06/11/09 — Native American heritage center planned

View Archive

Native American heritage center planned

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on June 11, 2009 1:46 PM

If a local Native American's plan comes to fruition, Wayne County might one day be defined, in part, by an igloo, wigwam and turtle garden.

Goldsboro resident Dreamweaver believes eastern North Carolina needs an Eastern Woodland Indian market -- one that puts art and traditions from tribes on display. The design work was recently done by East Carolina University students. And county officials, he says, have been "very supportive" of his intention to construct the market at Waynesborough Park.

The First People Heritage Center would feature four 2,500 square-foot buildings that blend ancient Native American tradition and modern technology. "I asked (the students) to give me a design that was old world philosophy, 21st century technology," Dreamweaver said. "The idea was basically Hiawatha with Gucci sunglasses and a Blackberry."

The plans call for the buildings to be constructed within four sections of a medicine wheel. One of them will house a museum -- and exhibits that rotate monthly based on which tribe is being featured. Another resembles a wigwam.

"It will have a large meeting area the community can use," Dreamweaver said. "We're hoping just the architecture itself will be a tourist attraction."

And the other two buildings will be built in the spirit of the Tuscarora, the tribe that once inhabited eastern North Carolina. It will contain artists studios, two dorm rooms and retail space. The venue will also house Native American gardens. But perhaps the most unique part of the design is a turtle garden -- another important Native American symbol.

Dreamweaver estimates the project will cost at least $3 million -- money he hopes to raise via state and federal grants. But donations from the public are welcome and will be critical to reaching the goal completing the project by 2013.

For information, visit www.firstpeopleheritagecenter.com.