Tag Archives: Reflection

Nooherooka 300 Commemoration Reflection

A Reflection on the Nooherooka 300 Commemoration

by Lyndsey Sweet, East Carolina University Public History major

The events of March 21-23, 1713 on a plowed Carolina field should still be remembered today, three hundred years later. The problem began when the colonists settled in the Americas. The colonists invaded the land the natives had lived on for many years. One of the main causes of the Tuscarora War was “colonists who would not allow them to hunt near their plantations, and under that pretence took away from their game, arms, and ammunition.”[1] The colonists did not understand that the natives did not know they were not allowed to be on the colonists’ land, and as a result, hostile feelings rose between the two groups. The colonists continued to expand, depleting the land where the Tuscarora hunted and lived. This caused the beginning of the war in September 1711. There was conflict off and on for the next few years, but the Tuscarora were desperately trying to hold onto their homeland. It is important to note that there were also internal conflicts between the Tuscarora Indians. The northern Tuscarora did not feel the impacts of the invading colonists and wanted to keep up with their successful fur trade with Virginia. As a result, they did not want to fight.[2] On March 23, 1713 West of present day Snow Hill, NC in Greene County, their struggle was brought to an end.

North Carolinians asked for help from both Virginia and South Carolina. Virginia did not have much interest in North Carolina’s problems, and it thus did not send any troops. They turned to South Carolina, who saw profit in helping North Carolina. If they captured the Indians, they could sell them as slaves.[3] With help from South Carolina, the North Carolinians launched their last attack of the Tuscarora War. Colonel James Moore of South Carolina led 900 Indians and 33 white colonists into Fort Nooherooka. There the Indians killed, scalped, sold into slavery, or buried alive at least 900 Tuscarora Indians. By March 23, 1713 the battle and the war was over. The survivors migrated northward, to upstate New York.[4]  This battle was significant because it was Indians fighting Indians, and it was the last Tuscarora stronghold in North Carolina.

The events of March 21-23, 1713 should be remembered in North Carolina, and specifically in Eastern North Carolina in Pitt and Greene Counties because this battle took place on the land where we live. The Tuscarora people lived on the land where we work and go to school. Studying and commemorating the events of the Battle at Fort Nooherooka, and the related Tuscarora history can give insight on the way many Indians felt during the time period. All over North Carolina and the colonies, Indians were being confined to smaller pieces of land, but did not know what that meant, which caused the resulting wars. These Indian wars are often looked over by our society today, but had the Indians prevailed, we may not be going to school or living in this area.

In the three hundred year commemoration in March 2013, several events will be held to commemorate the battle, as well as teach to Americans about the Tuscarora Nation then and today. There will be an exhibition in both East Carolina University’s Joyner Library and in the Greene County Historical Museum. These museums will attempt to tell the story from the time the colonists settled in the New World, through the Indian Wars, specifically the Battle at Fort Nooherooka, and ending with the Tuscarora Nation in New York today. The exhibitions have the potential to give an audience a view of what the times were like both before and during the Indian Wars.



Fort Nooherooka

This is the Colonel James Moore map of Fort Nooherooka. The map is the focal point of the exhibition at Joyner Library. Property of South Carolina Historical Society.


A website was created for general information about the Tuscarora tragedy and the commemoration. There are specific topics on the website such as artifacts found on the archeological dig, information about the exhibits, the Tuscarora story, and other specific topics. One key feature of this website is the videos that were created when four Tuscarora delegates came to North Carolina. They are asked a variety of questions about their lives, their traditions, struggles, and views that are related to the Tuscarora Nation today. These videos will give the audience a look into the lives of the Tuscarora Nation.

During the commemoration, there will be a series of lectures, dealing with different topics and aspects of the Tuscarora Nation. There are lectures on the tragedy, their current homeland in New York, their language, and the repatriation process, among many others. These lectures allow the general public to learn more about specific aspects of the Tuscarora Indians, both past and present.

On the last day of the commemoration, a monument will be dedicated near the Nooherooka Fort site. The monument will be in remembrance of the Tuscarora men, women, and children, who lost their lives, were held captive, or forced to move from their homeland, during the battle. It is important to have something on the site where the main battle took place because it is a reminder of the sacrifice those Indians made so we can live, work, and go to school on the land where they once hunted and lived.

