Randy Davis with daughter Cheyenne. Together again, but for how long? Image copyright by Randy Davis.


Racial identity pawned and plundered for government funds. One of the oldest known and first discovered Native American tribes, the Croatan – systematically erased from history.

by Health Impact News

One Native American tribe’s descent from a proud heritage into lawlessness and greed has gone unchecked for decades.

Until now.

In 2012, Randy Davis just wanted to obtain a box of his family’s papers from his local tribal headquarters. Little did he know his questions would bring down retaliation that included his daughter being kidnapped by CPS, theft, false imprisonment, uncounted civil rights violations, his name smeared, his livelihood lost, and his life forever changed. See our original story about Randy Davis here:

EXCLUSIVE: Corrupt North Carolina Officials Try to Silence Whistleblower Using Child Protection Services

Though the Croatan, as a people, still exist, many of its leaders appear to have sold out their birth right for state and federal largesse – not only changing their tribal name, but paying academics to eradicate the name from historical research and even illegally changing birth/death certificates.

In addition to this paper genocide being perpetrated against the tribe by its own, there is federal and state fraud and abuse, and the lawless attempts to bribe, smear, coerce, kidnap and jail those members who might object or reveal the truth.

And then there is the “reservation shopping” by the national casino and gambling interests who have literally stolen the Croatan’s historical records, apparently in an effort to “create” a tribe worthy of federal recognition, with the accompanying right to set up casinos, netting billions of dollars for those who control it.

One man stumbled into all of this unwittingly, setting off such retaliation that he has considered seeking witness protection for himself and his daughter.

A Proud Family Heritage Now in Danger of Being Lost

Croatoan illustration

John White discovers the word “CROATOAN” carved at Roanoke’s fort palisade. Image source.

CROATOAN. A single word, carved on a tree was all that remained of one of the first settlements in America by the English.

In 1587, John White led more than 100 colonists in a first attempt to found a permanent English colony in the New World. The group settled on Roanoke Island, off the coast of North Carolina.

White then returned to England to bring more supplies, but was delayed for nearly three years. When White finally arrived, he found the colony abandoned.

Only two clues remained: The word “Croatoan” had been carved on a post and the letters “CRO” scratched into a tree trunk. For hundreds of years, historians believed the settlers, without supplies and facing a severe drought, were assimilated into the Croatan tribe living in the area. Several recent archeological digs seem to confirm these theories. [1]

Randy Davis, a successful businessman from Sampson County, North Carolina, can document direct descent from these Croatan Indians, with a documented family history dating back 100 years prior to the Revolutionary War. [2, 3] The tribe’s existence is documented throughout North Carolina history, with the “Croatan Indian” term identifying the group in various state and county documents, and was officially recognized by the state in 1885.

Much of the documentation and family manuscripts were kept in a box from his great-grandfather, Enoch Manuel, which along with other tribal documentation, was stored in a quiet little small town church in Sampson County, NC where many of the tribe attended.


ENOCH MANUEL AND WIFE, SARAH E. MANUEL, DAUGHTER OF AMOS HARDING–Dismal Township, Sampson County approx. 1916. Image source.

Yet as Jim Crow unfolded around them, when government assistance became available in the early 20th century, Native Americans struggles in North Carolina “centered on issues of land, education, and identity in the context of land and education.”[4]  Randy’s great-great-grandfather, Enoch Emanuel, was better educated than most in that era, and sought to protect his Croatan heritage and differentiate from other native groups in the area, requesting a separate school from other area tribes in 1916. [5]

Handing out benefits such as land, and education, the government became the arbiter of what constituted an authentic tribe. Small ethnic groups fought for state and if possible national acknowledgement as “real tribes” in order to gain these prizes. With increasing activism by various native groups since the mid-20th century, many states have passed legislation to recognize some tribes and provide yet more benefits.

Croatan Name Vanishes – New Tribe Appears Instead for Increased Federal Funding

This new jockeying for government recognition explains, in part, the fate of the Croatan name and people from the early 1900s until the present.

Attempting to trace the tribal name is like watching a shell game. A quick online search will turn up various documents proposing that the name belongs to assorted other Indian groups that claim this name’s heritage. To illustrate this further, read through the North Carolina Museum of History timeline on Indian history from 1880 to 1980 and suddenly the Croatan name is gone, subsumed within other groups. [6]

But it’s no mystery to Randy Davis and other Croatan members. Many of the same Croatan families listed in his great-grandfather’s documents are still his neighbors today.

Yet in the early 1970s, many of this formerly Croatan group claimed recognition under a different name: “Coharie.” This new name did not exist anywhere as a people group before 1977.

