Interview with Panthia Locklear

7 05 2010

Interview with Panthia Locklear who is a teacher at the Odum Home


  • Can you give us some history of the Odum Home?


  • The Odum Home was originally meant for all kids that didn’t have parents.
  • Now its for kids who have problems or family problems (mainly for orphans)
  • It is to mainly aid the kids: celebrate their birthdays, different activities for Christmas, Easter and other holidays.
  • The Odum home is bout 65 years old right now
  • It was started by the Baptists
  • I have been working at the Odum Home since 1992.


  • How has working at the Odum Home affected your own life?


  • Working at the Odum home makes me appreciate family more. It makes me realize the ultimate importance of morals and values.


  • How does the Odum home relate to the idea of Lumbee kinship?


  • The Odum Home affected the lives of the Lumbee people a great deal. Grandparents began to take a more parental role to raise the kids themselves than to drop them on people they didn’t know.

Shane Locklear #8

7 05 2010

This week we read David E. Wilkins Breaking into the Intergovernmental Matrix: The Lumbee tribes efforts to secure federal acknowledgement. In this article Wilkins discusses the concept of being politically recognized by the federal and state government. This recognition is in direct relation to American Indian tribes. Wilkins explains the difference between being recognized by the executive branch and Congress. The article ultimately seeks to understand the reasoning behind the Lumbee tribe seeking federal recognition.

Wilkins discusses the process a tribe must go through to receive federal recognition. Recognition can be achieved through two different processes. A tribe can take the administrative route (BIA) or they can receive recognition through congressional legislation. If trying to receive recognition through the BIA a tribe must meet 7 required criteria. One of these criteria states that a tribe must not be terminated. Since the Lumbee tribe was recognized and terminated in the same year they could not receive recognition through this particular process. Because of this the Lumbee tribe is currently seeking federal recognition through Congress.

Wilkins talks about the history of the recognition process and how it changed a great deal after 1870. Before then the recognition process was used as a means to acknowledge the existence of certain tribes. But after 1870 the idea of sovereignty was incorporated and tribes became eligible for certain benefits such as healthcare and education. Through these new benefits a tribe could also be eligible to house gaming in their community or reservation. There would have to be a consensus between the tribe and state in regards to the gaming. Ultimately gaming could bring revenue into the tribe. Regardless of the benefits or terms of recognition, tribes would always fall under the federal government because they would be seen as wards of the government.

The Lumbee people have strived to seek federal recognition to receive healthcare and educational benefits. Wilkins also addresses another issue he believes the Lumbee people are after in regards to recognition. He believes that the Lumbee people seek recognition to find some validation as real Indians from a historic Indian group. The Lumbee people already believe that they are an Indian community guided by kinship. So in reality I do not wholly agree with Wilkins’ argument because outsiders are the only ones who actually question the Lumbees identity as an Indian tribe.

Wilkins also addresses why the Lumbees have been unable to receive federal recognition and government aid. He talks about the three eras that the Lumbee people have attempted recognition: the 1880’s to 1924, the 1950s, and 1980s. The first two eras was a time in which the government was trying to assimilate Indians into mainstream society by detribalizing them. In 1956 the government send anthropologist Carl Seltzer to the study the people of Robeson County. Through these studies of phenotypical characteristics he determined that there were only 22 ‘Indians’ residing there. This process was greatly flawed. Another problem is in the funding of recognition for the tribe. Where will the government get the money? This has caused worry with other federally recognized tribes because if the Lumbee receive benefits the recognition money will be split between 55,000 additional Indians.

For many years the federal recognition process has been one of mystery and confusion for a great deal of people. Wilkins provides us with a thorough explanation of the process and historical background involving the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina. Today the Lumbee continue their fight for recognition although a few things have changed. Being federally recognized does not make any tribe more or less Indian than they already are. It basically serves as a political relationship with the federal government that will entitle us to certain benefits. I believe that we should be entitled to these benefits regardless but the ultimate problem is where will the federal government get the money to aid 55,000 members of one tribe?

