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Origins of North Carolina


Bald cypress
Bald cypress

The first humans in North Carolina were Native Americans, the so-called Paleo-Indians of 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. They were nomads who pursued buffalo and other large game animals, some of which are now extinct. Their likely descendants were the Archaic people of about 3,000 to 10,000 years ago, who did not yet have agriculture. Agriculture, along with pottery, was introduced in the Woodland stage of culture, lasting from about 3,000 years ago into the historical period. After ad 800, the Mississippian culture, or Mound Builders, was represented in the south and west. They built large towns centered around ceremonial mounds. North Carolina’s Native American population in the 1600s is estimated at about 30,000, organized into about 30 peoples, of which the most important were the Hatteras, Tuscarora, Chowanoc, Catawba, and Cherokee.

Contact between Native Americans and whites resulted occasionally in friendship but often in hostility. In either event it ultimately led to the death or displacement of most of the Native Americans. Even in the friendliest of contacts, the Europeans unwittingly spread diseases to which the Native Americans had no resistance. Deaths from measles, smallpox, and colds decimated their populations and disrupted their societies.

In the present day, North Carolina has some 70,000 Native Americans, organized into nine or more governments or corporations. The state’s largest reservation is that of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, who descend largely from 1,000 Cherokee who fled into the Great Smokies in 1838 when the Cherokee nation was forcibly moved to Oklahoma.

The reservation occupies 22,660 hectares (56,000 acres) near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and park-related tourism provides employment for many of the band’s approximately 5,750 members.

Another strong present-day Native American community is the Lumbee of Robeson County, with a population of about 34,500. The Lumbee are socially and politically well organized although they are unrecognized by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. They have had a number of strong leaders, notably Adolph Dial, a former university professor and member of the North Carolina state legislature (1991-1993). "North Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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