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Daniel Lowe, Kasey Oxendine, Jenna Price
I. Introduction
Lumbees have long been the subject of racial discrimination. Despite being very much assimilated into white culture as evident from their speech and religious practices, Lumbees still faced much injustice in tri-racial Robeson 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. Perhaps most notable is the North Carolina Constitution of 1835. Prior to this constitution, Lumbees were classified as “free persons of color,” and enjoyed civil rights.  However, the constitution of 1835 stripped the Lumbees of the civil rights that they previously enjoyed. For example, under the new constitution the Lumbees could not longer bear arms or vote for state legislatures. In 1837-1857, the Lumbees challenged their classification as free persons of color successfully, in court, in the cases of State v. Oxendine (1837) and the 1853 case State v. Noel Locklear. Later, biracial school segregation in an impoverished tri-racial county provided the Lumbees with another way to oppose the violation of  their civil rights and establish there own school systems separate from whites and blacks in the 1880’s.
When thinking of the Civil Rights movement, images of the historically well documented African American experience seen throughout the 1950s and 60s are typically the first to be conjured. However, the purpose of this exhibit is to explore the Lumbee experience with civil rights through the opposition of school desegregation, poverty’s relation to civil rights, and the parallels that exist between the Lumbee and African American experience.

Link to Glenn Ellen Starr Stilling’s article, Lumbee Indians:

II. School Desegregation

Indian State Normal College, formally Croatan Indian Normal School, present day UNC-Pembroke

The 1875 amendments to the state constitution brought about segregated schools. In a tri-racial county this bi-racial law did not address the needs of Indians. Indian’s could not attend white schools due having the same laws that applied to blacks applied to Lumbees. Therefore, Lumbees advocated and achieved a separate school system with their own teachers. The Croatan Indian Normal School was established after the 1887 law sponsored by Hamilton McMillan provided for the establishment of a teaching school for Indians. Later, teachers who graduated from the Normal school helped to improve public school education for the Lumbee.  Eighty-three years later, the implementation of the HEW mandated county-wide desegregation plan ended school segregation. However, this plan was not celebrated in the Indian community. Having separate schools provided the Lumbee with an environment that was conducive to their culture. As described by James Dial, “knowing the community,” was an important feature that the faculty at all Indian schools possessed. An outsider, mostly referring to whites, would not have the understanding of the community that was needed in Indian schools.

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke
Present day UNC-Pembroke, Pembroke State College was once a segregated institution where many Lumbee Indians obtained higher education.

The Carolina Indian Voice article below, Prospect Suit Dismissed, describes the Bostic Locklear, et al. v Elliot Richardson et al. suit, more commonly known as the Prospect Suit. The suit was filed in protest of the school desegregation mandated by HEW. A Judge dismissed the suit in the fall of 1970, 5 years after it was filed.

News article detailing the Prospect Suit

An interview by Malinda Maynor with James Dial provides a first hand account of what school desegregation meant to some Lumbee people.  A summary of the interview, which focuses broadly on tri-racial school desegregation in Robeson County, is featured below.

Mr. James Dial was born in 1929 and began his career as a school teacher in 1954; he gives a first hand account of his experience in the education and community setting during segregation and after. Due to segregation in higher education, particularly UNC-Chapel Hill, Dial attended graduate school in Georgia during the mid-fifties. He describes the public schools in Robeson County segregated tri-racially. Some Indian schools had “non-local” white teachers and the university had predominately white professors. Due to living  in a segregated community, Dial does not recall personal experiences with discrimination. In biracial counties, Dial went into white facilities. Even after desegregation, Dial remembers his mother choosing not to go to previously segregated places such as restaurants. Segregation continued after desegregation, by choice, in places like Lumbee churches. Dial states that Indian schools were probably better off segregated due to the importance of “knowing the community,” a quality white teachers did not have. The 1970 federal government demanded compliance with desegregation, however; Indian children wanted to continue attending Indian schools. The redrawing of the district lines brought about reactions from Indians, blacks and whites. People made a conscious effort to attend a desirable school. In the 1960’s parents, mostly from the Prospect community, came together to oppose the county school board’s plan. The parents eventually accepted the plan though. However, since white and black teachers now taught at Indian schools, Indian parents made requests for the Indian teachers. Due to tenant farming, many Indian schools were rural. Dial credits tenant faming with keeping children out of school as one of the reasons Indian children were not very educated. He also acknowledges that prior to integration, the school system probably supported under-education for the benefit of farming. Dial was present for school consolidation and felt that the Indians would have been better off without it. On a higher level, the Robeson County Board of Education, race still plays a major role in selection of positions. Mr. Dial concludes the interview, stating that he does not think that “we,” need to be race neutral at this time, 2004.

