Skhawáʔkye (meaning here the currents are strong, Tuscarora) today is an unceded Tuscarora territory located on an estimated 88,000 to 126,000 acres (356 km2 - 510 km2) situated between Lewiston-Woodville and Windsor North Carolina. It was originally established at least several hundred years prior to European contact and its name referenced both the Roanoke River as well as all the land within its basin. After the colonial wars against the Tuscarora (1711-1715), a treaty was signed in 1717 between the British Crown, the colony of North Carolina, and Chief Tom Blount. This treaty provided for the relocation of the remaining Tuscarora to Skhawáʔkye. This treaty would establish what would later be known as the Indian-Woods reservation. For the declaration, click SKHAWÁʔKYE DECLARATION OF LAND AND TREATY REPATRIATION
In 2014, traditionalist Tuscarora living within North Carolina repossessed a parcel of land located directly in the middle of the Skhawáʔkye reservation. These Tuscarora belonging to Skaroreh Katenuaka (Tuscarora Nation of Indians) contend that the land was never appropriately ceded by the correct parties and therefore believe theirs as well as the lands recognition are both illegally being held in a de-facto non-affirmed status.
These Tuscarora cite a treaty signed on April 1713 which recognized that the Tuscarora that remained in NC under Chief Tom Blount were the only party that hold a government to government relationship with the colony of North Carolina. The treaty also anointed Chief Tom Blount as "King" of all the Indians that remained in eastern North Carolina and established his
Citizens of Skaroreh Katenuaka (Tuscarora Nation of Indians) offer tobacco on the first parcel of land reclaimed on the unceded Indian Woods reservation, 2014
government as the grantee of the lands within NC. These Tuscarora further cite that it was understood on two separate occasions by both the colonies of NC and NY as well as Onondaga that the Tuscarora that fled north were either no longer considered a nation or if they were still a nation, they would still be considered in an active state of war with North Carolina. These Tuscarora also cite the fact that letters from the US and NC government's concerning the NY Tuscaroras early 1900s flirtation with land claims did declare that the NY Tuscarora were not the correct party. These letters mentioned on multiple occasions that the correct party were those that remained in North Carolina. A 1972 peace treaty between the state of NC and the Tuscarora in NY provides supporting evidence that it was impossible for NY Tuscarora to legally sell lands when they did not have an official relationship nor peace with neither the colony nor the state of North Carolina until 1972.
Skaroreh Katenuaka and friends from other communities hosting and partaking in social events since rebuilding started on the reservation.
Throughout the duration of the reservation, a number of court and government decisions were made that continuously reaffirmed the position of the Tuscarora government in NC. On October of 1725, the colony declared that all Tuscarora that did not render obedience to the government under Chief Tom Blount would be looked upon as enemies. Later in 1748, the North Carolina General Assembly reaffirmed that these lands belonged to the Tuscarora that remained in NC and that its government body and its relationship with the colony was likewise still in effect. It affirmed that no other parties held legal claims to the land and that all previous land sales or leases were therefore null and void. This decision also reaffirmed that no future sales or leases may be legal without the consent of both the General Assembly and the Tuscarora Nation of Indians which remained in NC.
Later decisions continued to reaffirm this and by 1778, the newly established governments of North Carolina and the United States confirmed that this 1748 decision was still valid and thus would be honored. By 1798, the US government adopted a series of statutes identified as the "Nonintercourse act" which made it illegal to sell native lands without the approval of Congress. These statutes would have included any land sales within the Indian Woods reservation.
In 1801, a deputation of the Tuscarora Nation in New York arrived in North Carolina to negotiate with NC state leaders the cession or sale of the land on behalf of the Tuscarora that were removed to NY. This plan to sell the land they had no claim to, which belonged to the NC Tuscarora, was to be used to fund the purchase of additional lands in NY. In 1802, NY Tuscarora chiefs, Sacarusa and Longboard “duly authorized” the two leaders, along with Samuel Smith of whom lived on Indian Woods, to act on the behalf of NY Tuscarora. Once again, NY Tuscarora were overstepping their authority and infringing on the sovereignty of NC Tuscarora this time by using one individual from NC to speak on behalf of the whole NC Tuscarora government. The US government in 1803 created a treaty between the NC Tuscarora and the US government to cede the lands of Indian Woods which would never be signed by President Thomas Jefferson and thus left unratified. However this unratified treaty
Skaroreh Katenuaka members touring the territory and discussing its' future.
reaffirmed the relationship between the NC Tuscarora and the US government. These Tuscarora headmen from NY also had appointed an NC Tuscarora by the name of John Cain to hold power of attorney over NY Tuscarora a pretended interest within NC. This power of attorney however was soon revoked when John Cain refused to issue land sales or leases nor send to NY the monies for the previous illegal sales and rents due. When it was demanded that John Cain join them in NY, Jeremiah Slade, a white man that had been working with the NY Tuscarora stated that John was too attached to his homeland and would refuse. In response, the headmen of the NY Tuscarora issued power of attorney to Jeremiah Slade which the state of NC then used to their advantage as so they may claim ignorance in their decision to ignore the protest of the Tuscarora government in NC. NC suddenly took a 180-degree turn and began to treat the NY Tuscarora as the rightful holders of the title to these lands. However there was never any sort of act or legal decision made to terminate the status of the NC Tuscarora and their claims nor were there legal decisions made to transfer that title to NY Tuscarora. NC just simply started to ignore the existence of the Tuscarora that remained until they eventually sent wagons to remove them under duress to other parts of the state.
Lost Colony Trading Post and Cahaba Cafe. The first tribal economic enterprises on the reservation.
With this and additional knowledge, Skaroreh Katenuaka, (Tuscarora Nation of Indians) contend that the reservation was never unestablished and that they are still the rightful holders of the title of the land. On the anniversary of the establishment of the reservation, Skaroreh Katenuaka began working on their declaration titled the SKHAWÁʔKYE DECLARATION OF LAND AND TREATY REPATRIATION between years of 2016 and 2020. This document would declare their goals for the reaffirmation of their status and land and its' continued protection.
As of 2020, Skaroreh Katenuaka has recovered additional lands within the reservation. Within these lands, they have established tribal economic enterprises such as the Lost Colony Trading Post and the Cahaba Cafe as a means to allow its members the ability to hold space during their fight. Skaroreh Katenuaka established an office building and began construction on their traditional longhouse which had been deemed necessary in strengthening their political and spiritual influence. Every year, more Tuscarora people continue to relocate to these lands in hopes to escape persecution for their traditional beliefs and to reestablish their connection to the community. As the community grows, an organization co-founded by a tribal member called the Alliance of Native Seedkeepers, has agreed to help reclaim additional lands and to provide more jobs. In return for this partnership, Skhawáʔkye will allow for space to be used to help support our own and other nations cultural revitalization, as well as allow for a base of operations to help educate people and to defend ours and others environment.