Neil Patterson Sr., left, presents the Wampum Belt to ECU Provost Marilyn Sheerer before the Voyages of Discovery lecture Thursday night on campus at East Carolina University. Photos by Cliff Hollis ECU News Bureau
“The last person who had this done was a guy by the name of George Washington.”
Neil Patterson Sr. speaking about Wampum belt
Grand gesture centuries in making
By Jeannine Manning Hutson, ECU News Services
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Neil Patterson Sr. of the Tuscarora Nation walked to the stage in Hendrix Theatre on East Carolina University’s campus Thursday night and announced to the audience that they were about to witness “something that hasn’t been done in a couple hundred years.”
With three chiefs, clan mothers and others representing the Tuscarora Nation on the stage with him, Patterson presented Provost Marilyn Sheerer a wampum belt for the people of the state. Wampum belts have varicolored beads arranged in patterns and used as a history record or for ceremony such as the ratification of a treaty.
The Tuscarora delegates made the presentation during one of the first sessions of the Nooherooka 300 commemoration, which will conclude today with events near Snow Hill at the site of the 1713 battle at Fort Nooherooka.
“The last person who had this done was a guy by the name of George Washington,” Patterson said. “The Iroquois made him a belt, a large belt by the Iroquois standards. He commissioned it and they did it.”
Today, it is hard to get the quahog shells, Patterson said. The ECU belt is seven rows wide and made of 770 beads.
“This belt is telling a story,” Patterson said. “Sometimes the wampum belt signifies a treaty or to start a treaty; sometimes they tell a story. The words are read into it.
“The wampum belt that we have today commemorates what happened 300 years ago,” Patterson said. “This belt … will be worth its weight in gold because this hasn’t been done in 200 years.”
As he held the wampum belt up, Patterson pointed out that the design had a square at the top and a square at the bottom — both representing homeland.
“And the zigzagging of the beads represents a wandering. Some people call it a migration,” Patterson said. “A migration is what you see geese do. What happened a long time ago wasn’t a migration.”
“It is with a sense of honor, awe and respect for the Tuscarora Nation that I accept this wampum belt on behalf of East Carolina University and all the peoples of North Carolina,” Sheerer said as she held the belt.
In her remarks, Sheerer said that the university promises to preserve and protect the wampum. It will be shared on campus and across the state in museums and libraries so it can be seen by other North Carolinians.
After the presentation, Daniel K. Richter of the University of Pennsylvania discussed “The Tuscarora War: Trade, Land, and Power” as the final presentation of the academic year in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Voyages of Discovery Lecture Series.
A scholar of Native American history prior to 1800, Richter explained the escalation of events in 1711 and 1712 leading up to the war.
“Land is what is at the core of the Tuscarora War,” Richter said.
The commemoration wraps up today. At 10 a.m., a monument created by ECU sculpture professor Hanna Jubran will be dedicated at the intersection of N.C. 58 and Nooherooka Road. Afterward, a lunch at the park in Snow Hill is planned with a lacrosse game between the ECU Club team versus the Tuscarora Nation Men’s team.
More than 140 members of the Tuscarora Nation have traveled from their homes near Niagara Falls, N.Y., to participate in the Nooherooka 300 events. On Sunday, several members of the Tuscarora will begin their own migration back to New York where their ancestors found a new home as the Sixth Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy.
A core group of members plan to hike, bike and canoe the more than 600 miles back to New York with fellow Tuscarora joining them for segments along the way. They are allotting 70 days for the journey.
via The Daily Reflector.