But in the newly created tribe’s enrollment criteria, [7] Randy’s great-great-grandfather’s listing of Croatan families is used as clear identification for “Coharie” tribal members. Randy’s family held the tribal chieftainship throughout the past several hundred years, until 1977 when his grandfather died. However, Randy says that his grandfather would never have agreed to hide their proud name and history just to increase the tribe’s size and line its leaders’ pockets.

Eliminating A Small Authentic Tribe to Create a New Fictious Larger One to Collect More Federal Funds


NEW BETHEL INDIAN SCHOOL Herrings Township, Sampson Co., N.C. The Croatan Tribe petitioned to the County Board of Education, in 1910, to provide a separate school for their children in Herrings and Honeycutts townships. Image Source.

In 1977, the very same year of the Croatan chief’s passing, the “new” Coharie tribe was born, and Randy’s great-grandfather’s brother, Chief Levander Manuel, is somehow listed as one of the original board members of the Coharie. In a transparent power grab, several other families decided, along with the name change, to vote for a chief, though this had never been their tradition.

Randy’s family had been pushed aside, but were unaware of the extent of the deception and manipulation for decades.

Why did such a historic tribe, with families still in existence, re-name themselves and work to erase all traces of their original name?

What Randy uncovered was a shocking, concerted effort to stuff tribal rolls with additional “members” for the purpose of garnering additional government funds, and eliminate any Croatan identification across any and all official documents.

The Croatan were formally recognized by the state of North Carolina as a tribe in 1917, and that recognition still stands today. Yet the NC Commission of Indian Affairs inexplicably has no seat for the tribe, despite requests, and those who might speak up, as Randy was to discover, are afraid of retaliation.

When Randy sought out his heritage at his tribal headquarters in 2012 he wasn’t expecting excuses, lies and denials. Yet no one in the Coharie leadership could give a plausible reason as to why his family’s box of precious manuscripts and documents recording genealogies of all Croatan families in Sampson County and other irreplaceable documents tracing almost 300 years of family could not be produced.

Suspicions roused, he continued to pursue answers.

Fraudulently Altered Birth/Death Certificates

Randy’s search uncovered birth and death certificates that were altered by Sampson County Register of Deeds office. Many appear to have been changed where the certificate records the person’s racial identification from “white” or “black” to Indian. [8]

The changes are not considered valid unless also changed at the state level. Maretta Brewington, another Croatan, notes:

“We cannot verify that these changes were also made on the state level. It is widely known in the community that many birth certificates were changed to ‘Indian’ so that individuals could get a birth certificate certified by Sampson County ROD stating they are Indian in order to be added to the Coharie tribal roll. Anyone can go into the ROD and change the originals, hand it to the clerk, pay a fee and have a ‘certified’ birth certificate made for them with whatever they wrote on the original.”

There were also birth or death certificates which edited out tribal identities from Croatan to Indian – effectively erasing a person’s tribal identity for all time.

In fact, Randy discovered that even his own mother, Annie Evelyn Emanuel, had a birth certificate that had been crossed out as “Croatan” and identified as generically “Indian.” [9]

When Randy demanded that the original Croatan identity be replaced, the Sampson County ROD confirmed with the state that the original birth certificate still remained as Croatan and no changes had been made at the state level – thus validating that someone had illegally changed it.

‘Experts’ Paid by Tribe to Re-write History

Birth and death certificates with altered identities were not enough. The tribe sought to fabricate its own history.

Randy alleges that:

“Stewart Berde, Wes Taukchiray and David Wilkins are all paid ‘experts’ and anthropologists who were paid with federal monies in order to cover us all up.”

Their work has succeeded, and other academics have unknowingly followed.

Just one example: The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture only records the Coharie as native North Carolinians. The Croatan are not even listed as having existed in the state.

It also notes that the Shiloh school in Sampson County was created “for the Coharie”[10], yet the original state legislature Act from 1917 specifically records:  “An Act to Provide for Separate Schools for the Croatan Indians of Sampson County.”[11]

Duane Manuel, another Croatan and cousin of Randy’s, notes:

“Butler and McMillian never heard of a ‘Coharie’ other than a body of water. It would seem to me that all Berde did was create a history for the said ‘Coharie’ by deleting the word ‘Croatan.’ The Coharie did not exist until the NC Commission of Indian Affairs created them.”

A thorough review of original court, county and historical documents from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, set alongside Berde’s various official reports and books, shows this to be exactly the case.

