Obituary: Occaneechi Tribe elder John “Blackfeather” Jeffries
, 2023-01-26 16:39:00,
To those who knew him, John “Blackfeather” Jeffries was synonymous with the word Occaneechi.
For decades, Jeffries, a former chairman of the Ocaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation who died Tuesday at 83, tirelessly promoted the culture of the North Carolina-based tribe.
“When you thought of Occaneechi, you thought of John Blackfeather,” his cousin Crystal Cavalier said Thursday.
On their website Wednesday, the tribe expressed their sadness, saying: “We have lost a legendary warrior to all Native Americans across the country; He will be remembered and will forever live in our hearts and actions!”
Due to their age difference, Cavalier viewed Jeffries as an uncle and turned to him for advice and guidance.
“Johnny was very generous with his time, especially with the youth,” Tribal Chairman Anthony Hayes said.
Jeffries mentored dozens of young people formally through programs like the Boy Scouts and many more informally through his role in the tribe.
“Anyone who ever knew Johnny never forgot him,” Hayes said.
“John never met a stranger,” Cavalier said.
Hayes and Jeffries shared a passion for their people and sought to uplift the tribe. for a friendship that lasted a quarter of a century.
“He lived and breathed Occaneechi,” Hayes said.
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