Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation is a recognized Native American tribe located in North Carolina, United States. The chairman of a tribe is typically the highest elected official, responsible for leading the tribe and representing its interests to both the tribal membership and external organizations and governments.
Jeffries is one of several Occaneechi elders who have died in recent weeks, leaving leaders like Hayes “carrying a heavier burden.” At the final powwow he attended, Jeffries was given the honor of carrying in the eagle staff. According to Cavalier, the staff holds the spiritual protection of the tribe and symbolizes the tribe’s relationship to the creator. It is an honor reserved for tribal elders, and it was a beautiful way to remember Jeffries’ final tribal celebration, she said.
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Governor Roy Cooper ordered all North Carolina flags at state facilities to half-staff from sunrise to sunset, Wednesday, February 1, 2023, in honor of Tribal Elder and former Chairman of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, John "Blackfeather" Jeffries, who passed away on Tuesday, January 24.