Every fall, after stripping the sorghum stalks of their leaves and chopping them down, the Coharie tribe gathers to make syrup. In a state steeped in food and agriculture, the Coharie tribe’s sorghum tradition is one of many that makes up North Carolina’ rich history and culture — but their story is rarely told. Carolina senior Sierra Dunne wants to help change that.
“There are a lot of documentaries and writing on sorghum and its history in America already,” Dunne said. “But most of it comes from a white perspective, so there are not really any Native voices included in this story.”
To help expand knowledge about the Coharie tribe and Native traditions in North Carolina, Dunne filmed a documentary focusing on the garden where the tribe comes together to grow the food feeding their community, nourishing both their physical and spiritual health.
An American studies major, Dunne feels that the traditional narrative about the South often excludes Native history and influence.
“To have a holistic understanding of the South, you need to hear everyone’s story,” Dunne said.
Sierra Dunne is a senior majoring in American studies and communications with a minor in social and economic justice within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. Last summer she completed a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, provided by the Office of Undergraduate Research.