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Occaneechi Letter To The NCCIA

September 4, 2001

Chairman Paul Brooks
NC Commission of Indian Affairs
1317 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1317

Dear Chairman Brooks:

The Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation extends greetings to you and the members of the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs. We are aware that last Friday, August 31, 2001, the Special Committee on Recognition met and voted 4-1 to recommend to the full Commission that you appeal the Occaneechi Indian Tribe's recent favorable decision in the State Court of Appeals to the North Carolina Supreme Court. We are writing you to respectfully request that you please reject this unfortunate recommendation and accept the Occaneechi people into your fold.

This case has created deep divisions between the Indian people of this State. These divisions will only serve to hurt Indian people further at a time when we should be striving to work together for the benefit of all Indian people in this State. It is time that we all work together for the common goal of the survival of indigenous people in the 21st century. We urge your members to put aside any personal bias that they may have about the Occaneechi people or our petition for Official State Tribal Recognition.

If you decide to appeal this Court of Appeals decision, you will continue to waste taxpayers-dollars at a time of Government cuts in spending to avoid waste of State monies. You have already spent thousands in taxpayers’ dollars to pay for your legal expenses over the past several years as you unsuccessfully attempted to defend your actions in arbitrarily denying recognition to the Occaneechi people. To continue to reject our people not only is wasteful of State funds but sets a bad precedent for our Indian youth. We should be teaching them to be responsible for their actions, not stubborn and intractable.

The State legislature has given you the responsibility of granting State Tribal recognition to petitioning communities. It is only just that as the State Indian Commission you act in a fair and evenhanded manner consistent with state law and procedure. The Court system has reviewed our case and has decided that the Occaneechi are a legitimate Indian Tribe under North Carolina law. We pray that your members will see that continuing to fight this particular battle is neither in the best interests of the Commission nor of the State’s Indian people.

Please do the right thing and vote to accept the North Carolina Court of Appeals decision. Allow the Occaneechi people to take their place at the commission table. It's time to put this unpleasant episode in Indian history behind us. Let’s move on to address the various problems that concern all Indian people in our State today.

We are stronger together than apart.


Beverly Payne-Betts, Chairperson

cc: Governor Easley
NC State Attorney General

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