Link to Transcription of Interview  with James Dial,5368

An Interview by Kasey Oxendine with Cynthia Locklear provides a brief first hand account of a Lumbee student’s experince with desegregation.  A summary of the interview can be accessed with this link:

During the civil rights movement, Indians had a unique way of responding to the changes that were brought about in their schools. The interview with Mr. Dial provides a first hand account of how Indians felt about the changes taking place and how they reacted. Indian schools are perhaps where Lumbee’s were most active during the civil rights movement. While others believed that school desegregation was the right thing to do and would provide equal opportunities to all, the Indian did not view it this way. Mr. Dial mentions on several occasions the importance of teachers having knowledge of the community in order to be effective in their teaching. For example, white teachers were not received well by Indian parents once the schools were integrated. Some Parents even requested their children be placed in an Indian teacher’s class room. Incorporating white and black teachers into schools may have been the right thing to do according to civil rights, but these events disrupted the education of the Indian.

Farigrove School located in Fairmont, NC was once an all Indian school.

Cynthia Locklear, a student at Fairgrove School during desegregation stated that she hated it when the schools were desegregated. Even though she was very young at the time (she recalls being in the second grade), her negative views of the experience still persist today. At her new school, Fairmont, she felt like she was “the only Indian there.” Cynthia’s experience is an example of how desegregation interrupted the education of Indian students. Cynthia was held back a grade once she went to the traditionally white school.  When asked if she felt that she would not have been held back if the schools had not integregated Cynthia stated, “I want to say yeah, but then I don’t want to.” She felt that being held back a grade could have been due to the different academic levels of each school. It may be true that the differing academic levels of each school contributed to her repetition of the second grade; however, the negative experiences due to integregation could have had a profound effect too. As the only Indian in her class, it is certain that she did not have peers who were knowledgeable of her community, which was very important to the Indian student. In addition, not having someone in the class who “looked like or talked like them,” could have a negative impact on the Indian student. The student may not feel as comfortable raising their hand or engaging in classroom activities.

Cynthia Locklear with her mother Sadie Rae Locklear

For some Indians, desegregation had an impact that was negative enough to pursue legal action against the desegregation plan.  Classroom sit-ins, where Indian students continued going to their all Indian schools despite being counted absent and not having books, ended due to threats of arrest for trespassing. Immediately following desegregation and the end of classroom sit-ins, a group of Indians protesting the desegregation plan filed a law suit, often called the “Prospect Suit.” They viewed their actions as an effort to preserve Indian Identity and autonomy. The suit was dismissed, but speaks volumes about the feelings Indians had about sending their children to non-Indian schools.  The action taken by this group indicates that Indians felt their children would be better educated in an all Indian facility. Later, the redrawing of school district lines brought about subtle activism in the Indian community. For example, some Indians moved so that their child could remain in an Indian school.  Despite the common belief of government officials  that  Lumbee opposition to school desegregation was an anti-black sentiment, it  was not. Cynthia Locklear and her parents were against school desegregation even though it did not place Cynthia in a black school, she went to a white school. It was not an anti-black sentiment for Cynthia, she did not want to go to a white school either, she and her parents felt it would be best for her to remain in her all Indian school.

Also, Indians were not the only ones who did not like the mandated integration of the schools. It was obvious enough for Mr. Dial to remember and mention that white teachers did not necessarily want to be at Indian schools either. However, this was not always a racial issue, but more of a community issue. With the mandate to desegregate the schools, teachers would have to travel from schools in their community to schools in Indian communities. For example, a teacher living in Lumberton may have to drive 20 minutes to teach at an Indian school in Pembroke versus 10 minutes to a Lumberton school. The opposition to integration, according to the account given by Mr. Dial, did not seem to be a result of racial differences, but more of a community issue. The communities were largely segregated and the Lumbee people have a distinct way of life and doing things that may not have appealed to others outside the community. For example, Mr. Dial’s account of the impact of tenant farming on school attendance would be frowned upon by people outside of the community who did not understand that this was necessary for the survival. Students of tenant farming families would begin school late due to harvesting the crops. My Grandmother, Brenda Locklear Deese of Fairmont, recalls staying home from Fairgrove School because she had to “tend the farm with Mama.”  According to Ms. Deese this was not uncommon in her all Indian school, when asked if she stayed home to farm she replied, “Yeah, we all did,” referring to her classmates. Although Ms. Deese’s family was not a tenant farmer family, because they owned the land they farmed, her experience parallels that of tenant farm families.  These practices may not have been understood by whites.