“For some reason the tribe Croatan needed to be hidden,” Manuel says. “Likewise the name Manuel/Emanuel (his and Randy’s direct ancestral name) seems to have been hidden.”

And indeed, though Enoch Emanuel is briefly noted as a chief and leader in Berde’s 1984 report Politics and Prayers: The Role of Evangelicalism in Coharie, Randy’s family is rarely mentioned, nor consulted in the various “oral histories” Berde records. In one case, Randy discovered what appears to be an intentional editing out of a name in Berde’s writings. [12]


Randy states:

“It’s amazing that we have been hidden in plain sight.”

Questionable Enrollments – Tribe Somehow Doubles in 10 Years

The newly invented “tribe” suddenly discovered many more members. The rapid climb in membership, which might have been explained when the new group gained state recognition in 1971, somehow continues to expand rapidly.

According to the 2000 census, the Indian population was 1,870. The tribal roll in 2011 reported 2,791 members – doubling the tribe’s size in just 10 years. [13]

Randy has video and audio documenting that the Coharie have many questionable membership enrollment applications – including many that have not been formally completed. Though Randy sought clarification from tribal leadership, he was allegedly stonewalled.

“It is unclear whether there are any policies and procedures to which the Coharie adhere, in order to avoid erroneous information and impostors from being given tribal cards.”

With its newly increased rolls, the tribe raked in the benefits in millions of dollars of state and federal support, ostensibly to provide for its members’ needs.

Very few of those dollars have been passed along, as Randy eventually discovered and documented.

Tribes Used as Fronts for Big Gaming Interests

Casino picture

However, the true prize, tribal federal recognition, and the millions of dollars available to a tribe through gaming rights, was elusive.

But why let a few federal regulations stand in the way? The Coharie leadership upped the ante for this penultimate pot of gold, and began to discuss its options with a well-connected gaming attorney out of New York, James Simermeyer. Simermeyer’s nephew, E. Sequoyah Simermeyer, was just appointed last November as associate commissioner of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC).


Attorney James Simermeyer. Image source LinkedIn.

The Simermeyers, though residents of either Washington, DC or New York, claim membership in the Coharie tribe. Randy and other Croatan supporters have questioned the authenticity of their claim, given the tribe’s loose and highly irregular enrollment practices.

In 2006, Simermeyer was co-venturer in an ill-starred attempt to bring a number of casinos, resorts, and high-stakes bingo parlors on the “tribal land” of the Ungechauk Indian Nation in New York. In the lawsuit which followed, it is noted that:

“their endeavor fell through in large part because the Ungechauk lack federal recognition as a tribe and thus cannot legally operate a casino…” [14]

This is exactly the situation the “Coharie” tribe faces – their state-recognized status is not enough to establish gaming casinos.

“They came and wooed and wowed the local people,” Randy remembers of James Simermeyer and his associates. “When in reality they just wanted a tribe to use as a vehicle for fraud.”

This type of maneuvering is not new.  In 2002, William Safire in The New York Times observed:

“The poorest of our aboriginal Americans are getting poorer, while non-Indians get rich hiring lobbyists to get federal recognition of a tribal front for the sole purpose of buying land to build a casino.”[15]

Describing the significance of casino gambling to Native Americans, the leader of one unrecognized tribe said:

“It’s no longer a matter of red; it’s a matter of green. [16]

Washington can conjure vast wealth for specific individuals or small groups by granting unique privileges to exploit the public without competition, as in the peculiar case of Indian casinos…

Dozens of defunct ‘tribes’ still seek recognition, and dozens more have their eyes on reclaiming traditional lands that just happen to be near major population centers and freeway interchanges. But the backlash was already underway. It comes from gaming tribes that don’t want their good thing spoiled, from state governments that covet gambling proceeds for themselves, from a Congress fed up with ‘reservation shopping’ by casino promoters.” [17]

Interestingly, James Simermeyer and his brother, Ed Simermeyer who is a retired BIA employee purchased property in North Carolina in 2011, [18] right off the major interstate pipeline through the state, I-95 – the perfect location for a resort/casino.

Theft of Randy’s Family Documents Allegedly Used to Create New Tribe


WILLIAM J. BLEDSOLE AND WIFE, NANCY ANN BLEDSOLE, SISTER OF ENOCH MANUEL–Dismal Township, Sampson County. Part of Randy’s extended family history. Image source.

In 2012, the Coharie leadership requested that Randy attend a meeting with Simermeyer, where the attorney proposed that a number of the various Indian tribes in NC officially join together as the “Coharie Nation.”

Without the Manuel family backing, the Coharie could not proceed with this plan.

