Honoring Skaru:re Ancestors From Chicamacomico, Chattoka & Catachna
It’s hard walking out being indigenous in Dixie because the culture believes that one drop of West African blood makes you less NDN, while almost all your blood being Anglo is allowed to be an enrolled state-recognized Native American. It’s so backward! For state recognition, Indian tribes select only the light-skinned members from a family and not the brown or black children. Same family, same ancestors, same bloodline. It’s not logical at all, and they deprive the tribe of the creative hands of the brown people. Because every brown Southeastern Indian that I’ve ever encountered is abundantly blessed with natural-born knowledge of historical arts and crafts. I know because I’m one of them. We are born full of the cultural ways of knowing and doing connected to ancestral land. It’s like the blood in our veins is a coded transmission to our creative hands. Our creativity and ability to adapt are our superpowers. Every brown skin Skaru”re has a natural-born connection to the ancestors of the Tuscarora Confederacy on the Coastal Plains of Eastern Carolina, both North, and South.
I don’t judge! I only know and affirm my own bloodline, as the last Algonquin Skaru:re Toisnot Contentnea to Chicamacomico Indian with knowledge of the old ways. Howell Woodard made me repeat the place names of our ancestors in the old tongue so I would never forget them. He was one of my great grandfathers and the first person who told me that I was a Tusky. It was a blessing to know and spend time with him. He said out of the whole bunch of his supposedly grand youngin’s, I was the only one that was his blood. He was a medicine man, tracker, and a Contentnea hunting and fishing guide.
He was born on the Outer Banks to Kanuto and a slave owned by John Etheridge, named Richard, who later became the commanding officer of the Pea Island Life Saving Station. There weren’t many African slaves and no large plantations on the Outer Banks in the 1840s. Even though it was against the law, John Etheridge taught Richard how to read and write. This was a blessing to my family in the 1860s during the Civil War because Richard forged free people of color papers for Kanuto as Ann Woodard, and for his son as Howell Woodard.
Kanuto’s (Ann Woodard) family were ferry guides crossing the Albemarle Sound to the Tuscarora Township of Chattoka. According to GrandPa, the ferry boats were called “kunners” which were made from two to four dugout canoes lashed together. In 1710 German Palatines and Swiss settlers renamed Chattoka to New Bern. All Skaru:re people were rounded up and relocated to the Tuscarora Township of Catachna, later known as Bell’s Ferry and now called Grifton. Howell Woodard died in 1955 at the age of either 99 or 101, we aren’t sure which. He lived with my extended family for the last two years of his life, where he showered me with his love and his stories. I cherish the stories he shared with me. His most valuable lesson was teaching me how to be quiet and still so I could listen to the wind. I’m abundantly blessed to have been loved by two great grandfathers, Howell Woodard, and Bud Harris. Their stories live in my heart!