Brenda Locklear Deese and Cynthia Locklear attend Fairgrove when it was an all Indian school

The images below are the courtesy of Cynthia Locklear. The images feature students at Fairgrove High School. All the students are Lumbee as evident from their pictures and their names. It seems that this was possibly part of a yearbook. Although the year is not known, it is certain that this was well (at least 10 years) before desegregation.

Segregation provided a shield for the Lumbee against discrimination. Living in their own communities with their own schools, Lumbees were not always exposed to the feeling of inferiority. After integration, some Lumbees self-segregated such as Mr. Dial’s mother. They did not do this because they felt they would be denied their rights, they did it because they knew they were not welcome. In a Lecture given by the Reverend Mike Cummings, he stated that he learned that being Indian was different and inferior when he began school at Red Springs High, a traditionally white school and community. Red Springs was described as a place where whites thought of themselves as superior and it has been rumored that some said that Lumbees might not have souls. He described this time in his life as “just an awkward, challenging time.” Like Cynthia, Mike felt out of place. He focused on his studies as a way to compensate for feeling out of place. It should be noted that Rev. Cummings’ mother sent him to the Red Springs voluntarily, contradicting the common thought that all Indians felt that non-Indian schools were not good for the Indian. Rev. Cummings and his Sister said that the people in the community may have thought less of their mother for sending her child to a white school. However, she may have thought that sending her son to Red Springs would create opportunities that may not have been available in Indian schools. Rev. Cummings and his Sister said that their mother looked at education as a way of advancement. Rev. Cummings certainly did gain extraordinary opportunities at Red Springs. His French teacher gave him the opportunity to spend 6 weeks in France, and the Civic group raised money to fund the trip. In the early 1960’s this was not a common practice  for Indian students. Rev. Cummings went on to be accepted to UNC-Chapel Hill and become a preacher in the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association, an association which played an integral part in the establishment of Indian Schools. Not all Indians were oppose to desegregation, some seen it as an opportunity for a better education. However, regardless of the differing views on desegregation it is obvious that it was challenging for the students who experienced it.

The images below are of a church bulletin from Pleasant View Baptist Church in Fairmont, NC. The back cover (second image) features a caption from The Fayetteville Observer describing the Burnt Swamp Baptist Associations impact in the Lumbee community, especially Indian schools. Click on the images for a better view.

Pleasant View Baptist Church Bulletin Cover
Pleasant View Baptist Church Bulletin back cover, featuring Caption from The Fayetteville Observer Newspaper about the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association

III. Parallelisms Between Lumbee and African American Civil Rights

Civil rights can be defined as the personal and guaranteed rights protected by the Constitution. As stated briefly before, when one thinks of the Civil Rights movement in the United States, various images from many of the African American communities in the 1950s and 1960s come to mind. African American civil rights activist were pivotal in getting many pieces of reform legislation passed, some of which include the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which helped to restore voting disenfranchisement of blacks and others in the South. While the African American experience is well documented in U.S. History, other minority groups, particularly the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina, have faced similar situations in trying to obtain rights that should have been afforded to them under the U.S. Constitution. This portion of the exhibit will document the parallels seen between both Lumbee and African American Civil Rights.

Interview with Carnell Locklear

In an interview conducted by Malinda Maynor Lowery, Lumbee tribe member Carnell Locklear speaks of his involvement in starting some of the tribe’s civil rights movement. The content of the interview is summed up below:

