Nine members of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribal School Class of 2019 will receive their high school diplomas during graduation exercises at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 31, on the tribal powwow grounds directly behind the school at 130 Haliwa-Saponi Trail, Hollister.

The commencement speaker will be Dr. Marvin “Marty” Richardson, project director of the Haliwa-Saponi Historic Legacy Project.

A citizen of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Indian Studies from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Richardson earned a masters degree in Anthropology from Indiana University, and both masters and doctorate degrees in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His dissertation, “Racial Choices: The Emergency of the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe, 1835-1971,” explores how the Haliwa-Saponi people maintained their Native American identity and sovereignty despite the influence of the South’s black-white binary and white supremacy. 

Richardson now focuses on the Haliwa-Saponi Historic Legacy Project, which strives to continue the legacy of Haliwa-Saponi ancestors and elders to maintain traditional Native values, preserve history, and gain federal acknowledgement. 

His other work centers on Haliwa-Saponi cultural revitalization, including the Tutelo-Saponi language, which began with a need to make powwow song phrases for the Stoney Creek Singers, an internationally-known singing group based in his hometown of Hollister.

Richardson has shared his knowledge of tribal language, customs, history and singing at various workshops, presentations, and festivals throughout North America.