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About Sappony

For centuries, the Sappony have called home the area known as the High Plains Indian Settlement located among the rolling hills found between the waters of the Hyco River, Mayo Creek, and Blew Wing Creek.  The North Carolina-Virginia border line runs through the heart of this close-knit Indian community which is part of the southeastern section of Halifax County, Virginia and the northeastern section of Person County, North Carolina.  Between 1911 and 1913, both states officially recognized the Indians living in this Settlement.

Sappony HNNC Supported Initiatives

The Sappony Healthy Native North Carolinians (HNNC) Partnership allowed for an innovative plan designed to address the unique lifestyle and health challenges that face the American Indian population.  The Sappony Year 2 HNNC programs include a Youth Camp with programs addressing healthier lifestyles, a 5K Trail Run/Walk and 1 Mile Fun Run to be held annually and a Walking/Biking Trail on Sappony property.  Our Sappony Trail focus for HNNC Year 2 was to construct a kiosk that will provide information about the trail usage, the benefits of exercise, and the benefit of healthy snacking.  Each of these components is very important to the Sappony Tribe.  Partnerships for sustainability are in place to continue the programs that are vital to the tribe.

  • Creating a Sappony Youth Camp Healthy Eating & Active Living Guide

The Sappony Tribe operates a Sappony Youth Camp, which is attended by about 40 youth and about 50 adult volunteers.  Our focus is to educate our youth on family history and the importance of maintaining our culture.  Each year at camp we try to focus on teaching our youth how to live an active and healthy lifestyle.  Through the years, we have educated our youth as well as the members of our community on such things as tobacco use, CPR/First Aid, diabetes, and the importance of being physically active.  Our focus for the 2013 Sappony Youth camp will be to promote healthy eating as well as continue to encourage more active lifestyles.  We will strive to make the menus healthier and schedule activities that the youth and adults will be able to incorporate in their daily lives at home.

  • Building on Our Inaugural Sappony 5K Trail Run/Walk & 1 Mile Fun Run

In Year 1 of Healthy, Native North Carolinians, the Sappony Running Committee in partnership with Person County Recreation, Arts, and Park Department hosted a 5K Trail Run and 1 Mile Fun Run on June 16, 2012 at Mayo Park, in Roxboro, NC.  The change focus for the 5K Project was to increase the interest in the community and extended community.  The running and walking project helped tribal as well as non-tribal individuals to become more active through the first ever Sappony 5K Run and 1 Mile Fun Run!  The goal is to build on the first run to make it an annual event.  Our HNNC Year 2 proposal consisted of the 5K Team planning an even bigger event for June 2013.  The project continues to build partnerships with Person County Recreation, Arts and Park Department, the Mayo Park and the local businesses.

The start of our 2012 Sappony 1 Mile Fun Run!

The start of our 2012 Sappony 5K Trail Run/Walk!

Our 2012 Sappony race winners and age-group top placers!
As a result of the Sappony 5K, there was excitement and competitiveness among the people who came to participate.  Evaluations indicated that the trail run was considered a challenge and one of the most scenic and beautiful trails participants had run.  There were 237 registered runners and walkers and the event went very smoothly.  Numerous people complimented the Planning Team for a very well organized Trail Run and 1 Mile Fun Run.  Participants also indicated that they were looking forward to this year’s event.
The Sappony youth responded very positively to the opportunity to participate.  We had all ages of youth running and walking in the event. During the Sappony Youth Camp, a youth running team assembled each morning to run the trails prior to morning activities.  There were numerous youth who are planning to run the 2013 Sappony 5K.

Sappony youth getting fired up for the Sappony 2012 5K Trail Run!

The Goals for Year 2 were:
1)      Target our tribal members to challenge more of them to participate in the Run.  Also, encourage them to take advantage of the Mayo Lake Trails as well as the new Sappony Trail located on Tribal property to walk or run throughout the year.
2)      Target those who live in or around our community to participate in the Sappony 5K Trail Run and 1 mile Run/Walk.
3)      Target those who already engage in 5k or physical activity and challenge them to continue to modify exercise routines.
4)      Target other Native American communities to participate in the Native-to-Native Challenge – to bring the highest number of attendees to the Sappony 5K Run and 1 mile Run/Walk.

In year 2, we made a greater effort to make the community aware of all these objectives with representation from all groups.  Efforts to recruit partners and sponsors were more focused based on the first year’s sponsor responses.  The Sappony Running Committee held a Strategic Planning Meeting in October 2012 to develop a marketing plan for Year 2.  Businesses and corporations were visited to encourage early support and participation in the run.
A special focus to recruit Native American communities was implemented to encourage physical activities among Native American people.  The focus included a Challenge to tribes to have the highest attendance of tribal members at the run.  The winning tribe would receive the “Spirit Stick” that will be passed to the tribe, which has the most in attendance each year.  Hopefully this Challenge will encourage a little competition among tribe and bring more tribal members out to exercise.
Representatives from the Sappony Running Team Committee attended the United Tribes of North Carolina Annual Unity Conference, held in Greensboro, NC, where they set up a vendor table to recruit and advertise the Sappony 5K Trail Run and 1 Mile Run.  They also advertised the Run during exercise breakouts in the Unity Conference General Assemblies led by representatives from the Sappony Running Team Committee.