The last part of the commemoration, which I believe speaks the most about the events of March 1713, is the migration walk. Members of the Tuscarora Nation will be walking from the fort site back to their reservation in New York. This migration represents the walk that the remaining Tuscarora survivors made after the battle at Fort Nooherooka.

The story of the Tuscarora Nations is largely unknown, even in the present areas where they lived three hundred years ago. It is important for the public to understand this specific tragedy, as well as many others like it across the colonies. I encourage the public to attend the lectures that commemorate these Indians and their story. The events that took place on March 21-23, 1713 are among some of the most important in Native American and North Carolina history.

[1] Elizabeth Fenn, The Way we Lived in North Carolina, (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 53.

[2] Ibid., 55.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., 58.


A Reflection on the Neyuheruke 300th Commemoration

by Samantha Sheffield, ECU Public History major

As a people we tend to have very short attention-spans.  We have the ability to be very passionate and make great social changes: women’s lib, civil rights movement, etc.  But after we think that it’s over when something has been achieved- we move on.  Society cares for the ills of another for but a brief time.  The work that historians take on is to keep the issues alive in the public eye; keep the archives secure and well-cared for and to educate, educate, educate! People cannot care unless they see a reason and purpose to it. We, as an Introduction to Public History, took on a part of this task by working on the 300th Anniversary Project for the Tuscarora War and more specifically the fall of the Tuscarora  Fort Neyuheruke.

The Tuscarora Nation has its roots in the eastern part of North Carolina.  But if you ask most North Carolinians to name a Carolina Indian they would say Cherokee nine times out of ten.  When pressed for something they know about the Cherokee of North Carolina they say the Trail of Tears.  The Tuscarora had their own version of this as they marched from North Carolina to upstate New York.  They too were ousted from their lands by a foreign force.  In 1713, English Colonel John Barnwell led a force of 527 to attack the Tuscarora stronghold at Fort Neyuheruke.  They were successful in defeating the Tuscarora who suffered catastrophic losses and were forced to move from their ancestral homeland to join the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy over 600 miles away.  They are a people who lost everything but who continued on.  Even today the peoples of the Tuscarora Nation who still face many challenges are a warm people who have a remarkable outlook.  While they might well be understandably bitter and cynical about all that has befallen them over hundreds of years of American history they have an extremely optimistic and positive outlook.  They work together everyday to achieve their goals. They have a saying that you can break a single arrow in half, but when you have many arrows together you cannot break them in half.  This is shown on the US Minted Sacagawea Dollar coin.


The Tuscarora were asked by the Federal Government if they would like to provide an image for the back of some of the new dollar coins – much like the late-state quarter collections.  They complied and submitted a drawing of a bundle of arrows wrapped with a wampum as their central image symbolizing the unbreakable nature of the Tuscarora.  They also included the name they call themselves, the Haudenosaunee, as well as the words the ‘Great Law of Peace.’ This historic agreement within the Five Nations was used as a guideline for our own Constitution.

The 300th Anniversary in March of 2013 will be an effort to show the people of Eastern North Carolina some of the rich history in the area where they live.  But more importantly, with the arrival of a large Tuscarora delegation from the New York reservation to partake in the event it will be authentic.  Here is a chance for people to support a culture that has struggled but has ultimately survived.  During the commemoration people will be exposed to the cultural practices of the Tuscarora during many of the events.  Especially the dedication of the monument.  The Tuscarora Monument is a joint effort to make sure that the Tuscarora War and the Fort of Neyuheruke do not get brushed aside in the history of North Carolina.

The most important thing I have taken away from this semester’s work is that education is the most important thing.  There are two sides to every story.  Yes, the Tuscarora were attacked by an English Colonel with a force of 527 but only 33 were other white settlers and the other 495 were other Native Americans.  They justified this as protecting themselves from Tuscarora raiding parties.  But this does not take away from the devastating losses the Tuscarora suffered.  But a historian has a duty to give the whole story even if it is not the easiest to portray.  Accuracy and fidelity to the past is the goal.






