast .. to the Bath and Chocowinity area. Some look white, black or in between."

    She said people don't realize that Native Americans are "just a mixture, but the native blood can be defined if you know your history. Relatives can look from white to dark."

    Evelyn King and her husband are descendants from the Mattamuskeet tribe, going back more than 10 generations, which originated from the Free Union community near Jamesville.

    Both use their legal and native names. She is "Two Braids" and he is "Wise Bear." She said native names are usually based on a person's character of personality.

    The name is brought forth and agreed upon by a number of people. That can be at a ceremony, meeting or regular gathering.

    Her name was chosen to be "Two Braids" because she is most comfortable wearing her hair long and in two braids. She said she wears it like that "just about every day," except at church where she wraps it into a bun.

    "Being Native American is something you feel, like when you hit a drum. Once we group, meet with our brothers and sisters -- we love them. They embrace the love. We care for one another."

    With a new center in the works, the Kings are looking forward to expanding their eforts in the community for the sake of Native American ancestry. Their intent is to encourage the "younger ones .. to regroup, carry on the heritage. We don't want it lost."


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