Introduction to History of

Lower Eastern Cherokee Nation SC

 

The South Carolina Archives possess several treaties made between South Carolina and the Lower Towns of the Cherokee Nation as far back as the mid 1600's. Our history tells of our people living in the Piedmont region; this area has always been our home. The entire area is a rich reminder of our people's presence, past and present. The Nation was divided into three areas: the Overhills, the Middle, and Lower Settlements. The Cherokees occupied an area from the Seneca River in South Carolina, north into Tennessee, and west into Georgia. Some sixty-four towns and villages have been identified. The Lower Towns were located in present-day South Carolina west of Greenville along the streams and rivers of what are now Oconee and Pickens counties, and south of Greenville into Laurens County.

  One of the main towns was  located near the confluence of Brasstown Creek and the Tugaloo River; it was called Nayuhi or The Place of the Sand Bar. A network of paths crisscrossed the region around Greenville. One path ran from White Horse Road west of the city of Greenville, and Buncombe Road to the north. Two, perhaps three major paths crossed Greenville County. The upper path ran across Greenville County originating at Keowee Indian Town in the present-day Oconee county. For some this was a direct route from the mountains to the coast. This was of major importance because of the enormous trade with the coastal tribes. This path followed the approximate route of SC Route 11 east of Pleasant Ridge State Park.

PAIALECNSC Milestones

  • Chartered as the Piedmont American Indian Association on April 24, 1984.

  • Awarded ANA (Adminisitration for Native Americans) Grant on August 1, 1999. Set up office on Laurens Road in Greenville. 

  • Second ANA Grant awarded July 2001. Moved to Highway 14 in Barksdale.   

  • Purchased Tribal Grounds at Warrior Creek on March 17, 2004.                      

  • First PAIALECNSC Pow Wow - June 9, 2007                      

  • First Kids' Day Program September 24, 2009                    

  • State Recognized as a Tribe on June 19, 2015.

Our First Chief

Chief Howard (Gene) White Bull Norris

1995-2017

A House Resolution to Honor Chief Norris

 

To recognize and honor the memory of Howard Eugene “White Bull” Norris, First Chief of the State Recognized Piedmont American Indian Association /Lower Eastern Cherokee Nation of South Carolina.

 

Whereas, Chief Howard E.(Gene) “White Bull” Norris was born on November 27, 1940 in Canton, NC to the late Howard and Florence Norris and departed from this life on May 18, 2017.

 

Whereas, Chief Norris served in the US Air Force as a Military Policeman, followed by a career as a dedicated and award-winning graphic designer and fine artist. He retired as a Production Manager in the field of Advertising. Chief Norris was a life-long artist and advocate, encouraging the continuation of traditional Native American Indian Arts and Crafts within his Tribe and throughout the State. He was listed on the SC Arts Commission Roster of Approved Artists. He established a craft store on tribal grounds to bring handmade crafts to the public.

Chief Norris advocated for the inclusion of traditional Native American Arts through legislation and policy changes in South Carolina.

 

Whereas, Chief Norris was a dedicated public servant with a purpose driven life. In 1991, he established “Christmas in the Park” in Simpsonville, SC to help needy families have a brighter Christmas, earning him Simpsonville’s “Citizen of the Year” Award. This program has served between seventy (first year) to over five hundred individuals each year and continues to this day. He served as a member of the Laurens County Community Relations’ Council and served as a Board member on several non-profit organizations serving the Native American Indians of South Carolina. Chief Norris set up the first PAIALECNSC Pow Wow in 2007. He established “Kids Days with the Cherokees” at the tribal grounds in 2009 to teach public school children about Native American Indian and Cherokee culture, serving thousands of school children each year. Chief Norris Chief Norris worked tirelessly on attaining State Recognition as a Tribe which was acquired in 2015.    

 

Whereas, Chief Norris placed his faith in the Lord and passionately served his church, Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church. He assisted his wife Victoria with Sunday school classes, volunteered with Vacation Bible School and served the poor through the St. Vincent DePaul Society, built sets for plays, and even volunteered to clean the church. Chief Norris was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout Leader. He was a humble servant of the Lord and was devoted to his beliefs, including “Pro-life” advocacy.

 

Whereas, Chief Norris was a passionate and outspoken tribal leader for over 30 years. Chief Norris was one of the founding members of the Piedmont American Indian Association (PAIA) in 1984, serving on the Governor’s Palmetto Indian Affairs Commission in 1986 and establishing the PAIA/ Lower Eastern Cherokee Nation of SC in 1995 as a Cherokee tribal community. Chief Norris served on the SC Commission for Minority Affairs Native American Affairs Ad Hoc Committee in 1999 as a founding member working to establish legislation and policy for State Recognition for Native American Tribal Communities. In 2003, Chief Norris and other Tribal Community leaders saw the establishment of State Recognition in South Carolina. He continued to serve on the Native American Advisory Committee and served as Chairman. Chief Norris was instrumental in the passing of the Native American Indian Marriage Bill.

 

Whereas, Whenever the welfare of Indians in South Carolina was affected, Chief Norris endeavored to ensure that his people were standing on a level playing field. He and his wife devoted their life, their income, their dedication, and their personal assets to improving the plight of Indian people in this state. Together, they were a force not be defeated, never to be ignored and who would light the path for hundreds, who would follow into the leadership of a people determined to take their rightful place in the history, the culture, and the rights afforded citizens of South Carolina but often denied Indians.

 

Whereas, he is survived by his wife Victoria, his children: Dwight (Elizabeth); Denise; and James (Stephanie) Norris; 3 grandsons; 2 great grandsons; and dedicated Tribal members and friends.

 

Whereas, it would be fitting and proper to pay tribute to the life and legacy of this dedicated South Carolinian by recognizing and honoring the memory of Howard Eugene (Gene) “White Bull” Norris, First Chief of the State Recognized Piedmont American Indian Association /Lower Eastern Cherokee Nation of South Carolina.

State of South Carolina

In the House of Representatives

Columbia, South Carolina

June 6. 2017