A Refection of the Nooherooka 300th Anniversary Commemoration

Written by Christina Lugo, East Carolina University History Major

 The battle of Nooherooka will forever be a tragic event in the history of the Tuscarora people. In March 1713, on a now small farm field in Snow Hill, N.C, close to nine hundred Native Americans died during the siege of Fort Nooherooka. Today, it is important to commemorate the Tuscarora and all who died at Nooherooka.

Fort Nooherooka was the final stronghold destroyed by colonial forces during the Tuscarora War of 1711-1713. As the battle ended, more than 400 Tuscarora men, women and children burned to death in a fire that destroyed the fort; around 170 were either killed outside the fort or captured with an estimated 400 and taken to South Carolina to be sold into slavery. Of the Tuscarora who had originally taken refuge within the confines of the fort, a number managed to escape prior to the final siege. The remaining Tuscarora fled deep into the interior toward the Virginia border, most of them eventually going to New York where they joined the Five Nations.

Fort Nooherooka is located on what is today a privately owned farm. East Carolina University undertook the excavation of the fort for Historical and Cultural Research in conjunction with ECU’s summer field school for archaeology students. After years of digging at Nooherooka, the project yielded boxes and boxes of Tuscarora skeletal remains, as well as personal effects.

The consensus among the Tuscarora people is that Nooherooka is one of the most sacred sites to their people. The site is one the largest mass graves of Natives in the country. It serves as a reminder to all of the descendants of what took place, and that from that point on, Tuscarora people would no longer be the same. This is why it is extremely important to commemorate this event and the Tuscarora history. The battle at Nooherooka broke the Tuscarora Nation in two. The Tuscarora lost their own men, women and children in that battle to slaughter or slavery. After Nooherooka, everything changed. Educating others about the history is crucial, if people understand what happened here, they will understand the significance. There will not be any question as to whether or not it should be protected.

The tragic death of those Tuscarora who died in the battle of Nooherooka will be commemorated in March 2013 at the Nooherooka 300th Anniversary commemoration hosted by East Carolina University. This conference is one of the many different ways East Carolina University will be recognizing the Tuscarora presence in North Carolina history. The conference will host many different speakers over a three-day period, in which the public is encouraged to come learn about the history of the Tuscarora. The conference will include, an arts and crafts exposition, the Tuscarora War in North Carolina in Perspective lecture, Tour of the Phelps Archaeological Laboratory, conserving the cultural treasures of the Tuscarora heritage lecture and much more.

Another way East Carolina University has decided to honor the Tuscarora is with an exhibition located in Joyner Library. This exhibit will show a timeline of the Tuscarora Nation, early maps that show where the Native American nations were located, the first maps where the Tuscarora lived, the Indian Wars as well as a map of the battle site of Fort Nooherooka, and the photographs of artifacts found during an archeological dig of the site. In addition, East Carolina students have created a website dedicated to the 300th Anniversary of the battle of Nooherooka. The website includes all the different topics researched by Public History students in the fall semester of 2012: including the exhibit in Joyner Library, repatriation, photos of different artifacts, maps, matrilineal information, a schedule of the anniversary conference, the design of the monument for today’s site, and videos of the interviews conducted with members of the Tuscarora nation.

The marker and monument on the battle site are also another way the event has been commemorated. For students the marker and monument may spark a curiosity that leads to further study of and appreciation for the historical event and history of the Tuscarora. For visitors the signs may be their only exposure to the history of the Tuscarora War. In addition, for North Carolinians the presence of a state marker in their community can be a source of pride, a signal that an event of historical significance took place close to home.

The battle of fort Nooherooka is a dark time in North Carolinas past. The past is an important part of our present and helps to shape our future. The commemoration of this event will help educate people, help the past become more accessible, more meaningful, and can be utilized to address a variety of contemporary issues. In addition, a historical consciousness can help us to think critically about what happened on the site and never forget those died there.