“The Coharie have never filed even one petition for Federal recognition,” Randy notes. “Why? Because the documents needed are ours, not theirs.”

Randy refused to agree. And then things finally started to add up.

Randy learned that the Coharie leadership would not give him his great-grandfather’s box of manuscripts because not only had copies been given to James Simermeyer, but, Randy says, Coharie Executive Director Gregory Jacobs told him, with Coharie Chief Gene Jacobs present,

“that box would embarrass a lot of people.”

His family’s history – the true Croatan tribal records – are a “tribe in a box” and worth millions of dollars for their ability to authenticate a tribe for federal recognition and casino rights.

Randy plans to file suit in March, since the documents are unquestionably Randy’s personal family history.

Death Threats for Revealing the Truth

During this time, a Croatan and cousin of Randy’s briefly saw the contents of the precious box, including a 300-year-old parchment with Croatan minutes from Ephraim Manuel, a distant forbear.

This document, by itself, would authenticate the Croatan tribe for federal recognition.

When Randy heard about it from his cousin, he requested that he be allowed to take a picture and was told he might come by the following day. But the next day, Randy received another call and was told the cousin’s friend who was helping them had backed out.

The friend is reported to have said:

“They’ll kill me if I let him see it.”

Randy, knowing what was at stake, took the concern seriously.

In 2013, still trying to authenticate themselves without Randy’s “tribe in a box,” the Coharie made a formal request to the Department of Interior that it remove its requirement to provide “external evidence” to prove Indian descent due to “prejudice.” Instead, they suggested that documents demonstrate tribal “continuity” from 1934 to the present. [19]

“The history of the Coharie is a short one, it dates to 1971,” Manuel points out. “The Croatan date to 1587 and before.”

Simermeyers and Obama Connections – Obama Administration Working to Ease Gaming Rights for Indians


President Obama on the phone in the Oval Office. Image source.

Randy’s family documents have been stolen, and he wants them back.

But he’s not just up against a fabricated tribe and a high powered lawyer with connections to national gaming interests, all of whom are motivated to hide or use his family’s precious documents. Randy has documented that the Simermeyers are frequent White House visitors – and it is well-documented that the Obama administration is actively working to ease gaming rights for Indians.

In 2014, a Beltway insider’s publication noted:

“Obama wants Congress to change a law that prevents tribes that were recognized by the federal government after 1934 from getting new trust land, which could pave the way for more casinos.”[20]

This is a similar proposal to the request the Coharie made the year prior.

State and Federal Fraud – Randy Discovers $740,000 “missing” from the Coharie Accounts

In addition to the theft of his family’s heritage, Randy found that his cousin, Maretta, who served on the Coharie governing board, had further concerns regarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in HUD and USDA funds that were unaccounted for, food stamp and Medicaid fraud, and a budget in which 90 percent of funds were for salaries.

With more investigation, Randy discovered many of those Indians the Coharie were supposed to be helping were being mistreated and ignored. [21] He and Maretta have documented all of this and began reporting it to various authorities.

Unfortunately, according to Randy, both state Senators, the Attorney General and others were either afraid to touch it or were a part of the corruption.

So Randy took all the information on the Coharie Board’s fraud to WRAL TV, which ran a brief story on February 20, 2014 reporting $740,000 “missing” from the Coharie accounts. See:

‘We’ve got to find that money:’ NC tribe accused of misusing taxpayer funds

CPS Used to Retaliate and Intimidate Randy by Kidnapping his Daughter

The WRAL story did not cover most of what Randy had learned, but it was enough. Within two weeks, the retaliation began, and Randy’s daughter Cheyenne was taken from him by the local CPS without a judge’s order nor any reason given.

Warning! This video contains graphic audio and visual materials which may not be suitable for some viewers:

The local CPS agency, it so happens, is run by many of those directly connected to the Coharie board. The entire year and a half journey to get her home included false imprisonment, $250,000 spent in legal fees and incredible civil rights abuses. See the full story:

EXCLUSIVE: Corrupt North Carolina Officials Try to Silence Whistleblower Using Child Protection Services

Randy and Cheyenne Free for Now – Want the Public to Know Their Story

Randy finally received full custody last December and Cheyenne has finally been able to return home.

But Randy is more determined than ever to bring to light the total degradation of the Croatan tribal heritage, secure his great-great-grandfather’s manuscripts and fight the tribe’s lawless corruption which extends throughout the state of North Carolina.

Other Croatans are too afraid to come forward, but he hopes his fight will eventually bring justice for the tribe’s members and its historical significance.

Randy states:

“I had no idea who or what I was dealing with.”