Chris Burris #8

28 04 2010

David E. Wilkins’ article “Breaking Into the Intergovernmental Matrix:  The Lumbee Tribe’s Efforts to Secure Federal Acknowledgement” investigates the Lumbee tribe’s attempts to gain federal recognition and the concurrent federal benefits by examining both the Lumbee’s motivations and the major political, cultural, and administrative obstacles that they have encountered in both historic and contemporary times in their pursuit of recognition.  He begins with a bit of background on the Lumbee and their modern composition, noting that efforts for federal acknowledgement have been hampered in some degree by splinter groups in Robeson County that claim affiliation to a number of different tribes, although these groups constitute a small minority of the Indian population in Robeson.

He goes on to discuss the meaning and importance of federal recognition, describing the evolution of what it means to be federally recognized as a sovereign Indian tribe and the various relevant political, legislative, and administrative bodies.  Being federally recognized would confer benefits such as healthcare and education on the tribe, paid for by the federal government, which estimated the cost of federal recognition of the Lumbee as roughly 120 million a year.  He then describes the nature of the relationship between the tribe and the North Carolina state government, which has recognized them as a legitimate tribe and in 1885 passed a law granting them funds for their own Indian school, effectively three-way segregation.

Wilkins identifies three distinct categories of reasons that the Lumbee want federal acknowledgement.  The first is Political/Legal; were they federally recognized, they would have greater sovereign status than they do presently, and could run their own government for the tribe.  Next are fiscal reasons; the government would supply the tribe with money for various programs such as healthcare.  Finally, and most importantly in Wilkins’ view, are the normative reasons, which essentially amount to that the Lumbee want to be recognized as a confirmation and validation of their identity as Indians.  Wilkins goes on to enumerate the obstacles and reasons that have made it difficult for the tribe to achieve this status, naming administrative issues, reluctance on the part of the government and other tribes who do have federal recognition to pay the associated costs of Lumbee recognition, and cultural reasons such as various divisive factors within the Indian community in Robeson County as chief culprits.  He concludes by reflecting on the contents of the article and asserting that the end of the path to federal acknowledgement for the Lumbee is not yet in sight.

What I found most relevant and interesting pertaining to my topic of 18th century migrations was the bit of discussion in the article about the original native tribes that constitute the Lumbee; the Hatteras, Saponi, and Cheraw.  Wilkins does not cite this fact so I could not follow up on his specific reference further, but it is nevertheless interesting to consider the nature of the Lumbee as comprised of a melting pot, so to speak, of various indigenous tribes from the region that coalesced primarily during the 18th century.  I only wish there was more historical material relating to the movements and relationships of various regional native tribes in that time; unfortunately, conjectures have to be drawn from the slightest hints and shreds of evidence.

Shane Locklear #7

20 04 2010

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?

Chris Burris #7

13 04 2010

In his 2008 article “When Carolina Indians Went on the Warpath: The Media, the Klan, and the Lumbees of North Carolina”, published in Southern Cultures, Christopher Arris Oakley discusses the infamous “Maxton Riot” near Hayes Pond in Maxton.  This incident took place in January 1958 and garnered heavy national media coverage as several hundred Lumbees, many of them armed, dispersed a Ku Klux Klan riot in a confrontation.

The riot was organized by James “Catfish” Cole, a North Carolina KKK leader.  Cole and his men came to Robeson County in order to protest white-Indian relations and deter miscegenation.  After stirring up the county with a couple of cross burnings, Cole announced a planned KKK rally in the county.  He rented a small cornfield outside of Maxton, near Hayes Pond, to hold the rally.  The armed Klansmen set up a public address system and a light and numbered about fifty strong, plus their families.  To counter the event, hundreds of angry Lumbees who had heard or read about the Klan and their attempts to stir up racial unrest in the county showed up, many of them also armed.  They advanced on the Klansmen, firing into the air for effect, and before long they retreated in the face of vastly superior numbers.  When Robeson County police and Highway Patrol officers managed to restore order, nobody had been killed or injured, and the KKK had all either fled to the woods or to their cars and left.

