Ethel Brewington has been quilting for the last 83 years. It’s a tradition she learned from her mother, who learned it from her mother.
Brewington, along with other members of the Coharie Tribe, were the guests at the 20th Annual Indian Heritage Celebration at the N.C. Museum of History last weekend. The 89 year-old Coharie tribe member has attended the annual celebration for several years, demonstrating the art of hand-sewn quilting.
“I love to quilt,” Brewington said. “It’s a real pleasure to be able to meet people and talk with them about what I love to do.”
Brewington, Alpha Bryant and Glenda Foss, all members of the Coharie Quilting Club, shared a part of their culture through their demonstrations of quilting and Carol Brewington, who has attended the celebration every year since its inception, demonstrated the Native American art of beading.
“My happiest time is when I can share with the younger generations,” Brewington shared. “It seems like quilting is going out. You just don’t find many quilters anymore. I like to share my knowledge so that more people will want to learn how to do it.”
Since 2008, Foss has been attending the museum event. While she has always known how to sew, she said learning to quilt was something Brewington taught her how to do.
“It’s good for us to learn so that we can always go back to the ways we were taught,” Foss said.
The Coharie Quilting Club was started by Pret and Alma Brewington, both members of the Coharie Tribe.
Carol Brewington was recognized for her 20 years of service and dedication to teaching the Native American culture at the heritage celebration.
“I love to share my culture with non native people,” Carol said. “It’s important that we share with others what knowledge we have.”
The celebration featured drum groups, hundreds of dancers in regalia, storytellers, craftspeople and others from North Carolina’s eight state-recognized tribes: Coharie, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Haliwa-Saponi, Lumbee, Meherrin, Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, Sappony and Waccamaw Siouan.
According to Susan Lamb, public information officer for the museum, the Indian Heritage celebration offered more than in years past, with presenters from across North Carolina sharing their heritage and culture, past and present.
Visitors could look inside a longhouse model to see how Indians once lived, watch a hide-tanning demonstration, and marvel at presentations by tribe members. Hands-on activities, such as playing traditional Cherokee games, shooting a bow and arrow, making seed jewelry, going on a scavenger hunt, and more, were available during last weekend’s event.
“The American Indian Heritage Celebration has grown into a major event that brings together the state’s American Indians who are passionate about sharing their heritage,” said Emily Grant, who has organized the event since 1995. “This year we will honor 10 individuals or groups who have been a part of every celebration.”
During the event’s opening ceremony, Sacred Cedar Productions presented traditional Haliwa-Saponi music and dance.
Brandon Locklear, Coharie tribe member, along with Savannah Baber of the Lumbee tribe, lead pow wow dance demonstrations. Traditional American Indian foods, such as fry bread and stew, Indian tacos and buffalo burritos, were served.
Senora Lynch, a member of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe, whose pottery has been featured at the White House and the Smithsonian Institution, shared the Native American art of pottery making during demonstrations.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.