In the interview, Maynor talks with Carnell Locklear, a native Lumbee and political activist. Locklear mainly works to recall his fight for various Lumbee rights in Robeson during the 1970s and 1980s. Mr. Locklear began the interview by telling how he became fascinated with “his” people (Lumbee) and how all of them differed. He wondered where they came from. Eventually, Carnell Locklear began to do some research on the Lumbee people. His research took him to Washington D.C. where he read the Lumbee Bill for the first time. The Lumbee Bill was a piece of legislation that recognized the Lumbee people as Indians though they were granted none of the rights of Indian people. After reading these words, Carnell Locklear began to work with the community and congressmen to help the Lumbee people procure necessities. The first civil issue that Carnell Locklear fought for was food stamps. Many of the Lumbee people during this time were poor and needed food stamps. Unfortunately, according to Locklear, the Department of Social Services in Robeson County could take up to three months to process an application. Locklear received funding from the American Friends Service Committee and eventually organized the Eastern Carolina Indian Organization. This organization worked to get the Lumbee people food stamps, vouchers for medical care, kerosene, and money for other things needed within the community. The interview goes on to tell of how Locklear orchestrated sit-ins at the Recreation Center, the board of education, and Old Main. Carnell Locklear was also present when various Indians Tribes of the U.S. marched to Washington D.C. and “took over” the Bureau of Indians Affairs (BIA). Carnell Locklear and others in Robeson County also went on to work some with the American Indian Movement. Locklear was part of the Lumbee civil rights movement until around 1987. In the last portion of the interview, Locklear describes briefly the connection between Lumbee and Black civil rights in Robeson County. Locklear mentioned that at a certain point in time, Lumbees and blacks were fighting for some of the same things. Locklear found that it was beneficial for both groups to pool their votes together to get things that their communities needed.

To listen to an excerpt from the Carnell Locklear interview click the link below:


The interview conducted by Malinda Maynor helps to provide insight into the Lumbee fight for civil rights. In the interview, Carnell Locklear tells of how he became involved with and helped to start portions of the Lumbee civil rights movement. In particular, the interview details issues that the community faced (fight for food stamps, medical care, education, etc). It tells of how Carnell Locklear and others helped to obtain money and other resources needed to fix these community problems. Carnell Locklear provides compelling and elaborate stories of certain aspects of Lumbee civil rights, which also parallels with aspects of African American civil rights. There is a common ground that both groups share, that being the issues that they fought for. There was a struggle for African Americans to get their community help with food stamps, medical care, and education as well. The interview provides the Lumbee side of the parallelism. From the sit-ins, to pegging the U.S. Government for much needed assistance, parallelisms can be easily drawn between the two movements.


Sit-ins are a popular form of non-violent protest that involves the direct occupation of an area by a person or group of persons. Often sit-ins are used to protest economic, social, or civil injustices.  The African American civil rights movement of the 1960s saw the wide usage of this tactic to promote civil disobedience amongst the disenfranchised group. One particular sit-in that occurred in North Carolina that garnered national attention, and sparked a series of anti-segregation sit-ins, was the Greensboro Sit-in. This non-violent protest, which was led by four North Carolina A&T students at the Woolworth dime store in Greensboro, was successful in achieving the desegregation of the lunch counter. While African Americans used sit-ins to help further their civil rights movement, Lumbees in Robeson County also employed their usage, albeit, in a different manner.

Greensboro Sit-In
Greensboro Sit-ins

The Lumbees have had to co-exist in a strongly tri-racial county for years. During the era of the Jim Crow South, it was imperative to the Lumbees not to get lumped into the Negro category when dealing with the government. When the Lumbee tribe was recognized by the state of North Carolina, appropriations eventually came from the government to fund an all Indian School. As mentioned in an earlier portion of the exhibit, the school was used to help the Lumbee remain separate and retain their unique identity in a very “black and white” South. Decades later, the pivotal court case of Brown vs. Board of Education ruled that separate educational facilities, many of which were unfair in quality, should be done away with and paved the way for integration. The Lumbees had to face integration in 1970. An integrated school system meant that the Lumbees would have to give up a marker of their identity. Mass classroom sit-ins were held by the Lumbees to combat desegregation. This was in stark contrast to the goal of African American sit-ins but, ultimately, they served the same purpose of combating injustices each group felt were thrown upon them.

Below, The New York Times article by Ben A. Franklin, Indians Resist Integration Plan in Triracial County in Carolina, details the use of sit-ins in classrooms and a lawsuit to resist desegregation mandated by the Federal government.

Article from The New York Times, Indians Resist Integration Plan in Triracial County in Carolina

Dealings with the Ku Klux Klan

The post World War II era in the United States saw the re-emergence of the Ku Klux Klan. This rising of the Klan during the 1950s and 1960s was mainly in opposition to the Civil Rights Movement seen during this time and integration policies that were being enacted. African American dealings with the Ku Klux Klan have been well documented, especially in the bombings and lynching seen in Alabama and Mississippi. Lumbees, too, had dealings with the Ku Klux Klan, the most famous being the incident at Hayes Pond in Maxton, NC.

