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Norfolk FBI Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

FBI Norfolk November 23, 2011
  • Community Outreach Specialist Vanessa Torres (757) 455-0100

On November 22, 2011, the Norfolk FBI, along with its community partners, celebrated Native American Heritage Month at the Meyera Oberndorf Library in Virginia Beach with members of the Haliwa Saponi Tribe from Hollister, North Carolina. The annual celebration included over 75 attendees from the Hampton Roads area including FBI employees, employees from SunTrust Bank, Hampton University students, and members of the community.

Felicia Bryant, Norfolk FBI’s Supervisory IT Specialist and Native American Coordinator, along with Vanessa Torres, FBI Community Outreach Specialist, organized the event with SunTrust Bank’s Assistant Vice President Community Development Manager Mark Johnson, in an effort to educate their employees and the communities they serve about the rich heritage of the Haliwa Saponi Tribe, a people who’s descendants include the Saponi (or Sapona), Nansemond, Tuscarora, and other regional tribes.

The event began with Professor and Editor of “Voices from Leimert Park: A Poetry Anthology,” Shonda Buchanan from Hampton University who provided an overview of Native American History at the university and spoke about her own Native American roots. Special music was provided by Tribal Elder Arnold Richardson and SunTrust at Work Program Coordinator Sarah Kiah Morton.

Special dancers of the Haliwa Saponi tribe, all 18 years old and younger, performed a special pow wow to display the expressive regalia, music, and dance of their tribe and demonstrate their latest and most exceptional accomplishment—the opening of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribal School, which is 98 percent Indian, and boasts a curriculum based on standard course of study, small classrooms, technology, and American Indian Studies.

Throughout the event, tribal member Henry “Little Snake” Lynch displayed hand-made crafts such as peace pipes, feather boxes, flutes, and rattles. “The display of intricate, colorful masterpieces characterizes the pride and heritage of the Haliwa Saponi Tribe,” said one of the guests.

Tribal Council Charles Richardson, Jr. and Tribal Administrator Alfred Richardson provided guests with the history and mission of the Haliwa Saponi tribe which is “to protect the interests, identity and rights of the Haliwa-Saponi Indian people, promote the cultural and traditional heritage of the Haliwa-Saponi people.”

Mr. Richardson, Jr. ended the event with an invitation for all to visit the reservation in Hollister, North Carolina and participate in the tribe’s cultural activities. “Merecouremechen Kihoe,” he said, which means, You Are Welcome to Be Here.

The American tribe continues to be culturally active in Warren and Halifax County, North Carolina, and is proud of the community’s many dancers, singers, and artists.

Picture of Native American Heritage Month

Left to right: Kaleb Richardson and Satara Lewis; Deitrick Richardson and Tristen Richardson (Miss NCNAYO) perform the Two-Step Dance during the Native American Celebration.

Picture of Native American Heritage Month
Norfolk FBI and SunTrust Bank welcome the Haliwa Saponi Tribe from Hollister, NC.
From left to right: Tribal Administrator Alfred Richardson; Norfolk FBI’s Felicia Bryant; Tribal Council Charles Richardson, Jr.; Tribal Elder and Artist Alfred Richardson; SunTrust’s Sarah Kiah Morton, and SunTrust’s Mark Johnson.

Picture of Native American Heritage Month

Tribal Council Charles Richardson, Jr. and the Haliwa Saponi drummers honor all veterans with a special song.

Picture of Native American Heritage Month

Haliwa Saponi male drummers are 18 years old and younger.