Group photo

Some very dignified Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe members respectfully gathered Tuesday morning at Historic Halifax. State employees and archeologists were on-site to desilt Magazine Spring, considered a sacred site to Native Americans, specifically to the Haliwa-Saponi people.

An assignment Tuesday morning took me to Historic Halifax where state employees and archeologists were on-site to desilt Magazine Spring.

According to a Feb. 21, 1907, news clipping “Magazine Spring,” from The Commonwealth, a newspaper published in Scotland Neck from 1896-1929, there was a call to action it seems.

“For a long, long time people have wondered and guessed and wondered and guessed again who ‘fixed’ the Magazine Spring at Halifax. It is a spring of clear, sweet, cool water gushing out into a deep ravine from a high hill on the North side of the old town.

“The spring is about out of use, is neglected and does not attract much attention, although years ago almost every person who visited Halifax went to see the noted spring. It is well walled in strong masonry and as long as it was cared for was highly prized by the people of the town and of the people of the county generally who visited the town.

“And so no one has yet been found who can give any accurate information concerning the building of the masonry around the famous old Magazine Spring. If any one in the county, or elsewhere, has any information on the subject we should be glad to have it for the information of The Commonwealth.”

Carl Burke, Historic Halifax Site manager, said Magazine Spring is a sacred site, specifically to the Haliwa-Saponi Indians.

“It was a natural source long before the town of Halifax existed,” he said.

Returning to Tuesday morning and running behind the Tap Room to a small path leading to the spring, the trees opened up into another world, where members of the Haliwa-Saponi Indian tribe, some dressed in traditional clothing, gathered among the excavating machines and workers ready for the project.

While work was on the horizon and the heat was warming, everybody patiently waited with interest as each person introduced themselves and gave a little history or a prayer, honoring those who came before and expressed pride and respect for who they are today.

One beautiful man was radiant against the forest behind —Masager “Tom” Richardson, 92, who said he is loving life here.

“God has been so good to this body, but I got to tell you God has been so good to

this soul.”

Some of them cried as the event brought out emotions with other comments listed below.

• “Our people are fighting for federal recognition — we deserve it, we have fought for it for many years: my elders, my grandfather and so many others — to reestablish ourselves as Indian people. I am standing here in honor of my mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother and so many others. I thank God for the non-natives who are here because we need your help too. When you say our name, say it proudly. We don’t have to deny history anymore. Our people wrote Indian on our documents, but it was wiped out. We need to rewrite

this history.”

• “I’m Haliwa-Saponi and I’m very proud of it. I’m here to help with whatever my people need.”

• “It gives me great pleasure in saying this place will always be a part of me because I don’t know what kind of prayers my ancestors prayed that you and I would have a better way of life. I don’t know the struggles they went through, but I thank God that we have made it this far — what they have done for us.”

• “As a group and as a tribe we are working for American history, which is made up of all souls. We all have a short term of this life. What we are doing today is for future generations, your own genetic inheritance. I would like you all to have the same dedication, bind together with us as we are binding together with you as one under God of the United States of America, amen.”

• “I’m a Haliwa-Saponi and have been with them for 50 years. There is no reason to turn back now. I am proud of every one of you — I’m proud of our church and our tribe. God bless everyone and I pray I see many more years. You all pray for me; I love you.”

I love you too; and that is all.

News Editor Carolyn Harmon can be reached at charmon@rrdailyherald.com or 252-410-7058.

News Editor Carolyn Harmon can be reached at charmon@rrdailyherald.com or 252-410-7058.