Sappony Heritage Program

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1 Sappony Heritage Program by Kara Stewart Sappony Heritage Program was written by Kara Stewart, a Sappony tribal member, for the Sappony tribe. 2006, 2011.

2 The Sappony have approximately 850 Tribal members. There are seven main families, or clans. Since the early 1700 s, the Sappony traditional home has been the Piedmont region, in the High Plains Settlement which straddles the border of Person County, North Carolina and Halifax County, Virginia. Some Sappony still live in this area and some live in other parts of the country. To help make sure that current and future generations understand the significance of Sappony history, family ties, spirituality, and education, the Sappony began the Heritage Program. Several yearly events are geared toward preserving and passing on Sappony heritage, such as Homecoming, the Spring Festival, and Youth Camp. The Sappony Youth Camp has grown to be one of the biggest events of the year. Held each summer at Mayo Park in northern Person County, it brings members of all seven Sappony families, or clans, together for a week of fun and learning about Sappony heritage. It takes a lot of adult volunteers from the Tribe run the camp! Enrolled tribal youth from the seven families of the Sappony are eligible to participate. Youth Camp

3 Canoers There are lots of different activities at camp. Campers canoe, fish, learn CPR, make jewelry, birdhouses and candles, among other things. Fishing Fishing They even have a talent show! 2

4 Talent Show Talent Show Arts and crafts are popular activities. Everybody had a great time making bird houses. It always helps to have a friend show you how! Making dreamcatchers Candlemaking Candles 3

5 Everybody learns a lot about CPR and First Aid and pitches in on community service projects, like making fire rings and cleaning up at the park where the camp is held. 4

6 Campers also learn about what makes a group of people a Tribe, what makes their Tribe, the Sappony, unique and how all of their families are interconnected. They learn that the Sappony are governed through a Tribal Council, with a Chief and seven Council members one from each of the seven families. C Charlene Martin and Chief Otis Martin explain Tribal governance Campers also learn the importance of each element found on the Sappony insignia, as on this banner. The seven feathers represent the seven families. The arrowheads represent the historical Sappony symbol of three arrows, which was used to identify them as a trading tribe in colonial times. The tobacco, corn and wheat represent the crops that sustained the Sappony as a historically agricultural tribe; and the seven stars signify the importance of religion. The banner also includes the signature marks of the King of the Sappony and the young King of the Sappony from the 1677 Treaty of Middle Plantation, which recognized the Sappony as a tributary tribe meaning these Indians agreed 5

7 to maintain peace with the colonists and pay them a yearly tribute in skins and furs. 6

8 Field trips are fun for campers, and they learn a lot, too! Youth Camp participants tour the Sappony exhibit at the Person County Museum of History in Roxboro, North Carolina, to learn about their history, Sappony exhibit at the Person County Museum of History. Photographs show the High Plains Indian School and the boys basketball team. see many Sappony related artifacts at the Staunton River Park visitor s center museum in Virginia, and also travel within the traditional Sappony community to sites such as old family graveyards, the site of the Indian school that many of their ancestors attended, and old church sites. At the Staunton River Park museum A t an old Sappony family cemetery 7

9 Youth Camp isn t just fun for the kids, it s fun for adults, too! An important aspect of Youth Camp is working with Tribal elders. Elders are respected and treasured. They have so much knowledge to share! Campers listen and take notes during talks with elders about what things were like when the elders were young, what it was like to grow up in the Sappony community years ago, what it was like to go to the Indian school, and work on farms. 8

10 Sappony youth learning from elders Through these talks, the younger generations learn from the older generations not only about what things were like years ago, but how all the families of the Sappony are interconnected working together and supporting each other for hundreds of years. At camp, younger generations learn that there were many farming traditions among the Sappony as an agricultural Tribe, such as harvest time, corn shucking, hog-killing time, wood cutting time, fall stew, and quilting parties. These were all times that the community, as a whole, bonded by sharing work with each family helping the others. Farming and Harvest Time Since many Sappony families were farmers, they teamed up into groups of three or four families to share the work of those farms throughout the year from plowing to planting to harvesting. That lightened the load and increased the production of all of the families in that team. But if any farmer in the community got sick and couldn t look after his crop, everybody in the community would come in and plant, plow the fields, harvest, and do whatever was necessary to help until that farmer was able to work again. Hog Killing Time Raising hogs and butchering them for meat was common among many farmers in the southeastern United States years ago. The Sappony also had farmers that raised hogs for meat for their families. In order to get the meat ready, community families arrived at the host family s farm at the break of day, where there was already a fire going. Working together, they killed the hogs and hung them on a pole to drain by the time daylight came. The whole job was done and the meat cut up and salted down within three or four hours. To make sausage, they stuffed the meat in a cloth sack and hung it in the corncrib to season, or age. They also made side meat (bacon) and lard, and used every part of the pig from the brains to the feet. Many Tribal members still remember chitterling dinners and brains scrambled with eggs that their families would eat after a hog killing! 9

11 Fall Stew Everybody in the Sappony community looked forward to one particular Saturday in the fall. That s because certain Tribal members made such wonderful stew that everyone was eager for the traditional stew day. The children played games outside while the adults visited and ate. Two favorite games the children played were Indian Leg Wrestling and Yoking the Bull. Yoking the Bull involved four boys, two on each team, and a stick about eight feet long. With a player at each end, and two players straddling the stick, one player would push with their shoulders while the other one pulled to cross a line kind of like Tug of War, but players straddled a stick instead of pulling a rope. Today, the Sappony carry on the fall stew day tradition by holding an annual fall fundraiser selling stew to both Tribal members and the public. Sappony Fall Stew, November

