This is a rewrite of my weekly reflection #3, which was lost when the server reset early in the semester.
The reading for this reflection is an article entitled “Where Do You Stay At: Home Place and Community among the Lumbee” by Karen L. Blu. This article discusses the role of place and location in Lumbee identity, and investigates at length the various factors and characteristics of this function. According the Blu, the Lumbee notion of space is integral to communication and identity. Rather than specific places having strongly visual referents, Blu notes that for the Lumbee they are often vague and indistinct, with indeterminate borders. Nevertheless, the notion of place and space is extremely important to the Lumbee – mentioning where an event happened or where somebody is from lends an extraordinary amount of context to the conversation that might escape a non-Lumbee. For the Lumbee, knowing where in Robeson County someone is from, for example, communicates a variety of information about that person and what their social position and relationships may be.
In her article, Blu identifies a distinction between the Indians of Robeson County and their black and white neighbors – the former’s emphasis on place with regards to identity is much more pronounced and important than for the latter communities. While familial ties between blacks and whites are still very important to their identity, the attachment of location is less so – whereas for the Lumbee, place is very important and communicates a lot of information. Thus the Lumbee ask “Where do you stay at?” before asking “Who’s your people?” – space/location is the most important factor in determining another Lumbee’s identity and status. Blu suggests that the indeterminate nature of space definitions for the Lumbee may be derived from self-protection in past centuries, when outsiders not being able to find specific people or places could have been very advantageous to the Indian community.
Her article goes on to discuss various Robeson County communities and their associated relationships, characteristics, and context – essentially, what would be communicated about an individual based on the knowledge of where they live. For example, she discusses the reputation of Union Chapel as dangerous for outsiders and as a very inclusive, pro-Indian community that can appear hostile (and often is hostile) to outsiders, whether they are from other communities within Robeson County or from outside the county altogether.
The role of space with regards to identity certainly has a relationship with my topic – concerning native populations of Indians and their migrations during and before the 18th century, investigation of the Lumbee concept of identity and space/place’s integral role in that can yield insight into the importance of place to early migrations and population movements in the area. The Lumbee culture’s importance of place in constructing their identity trickled down from the same importance in the cultures of the native tribes that first inhabited or came to the area and are forerunners to and ancestors of many of the modern Indian population in the region.
I had a source for this originally, but I don’t remember what it was exactly, and as my project is now finished it seems a waste of effort to find another one, so I haven’t found another one relating to this. I believe the original source was concerning early Indian settlements in Robeson County, based on an archaeological study.