A Reflection on the Nooherooka 300th Anniversary Commemoration

By Victoria Albanese, East Carolina University History and Philosophy Major

Imagine your hometown being invaded, sacked, and seized by a cruel and remorseless army representing people who had been exploiting you for decades. Imagine mercilessly losing half of your town’s population in a matter of less than three days. Now imagine being one of the few who survived. What do you do? Where do you go? How do you move on? On March 20th, 1713, 900 Indians and 33 Europeans from South Carolina were led by Colonel James Moore in an attack on Fort Nooherooka. The fort was protecting the Native American tribe of Tuscarora Indians on this last day of the Tuscarora War that had begun in September of 1711. The war was against European colonists who wanted to take over Tuscarora land and make them slaves. This war was an indescribably tragic loss by the Tuscarora. The last death toll was taken at 1,400 Tuscarora, while 1,000 had been captured and enslaved. With no other option to consider, the Tuscarora resorted to leaving their homeland of eastern North Carolina and headed to upstate New York.  The site of the Battle of Nooherooka lies just west of Snow Hill in Greene County, North Carolina.

The disastrous outcome of the Tuscarora War could not more perfectly exemplify the brutality and ruthlessness of European colonists during the eighteenth century. It had been made a point by John Lawson, a British explorer, saying that the Tuscarora provided for the colonists better than the Europeans provided for them, always taking care that they were armed against hunger and thirst but with the favor rarely returned. This caring society of Tuscarora Indians was grossly disrespected, and then stripped of every last possession they had. The only thing they could keep to themselves was their culture. The traditions they cherished and their mental strength were the only possessions they could take with them to rebuild their society seven hundred miles north of their historic homeland. Tragedy is not a severe enough word to depict the sort of struggle, hardship, or misfortune experienced by the Tuscarora in the early eighteenth century.

The pain of this event is still felt today. While I come from European descent, I can barely trace my ancestry back before my great grandfather, today’s Tuscarora have direct lineage to their ancestors who were involved in the Battle at Nooherooka. This alone is reason enough to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the battle. Knowing that there still exists a Tuscarora Nation, within which reside the family and the memories of the Tuscarora who were subjected to these horrors, there is every reason that this event should be remembered with fear and trembing.

I was fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to talk with and interview four members of the Tuscarora Nation, all of whom play a different role on the Tuscarora Reservation today. They enlightened my colleagues and me to the overwhelming sense of hope and strength amongst the Tuscarora. This is a society of deep devotion to their culture, rich with tradition and values. The Tuscarora are an impressively courageous and enduring society – despite their tragic history. This unbreakable and tenacious nation of the proud Tuscarora deserves the appreciation of all for not allowing such a catastrophic past to hinder peaceful and fruitful life today. The commemoration of the Battle at Nooherooka is a proper way to shed light on how the Tuscarora became who they are and what they’ve faced.

The commemoration will take place on the 300th anniversary, to the date, of the Battle at Nooherooka (21st -23rd of March).  During the commemoration, an exhibit will be available for viewing that displays an abridged history of the settlement of Europeans in Eastern North Carolina, the Tuscarora land, and the conflicts between the two ending with the Battle at Nooherooka. This exhibit offers a unique depiction of the history leading to the battle, while at the same time displaying replicas of artifacts from the time period. The exhibition will be on the first floor of Joyner Library from January to May 2013.

The March commemoration will also include a symposium addressing a variety of topics concerning the Tuscarora homeland, perspectives about the war, and how to keep awareness about the war alive. Artifacts and remnants of the war will be held and preserved at The Phelps Archaeological Laboratory at East Carolina University and The Greene County Museum. Both will be available for viewing on the second day of the commemoration (22nd of March) at 5:30pm and 8:00pm, respectively.

On the final day of the commemoration, attendees will have the opportunity to visit the site of the Nooherooka Fort in Snow Hill, NC (2:00pm). This will offer attendees the opportunity to stand within the boundaries of one of the most pivotal and important events in Tuscarora and North Carolina history. This will be a moving experience for visitors as this fort is the exact site on which the Tuscarora defended their lives and lands during their final days in North Carolina.

The culmination of the commemoration will be a planned walk by a hearty group of Tuscarora from eastern North Carolina to the Tuscarora Nation in upstate New York. You read that correctly. A group of Tuscarora have decided to walk the nearly seven hundred miles just as their ancestors did three hundred years ago. It is difficult to imagine taking the journey of seven hundred miles leaving behind a destroyed homeland and perished family, but the Tuscarora walkers will demonstrate one of the constant refrains of the Tuscarora which that they are a people always moving.