Helping communities across the state connect their heritage arts and traditions to local development, education, and active citizenship
Moka Henry Lynch
Hollister, Halifax County, NC
Henry Lynch—who also goes by the Native American name Moka, which means Snake—retired after 35 years in the construction industry and embarked on a second career as an artist. He had always wanted to pursue his artwork full-time, but had not had the opportunity to do so while working and raising a family. “When I got a little older,” Lynch remembers, “I said, well, it’s time to get back into it. That way you don’t forget where you came from, and your roots.”
Henry Lynch’s roots are in the Haliwa-Saponi community of Hollister, where he lives on land that has been in his family for many years. In the large workshop behind his house, Lynch creates traditional Native American art in a wide variety of media. Among his specialties are wood and stone sculpture, drum bases, drum hides, wooden boxes and furniture, flutes, and turtle shell rattles. Lynch’s pipes are some of his most distinctive work, combining strong figural images on the carved-stone bowls with delicately carved wooden stems. One of his favorite stem designs features a deep double spiral pattern in gleaming exotic wood.
The Haliwa-Saponi Tribe has a heritage of craftsmanship that has been nurtured by elder artists. Among these mentors to younger generations are Arnold Richardson and Charles Alvin Evans—both of whom have been important influences on Henry Lynch—and Lynch himself, an artist of renown in the community. He has been given special recognition at the annual Haliwa-Saponi Pow-Wow and has displayed his work at the North Carolina Museum of History’s American Indian Cultural Celebration in Raleigh. He is also the patriarch of an artistic family, which includes his oldest son, a pow-wow dancer who makes knives, pow-wow regalia, and moccasins. Henry Lynch says it is his hope that “we won’t forget how to do what our ancestors used to do.”
Henry Lynch displays and sells his work at various artists’ markets and special events throughout the year.