Skip to main content

Stilling, Glenn Ellen Starr. “Lumbee Indians.” Encyclopedia of North Carolina. Ed. William S. Powell. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2006. Pages 699-703.

In her book Nowhere Else on Earth, Josephine Humphreys provides insight into the discrimination Lumbee’s faced during the Civil War and Reconstruction. However, this discrimination did not end with the Civil War, but continued to be manifested throughout the tri-racial county.  Glenn Ellen Starr’s article, Lumbee Indians, provides a brief account of racial discrimination and civil rights violations experienced by the Lumbee people of Robeson County. Although brief, the article provides a great foundation for Lumbee history and civil rights.

Despite the theory that Lumbee’s are descendents of the Lost Colony and were very much assimilated into white culture as evident from their speech and religious practices, they still faced much injustice in the 19th century. The Lumbee’s were classified as “free persons of color,” until 1835. In 1835, the Lumbee’s lost most of their civil right’s including voting and carrying arms. Josephine Humphreys portrays how important voting was to the Lumbee through the character Allen Lowrie in her book. The Lumbee’s have been proactive in the violation of their civil rights. In 1837-1857, the Lumbee’s challenged their classification as free persons of color successfully in court. Later, biracial school segregation in a tri-racial county provide the Lumbee’s with another way to oppose the violation of  their civil rights and establish their own school systems separate from whites and blacks. Guy B. Johnson also wrote about the establishment of Indian schools in Robeson County during the 1880’s.

In addition to using the legal system to oppose discrimination, the Lumbee’s were also active in other ways. For example, in January of 1958 Lumbee men united to end a Klu Klux Klan assembly in Maxton sparked in reaction to cross burnings in the county.  Karen I. Blu uses the incident as an example of the “mean behavior” used to classify Lumbee Indians.  In addition, Lumbee’s along with other ethnic groups held political meetings to protest the unfair conditions in the county during the 1980’s.

Comments are closed.