Relationship Violence by Women: Issues and Implications
“The Obituary of Nations” Ethnic Cleansing, Memory, and the Origins of the Old South discusses how the expulsion of Native Americans played such an integral role in Southern History, yet many Americans choose to overlook it. They prefer to replace this tragic event with a more comfortable tale of American heroism. Furthermore, they have continued to completely ignore the existence of Native Americans since then. The first post-removal census is the perfect example of this phenomenon as it fails to document any of the remaining Natives in the American South.
The author then describes how American expansion was used to justify the Trail of tears, and how it nearly destroyed the Five Civilized Tribes. Consequently, this ethnic cleansing erased some of the diversity from the American landscape, and was counter-productive to the formation of our society.
This article caused me to reflect on the theory that the Lumbees are descendants of the Cherokee. But it also drew attention to the fact that there were Indians inhabiting Robeson County long before the Removal. Therefore, if I were to subscribe to this theory, I’m left with two questions: When did the Cherokee migrate to Robeson County, and why?
People and Place: Croatan Indians in Jim Crow Georgia presents a story about how Lumbees view their own identity, by focusing on one particular group in one particular time period. In 1835,North Carolina passed a constitution that prohibited “free negroes, free mulattos, and free persons of mixed ancestry from voting.” Consequently, the Lumbee were not allowed to vote, which questioned their Indian identity and caused them to distance themselves from anything pertaining to “mixed ancestry”. The Lumbee phenotype has caused some to question their racial identity, but this is only a social construct. Their shared history cultural expressions are enough to validate their identity as a distinct people.
This can be illustrated through the Bulloch County Croatans, who moved to Georgia for the turpentine industry. Although they were separate from their homeland, they were able to maintain their identity in Jim Crow Georgia through their own church and school. This proves that their separation from the surrounding ethnic groups was a means of maintaining Indian identity. Had this been a means of climbing the racial hierarchy, they would have claimed white status and discarded any remnants of Indian identity. Furthermore, they moved back to Robeson County when the KKK threatened their status as Indians, demonstrating the importance of their identity.
I am very familiar with the tri-racial divide in Robeson County during the civil rights era; however, I don’t know anything about racial tensions prior to the 1960’s. Because this article describes race relations as it pertains to Georgia in the 1920’s, it made me question the state of race relations in Robeson County during the Jim Crow times. Was the environment for Croatans analogous to that in Georgia?
In order to address my questions, I searched UNC libraries and found Adolf Dial’s The Only Land I Know. In this book, he presents a theory that some of the Cherokees that fought against the Tuscarora in the Tuscarora War, marched through Robeson County and ended up settling there. He also metions that oral tradition of Cherokee Blood is strong amongst the Lumbee(p.15).
As far as race relations in the 1920’s is concerned, Lumbee kinship, community, and the success of the Red Banks Mutual Association provides some insight this subject. At the end of the 19th century, the Indians in Robeson County were in racial limbo because they were neither black nor white. They sought to strengthen their Indian identity, but it was hard for them to achieve recognition thanks to their lack of a consistent name. They had the name Croatan, but the federal government refused to recognize it, and the white’s in Robeson County referred to them as Cro’s which held a racist connotation during these Jim Crow times.
Anderson, Ryan. Lumbee kinship, community, and the success of the Red Banks Mutual Association. Berkeley: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.
Dial, Adolf. The Only Land I Know. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1996. Print