News of the Lumbee victory spread quickly, and the event attracted coverage not only from regional North Carolina newspapers but also from national media outlets.  While local newspapers such as the Robesonian got the story correct, the further away from Robeson County you got, the more romanticized and misleading the coverage became.  National papers portrayed the riot as the last noble savages fiercely and defiantly standing up against racism.  Articles and pictures were studded with imagery most often associated with the Plains Indians, calling to mind events like Custer’s last stand.  The media exaggerated the events, describing Indians on horses, daubed in war paint, letting out war whoops and cries as they charged the Klansmen.  While these highly romanticized articles generally were in support of the Lumbee for their actions, their misleading nature was indicative of broader social issues.  The conflation of Plains Indian culture with southern Indian culture that took place in the coverage is representative of an alarming tendency for non-Indians to homogenize their view of native culture, despite the vast differences between the two Indian cultures in question.  This homogenization continues to affect the Lumbee and other Indian populations in their efforts to seek federal acknowledgement.

While reading, the question that came into mind for me was of local white involvement in the affair.  As my group is covering the topic of migrations and coalescence in the 18th century, when the tri-racial nature of the county first began to really take form, I am curious as to the role that the white population of Robeson County played in the events of the Maxton Riot.  Were there local whites present on the Klan side of the rally?  What about in the “horde” of Lumbees that met and resisted it?  Did they stay out of it because they wanted to avoid conflict, or because they disagreed strongly with the Klansmen and their purpose (even if not strongly enough to show up in protest of the rally)?

Shane Locklear #2

30 03 2010

Shifting Boundaries of Race and Ethnicity: Indian-Black Intermarriage in Southern New England, 1760-1880 by Daniel R. Mandell is an elaborate look into the lives of Indians in southern New England during the 18th century. As Mandell cultivates this insight he also relies on the “supposed” first hand accounts of people who had observed or played a part in the lives of these Indians. As he explains particular issues Mandell also incorporates tribes as specific examples. The Mashpee and Narragansett tribes serve as tribal examples throughout the article. The central focus of the article is the struggle of Indians in southern New England to maintain their families and communal ties in the face of prejudice and as the regions social and economic landscape began to shift. This struggle revolved around the intermarriage that occurred between the Indians and foreigners and strangers, which were mostly African American men. In order to keep their families and communities from dying out many Indian tribes began incorporating foreigners. As with land placed in “trust”, which is controlled by the federal government in today’s society during the 18th century Indian lands could be managed and even sold by the legislatures and guardians that the colonial governments appointed and could not be sold by the tribes without legislative permission. Either way the two issues are approached, Natives have no control over “their land” which ultimately does not make it theirs. Legal and economic discrimination separated whites from everyone else who were considered “people of color”. These people of color were then driven into the same neighborhoods, cities and jobs and this is where they often met and married.

Indians and African Americans were often brought together by their demographic, economic, legal, and social conditions. After 1730, as the number of Indian men began to decline large numbers of African men were imported as slaves. Anglo-Americans can also be considered a factor that brought blacks and Indians together because both were forced into servitude were they met. Mandell does not seem to focus on the romance and love that may have existed between blacks and Indians. Instead he concentrates on the mutual advantages. Marrying into an Indian community for blacks provided social, economic, psychological gains. Many Africans were purchased by their wives then set free so that their children would be born free. Natives generally accepted newcomers and new relations regardless of skin color. (Add something here about kinship and how it plays a part in native lifestyle). Men also gained access to his wife’s land and other resources. With time this idea would pose a problem for native communities because some African men would want to possess their own lands and resources. Some would become major contributors to detribalization as it would give them a chance to officially own these resources they have worked toward. The many conflicts throughout the article over land disputes would not ultimately be categorized as a racial issue. Many times the issue would surround the protection of tribal lands and resources against those who were considered at one time to be outsiders.  With the intermarriage of blacks and Indians occurring more and more over time, the generations to follow were of lesser Indian blood than their ancestors. This production of a mixed child did not always promote the child to follow the father’s cultures and traditions over the mothers. Although some offspring based their future on the history of one parent, the other parent’s community was not always ignored. Many children claimed ties to both sides of the family. The pressures of allotment, racial identity, white perceptions, and laws were forced upon blacks and especially Indians. Laws outside of the tribes varied greatly from those that reinforced tribal lifestyle. For instance, women were not allowed to vote or own land in European society where as African men were considered to be placed on the lowest social ladder as they could not vote in tribal issues or own tribal land. The article highlights the relationships that developed Indians and other people in New England. It emphasizes important ideas involving ethnic identity, group affiliation, sense of self, political and economic power, and how sex and procreation have influenced society and culture.

