Family Traditions

Posted by Monica Hoel
Traditions are important for most families. But family traditions might be just a little more crucial to Erika Wright. As a member of the Virginia indigenous tribe Cheroenhaka (Nottoway), Erika understands that traditions are more than just something to share with other family members: traditions are a matter of cultural survival.

There is documented historic data that traces Erika’s ancestors back to the 1700s, but it’s highly likely that their history is much older. And the tribe works every day to be recognized and understood – either by the government or even by local community members. They’ve been able to purchase back their native lands (located in Courtland, Virginia) but they find that even though they do routine events and educational programs they have a lot of neighbors who are still unaware of their existence. “We just really just want people to understand who we are and what our history and culture are. And we want people to understand that we’re still here doing the same things we’ve always done.”

Erika is actually royalty: her father is the Vice Chief and she is a Princess who could feasibly become the first female chief of her tribe. But that elevated stature doesn’t make her immune to some of the hurtful stereotypes that still surface regarding Native Americans. “The first thing some people do when I tell them I’m American Indian is dance in a circle with their hand on their mouth making ‘Indian’ noises from old tv westerns.” And while she doesn’t let most stereotypes bother her, she can’t help being offended when people dress as Native Americans for Halloween. “Our traditional attire is so sacred and rooted in religion and spirituality that it’s hard not to feel like people see it as fictional. Our regalia can cost thousands of dollars and take years to construct, so it’s a really big deal.”

Erika feels like some progress for greater acceptance and understanding have been made during her lifetime because she recalls being in school and not seeing her own family listed among the indigenous Virginia tribes – but now Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) is listed with all the other Native American groups in Virginia. “It’s important for people to understand that we played an important role in the formation of our country.”

Erika is currently studying to be an occupational therapy assistant and doesn’t know where she’ll practice when she finishes her training – but her travels will give her an opportunity to widen the influence and scope of her historic family traditions.

You can enjoy an insightful conversation with Erika in which she also talks about her tribe’s vital relationship with the natural world. You can listen in the WEHC archives or listen to the “On the Duck Pond Wall” podcast wherever you listen to podcasts!

  • Erika Wright (left, Emory & Henry Class of 2011) with her father and sister in traditional regalia.