Sappony 5K Trail Run Committee members and runners promoting the race at the Unity Conference!

Our interactive exhibit at the Unity Conference

Pictures above capture attendees at the Unity Conference two general sessions that Sappony led the first ever Unity Conference Activity Breaks!
In support of the Sappony 5K Trail Run and 1mile fun run, the Tourism Department of Person County placed a large roadside billboard advertising the Run on the main thoroughfare in Roxboro.

Other advertisements included articles in the local newspaper, the Courier Times, the local magazine, the Hyco Magazine, poster and flyers and ads on the local radio station, WTVD.   Sappony Running Team members, Sue Vernon and Mary Edmondson were interviewed by Angela Hampton, Community Affairs Specialist Host of ABC (Raleigh, NC).  Kay Oxendine, Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe, also wrote an article in Native Hoop Magazine about her journey to better health and discussed running the Sappony 5K through the support of Triangle Native Society Association’s Healthy, Native North Carolinians Initiative!
The Sappony Tribe welcomes Evan Watchempino to the second annual Sappony 5K Trail Run. Evan Watchempino is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and one of their most accomplished and fastest runners in 2008-2012.  The Sappony Tribe recognizes Evan Watchempino as the first Race Ambassadors.

Pictured above youth running the Sappony 2013 1 Mile Fun Run.

Pictured above start of the Sappony 2013 5K Trail Run.

Pictured above Sappony 2013 5K Trail Run Overall Male Winner, Sam Martin of Sappony.

Pictured above Sappony 2013 5K Trail Run Overall Female Winner, Morgan King of Sappony.

Pictured above Sappony 2013 5K Trail Run Overall Master Male, David Martin of Sappony.

Pictured above runners from the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe, winner of the first “Native to Native” Challenge.

The Sappony Running Committee developed a PowerPoint guide of steps to follow in organizing a 5K.  This guide will allow other tribes the opportunity to plan a 5K in their area with the help of these tools.
The Project will be directed and monitored by the Sappony Running Committee and Youth Camp Executive Committee:  Lisa King, Rodney Hazel, Mary Edmondson, John Martin, Sue Vernon, Shirley Hazel, Otis Martin, Johnny Martin, Will Paul, Dorothy Crowe, Charlene Martin, Julia Phipps, Shelia Wilson, and the Sappony Tribal Council.  This committee would be responsible for reporting.
Overall, the Sappony 5K Trail Run and 1 mile Run/Walk was a great success and created a strong sense of pride for the Sappony people through the response of participants and the support of all the sponsors and “Friends of the Sappony” donors.  For more information see:

  • Fostering Utilization of Our New Sappony Trading Path

In 2004, the Sappony conducted a survey of the High Plains community to determine their preference for a source of exercise.  Of the respondents, eighty-six percent (86%) from the community expressed a desire for a walking trail.  The age of those responding ranged from 30 and 70 years old.  Based on the desire of the community to have a safe place to walk, the Sappony Health committee began to look for ways to provide a walking path.  In 2005, the tribe applied for a grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation to construct a walking/biking path.  Following receipt of funding, several community meetings were held regarding the design of the trail and a dual purpose was developed for the trail.  It was decided that the trail should highlight the cultural sites within the community while providing a safe environment for walking and biking.  Each year, the tribe continues to move forward in its quest to provide the facility the community desires.

In May of 2012, construction of Phase 1 of the Sappony Trading Path and trailhead was started.  With the help of our long-term partners, the Virginia Department of Transportation and Virginia Tourism Corporation, the Healthy, Native North Carolinians, Halifax County, and the Administration Native Americans we were able to move forward with construction of Phase 1 of the trail and the design of Phase II of the trail.  The change focus for this phase of the project was to construct a safe environment for those in the community and those visiting the community to park and walk.  On July 13th, the major constructions of the entrance, parking lot, and trail surface for the Sappony Trading Path were completed. As a result of the completion of the major features of the trail construction, community members began using the facility.  Until the kiosk was constructed, we were not able to track usage of the facility.  Several tribal members and community members have been using the trail.
Our focus for HNNC Year 2 was to construct a kiosk that provides information about the trail usage, the benefits of exercise, and the benefit of healthy snacking.  It will also assist in gathering information about those using the trail.  We planted trees and shrubs along Phase 1 of the trail that will produce fruits and nuts to promote healthy snacks.  Each grove will have plant information to allow others to learn how easy it is to grow their own healthy snacks.

Specifically, our HNNC goals for Year 2 will be to:
1)  To monitor community members’ use of the trial and to develop a program that encourages a consistent walking schedule.
2)  To introduce our community to the healthy snack alternative through education along the trail, through samples of the snack food grown along the trail, and through education about the sample foods.

Sappony HNNC Partners & Collaborators

Sappony Contact Information

Julia Phipps
Sappony Tribal Center
4218 Virgilina Road
Virgilina, Virginia  24598