The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is taking steps to modify the representation of tribal affiliation on birth and death certificates.

“The department is committed to presenting the accurate representation of all people on vital records,” said NCDHHS Chief Health Equity Officer and Deputy Secretary for Health Equity, Debra Farrington. “We appreciate the collaborative efforts with the American Indian community and the North Carolina Commission on Indian Affairs to develop these changes to birth and death certificates.”

Effective August 28, 2023, all death certificates registered or amended in the North Carolina Database Application for Vital Events (NCDAVE) Electronic Death Registration System and issued by NCDHHS Office of Vital Records include the following race and tribal affiliation options for decedents who identified as American Indian:

  • American Indian
  • American Indian – Coharie
  • American Indian – Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
  • American Indian – Haliwa-Saponi
  • American Indian – Lumbee
  • American Indian – Meherrin
  • American Indian – Waccamaw-Siouan
  • American Indian – Sappony
  • American Indian – Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation

The above options will also be made available for parent(s) race and tribal affiliation for all births registered or amended in the NCDAVE Electronic Birth Registration System and issued by NCOVR beginning January 1, 2024.

According to the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau, more than 130,000 American Indians live in North Carolina, making it the seventh largest American Indian population in the United States.

“This change is long overdue and will help preserve the rich history of American Indian culture in North Carolina,” said Rev. Ricky Burnett, Chairman of the NC Commission of Indian Affairs. “The Commission is committed to providing support for and advocating for North Carolina’s American Indian population.”

Governor Roy Cooper proclaimed November as American Indian Heritage Month, celebrating the history and heritage of the eight state recognized tribes in North Carolina. They are Coharie, Eastern Band of Cherokee, Haliwa-Saponi, Lumbee, Meherrin, Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, Sappony and Waccamaw- Siouan.

Presentation of race and tribal affiliation on birth and death certificates will not impact the state’s vital statistics reporting format to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.

More information about birth and death certificates in North Carolina can be found on the website

More information about the NC Commission on Indian Affairs can be found on the North Carolina Department of Administration’s website.

You can also learn more about national vital records reporting statistics on the CDC website.