The term Mestizo denotes a racial intermixture of all kinds and this article by Gary B. Nash reflects on the idea of racial mixing in America during the early centuries. The first recorded interracial marriage in American history was that of John Rolfe and Pocahontas (Rebecca). Throughout the article Nash uses a series of examples such as that of Rolfe and Pocahontas to emphasize the idea of intermixing and how it played a part in the American lifestyle. Thomas Jefferson, president of the United States pleaded for the intermixing of whites and Indian settlements. He wanted to unite as one and become Americans through marriage and the mixing of blood. Sam Houston who took up with the Cherokees for many years and married a Cherokee wife aimed to produce an alliance between Cherokees and whites that would unite Texas and northern Mexico. Prejudice and violence denied the existence of a possible mixed-race republic in Virginia and Texas, which is seen by the policy of Cherokee extinction employed by Houston’s successor. This article also seemed to promote the idea of having an Indian wife as partaking in an exotic lifestyle. With this men seemed to in some sense exploit their wives for various reasons. Such as the case with Irish trader John Johnson who could not have done his trading business without the help of his Ojibway wife. The same goes for Michael Laframboise whose Okanogay wife established a path of trade with the Indians in Oregon Territory. Laframboise boasted about having a high-ranking wife. This made me think that the status or capabilities of his wife were more important than the connection he had with her, although the strength of the relationship was not mentioned. These fur traders and trappers were common on the frontier which was a place of cultural merging and marrying on the part of whites and Indians. Two other examples of mestizaje are given. The mixing of American Indians and African Americans as discussed in the previous article is the first example. The second example is in the history of agriculture in California’s San Joaquin and Imperial valleys. As the article continues Nash does not focus entirely on the mixing of Indians and others. The Punjabis and Mexicans constitute an outside example of interracial marriage. Nash uses the marriage of Lucy and Albert Parsons as a prime example of interracial marriages that shaped American history. Indian women became enmeshed in Spanish life and produced mixed-race children. Spanish women often married African men. In the early twentieth century, racial intermingling dropped as mixed-race people were seen as degenerate. Later, with the introduction of the melting pot the voice of mestizo America came in the form a young Anglo-saxon Randolph Bourne. Bourne argued that the melting pot was a failure as a program for Anglo-saxon cultural conversion.

While reading Personality in a White-Indian-Negro Community I couldn’t help notice the amount of negativity that Guy B. Johnson relates to the titracial issue surrounding Robeson County. Johnson opens the article with some historical information about the Indians of Robeson County (currently Lumbee) and the name changes as well as culture alterations they have undertaken. A classification of groups is given in the article in which the Lumbee people would relate to the third which consists of those which have established some degree of accommodation to the larger white and Negro worlds and are, for the present, at least, functioning as intermediate groups. Johnson comments on the theories of origin of the Lumbee people. He also goes through the history of names changes and how these names impacted the Indians of Robeson County. As the article continues Johnson talks about how the Indians of Robeson Country are classified according to their physical features. Some were light skinned and could go for white. Others were darker and these were considered to be black. Physical features such as hair color, texture, eye color varied by person.

Kinship is the ties that bond a family together. This concept is prevalent throughout the articles we have read. To think of these kinship ties reminds me of the strong kinship ties of the Lumbee people. I feel the Lumbee people have some of the strongest kinship ties in the world. Their relation of person to place (who is your people? Where you from?) is a very important aspect of the Lumbees because it is our form of communicating people’s origins, lifestyles, and places of birth?

  1. The kinship ties of the Lumbee people to me are one of the strongest ties of family bonding that I have witnessed. Kinship ties are present throughout these articles but race did not seem to play a significant part in the Mandell article. Although it may be referenced the main argument was about resources. The kinship ties of the Lumbees are strong but how did it come to the point where racism became as prominent between Lumbees and blacks as it was with blacks and whites.
    1. This question could possibly be analyzed by researching the racial ties between Lumbees, blacks, and whites, in the Lumbee historical records
  2. Marriage between Indians and other races still occurs to this day. Interracial marriage and dating is very prominent in Native society. Mandell and Nash’s articles focus on how interracial marriage played a part in altering Native lifestyle. Interracial marriage was not frowned upon by the Indians but the Lumbees in today’s society seem to frown on it a great deal. If we are considered to be a mixed race or descendants of the lost colony why does it matter if we intermarry? What are we actually preserving that we haven’t already lost?
    1. Dr. Maynor Lowerys thoughts on this topic would be a great resource to reference.
    2. Historical records of Interracial dating involving the Lumbee people would also help.

