My name is Coressa Tillery and I am finishing up my freshman year at East Carolina University (ECU). This blog was created for my English 1200 Service Learning Class. I started off my freshman year knowing what I wanted to do with my life but didn’t know how to go about doing it so I declared my major as undecided and after a little exploring I have now realize how I can make my dreams come true right here at ECU. I am now majoring in Biology and after graduating from ECU I plan to go to Veterinarian School. One thing that I do know is that I never knew that I would have a blog because writing is not my favorite subject but I have come to like the idea of a blog. The work that I have accumulated through the semester for my E-Portfolio interests me a lot in so many different ways, especially on a personal level and curiousity.

The tags that are present on my blog are Discovery Writing, Ethnography, and Black Schools Project. The Discovery Writings are writings that I have done to learn and explore my talents of writing. Their purpose were for me to see how I felt about certain subjects and comprehend the meanign of different things. The Discovery Writings were also there to help learn different technoques when it came down to fieldnotes and observationa and explaining things in depth and lots of detail. The purpose of the Ethnography was for me to come to understand a subculture on ECU’S campus. This tag let me show what I learned from the discovery writings and could I use it effectively. The Black Schools Project tag is for when I researched the history of intergration of a pitt county school. This tag consist of information that I collected from libraries, internet, and knowledge of what I know and other people.  Together these tags show all that I have done this semester and how much I have grown, progressed and changed my prespectives over the semester.

I would like to inform you that the works on this blog may not be polished and may not be writen for an audience. As I have said before I created this blog for my English 1200 class and some of my writing is just for me to write down some of my ideas and things I would like to know. Some of my Discovery Writings will give you a sense of who I am and how I think. Ethnography will give you a sense of how I changed my perspective of subjects, people and different organizations in our society. I now know that things aren’t always what they seem. The Black Schools project let you see the curiousity side of me and lets you see how I can incoporate the use of primary and secondary sources into a paper and make it effective in explaining and exploring the black schools project.

Over the course of the semester I have gain a lot of insight and understanding of both the subculture, East Carolina Native American Organization (ECNAO), and the black schools project while studying the history of intergration of the school systems of the town’s of Ayden and Grifton. I now look at ECNAO with a whole different perspective of understanding. I now know that ECNAO is not just an organization, they are there to support and create awareness of Native American Culture to the students on campus and as well as the community. The Black Schools Project gives me insight of what happened in the history of intergration of the high school I attended, Ayden-Grifton High School. I now know whats behind the making of my high school. I am still wondering and questioning the bombing that took place during the beginning of the intergration of the Ayden and Grifton schools. With the subculture I observed I still have questions about the significance of the drum.

I hope readers learn that ECNAO is not just an organization that informs you about their culture but they also support each other with the transition from home to college. They are not just an organization they are a family. I want people to know that Ayden-Grifton High School had problems but it wasn’t as extreme as other schools. I also want them to see the process of the merging of the the Ayden and Grifton Schools. I want people to know that what you see is not always what you think it represents.

Now I invite you with open arms to explore and experience the works of my blog. They may not be of perfect grammer and punctuation but I know that my writing has meaning to it. All I askof you is to have an open mind and enjoy!


Exploring Native American Equity

What do the words Native American mean to you? This is a question that I asked myself in the beginning. When I say the beginning I mean the mission that all started in my English 1200 Service Learning class. In that class we had to decide to study a subculture on campus and come to
understand their purpose, how they created awareness for themselves, and their points of views on life and education opportunities. The subculture that I decided to get to know a little better is called East Carolina Native American Organization (ECNAO). ECNAO is a Native American Organization on East Carolina University’s campus that was established in 1970. ECNAO’s mission is to assist Native Americans academically and socially by providing a positive atmosphere of support and a sense of community. They also will help ease the transition of its members from home life to college life by surrounding them with others with Native American heritage and also surrounding them with people from other cultures and ethnic groups.

In starting this project I didn’t really get the idea of why the organizations mission was based on helping students of Native American decent with the transition from home to college. This seemed so weird to me but as I researched the culture of Native Americans and started attending some of ECNAO’s meetings I began to realize the reason why the support with the transition was very much needed. Their backgrounds and ways of being raised was the huge effect that made the transition so hard. Native Americans are family oriented and being from their family is something that really affects them.

I recognize this while looking at my field notes. My field notes shows that the members are very family oriented because one of the ECNAO co-advisors brings her children to the meetings. The acceptance of the children shows the signs that they are very family oriented. I also came up with this idea through the online sources that I got from the Joyner Library databases. Another aspect that I came to find that hinders this minority is them not being able to find good jobs to support their family based on not staying in school (Guillory, R. M., & Wolverton, M., 2008). The dropout rates for Native Americans are really high. The reason why they drop out of school is because of the unhappy environment that they enter into their first year of college. This also ties up with the fact that their backgrounds and ways of growing up affect them dearly in learning and coping with the modern society (Tolnay, S. E., & Eichenlaub, S. C., 2007).

