Catechna Indian Village

The Catechna Indian Village was constructed as a result of the North Carolina Rural Center’s NC STEP grant. It showcases Grifton’s rich Native American history, through the construction of a longhouse similar to that of the Tuscarora Tribe, which is said to have occupied the area before white settlers moved in. The Catechna Village is located across from the Grifton Museum and adjacent to Overlook Creekside Park and the NC Wildlife boat ramp.

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The Tuscarora Indians once occupied a major village, Catechna, which was in or near Grifton. The exact site remains a mystery although arrowheads and prehistoric spear points are found often by Grifton area fishermen, hunters, and professional and amateur archeologists. Some of these are on display in the Indian Heritage Room of the Grifton Historical Museum at the Civic Center.

The Tuscarora Indians were traders with coastal tribes to the East and inland tribes to the West. They lived in longhouses of bark over a bent pole framework, with several families living in each longhouse. The people slept on built in platforms with storage space above and below the platforms, and each family had its own fire built down the center of the longhouse dirt floor. Holes cut in the roof let out the smoke.

The villages were surrounded by a palisade built of poles set upright in the ground. They were located on high ground near streams, and fields were cultivated outside the palisade walls.

Fish were speared and caught in nets; deer and small game were plentiful in the forests. Tobacco was important in ceremonies, as it was believed that the smoke carried messages with it up to the spirits in Skyland.

In the early 1700s, disagreements between the Indians and white settlers in Eastern North Carolina erupted into warfare, and a large number of both Indians and whites were killed. Military outposts at Fort Barnwell and Snow Hill, near Grifton, played a part in several sieges.

After the Indian Wars, the Tuscaroras of Eastern North Carolina left their homeland, journeyed north to join their relatives in upstate New York, and became the Sixth Nation of the Iroquois. Their descendants live near Niagara Falls today. Tribal decisions were by representative government, and it is thought that the model for the U. S. Constitution was taken from the Iroquois form of government which has separate but equal tribes working together for the common good.

Learn more about our Indian Heritage by visiting the Museum. Guided tours by appointment at any time throughout the year, weekdays, evenings, weekends. Call 252 524 0190 or 252 524 4708 (evenings).