Endowed scholarship honors late Haliwa-Saponi leader


By Scott Bigelow


Alonza and Ann Richardson

The late Percy Richardson was a long-time leader of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe of Halifax and Warren counties in North Carolina, with a life-long passion for Native American education, said his granddaughter Shirly Ann Richardson, whom he called Ann.

Ann and her husband Alonza Richardson of Naples, Florida, established the Percy Richardson Endowed Memorial Scholarship at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke in December 2002 to honor the tribal leader.

Although neither she nor her grandfather attended UNCP, Ann Richardson considers the University part of her family and tribe. Her other reason was while attending the Haliwa-Saponi Indian school was that all of her elementary school teachers were from the Lumbee Tribe. Therefore, she felt it was appropriate to provide this educational opportunity for Native Americans, as the scholarship would have been her grandfather's desire. Especially because he felt education was the key to the future success of Native Americans.

"The last time I visited (UNCP) was in the 1960s when my grandfather was there on tribal business and issues concerning tribal recognition," Richardson said. "There are close connections between the tribes, and I have many friends who attended the University."

Richardson, who is a real estate investor in Florida, maintains ties to her tribe by attending tribal events, meetings and family reunions. Many Haliwa-Saponi tribal members attended UNCP over the years with the encouragement of tribal leaders like Percy Richardson.

"My grandfather was a skilled carpenter and draftsman, a leader in his church and a firm believer in education," Richardson said. "He made every effort to ensure that we had some form of higher education, whether it was trade school or formal education. He believed that education was the key to success and opportunities to serve your people."

Percy Richardson (August 11, 1914- February 1, 1988) lived in Hollister, North Carolina, and worked in North Carolina and Virginia as a carpenter and draftsman. He served the state-recognized Haliwa-Saponi Tribe in many capacities, including interim chief, vice chief and master of ceremonies for the annual tribal powwow, which is one of the oldest in North Carolina.

Richardson, who was elected vice chief of the Haliwa-Saponi in 1955 and served in that capacity until the late 1980s prior to his death, worked to improve the lives of his people and his family. He was instrumental in the "rebirth" of the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe that lacked organization, identity, recognition and educational opportunities.

After the establishment of an effective tribal organization, Vice Chief Richardson continued his efforts in Native American education as one of the tribal members and founders of the Haliwa Indian School. Education was a continuous thread in the life of Percy Richardson, his granddaughter said.

"My husband and I felt the most important thing we could do in his honor was to establish this scholarship," Richardson said. "He would want others to have the opportunity to attend college and reach their goals of serving Native Americans and other people."

Because of tribal links between the Haliwa-Saponi and the Lumbee, headquartered in Pembroke, and because UNCP continues its founding mission to serve Indian people, the University was entrusted with the legacy of a great Indian leader.

Ann and Alonza Richardson contributed a total of $20,000 to an endowment that will fund a $500 annual scholarship. In addition, the Richardsons provided an initial $500, bringing the total gift to $20,500. To qualify for the scholarship, preference will be given to members of a state recognized tribe, then to a member of a federally recognized tribe and then to any student seeking a degree in American Indian Studies.

For more information about the Percy Richardson Endowed Memorial Scholarship or other giving opportunities, please contact the Office of Donor Relations at 910.521.6213 or email teresa.oxendine@uncp.edu.