12 Corn Shucking Every fall, the Sappony community held corn shuckings. Families gathered from house to house helping each family in turn get the corn in from the field, shuck it, and haul it to the corncrib. While the men were working in the field, the ladies cooked up a storm in the kitchen all day long. When it was time to eat, the gathered families were treated to a huge spread of food cooked by the ladies. This is where the community expression a corn-shucking dinner comes from that means a really big meal! Wood Cutting Like corn shucking, hog killing time and quilting, wood cutting time consisted of a traveling work party of family members that went to each other s farms in turn. That helped all the families in the community while they enjoyed each other s company. Because it was the least busy time on the farm, the sap hadn t risen yet in the trees and there were many months ahead for the wood to season and dry out by September when it would be needed for tobacco barns, wood cutting was usually held at the first of the year. Mauls and wedges, or gluts, for splitting wood by hand. Everybody brought a good, sharp knife to the wood cutting. Two men teamed up and cut down a tree, using only an axe in the old days, and later using a cross cut saw held by a man at each end. When the tree was felled, they chopped it into six or eight foot lengths for use in building or repairing tobacco barns flue wood for flue cured tobacco. They also cut smaller logs for each home s firewood. Split wood ready for the fire. 11

13 Quilting Sappony ladies have been renowned for many years for their well-made, functional, and beautiful quilts. Throughout the year, the ladies of the community worked at nighttime on their individual quilting pieces. When the pieces were sewn, all the ladies got together and had a quilting party, usually in the fall or winter. Like the corn shucking, hog killing and wood cutting, this work party moved from house to house, which helped all the families in the community. The ladies quilted at one house at a sitting to finish that family s quilts in time for cold weather, and then moved on to the next house, sharing work, food and company each time. Stretching the work-in-progress over a large wooden frame, the ladies sat around it as at a table, and worked the thick quilt to completion. If they finished one good, heavy quilt for that family, they started work on a second one. Good, thick quilts were indispensable for their warmth in winter, but they were very heavy! 12

14 Musette Martin, wife of Chief Otis Martin, remembers a particularly cold night that she and her two sisters spent at her aunt s house. Back then, homes were so cold; they weren t comfortable like they are now, Mrs. Martin explained. The three girls slept upstairs in a feather tick bed. Every time we turned over, my aunt was up there putting another quilt on us! By the time we woke up in the morning, we couldn t turn over! We couldn t move! The weight of the quilts held the girls down! Years ago, sleeping was hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The houses had no insulation, and tin roofs. Many times people slept upstairs (if they had one) right under the tin roof. Children shared the bed with brothers and sisters. Those who slept on feather tick beds were hotter in the summer, but warmer in the winter. Those who slept on straw tick mattresses had the opposite situation they were cooler in the summer but colder in the winter. Today, Tribal members enjoy all the advantages of modern housing that other people do. Learning to quilt with the elders was a big hit for everybody at Youth Camp. Sappony elders and youth stitching together individual quilt squares at the Tribal Center 13

15 14

16 Everybody, young and old, boys and girls, learned a lot about the importance of quilting to the Sappony at Youth Camp and enjoyed the time spent with their elders. The quilt squares the campers work on will be made into a real quilt! So what do Youth Camp participants do with all the information they learn about their Tribe, their history and their heritage? They are responsible for learning and organizing the information during camp week. Checking out the Sappony website Compiling information about Sappony history 15

17 They make video presentations, Filming at an old Sappony cemetery computer and book presentations, W Working on a report at the Tribal Center and present what they ve learned about their Sappony community at Sappony events like Homecoming, and at other Indian gatherings. 16

18 Homecoming presentation at Fellowship Hall of the Sappony church, Calvary Baptist 17

19 So whether they re dancing or drumming in the talent show, earning a feather for good deeds done, having fun with friends and family, or learning about Sappony history, Youth Camp is an important part of the Sappony Heritage Program! 18

20 The Sappony Heritage Program also includes events like Homecoming and the Spring Festival. Homecoming Homecoming takes place over Labor Day weekend annually. It is a time for all Sappony families, no matter where they live, to come back to the traditional Sappony home community to gather, worship, and visit with family and friends. Homecoming was an event that started with the beginning of the Indian church. At Mayo Chapel (one of the first Sappony churches), as now, Homecoming was the big event, held in the fall of the year at the church. Dinner on the grounds was the culmination of a two week revival. After the Sunday service, everybody shared in dinner on the grounds - a big spread of dinner laid out on the tables under the trees on the church grounds. Homecoming gave all tribal members the opportunity to come together, to come home for those who moved away, to visit and to strengthen family ties and it still does! 19

21 Calvary Baptist Church, circa

22 Sappony youth raise money for Youth Camp at Homecoming Having fun at Homecoming 21

23 Spring Festival and a parade. Spring Festival, like Homecoming, is a time for the Sappony to get together with family and community friends. During the one day festival, the Sappony share a meal, there is a Tribal meeting for the adults, and there are activities and demonstrations for the kids like carving, rock painting, races Other Indian Events In order for the Sappony to maintain pride in their heritage and learn more about Indian issues, they are involved with Indian organizations, such as the University of North Carolina s American Indian Center, UNC s Tobacco Use Prevention Program, North Carolina Native American Youth Organization (NCNAYO), the Virginia Council on Indians (VCI) the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs (NCCIA), and the North Carolina State Advisory Council on Indian Education (SACIE) and maintain a Title 7 program for Indian students in Person County, North Carolina. They also attend Indian events and visit Indian attractions. The Sappony at the 2005 AISES conference At the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. The Sappony have been together for hundreds of years, and with the Heritage Program in place, will remain together for hundreds more! 22

24 Sappony Tribal Center, Virgilina, Virginia 23

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