A Bitter Harvest

photo: pixabay


By Gregory DL Morris

Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools did not have off for Indigenous Peoples Day last week, which was a missed opportunity for the children to have visited the Fredricks site, a historic Occaneechi village close to what is today the center of Hillsborough.

Every student and family in CHCCS should be required to visit the Fredricks site. The federal holiday still listed officially as Columbus Day would be an ideal time to do that.


The Indigenous people of this area were farmers who grew maize and other crops. They lived in villages of wooden houses, often fortified with a stockade. Just like Nations today, they had various relationships with other tribes. Some were allies and trading partners; others were enemies. The groups in this area were displaced by Europeans, but they were not part of the Trail of Tears, the ethnic cleansing in the 1830s of 60,000 men, women, and children infamous as the Trail of Tears.

Today, the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation has an office in Mebane; its headquarters is in Burlington, where the band held its annual powwow last weekend. Put it on your calendar now for next year.

The larger and far-better-known Cherokee Nation today remains one of the few that still live on at least part of their ancestral lands. On that land is one of the country’s best Indigenous history and culture museums. Forget the casinos and gift shops: everyone living, working, or studying in North Carolina should visit the museum. https://mci.org/

And, as you drive on the roads, work in offices, shop in malls, walk on campus, and rake leaves in your yard, remember: it’s all Indian land.

Little House on the (Stolen) Prairie:

Laura said, “I will write the story of our family as a heart-warming history of the Westward migration.”

Ma said, “Oh yes, my Dear, that will be wonderful! It will go with the dresses I am making for all of us out of old grain sacks.”

Pa said, “That book had better be finished before the harvest, I will need all of you to bring in the crop.”

Laura said, “Oh yes, Pa, it will be easy. I will write it all in stilted, tedious, declarative sentences. It will be mostly fabricated and completely insipid. The genocide of the indigenous people and the devastation of the environment will be sanitized so that generations of people can feel good about their exploitive legacy.”

Ma smiled.

Pa smiled.

Baby Carrie smiled in her sleep, because she’s just a plot device.

Jack smiled in his sleep, because he dreamed of being the hero of a Jack London novel and not some marginal character in a vacuous, saccharine YA series.

The End

(Unless you inflict this drivel on your children, just because it was inflicted on you, in which case it goes on forever.)

Gregory DL Morris is a business journalist and historian who reports regularly for TLR.

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