Barton, Garry Lewis. “I’m not a bad apple, folk.” Carolina Indian Voice 29 October 1998:2.

Biank, Tanya S. “Race an open issue in Robeson County.” Fayetteville Observer-Times 26 October 1996.

McKenna, Chris. “Early movie-going in a tri-racial community: Lumberton, North Carolina (1896-1940). In: Going to the movies: Hollywood and the social experience of cinema. Ed. Melvyn Stokes, Robert Allen, and Richard Maltby. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, forthcoming November 2007.

Coty Brayboy Reponse #6

23 03 2010

In Malinda Maynor Lowerys’ new book Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation: Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South, she examines how the Indians of Robeson County (Lumbee and Tuscarora today) react both within the community and with “outsiders” while crafting identity as a People, a race, a tribe, and a nation. These terms overlap and show how Lumbee identity evolves in relation to non-Indians (whites held the power in Robeson County politics), the Office of Indian Affairs (OIA) which became the BIA, and within the tribe itself. Maynor Lowery discusses how one of the defining characteristics of being Lumbee and Tuscarora is discord within the community. Indians in Robeson County firmly identify as a People, so the different tribal names put upon them by outsiders or chosen by the Indians themselves do not contradict their Indian claim as an Indian People of Robeson County.

Maynor Lowery describes kinship and place as the foundational layer of Indian Identity in Robeson County. Since the 1880s, people outside of the North Carolina Indian community have tried to make Indians in Robeson County fit into an inaccurate, confined box. However, the box itself undermines Indian identity in Robeson County. Maynor Lowery uses her position as both an insider and outsider to describe what she and other community members feel represents their heritage, identity and place within Native America. Maynor Lowery does this by a methodology called autoethnography. Authoethnography allows Maynor Lowery to situate herself as a Lumbee in the text, and this perspective is lacking in Lumbee research. Maynor Lowery argues that it is important to include the Lumbee way of seeing in academic scholarship in order to really understand how Lumbee identity formation and contestation can exist side by side. Otherwise, if someone approaches Lumbee scholarship without this understanding, it makes no sense how an Indian People can have five different names in about 130 years. Once one realizes that being Indian in Robeson County almost automatically includes disagreement and contestation, it makes sense that Indians do not have a uniform agreement on tribal origins.

Maynor Lowery uses coalescence to explain why Indians in Robeson County disagree about historical origins. The People in Robeson County today descend from numerous tribal groups: from 3 linguistic groups—Iroquoian, Siouan, and Algonkian, and 10 tribes, including Algonkian, Cheraw, Waccamaw, Peedee, Tuscarora, Saponi, Hatteras, Yeopim, Potoskite, Nansemond and the Weanoke. This vast diversity of peoples coming together meant that Indians used English as a common language. Then, kinship became the primary way to measure interrelation. Tribal names were not important compared to surnames. The main Indian surnames in 18th Century Robeson County include Chavis, Locklear, Lowry, Brooks and Oxendine. Having these and other related Indian surnames indicated that a person or a family belonged to the larger Indian community. Thus, Maynor Lowery argues that tribe and race overlap, because both signifiers used kinship as the primary unit of analysis.

This kinship system made sense to Lumbees, but it did not fit within the Office of Indian Affairs’ method of quantifying Indianness—anthropometry, or the study of the geometry of the human body. Although now discredited, anthropometry was considered to be a scientific study that proved Indian blood quantum based on stereotypical racial factors such as hair and skin color, facial features, hair texture and other physical measurements. In the 1930s, anthropologists from the OIA led by Carl Seltzer came to Robeson County to determine what people possessed half or more Indian blood using anthropometry. This study was a disaster, because they met with several hundred and only determined that 22 were half or more Indian. Seltzer only looked at phenotype, ignoring cultural factors, and concluded that the Indians in Robeson County in fact did not have a clear understanding of what it meant to be Indian. With regard to my research topic, these anthropologists completely ignored any traditional healing practices that undoubtedly would have proven an Indian identity that was different from surrounding black and white communities. Unfortunately, they did not take the time to understand what it meant to be a Robeson County Indian based on a variety of factors, instead trying to fit the people into a narrow box of Indianness based on physical appearance.

