A resident of Sampson and Wayne Counties most of her life, Glenda Foss has seen the changes taking place within the Coharie tribe firsthand. The daughter of a tobacco farmer, Foss and her sisters all helped her father in the tobacco fields. After a long day of working in the fields, Foss’ father would sometimes go down to the river to go fishing and on those days, Foss recounts, they knew they were going to have a good meal for dinner. As a member of the Coharie tribe Foss values the sense of community belonging to a tribe offers, belonging “to the Lord first, but also to the tribe.”


On Growing Up Coharie

“It was hard in a way because when I was…we had two school here until I was in 11th grade it was. And then they segregate, integrated or whatever they did to the schools, they closed here and I graduated from Midway. And it was like um…10-15 miles up the road…But um, but principal over the intercom, principal come over the intercom saying they had 2 races in the school. And they was about…there was probably about 10 Indian children in the school. We went to the office. We wanted to know, I says…we said “You said there’s only 2 races in the school. There’s 3 races in the school. What do you classify us if we’re not classified as a race? We’re Native American and we’re classified as a race.” And he says “Oh, we just classify y’all with the white people.” I said “No, we stand alone. We want to be as independent as anybody else.”

On Being Coharie

“I actually feel that we show more love into the family. This is my opinon…) …than, than the other. Well, well imma say the race I know more about, which is the race I married into. They have their own thing but they just won’t really like loving like we were. Family was the most important thing to a native. They believe in the family.  But the other races probably do too, but to my opinion it’s not the same as, family oriented as. And I’ve tried to raise my kids like I was raised. In the Lord, with him leading.”

On the River

“Well like I told my neice or nephew I’d like to go down to the river with them some day. I says but I got to have a bigger boat than…(laughs)… Those little…I don’t think I could handle one of them. I’d like to have a fishing boat…They call it therapy. They say when they need to get…they don’t go to a psychiatrist, they just go down the river to get their therapy. So maybe I need their therapy.”