When the University of North Carolina’s American Indian Center and the Coharie Tribe sought to capture the magic and spontaneity of a burgeoning youth interest in Coharie tribal culture, they called NC Folk. In an effort to understand and build momentum around this flourishing interest in traditional culture practices, NC Folk traveled to Coharie Tribal Headquarters to work with tribal elders, community scholars and Coharie students to develop classes for community documentation practices.
Discover and Identify Needs
Leaders of the Coharie Tribe noticed that teenage tribal members were showing up in increasing numbers to community events like river and watershed maintenance, community farming and culture classes. They were engaged and showed a strong interest in learning the old ways from tribal elders. Coharie Elders wanted an efficient, inexpensive method for capturing tribal youth culture and what was causing this genesis of interest in Coharie identity.
Create Project Timeline
The Coharie elders did not want to waste any time and possibly miss out on the energetic discovery of folk and traditional culture. In June 2015, Tribal Chairman, Greg Jacobs, contacted the American Indian Center and NC Folk to help them train community scholars with interviewing, photography, and other documentation techniques. NC Folk began holding classes by early July, teaching 10 students how to document their own community – discovering culture, practice, and values.
Implement and Energize
NC Folk formed a partnership with the Coharie community scholars maintaining very close contact throughout the entire process. NC Folk dedicated two staff persons to teach the courses and offer hands-on assignments, exercises and technical instruction throughout the entire process. In a little under a month, NC Folk had trained 10 dedicated elders in the basics of documentation training. This training was critical to document the 2015 Coharie Powwow.
Photographs taken at 2015 Powwow by Coharie Community Documentation Scholars
EVALUATE & IMPROVE
The documentation classes proved to be a successful program, and with the feedback from the tribe we are working to make it better. NC Folk now offers classes of a similar model called the Community Folklife Documentation Institute (CFDI) teaching small community groups the basics of self-documentation. In 2017, NC Folk is holding similar classes with the Lumbee Tribe in Pembroke. With community investment, curiosity and a drive to succeed, anything is possible.
I am always interested in potential growth for the [Coharie] tribe. This has been a great gift.”
~ Greg Jacobs, Coharie Tribal Chairman