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Onslow County recognizes indigenous heritage

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 6:27 PM EDT
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RICHLANDS, N.C. (WITN) - President Joe Biden issued a proclamation on Oct. 8th, proclaiming Oct. 11th as National Indigenous People’s Day.

The announcement comes as an effort made around the country to better accommodate and honor the heritage of indigenous cultures.

Historians at the Onslow County Museum say the imprint of Native American culture in the county dates back thousands of years.

“From more than 10,000 years ago, really almost 14,000 years ago... It is the story of first peoples. We see that native peoples lived in longhouses. We see that they had these fire pits where they cooked oysters. We find shards of their pottery,” said Lisa Whitman-Grice, Onslow County Museum director.

One of the museum’s signature exhibits is the “Water in the Wood” exhibit, and it is comprised of a number of tactile artifacts, arrowheads, and a hand-carved log canoe display.

Native American residents of the county are especially appreciative of the president’s proclamation.

“It’s definitely been long overdue to have indigenous day,” said Raquel Painter, president of United Way of Onslow County and co-organizer of Onslow Veterans Pow Wow.

Painter also spoke of the misconceptions she says she learned about European and Indigenous interactions when Columbus sailed to North America from Europe.

“When you’re learning history in school, they don’t tell the whole story a lot of times. I was confused a lot of times in school because when we talk about Columbus Day and celebrating Columbus Day, well I knew growing up we had so many other stories on what the Native American people endured. The genocide... and we survived that. It just goes to show the strength of the Native American people and how we survived so much and endured so much.”

Raquel Painter, president of United Way of Onslow County

“Understanding that entire dynamic and understanding the impact on indigenous peoples when those European explorers... is something that we’ll need to continue to dig deeper and have a much greater understanding,” said Whitman-Grice.

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