The readings for this week are from Christopher Arris Oakley’s “When Carolina Indians Went on the Warpath” The Media, the Klan, and the Lumbees of North Carolina. This essay describes the riot in Maxton after the KKK attempted to gather for a rally near Hayes pond. Led by the Grand Dragon James “Catfish” Cole and accompanied by 50 other members, the Klan organized to protest the “mongrelization” of whites and Lumbee Indians in Robeson. Before the rally could even begin hundreds of Lumbees came and chased the Klansmen from Maxton. Although no one was killed, hundreds of Indians fired on the gathered Klansmen. This historical event received a great amount of media coverage that has survived up to the 21st century.
The essay uses many different sources that ultimately reinforce the organization and validity of Oakley’s argument. One strong point of the essay is that it gives various firsthand accounts from Indians of Robeson County and the things that they witnessed at the rally. Having these testimonies adds to the validity of the essay because they are from actual Indians who lived in the area. A great deal of history involving American Indians is from the outsider/white man’s perspective and the information is usually biased. Various pictures of Indian individuals and families from Robeson County and of the incident are used throughout the essay. This imagery gives readers a chance to see the incident and some of the people involved. As the media spread the news of the incident, the people outside of North Carolina began to romanticize the issue. The pictures on pages 58 and 80 show how people began to see the incident from a stereotypical point of view. As wrote in a caption below the picture on page 58 “the news coverage of the clash demonstrated ignorance of Indian history and culture in the South.” Ultimately the media is to blame for these stereotypical viewpoints.
This incident involving a clash between the Lumbee Indians and the KKK represents a sense of unity and kinship. After feeling that their home, people, and way of life were threatened by the Klan, the Indians came together for a common cause. This idea of unity makes me wonder if/what part the community played in this incident. In what way/if any did these outsiders view the Indians idea of kinship? Was this gathering of Indians automatically expected?