More News

  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/788-trollinger-named-citizen-of-the-year"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/38,0,514,475/6285_Richard_Trollinger.rev.1554994277.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/38,0,514,475/6285_Richard_Trollinger.rev.1554994277.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/38,0,514,475/6285_Richard_Trollinger.rev.1554994277.jpg" alt="Richard Trollinger, E&H Class of 1971." width="345" height="225" data-max-w="476" data-max-h="475" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/788-trollinger-named-citizen-of-the-year">Trollinger Named Citizen of the Year</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Richard Trollinger (E&H ’71) has been named Danville, Kentucky, citizen of the year. <a href="/live/news/788-trollinger-named-citizen-of-the-year" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1199-eamphs-rodes-fishburne-launches-new-television"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/34,9,356,331/8013_Rodes_fishburne.rev.1586652695.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/34,9,356,331/8013_Rodes_fishburne.rev.1586652695.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/34,9,356,331/8013_Rodes_fishburne.rev.1586652695.jpg" alt="Rodes Fishburne, E&H Class of 1993" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="322" data-max-h="322" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1199-eamphs-rodes-fishburne-launches-new-television">E&H’s Rodes Fishburne Launches New Television Series</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><em>Paradise Lost</em> debuts April 13, 2020. <a href="/live/news/1199-eamphs-rodes-fishburne-launches-new-television" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1124-mark-lambert-is-a-director-of-university-relations"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,65,591,656/7342_12310066_10206869379466516_4836748579665315978_o.rev.1579024931.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,65,591,656/7342_12310066_10206869379466516_4836748579665315978_o.rev.1579024931.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,65,591,656/7342_12310066_10206869379466516_4836748579665315978_o.rev.1579024931.jpg" alt="Mark Lambert, E&H Class of 1995" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="591" data-max-h="591" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1124-mark-lambert-is-a-director-of-university-relations">Mark Lambert is a Director of University Relations for Radford University Carilion</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> The merger of Jefferson College of Health Sciences and Radford University was approved in the summer of 2019. <a href="/live/news/1124-mark-lambert-is-a-director-of-university-relations" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/572-class-notes-updated-fall-2018"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/454,1152,2310,3008/5629_Debbie_Robinson.rev.1541624931.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/454,1152,2310,3008/5629_Debbie_Robinson.rev.1541624931.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/454,1152,2310,3008/5629_Debbie_Robinson.rev.1541624931.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/454,1152,2310,3008/5629_Debbie_Robinson.rev.1541624931.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/454,1152,2310,3008/5629_Debbie_Robinson.rev.1541624931.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/454,1152,2310,3008/5629_Debbie_Robinson.rev.1541624931.jpg" alt="Debbie Robinson, son Kristopher, and Eve Solomon during Homecoming 2018." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/454,1152,2310,3008/5629_Debbie_Robinson.rev.1541624931.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/454,1152,2310,3008/5629_Debbie_Robinson.rev.1541624931.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1856" data-max-h="1856" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/572-class-notes-updated-fall-2018">Class Notes, Updated Fall 2018</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Keep up with news of your fellow alumni <a href="/live/news/572-class-notes-updated-fall-2018" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1386-eamph-alumni-librarians-organize-reading-challenge"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/png" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/40,0,559,518/8585_books.rev.1601424919.png 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/40,0,559,518/8585_books.rev.1601424919.png" alt="" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="519" data-max-h="518" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1386-eamph-alumni-librarians-organize-reading-challenge">E&H Alumni Librarians Organize Reading Challenge for Stay Homecoming</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> This Stay Homecoming event is a real page-turner. <a href="/live/news/1386-eamph-alumni-librarians-organize-reading-challenge" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1375-eamph-athletics-open-house-added-to-stay"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,432,264/8538_2c_eh_shield.rev.1599761948.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,432,264/8538_2c_eh_shield.rev.1599761948.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,432,264/8538_2c_eh_shield.rev.1599761948.jpg" alt="" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="432" data-max-h="264" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1375-eamph-athletics-open-house-added-to-stay">E&H Athletics Open House Added to Stay HomeComing Events</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Here’s your chance to get back in “the know” with E&H athletics. <a href="/live/news/1375-eamph-athletics-open-house-added-to-stay" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1163-dream-job"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,103,697,800/7548_Image.rev.1582749663.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,103,697,800/7548_Image.rev.1582749663.webp 2x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,103,697,800/7548_Image.rev.1582749663.jpg 2x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,103,697,800/7548_Image.rev.1582749663.jpg" alt="Lisa Olive O'Quinn, E&H Class of 1991" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,103,697,800/7548_Image.rev.1582749663.jpg 2x" data-max-w="697" data-max-h="697" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1163-dream-job">Dream Job</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Lisa Olive O’Quinn is a background actor – and she’s loving every minute! <a href="/live/news/1163-dream-job" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/716-andy-rhudy-receives-second-medal-of-valor"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/57,80,320,343/6038_Andy_Rhudy.rev.1551734272.