For questions, I am interested in how traditional healing practices may or may not vary depending on what tribal origin people claim. For instance, some people claim a Cheraw identity while others insist they descend from Indians that always lived in the Robeson County area. Because there were 3 linguistic groups and up to 10 tribal groups of ancestry, there probably was a diversity of healing practices being brought to Robeson County during the 18th Century coalescence. Have different practices survived? Are they identified as tribally specific? I know that practices vary by family. Do families try to align with particular tribal groups of origin?

To research these questions, I would need to look at historical coalescence and determine if communities today align with historical migration. Then, I would compare healing practices within today’s communities. I remember reading that some healing practices are common among all communities, especially when they involve plants or products that are readily available. However, other remedies are specific to families and communities. Some possible sources include:
1) Migration Patterns of Coastal NC Indians (paper with some historical documents and maps included on the website)

2) Rountree, Helen and Davidson: Eastern Shore Indians of Virginia and Maryland. 1997, The University Press of Virginia
3) I could look at several sources here:

Kristen Gnau #6

23 03 2010

This week’s reading was from Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery’s (newly released!) Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South.  In the preface, she introduces the book as a look at how Lumbee Identity has been formed over time.  This formation of Lumbee identity, she says, has been one shaped by change rather than one implemented then held constant.  In fact, very little about the Lumbee has been constant. Rather, the Lumbee have a heterogeneous history of conflict and change while also holding a firm belief in their “nation” about what it means to be Indian.  According to Lowery, the Lumbee have conflict with both “outsiders” and within themselves—it is a debate centered around point of view.  Unlike most other scholars, however, she argues that their conflict is strategic—a “creative way of dealing” with their situation.  Furthermore, with a history of displacement, change, and acculturation, conflict is seemingly inevitable.  For Lowery though, these changes are a part of Lumbee identity, which is most securely bound by kinship and place.  National identity as both southerners and Americans is not forgotten for Lowery.

The book’s introduction uses the coalescence of Robeson County Indians to explain the misunderstood idea of Lumbee “Indianness.”  In the 1930’s, the OIA (now the BIA) was sent to Robeson County to determine Lumbee identity on the basis of colonial requirements such as physical features and language, an act that could have helped the Lumbee gain recognition but instead promoted colonized ideas about what it meant to be Indian—ideas that already ran rampant in the Jim Crow era.  The truth is, the Lumbee cannot be identified by such standards because they are a coalescence of different tribes (such as Cheraw, Tuscarora, and Waccamaw) due to migration and cultural mixing and coming together.  Furthermore, with the mixing of so many tribes—ones that possibly belonged to Siouan, Iroquoian, and Algonkian language families—communication would be difficult without a common language, English.  Instead of defining themselves based on the standards of the OIA, the Lumbee identify based on kinship and place.  The five main families in Robeson County—Locklears, Chavis, Lowrys, Brooks, Oxendines—held land because they occupied it before the arrival of English settlers (other ways to hold land were grants or purchases).  These common family names still exist today in Robeson County and are used to help further identify individuals within the community.  Dr. Lowery discusses intermarriage within the community, saying it is perhaps exaggerated by those outside the community and underestimated by those within the community.  Lumbees struggled to identify themselves in the Jim Crow south, but ultimately embraced segregation as a means to separate their identity from black (or simply “colored”) or white.

This reading brought up questions for me about the classification of Indians as non-Indian.  Although it is probable that few census forms were filled out in such a rural area at the time of the OIA visit, it might be interesting to search for names in the census to see if they are listed as Indian.  It could also be interesting to track the different number of people listed as Indian, as I’m sure they have grown as more people identify themselves based on kinship and place and less on the colonized ideas of “indianness.”  Also, an interesting article on the issue

Considering my topic of racial classification, it is of great interest to me how the Lumbee used educational segregation to retain an Indian identity as opposed to a “colored” one.
An interview with Jim Chavis in which he discusses the history of Lumbee education before 1835 and after Reconstruction

An article about miscegenation laws for Indians, “a questionable fourth race”

