Samantha Simmons, Emily Whaley and Talia Faircloth have many things in common — the most important of those is they are all members of the Coharie Tribe and have taken the initiative to give back to other youth in the tribe.
Simmons, Whaley and Faircloth admit, being part of the youth of Sampson County comes with it’s own issues, but being a part of the Native American community offers many more issues. The girls have formed Coharie Youth Making a Difference in an effort to give back to the community that has given so much to them.
“We we don’t get our youth involved, our culture will be lost forever,” Simmons said during a recent youth event held at the Coharie Tribal Center. The program was one of many the girls have planned for the future.
The monthly events are held as an effort to give the youth of the Coharie Tribe an outlet, all while offering a look at Native American culture at the same time. In addition to holding open discussions the youth of America face today, the girls arranged sessions on Native American beading, dancing and moccasin making.
Saturday’s event began with the traditional talking circle, a way used by Native Americans for tribe members to talk and solve problems. Simmons opened the circle with the passing of the talking stick, which gives the person holding it the opportunity to talk.
Not only was the circle filled with youth, several elders of the tribe participated and shared with the youth the importance of talking about the issues youth are faced with and ways to deal with those problems.
“We wanted to get together and give our youth a way to learn more about their culture,” Simmons said. “We also wanted to talk about the issues our youth are facing. We are offering the youth a chance to come out and talk about the different things, give them a place to go.”
Simmons, Whaley and Faircloth started the Youth Making a Difference program as way for them to get more involved with their own culture and offer other youth of the tribe cultural classes. The youth events aren’t the only way the girls are giving back to their community. They are also working to clean up the tribe’s Pow Wow grounds and painting a mural at the tribe’s community garden.
The Coharie Tribe has a drumming group, Smokey River Singers, but the girls are hoping to form a youth drumming group — all in an effort to get the youth more involved.
“I wasn’t that involved with my culture,” Whaley admitted. “Now, this connects me with my heritage and religious beliefs. It builds my character.”
Faircloth, like Simmons and Whaley, is doing what she is with the hopes of getting others more interested and involved with the Native American community.
“I hope others learn more about their culture and grow closer together,” Faircloth shared.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.