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/57,80,320,343/6038_Andy_Rhudy.rev.1551734272.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/57,80,320,343/6038_Andy_Rhudy.rev.1551734272.jpg" alt="Andy Rhudy, E&H '95, with daughters Bonnie and Molly and wife Julie Pennington Rhudy (" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="263" data-max-h="263" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/716-andy-rhudy-receives-second-medal-of-valor">Andy Rhudy Receives Second Medal of Valor</a></h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/710-mike-young-in-the-news"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/148,0,795,647/6079_mike_in_locker_room.rev.1553264705.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/148,0,795,647/6079_mike_in_locker_room.rev.1553264705.JPG 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/148,0,795,647/6079_mike_in_locker_room.rev.1553264705.JPG" alt="Mike Young (E&H '86) in the locker team with Wofford basketball team." width="345" height="225" data-max-w="647" data-max-h="647" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/710-mike-young-in-the-news">Mike Young: In the News!</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Mike Young (E&H ’86) and his Wofford basketball team made history on March 21 by being the first Wofford team to win a first round game in the NCAA Tournament. <a href="/live/news/710-mike-young-in-the-news" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/893-emory-henry-made-all-the-difference"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.jpg" alt="Rachel Harrison, E&H Class of 2019, at the duck pond. Dr. Foye Gibson, by the way, was the E" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1689" data-max-h="1688" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/893-emory-henry-made-all-the-difference">Emory & Henry Made All the Difference</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Rachel Harrison (E&H ’19) gleaned the full Emory & Henry experience before graduating. <a href="/live/news/893-emory-henry-made-all-the-difference" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1037-dr-lee-wheeler-honored-by-the-virginia-community"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/6,9,190,193/7100_wheeler.rev.1571864387.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/6,9,190,193/7100_wheeler.rev.1571864387.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/6,9,190,193/7100_wheeler.rev.1571864387.jpg" alt="Dr. Lee Wheeler, E&H Class of '74, back row left." width="345" height="225" data-max-w="184" data-max-h="184" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1037-dr-lee-wheeler-honored-by-the-virginia-community">Dr. Lee Wheeler Honored by the Virginia Community College System</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Dr. Wheeler (E&H ’74), and wife, Anne, were awarded the 2019 Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy. <a href="/live/news/1037-dr-lee-wheeler-honored-by-the-virginia-community" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1079-mark-arrington-honored-for-innovative-teaching"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,324,278/7177_arrington_2.rev.1574356083.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,324,278/7177_arrington_2.rev.1574356083.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,324,278/7177_arrington_2.rev.1574356083.jpg" alt="Mark Arrington, E&H Class of 2002." width="345" height="225" data-max-w="324" data-max-h="278" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1079-mark-arrington-honored-for-innovative-teaching">Mark Arrington Honored for Innovative Teaching</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Mark was honored by VAHPERD as their 2019 Teacher of the Year. <a href="/live/news/1079-mark-arrington-honored-for-innovative-teaching" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1035-eamph-vs-wampl-far-from-ordinary"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.jpg" alt="Oct. 19, 2019, Emory & Henry's Max Yates catches a Hail, Mary pass to win the game against Wa..." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1450" data-max-h="1450" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1035-eamph-vs-wampl-far-from-ordinary">E&H vs. W&L: Far from ordinary</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Saturday’s win over Washington and Lee brought back a lot of memories of  W&L games gone by. Here are a few of our favorites. <a href="/live/news/1035-eamph-vs-wampl-far-from-ordinary" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/520-super-heroes-and-princesses"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,12,214,226/4535_41368297_705985249770551_4194188508329410560_n.rev.1536365207.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,12,214,226/4535_41368297_705985249770551_4194188508329410560_n.rev.1536365207.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,12,214,226/4535_41368297_705985249770551_4194188508329410560_n.rev.1536365207.jpg" alt="Cathy Bottrell, E&H '82" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="214" data-max-h="214" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/520-super-heroes-and-princesses">Super heroes and princesses?</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> It’s all in a day’s work for Cathy Bottrell (E&H ’82). <a href="/live/news/520-super-heroes-and-princesses" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1203-tempting-god"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,500,499/8025_george_stuart.rev.1586791776.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,500,499/8025_george_stuart.rev.1586791776.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,500,499/8025_george_stuart.rev.1586791776.jpg" alt="Rev. George R. Stuart, E&H Class of 1882" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="500" data-max-h="499" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1203-tempting-god">“Tempting God”</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Rev. David St. Clair shares an interesting bit of insight from a former E&H alumnus that he ran across in <em>The Christian Century.</em><a href="/live/news/1203-tempting-god" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>