In my interview with Aleshia Hunt I came to realize a lot of things about the culture of Native Americans. Aleshia is now a staff member/student at East Carolina University. She belongs to the Lumbee tribe, which is the largest tribe in North Carolina. She informed me that ther ewere over 250 tribe in North America and they all are different in many ways but all are considered Natve American/American Indians-“the First Nations People.”  The Lumbee tribe are the “People of the Darkwater.” Aleshia confirmed the statement that I cited earlier on family being an important aspect in her life and the culture of Native Americans. She state that on a scale from one to ten, with ten being very impotant, she stated that family was a ten in her life. She said the reason why was because “The Native American culture is family orientated. We have close family ties, and community ties. In growing up, our cousins, are asclose to us as our siblings. Our grandparents take part in our rearing process.” She also stated how her first experience at East Carolina University. “Sometimes it is/was harder to adjust to school because we do not have the representation of faculty, staff, and students on campus like most populations.  Most people on campus do not sound like you (accent wise) and when people approach us, they typically think or ask us are we mixed or some other race. So you go to inform that you are Native American/American Indian– and you get the question, you still exist, follow by other random questions. Even as a professional I get those questions and it is bothersome. As a freshman in the dorm, I was approached and did receive many crazy questions, like to all Native American live on reservations? do you all have electricity, running water, etc? etc. The reason for ECNAO is for us to network and be a home away from home, so that way we have others that look like us.   ECNAO has been a family for me, when I was in undergrad and even now as a staff member at ECU.”  This gives all the evidence that is needed to support my secondary sources. I know when I was first started this process of observing this subculture I thought some of the same things as Aleshia stated some people asked her but now I know better than to think this because they are just like any other person in America.

In my fieldnotes the members of this group are tan color skinned people, with dark hair and heavy southern accents. Their meetings are very informal and there is a president in the organization but the decisions that are made in the organization is a group decision. Normally everyone will spit out ideas and they will vote on which one they like best. The meeting when they elected officers it was very open and group oriented. While reading one of my secondary sources I say that Native Americans like to work in groups rather than individually. Observing has confirmed this idea that was stated. Almost nothing was just decided by one person.

The fact that the members of ECNAO was very similar to me really shocked me. I thought that the members were going to be like what I see on television and in movies. I had a picture in my head of people who dress in brown clothing and have long pretty hair and very wise people. But I got something completely different. ECNAO members look just like everyday people. They act like everyday college students. Nothing to me is different. I think the differences between Americans and Native Americans is what is in the inside our values and points of views are slightly different on certain subjects/topics.

My artifact from this subculture is the drum. The drum is very sacred in the Native American culture. They believe that the drum is their connection to the spirits.

My positionality of this topic has changed completely. I came into this project thinking that Native Americans are so different and complicated but I left knowing that they are people just like me and you. The only thing that’s different is that what we call ourselves and the way we were raised but isn’t everyone raised different. I now know a little more about Native Americans. When I first arrived at East Carolina University at the beginning of fall semester 2010 I was very afraid, East Carolina was a whole new world to me with new people buildings and new experiences awaking for me to explore. I came to realize that although I wasn’t far away from home but it was still different and similar in some ways. I know that I have leaved in the area for four years but some of the things that I have encountered this year are very new and interesting to me. There was a huge difference between the teachers at my high school and the professors at East Carolina. The professors didn’t give me as much structure and guidance as my high school teacher did and there was lots of freedom in and outside of the classroom. I had to manage my time to study and have a social life. At first this wasn’t as easy but now I have the hang of making a balance in my life to keep me and my parents satisfied. One big event that took place in my transition from high school to college was living on  my own and deciding when and what I wanted to do without anyone telling me what to do with every second of my life. I then discovered the downtown scene, this is going out and have fun. This is another event that can hinder your work and grades. I started to compare my first year to the first year of a freshman of Native American decent. When thinking about how Aleshia discribed it it seems a little bit more stessful because of all the things I said and piled on top of that the issue of not have that family support system/environment to help them out. At first I thought that Native Americans had trouble with college just like everyone else but now I realize there are other things they have to deal with too.

This is why ECNAO is present today to help support anyone who needs help with that transition from high school to college. They also creating awareness of their cullture so society can come to understand and help the Native American culture flourish in our society and become more that just that .01% of East Carolina University’s student enrollment. ECNAO is trying to make a difference they just need your help.