Shane Locklear- Response #6

23 03 2010

The readings for this week were the preface and introduction of Malinda Maynor Lowerys’ book Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation: Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South. The book explains how the Indians of Robeson County, North Carolina (present day Lumbee Indians) have crafted an identity as a People, a race, a tribe, and a nation. In accomplishing this task Dr. Maynor uses a variety of sources: Lumbee and non-Indian sources, photographs, maps, letters, federal and state records, genealogy and a note on terms. She also draws on the work of Karen Blu and Gerald Sider in talking about the importance of identity regarding the Indians of Robeson County. The section categorized as a note on terms talks about the proper classification of indigenous peoples. I think this section is very important because a lot of people are unaware of the fact that the term Indian was thrown upon the indigenous peoples of America as a means of classification. Indian and Native American are not common words used by tribes to initially categorize themselves. The section in regards to the explanation of Jim Crow is also important because I have never fully understood the significance or placement of this word upon racial classification in the South. Dr. Maynor also uses an autoethnography as a significant part of her book. In this autoethnography she explains her family and history and how it relates to her mission of explaining Lumbee identity. As a member of the Lumbee tribe I found that the autoethography helped me understand the book a lot better because I can relate to some of the information she is providing. She emphasizes the ideas of kinship and place with regards to Indian divisions and how these divisions demonstrate a link between factionalism and identity.

A preface is denoted as a preliminary statement in a book by the book’s author or editor, setting forth its purpose and scope, expressing acknowledgment of assistance from others. Dr. Maynor’s preface does just that as she tries to open the reader’s eyes to the history of the people of Robeson County and how this history has shaped their identity which has produced the current Lumbee Indians of Robeson County. Through an actual conversation she shows how kinship and place are the foundation for identity in regards to Robeson County. The formation of identity is in direct relation to the dialogue between “insiders” and “outsiders” which is an important concept to keep in mind as Dr. Maynor analyzes the policies of the New Deal and how it has worked to shape self-determination, governance, and ideas about race and identity.

The introduction explains the historical merging of the Indian community in Robeson County in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Through this merging Dr. Maynor explains how kinship, adoption and ultimately place have served as the determining factors of identity for the Indians of Robeson County. Dr. Maynor begins the introduction describing the incident in which Carl Seltzer, E.S. McMahon, and D’Arcy McNickle were sent to Robeson County by the Office of Indian Affairs to examine and classify the people of Robeson County as Indian or non-Indian. I think that opening the introduction in this way was a beneficial tactic for the readers because it will ultimately explain the ideas behind the OIA and there classification of “indianness” and identity. It will also show how their classifications differ from that of the Indians of Robeson County. Prejudice and discrimination became major concepts of Robeson County as the visit from the OIA promoted these concepts instead of aiding the Indians in receiving recognition and the benefits that go along with it such as healthcare, education, etc. As I go through the introduction Dr. Maynor emphasizes the importance of kinship and adoption and how they are the markers for identity to the Indians in Robeson County. Instead of focusing on these markers (kinship and adoption) the representatives from the OIA relied on physical features to classify the natives of Robeson County as Indian. This attempt failed greatly because the people were so diverse which ultimately showed a major difference in the classification of “Indian” on the part of the OIA and the Indians of Robeson County. Dr. Maynor eventually talks about how the vast amount of migration and culture exchange between peoples around Robeson County for over 300 years has led to the creation of the Lumbee and Tuscarora people of Robeson County. These people are said to derive out of the Siouan, Iroquoian, and Algonquian language families. With the interaction of these people English was possibly believed to be the most beneficial language. Oral tradition, land ownership, and intermarriage are also emphasized as they relate to the formation of Indian identity. She also talks about the importance of surnames to the Indians of Robeson County and eventually what part segregation played to the Lumbee people. In my American Studies 203 class Dr. Maynor revealed to us that the relationship between the races was more of white supremacy at the top and black and Indians more or less on the same level below the whites. Regardless Lumbees fought for many years to distinguish themselves from blacks and whites as they tried to promote their Indian identity.

Reading this book as it talked about the importance of kinship and identity made me wonder if other people took ideas from or adopted our methods of kinship. The readings show how kinship and adoption serve as the foundation for the Lumbee classification of identity but I speculate if our methods of identity have helped or hindered the Lumbee people in their fight for recognition?

Brown, Cynthia. “The vanished Native Americans: unrecognized tribes.” Nation 257:11 (1 October 1993): 384, 386-388, 391.

