Category: Cultural History

“Chief Buffalo Child” Long Lance: Tragedy of a Native American Hollywood Legend

“Chief Buffalo Child” Long Lance had a life that some people dream of having. He was a graduate of Carlisle Indian School and West Point Academy, best selling author, Hollywood actor, and life long friend of Jim Thorpe. But his past eventually caught up with him and he became a legend among one of the greatest imposters.

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People of the Dark Water: The Lumbee Controversy for Sovereignty

“They say we’re not real Indians!” For over 100 years, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina has been fighting for federal recognition amidst the controversy surrounding their heritage.

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Civil Rights in Carolina: A Native American’s Story

When one thinks of the Civil Rights era, it’s usually a black and white issue. North Carolina, however, was one of the few states labeled tri-racial. There were three school systems, three seating areas, and three water fountains. Descended from the Tuscarora tribe and member of the North Carolina Coharie Tribe, Hughie Maynor’s family and ancestorial roots historically date back to before 1712. But during the years leading up to the Civil Rights Movement, he faced hardship and adversity, from extreme poverty to tri-segregated schools. When he was 13 years old, he helped organize and participate in North Carolina’s first Native American Sit-In protest in 1960 that took his fight all the way to the federal courts.

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Folklife: The Ghostly Legend of Wicked John and the Devil

Storytelling has been a long-standing deep-rooted tradition with Appalachian families.  The pioneers of Appalachia developed an elaborate structure of folklore combined with various tales that were passed on orally from one generation to the next.  These oral histories were told to ensure the preservation of their community.

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Folklife: Creasy Greens and Leather Britches


The time-honored saying of “Kissing don’t last, cookery do!” seems to characterize our memories of the old ways of cooking in the South and Appalachia. 

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Appalachian Folk Magic: The Witch Bottle


There is an old Irish tale passed down through the generations about a clairvoyant and healer who carried a magic bottle.  Biddy Early (Bridget Ellen “Biddy” Early, 1798-1872) became known as a witch when she foretold the murder of a Limerick landlord she was employed by as a servant.  When her premonition proved true, she gained a reputation as a witch. 

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Arthur “Peg Leg Sam” Jackson: Harmonica Blues Virtuoso and The Last Medicine Show

Arthur “Peg Leg Sam” Jackson was the most amazing harmonica virtuoso to ever hit the blues and folk festival music scene. Arthur “Peg Leg Sam” Jackson is now known among many blues musicians across the South as that “peg leg harp player that plays two harps at once (one with his nose).”

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Folklife: The Faith Healing Tradition of “Talking Out the Fire”


My grandma Viola Brewington and Aunt Gaynelle Carter could “talk the fire out” of several burns I received as a child.  When I was a teenager, I asked Grandma Viola if she could show me how to do it.  She told me that the gift had to be handed down from a man.

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Folklife: The Vanishing Grave Houses of Appalachia

The cover photo shows the family of William and Nancy Agee.  The photo was taken in 1915 and currently hangs inside the grave house.  The couple had two sons that died at a young age.  One child was stillborn and the other son, Guffrey, died in 1914 at the age of two years old.

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Granny’s Wisdom: The Magic of Wild Medicine

The Southern Highlands of North Carolina is part of the Appalachian chain that extends from Georgia all the way up into Virginia.  Europeans moved to this area during the late 1600’s with the Scotch-Irish and Germans traveling from the northern states down the Great Wagon Road.

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