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Investigate Indian roots Saturday at local Cherokee Nation’s open house

Gray Court, SC – The PAIA Lower Eastern Cherokee Nation, South Carolina, will hold an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 6, and it’s available for any of the county’s Native American descendant residents to come learn about the Gray Court tribal grounds and the history available right here in Laurens County.

“In the most recent United States Census, there were 144 people in Laurens County listed as American Indian, so we know there are Native Americans here,” said Dexter “Yellow Hawk” Sharp, Vice Chief of the Lower Eastern Cherokee Nation of SC. “If they were born and raised in this area, then they are probably Cherokee. We’re looking for new members and some younger members. This open house is for anyone interested to come by and talk to us and learn about what we do here to preserve the history and hopefully consider tribal membership.”

The PAIA Tribal Grounds were first chartered in the 1986, Sharp said, but at the time it wasn’t specifically for the Cherokee Nation. When the organizers left, the late Chief Howard “White Bull” Norris took over about 1990, and eventually he worked to gain state recognition as the PAIA Lower Eastern Cherokee Nation of South Carolina.

The PAIA Tribal Grounds encompass almost seven acres between Laurens and Gray Court and include a dugout canoe and other examples of life among the Cherokee in the Piedmont region.

“Most people who have Cherokee blood don’t really understand what the early Cherokee did, how they lived, how they survived and what took place historically,” Sharp said, adding that it’s crucial to keep that history alive, especially among descendants of Native Americans.

No appointments are necessary and anyone can drop by anytime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Sharp said several of the Tribal Council will be in attendance on Saturday.

The PAIA Tribal Grounds are located at 3688 Warrior Creek Church Road, Gray Court. 

Also, this fall is the annual Powwow, set for all day, Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Tribal Grounds. It will feature foods, crafts made by members and others, specific dances and the historical styles of regalia.

This story originally ran in the Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022 issue of The Laurens County Advertiser.

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