Houghton, Richard H., III. “The Lumbee: ‘not a tribe.’ ” The Nation 257.21 (20 December 1993): 750.

United States. Congress. Senate. “Testimony of Arlinda Locklear on S.479 before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.” 23 May 1995. 7,626 words.

Kasey Oxendine #6

23 03 2010

Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South

By Malinda Maynor Lowery

In her book Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South, Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery explores how the identities of the Lumbee Indians of Robeson County were shaped in Robeson County over time. This identity is described in terms of layers. Lowery draws on personal conversation or Interviews and also the work of Gerald Sider and Karen Blu to tell the story of Indian identity in Robeson County. In addition, she also relies on non-written records such as oral history and photographs that were selected based on the method of autoethnography. Lowery describes identity as a fluid dialogue between insiders and outsiders. Being placed in the category of Indian is also fluid over time, moments, and conversations.  The account of a personal conversation with a Lumbee is used to demonstrate how place and kinship are the foundation of Indian identity. The Indian New Deal policies will be examined in reference to its role in shaping self-determination, governance and race and identity ideas.  The book will also explore the link between factionalism and identity.  Lowery states that the names used to identify Indians in Robeson County resulted from political circumstances. The book will show that race is assigned for strategic purposes in addition to being ascribed by dominant groups.  While the book will explore the shaping of Indian identities it is important to note that the Lumbee rarely questioned who they were, but rather their struggle has been for recognition and sovereignty. People, race, tribe, and nation are the four layers of Native American Identity in the book.

In the introduction, the coalescence of the Indians in Robeson County is explained during a time when the foundation of kinship and settlement was laid out. The visit to Robeson County from members of the Office of Indian Affairs (OIA) in 1936 was supposed to help Indians in their fight for recognition; however, it promoted white supremacy like Jim Crow. The Indian community hoped that the visit would bring needed help to the community in areas such as the schools. At this time Pembroke boasted Indian-run businesses, churches, and schools. Despite Indian power in the town, white supremacy was still present and subject Indians to prejudice. Indians were still non-white and therefore faced discrimination; in addition they were not black and therefore elicited frustrations from blacks.  Joseph Brook and Jim Chavis, members of General Council of Siouan Indians, met with the OIA representatives. OIA representative came to Robeson County to examine physical feature in an attempt to determine who was Indian and who was not, an effort that failed. The visit from OIA revealed how government and Robeson County have conflicting views on what it means to be Indian.

Lowery goes on to explain how Lumbee and Tuscarora Indians of Robeson County are the result of migration and cultural exchange between many tribes over about 300 years. Three language families are said to belong to these people: Siouan, Iroquoian, and Algonkian, according to archaeologists and anthropologists. This migration and integration of different tribes could be the reason that tribal language is lost to Indians in this region, coming together would have been difficult without speaking a common language, English. Oral tradition credits the Roanoke River, Pamlico Sound, and the Outer Banks and the piedmont regions of North Carolina as the regions that these Indian people originated. Kinship was used to govern and identify as Indian. Kinship was first a matrilineal system that later became patrilineal. Owning land came about in three possible ways: grants, purchases, or occupation prior to English settlement. Indians were identified by there connection to settlements and families. Locale strengthened family and cultural values as well as social relations in the Indian community.  The claim that Lumbee’s have multiracial ancestry may be the result of intermarrying. It is important to note that intermarriage is not distinct to the Lumbee people, but also occurred throughout history in many tribes. The 1854 constitution stripped some Lumbee’s civil rights event thought the bill did not name Indians.  Shortly after this time the era of Henry Berry Lowry took place which ties together the aspects of Indian belonging: reciprocity, kinship, and settlement.


1)      Lowery’s book explores the formation of identity among Indians of Robeson County. How did separate schools allow for the formation of Indian Identity or add to the notion of being Indian?

2)      The OIA stated that “these people did not have a clear understanding of the term Indian.”  How do Lumbee’s understand the term Indian today, in particular how do Lumbee Indian students in a predominately Indian High School (Purnell Sweat) describe what it means to be Indian.


Interview with Carnell Locklear by Malinda Maynor, February 24, 2004 Interview #U-0007, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection #4007, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Meeting with NASA Students at Purnell Sweat High School on March 16, 2010.