This group of Choanoac descendants gathered for the dedication of the Choanoac Indian marker in Harrellsville, North Carolina.

Choanoac Indians Honored With Historic Marker

Choanoac Indian Marker North Carolina

The Choanoac Indians, the largest Algonquian group in North Carolina at the time of English contact, were honored in October by way of a commemorative marker provided by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources’ Highway Historical Marker Program.

“Explorers Ralph Lane, Thomas Harriot and John White encountered the Choanoac Indian tribe in the village of Choanoac during the 1586 Roanoke Expedition,” says a press release. “With a population of about 2,800 it was the largest tribe of the Algonquian Indian group. By the 1700s only a few families survived.”

Lane reportedly described the Choanoac leader, Menatonan, as “a man of great understanding and reputation.”

According to, less than 20 families remained in 1731 and by 1755, only five individuals were left.

Choanoac Indian Descendant

“Although the Choanoc no longer exist as a tribe some descendants have intermarried with or are members of other Native tribes, such as the Meherrin,” said Shoshone P. Elmardi, a Choanoac descendant.

Elmardi, who is also a member of the Pee Dee Indian Nation, was moved by the event, which was held October 21 at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Harrellsville, North Carolina, and organized by the Chowan Discovery Group. She drove from New York City to bring her two sons, who are 24 and 10 years old. She remembers her mother telling her stories about her Native American ancestors.

“She kept that fire burning in my soul to never forget them,” Elmardi said. “I will keep that burning in my children and now my new grandson.”

To help her sons keep their culture alive she is teaching them some of the Algonquin language her ancestors once spoke.

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laura's picture
Submitted by laura on
What a wonderful article on the Native remnants that are all too often forgotten. Shoshone is an inspiration to all eastern Native descendents that the culture can be kept alive, even among those tribes who have suffered the longest from colonization. Thank you, ICT, for covering this story.

caroways's picture
Submitted by caroways on
This is a great article, it's important that we learn all we can about our Native American ancestors. It is our duty to pass the touch onward. As Shoshone has stated we must keep our history alive.

mariposamorena1908's picture
Submitted by mariposamorena1908 on
I am so pleased to have read this article! It often seems that descendants of some of the smaller, or lesser known, tribes from the South don't get much attention, or are treated as "non-Indians" no matter how traditional their lifestyle may be. It is wonderful to see the government and media recognizing these descendants, their ancestors, and contributions to the world. It is also makes me very happy to see my own cousins featured and representing for their ancestors!

mrundqui's picture
Submitted by mrundqui on
Congratulations, Shoshone! This is great news -- and being invited to attend the dedication of this marker is just one of the many successes you've had in your long journey. I am so proud of you -- and your family -- and it's great that your two sons (and new grandson!) are involved as well... and that you AND your two sons were able to make the long trip from New York to North Carolina to see the Choanoac Indians honored in this way. This article really captures what you've done in keeping your grandmother's fire burning -- in your own life - and now in your children's and grandchildren's lives. I know that others will be inspired by this article, your story -- and this historic recognition of the Choanoac Indians -- the tribe of your ancestors! Excellent!

redbone's picture
Submitted by redbone on
I am so happy that your article was published. I didn't even know about this tribe until you told me. This is a prime example that we never ceased to be Indian. However, some people just stopped acknowleging these disbanded and displaced tribes. Thank you for being a strong voice for the Native community. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and for your encouragement. A Cherokee/Shawnee elder once told me that we are the keepers of our tradition. Keep up the good work. Tonya

whenrocksdance's picture
Submitted by whenrocksdance on
It is with great honor that I attended with my two sons. Thank everyone for the wonderful comments and support. If we do not keep the memories and history of our ancestors alive Native history and Identity will be sure to perish. I feel it is very important to move in the path of my ancestors and not let memories of them be taken away or erased. May this be a powerful message to others like us who want to preserve and protect the identity and cultural heritage of the indigenous people of North America.

lakeshiawhidbee's picture
Submitted by lakeshiawhidbee on
I would like to get more information about this Tribe. My paternal great grandfather was an Indian and he was born and raised in Harrellsville. I was searching for his tribe. Well, to be honest my mother and father side are from Harrellsville and majority of my ancestors are Indian.

rebekahegan's picture
Submitted by rebekahegan on
Very nice write up. :)

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
Thanks for the story, now I know why my family moved away fom here around 1755, when my Grandfather was born.