May 16, 2011

Bate 1024

6-7 p.m.


  • Black male enters the room wearing a black shirt, has a mustache, short , his name is Mark. Graduating May 7th
  • Mark says that Caprice, this year’s co-president, should be nominated again for the same position
  • Election for officers of next year: Treseaurer, Co-Advisors, Secretary, President, Co-President
  • Planning for April 26th Cookout
  • One of the members announced that SGA has been complaining about how low the organizations dues are so they are going to have to raise the dues for next year.
  • Talking sbout having a table for Open House during the summer sessions this idea was proposed by Caprice


  • This man is one of the co-advisor of ECNAO
  • At first I thought that this black man was in the wrong place he looked like he didn’t fit in. This was me judging people by their appearance
  • But I came to realize who he was and he began to interact with the members and they were just like family.
  • The election was just like any other thing they had to vote on in the organization very informal and a group decision was made
  • They all want to work together to help the organization everyone is welling to cooperate

April 1, 2011

Bate 1010

6:30-7:30 p.m.


  • meetings start late
  • meeting started at 6:44 p.m.
  • 3 girls walk in as a group
  • Girl with gray sweater(hoodie) glasses, nose ring
  • the girl in hoodie talked about how good the turn out was for the Pow Wow
  • Orange-red shirt- girl says we need more people from ECU to attend the Pow Wow though.


  • Since I have been attending the ECNAO meetings the head people as well as the members have not been on time. A meeting has never started on time.
  • The three girls that walked in had a lot of contributions to the meeting. I think these are the people who the meeting was post poned for .
  • Girl with grey sweater was talking about her new nose ring and how her mother was not pleased with it.
  •  ” ECNAO is to educate ECU as well as the public of our culture.” This was stated by the girl with orange red shirt.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bate 1024

6-7 p.m.


  • 9 girls
  • 1 man
  • 3 children
  • groups are located all around the room
  • southern accents
  • family oriented


  • The same girls are at the meeting just like all the meetings and some are not present.
  • This is the first time I have seen this man he looks like he is in his early 30’s
  • The groups spread out threw the room seem like groups of friends
  • The accents are similar in the Native American members
  • The children are talking and greeting the members
  • The room has a friendly vibe
  • the room is quiet at first then as more people arrive the members gradually get more and more talkative
  • There are more children here this time

•What made you want to get involved
with ECNAO?

To wanted to stay involved in my
culture & heritage. ECNAO serves as a home-a-way from home for native
students, because on campus, we do not have many students that look like us.
Currently now at ECU, the Native American/American Indian enrollment is 165
(that is on-campus). That is less that .01% of ECU total enrollment.  When I enrolled at ECU in 2001, our
enrollment was only in the 120 and still at .01%. Native American on ECU campus
are “the minority of the minority.” I wanted to make sure I remained involved
in my culture, and still do – to preserve it.

•When did you decide to become involved with ECNAO?

Became involved with ECNAO my
freshman year of college in 2001 and have continuously been involved since  – as a staff member. My roles have changed
throughout my time in ECNAO, but not my involvement.  When I joined ECNAO, first joined as a member
and attended meeting, following year (my sophomore year) served as Secretary,
my jr and senior year served as co-president. Now as a staff member co-advisor.

•What/who motivates you to make awareness for your Native
American culture?

stated about to preserve my culture and heritage.

•Can you tell me more about your background?

The Lumbee are the “People of the Darkwater.”  Tribe is located primarily in North Carolina
– The 55,000 members of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina reside primarily in
Robeson, Hoke, Cumberland, and Scotland Counties. The Lumbee Tribe is the
largest tribe in North Carolina, the largest tribe east of the Mississippi
River and the ninth largest in the nation. The Lumbee take their name from the
Lumbee River which winds its way through Robeson County. Pembroke, NC is the
economic, cultural and political center of the tribe.

We do have small tribal communities in Georgia, Virginia,
Maryland, and Michigian. Those peoples (now families) moved there, for
jobs.  With them living outside of the
primary tribal area, they still have strong ties to tribal community.

In North American, there are more than 250 tribes.  We all look different, sound different, but
we are still Native American/American Indian – the First Nations people.

The ancestors of the Lumbee were mainly Cheraw and related
Siouan-speaking Indians who have lived in the area of what is now Robeson
County since the 1700s. The Lumbee people have been recognized by the state of
North Carolina since 1885, and at the same time established a separate school
system that would benefit tribal members. In 1887, the state established the Croatan
Normal Indian School, which is today the University of North Carolina at
Pembroke. In 1956, Congress passed the Lumbee Act, which recognized the tribe
as Indian. However, the Act withheld the full benefits of federal recognition
from the tribe. Efforts are currently underway to pass federal legislation that
grants full recognition to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. Federal
recognition efforts for the tribe are still in progress.

