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Lower Eastern Cherokee Nation honors late neighbor, honorary member

Gray Court, South Carolina – Some of the colorful

The family of the late Gene “White Spirit” Spoone. Photos by Judith Brown

and traditional dances at the Lower Eastern Cherokee Nation’s Pow-Wow on Saturday honored veterans and tribal members who had passed away over the past year.
Those included former members Linda Slark and Aaron Nickelson, as well as Lillian Eller, a former member of the Elders Council.
Then, there was the late Gene “White Spirit” Spoone, the tribe’s next door neighbor who had been named an honorary member of the tribe for his care of the land and concern for the tribe. He passed away in February.
The first tract of land purchased had been Spoone family property.

“Then over the years, our neighbor, Mr. Gene Spoone, was willing to donate more to us,” said Chief Dexter ‘Yellow Hawk’ Sharp.
“We first bought 3.66 acres, and in 2013 he gave us .6 acres behind us,” Sharp said. “Then in 2018, Mr. Spoone said there’s more available, and he gave us 2.51 acres and added wood fencing.”
The Tribal Grounds, located on Warrior Creek Church Road between Laurens and Gray Court, is a place for members to gather for ceremonial and public events, Sharp said. They finally earned state recognized tribal status in 2015, but no members actually live on the property. In fact there are few members who live in or near Laurens County.

“Our members are from 21 states and 21 counties in South Carolina,” Sharp said. “We are getting more members who live closer but we’re hoping to have more local members. We have had work days and even non-members have shown up.”

Sharp, his nephew, Mark Williams, and others began making a more concerted effort to come on a regular basis to better keep up the property. What they discovered, however, was that Mr. Spoone had begun cutting the grass, and then Spoone’s relatives began assisting as well.
“We made Mr. Spoone an honorary member, and I gave him his name, ‘White Spirit,” Sharp said.
About 8-10 members of Spoon’s extended family were present to be greeted by the lead dancers. Lady Lead Dancer and Council Member Kimberly Lance, grabbed the hand of Spoone’s great nephew, Ayler James Nelson, who walked with Lance and Male Lead Dancer Doug Crawford in honor of the tribe’s next-door neighbor.

Other highlights were the visit by Michelle and Roger Jones of Blountville, Tenn. Michelle, ‘Little Star” Jones was one of the Jingle Dancers. She and her husband are regulars at Pow-Wow events and school programs in their area. She said her 7th grandfather was Powhatan, the father of Pocahontas.
“I’ll go places and people will be yelling, ‘Hey, Pocahontas!’ And I think to myself, ‘If you only knew,’” Jones said, smiling.
Other guests included Chief Harold Hatcher, Chief of the Waccamaw tribe in the state’s low country.

Now that the annual Pow-Wow is completed, members are preparing for a large scale Community Yard Sale from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14.
Anyone is welcome to come set up a booth for no charge, and the Tribal Grounds have plenty of roadside space to share for the one-day Yard Sale, Sharp said. A donation box will be available to help with cleanup and marketing costs.
The address is 3688 Warrior Creek Church Rd., Gray Court, and it’s located just off Metric Road less than 15 minutes from Laurens.
In case of rain, the Community Yard Sale will be moved to the following Saturday, Oct. 21.

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