Occaneechi Indian Village

Play Video

Occaneechi Indian Village

Occaneechi Village is a historic replica of a village located on the Eno River as it was in 1701.

In the early 1700s, the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation lived in a bountiful land with little European presence. The village was an important trade location where the Occaneechi people would trade with the Europeans as well as nearby tribes such as the Tuscarora.

During this time period, the Occaneechi people kept their traditions and family structures while adapting to the changing environment. The Occaneechi people had a tenuous relationship with the North Carolina government and faced constant assault from enemy raiders.

The Occaneechi community was fluid – moving in and around lands now part of North Carolina and Virginia – and adopting other native communities into their own. Disease, slave trading, and warfare also greatly diminished their numbers. Stronger ties to Virginia’s government and traders led many to relocate away from the Occaneechi Village.

Between 1780’s and 1820’s, many members of the tribe migrated back to former lands near the Eno River in Orange County. The hostile atmosphere in Virginia toward Indians, kinship ties to family in North Carolina, and access to open lands contributed to migration back to the state.

Many descendants of the tribe continue to live in Hillsborough.

“Our people were found in a very precarious situation and they wanted to maintain their distinctiveness – who they were. Like other communities of native people in the region, you have to do what you have to do to survive. And we’re no different. Unfortunately, you know, sometimes it was ugly; other times, it was beautiful. But that’s just the reality of our story.”

– Lawrence Dunmore