•What does being Native American mean to you?

No single definition of
“Indian” exists – socially, administratively, legislatively or
judicially. Currently in the United States 10 to 20 million people may have
Indian ancestry, but only a small percentage identify themselves as being
primarily Indian.

“My Definition of Indian”

Someone who cares for Mother Earth and for all the Creatures who roam it. No
single living being “owns” the Earth.

1. Care for yourself and all other living things.

2. Walk the path of Righteous.

3. Take only what you need from the Land….nothing more.

•What are some things that ECNAO has done to promote the
Native American subculture on ECU campus?

ECNAO speaks at area schools,
volunteers, hosts a Fall and Spring Powwow, tries to break down the stereotypes
that people have of the Native people, promote & educate about others
(University, community, etc) about the native culture

•What tribe of Native Americans are you?

I am
Lumbee. Both my parents are Lumbee.  From Robeson County, NC

•How many different tribes are represented in ECNAO?

Do not
know specifically, if I would have to guess, I would say more than 10 (less
that 20).

•Where is family placed on your scale of importance from
1-10….1 being the highest and 10 being the lowest. Why?

Family – 10. The Native American
culture is family orientated. We have close family ties, and community ties. In
growing up, our cousins, are as close to us as our siblings. Our grandparents
take part in our rearing process.  Taught to treat individual with
respect, honesty, etc – as well as the earth. Why the earth? The Earth –
because we are to leave it for the next generation (our children, our
grandchildren, our great grandchildren, etc)

•Where do you live? How old are you? What level of education
do you have?

Live in Greenville due to work. From Fairmont, NC (Robeson County), 28
years old. Have BA in Anthropology (Cultural Anthropology), Minor North
Carolina Studies; currently working on my masters degree in Higher Education
& Student Affairs.

•Where do you work?


•What position do you hold in ECNAO?

I am the Co-Advisor of East
Carolina Native American Organization. Randy Gilland also serves as the

•What was your experience like attending ECU?

it is/was harder to adjust to school because we do not have the representation
of faculty, staff, and students on campus like most populations.  Most
people on campus do not sound like you (accent wise) and when people approach
us, they typically think or ask us are we mixed or some other race. So you go
to inform that you are Native American/American Indian – and you get the
question, you still exist, follow by other random questions.  Even as a
professional I get those questions and it is bothersome.

As a freshman in the dorm, I was
approached and did receive many crazy questions, like to all Native American
live on reservations? do you all have electricity, running water, etc?

The reason for ECNAO is for us to network
and be a home away from home, so that way we have others that look like
us.   ECNAO has been a family for me, when I was in undergrad and
even now as a staff member at ECU.

•Can you give some ideas of the traditions in your family?

started dancing traditional at the age of 3.

Learned to bead simple things like
necklaces and bracelets. Then as I got older, my aunt taught me to bead using
more traditional techniques and various stitches.   My grandmother
taught me to sew.  With the combination of what my grandmother and my aunt
taught me – they are useful in the aid in regalia making.  (Regalias are
what we were at powwows and ceremonies.)  As they would teach me things,
they would tell me stories of when they were little, or tell legends
(traditional Native American stories).  These stories have reasoning in
how things are, have a moral behind it.   With all these things –
they are essential in what I will pass along to the next generation.

Another important thing in our culture is
food. A lot of our gathering is centered around food. Food in many cultures
brings people together, so learning to cook was and is very essential.
Learning to cook fried bread, stews, traditional dishes, etc.

am continuously learning about my culture

I didn’t really have technique to writing my ethnography. I just wrote what I felt, experienced and learned about the subculture the I observed. I also learned a lot about myself and how I precieve things. Something interesting that happened to me while writing this ethnography is that I was clueless of how and what an ethnography was conducted. I also didn’t know what it consisted of. The unexpected thing that happened was that I actually wrote the ethnography and it wasn’t completely off track of what it suppose to be. I discovered that I can do anything if I really put my mind to it. Nothing is impossible. The most frustrating part was organizing and have good transitions in my ethnography. The resources clarified some of the aspects of the experiences Native American’s face everyday. I am glad that I completed my ethnography and the discovery writings that I completed during the course clarified what I thought in the beginning of the semester and now.

The best part of my ethnography is my positionality. This is the best part to me because I can tell how I feel, learned and changed my position over the course of the semester. I have also learned that primary and secondary sources are essential when you need to get a point across to people. They need to know what it is like first hand and what people have learned about the certain subject or topic to make the information understanding.

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