He is in the process of securing a civil rights lawyer or firm.


1. “Archaeologists Find New Clues to “Lost Colony” Mystery, by Sarah Pruitt http://www.history.com/news/archaeologists-find-new-clues-to-lost-colony-mystery, published on the History Channel, August 10, 2015.

2. State of North Carolina land grant, 1783 to “Ephraim Manuel”-records also exist documenting Ephraim’s father, Nicholas Manuel I.

3. The records of Sampson County show, book 5, page 222, that in the reign of George III Benjamin Williams conveyed to Ephraim Manuel 400 acres of land, lying on the east side of Great Coharie, charging annual quit rents to His Majesty.

4. Living Indian Histories: Lumbee and Tuscarora People in North Carolina.  By Gerald M. Sider. UNC Press Books, 2003. https://books.google.com/books?id=hrCazgUGuGoC&pg=PA267&lpg=PA267&dq=when+were+coharie+recognized+by+state&source=bl&ots=PNox3uYlHC&sig=wzkvdEjXoA8lz4Bp1_L1xRqc7BY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjH6qL23ZvKAhUC5SYKHYotBR44ChDoAQgzMAU#v=onepage&q=when%20were%20coharie%20recognized%20by%20state&f=false

5. The Croatan Indians of Sampson County, North Carolina: Their Origin and Racial Status- A Plea for Separate Schools. By George Edwin Butler.  CLINTON, NORTH CAROLINA. The Seeman Printery, Durham, NC, 1916. http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/butler/butler.html (includes sketches of prominent families by Enoch Emanuel and C.D. Brewington: p. 47-65.)

6. http://ncmuseumofhistory.org/Learn/For-Educators/Timelines/North-Carolina-American-Indian-History-Time-Line

7. Coharie 1977 enrollment criteria.pdf

8. Photos of actual birth certificates changed. Amended Birth Certificates – Sampson County.pdf

9. Illegally changed birth certificate for Annie Evelyn Emanuel. Annie Evelyn Davis BC Changed at Sampson County ROD.pdf  Certified BC for Randy’s mom once he demanded that Croatan be replaced on it. Annie Evelyn Davis BC – Croatan.pdf

10. The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 6: Ethnicity. edited by Celeste Ray. UNC Press Books, Feb 1, 2014.  https://books.google.com/books?id=XSuaAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA129&lpg=PA129&dq=when+were+coharie+recognized+by+state&source=bl&ots=2QE9ks9Xai&sig=dz0m9e2DuuvAFhKIbl8s71txOK0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjH6qL23ZvKAhUC5SYKHYotBR44ChDoAQghMAE#v=onepage&q=when%20were%20coharie%20recognized%20by%20state&f=false

11. State of North Carolina Public School laws passed by the General Assembly at its Session of 1917. Edwards & Broughton Printing Company. 1917 Croatan Act.pdf

12. Apparent removal of a name and the adding in of Maynor in it’s place. Maynor Clan  Name Redeux-2.pdf

13. “About the Coharie.”The North Carolina Humanities Council and UNC American Indian Center. http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/nc-american-indians/7263 2011.

14. Carruthers v. Flaum. Gaming Law Review, Vol. 10, No. 6, 2006. Simermeyer lawsuit-1.pdf

15. “Tribes of Gamblers,” by WILLIAM SAFIRE. New York Times, December 12, 2002. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/12/opinion/12SAFI.html

16. Claiming Tribal Identity: The Five Tribes and the Politics of Federal Acknowledgment, by Mark Edwin Miller, University of Oklahoma Press, Aug 16, 2013.

17. “Indian Taker,” by Holman W. Jenkins Jr., The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 11, 2006. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB113695278803543537

18. North Carolina Warranty Deed documents 2011007005 and 2011018604  Simmermeyer property-1.pdf, Simermeyer property-2.pdf

19. Letter from Coharie Intra-Tribal Council to Dept. of Interior Aug. 14, 2013.  Petition to ease Rules-2.pdf

20. “Is tribal gambling too big?” By Rob Hotakainen, McClatchy DC, January 8, 2014.  http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/economy/article24761212.html

21. Multiple complaints of Coharie mismanagement by tribal members. Randy has many more. http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Coharie-Intra-Tribal-Council/Clinton-North-Carolina-28328/Coharie-Intra-Tribal-Council-They-using-federal-goverment-money-to-do-cheap-and-bad-repair-375803  and http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/cohaire-intribal-council-lnc/clinton-North-Carolina/cohaire-intribal-council-lnc-robin-HOOD-OR-ROBBING-HUD-clinton-North-Carolina-1053805

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