The Ku Klux Klan parallelism shared between the Lumbee and African American civil rights exists due to the white supremacy underlying of the Ku Klux Klan. In an era where the Jim Crow system had deeply segregated the South, the Brown vs. Board of Education decision caused much unrest because of the potential it had in undermining the primarily white institutions and forcing integration upon them. The idea of racial intermingling was a true fear of some Whites, which is why James W. Cole, organizer of the Klan in the Carolinas during the mid to late 1950s, was attracted to Robeson County in January 1958. According to Christopher Arris Oakely in the article “‘When Carolina Indians Went on the Warpath’: The Media, the Klan, and Lumbees in North Carolina,” James Cole started the rally in Maxton because of the social interactions between Lumbees and Whites in Robeson County. Cole’s goal was to elicit fear in the community but he failed miserably when his concession of KKK members were chased out of the county by Lumbees (full story can be read in Oakely’s article). In this incident, the Lumbees exerted a sense of community and removed the outsiders from their space. A sense of community is an important identity marker for minority groups. This is why a connection can be drawn between Lumbee dealings with the KKK and African American dealings. The community aspect of both groups helped them cope and, in the Lumbee’s case, remove the threat of the KKK from their homes and towns.

IV. Poverty and its Impact on Lumbee Civil Rights

Robeson County has historically been one of the most impoverished counties in North Carolina.  Robeson County is also home to a large majority of the Lumbee Native American tribe – this is no coincidence.  There is a strong correlative relationship between poverty and civil rights.  People living in poverty are generally devoid of civil rights – they do not have adequate housing, for example, and they are definitely seen as subordinate to those who are wealthier.  Specifically, poverty has deprived Lumbees of an adequate education.

North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Library

In  Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity and the Making of a Nation, Malinda Maynor Lowery describes the economic situation of the Lumbee and how it developed.  In the past, and still largely in the present, Lumbee identity has been characterized by kinship and place.  Because of the connections between Lumbee identity and place, land ownership in Robeson County has been traditionally important.  However, due to the standards of the Jim Crow South in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, Lumbee identity has had to incorporate yet another identity marker – race.   Under the standards of the Jim Crow South, Lumbees were lumped into the same category as African Americans; that is colored.  In an effort to assert an identity separate from that of African Americans, Lumbees adopted white supremacist segregation by exchanging democratic votes for monetary support.  By adopting segregation policies, Lumbees were able to gain funding to develop Indian-only schools.  These Indian-only schools received better funding than African American schools in North Carolina.

Although more educational opportunities existed, not all children were able to take full advantage of them.  In a proposal by the Lumbee Citizens Council to the National and State Council of Churches, it was found that in 1966, the median years of schooling for adults twenty five years and older was 7.9 years.  Of these individuals, 25.3% had less than five years of education.  Also, there was a 33.9% drop-out rate for sixteen to seventeen year-olds.  Indians took pride in their Indian schools, despite the apparent lack of education amongst the Lumbee.  White supremacists threatened to take away their funding if the Lumbees should stop voting in favor of the democrats.  In a way, the Lumbees’ right to vote was taken away again, even after legislation dictated otherwise.  They had to vote democratically, or lose education opportunities for their children.

North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Library

In Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity and the Making of a Nation, Malinda Maynor Lowery also presents some of the negative impacts of the Lumbees’ adoption of segregation on their economic situation.  By adopting policies of segregation, Lumbees were relinquishing economic control to the white supremacists. White creditors were able to confiscate Indian land, at will.  Because white creditors and landowners held much of the economic power in Robeson County, Indians were forced to become sharecroppers and tenant farmers under them.  As a result, many children were forced to stay home from school to help their family tend to the crops.  Being Indian, there were very limited employment opportunities – even for those who were able to complete the few years of Indian education available.  As Rev. Robert Lee Mangum puts it, “If an Indian’s not a school teacher, he will make a good construction worker, or he’ll make a good farmer, or he’ll make a good laborer, or a factory worker at minimum wage, but that’s about all he’ll have to look forward to.”  Lumbees thought that by improving educational opportunities for their children, they would effectively eliminate the dependence of Indians on white creditors, landowners, etc.

Most white landowners/sharecroppers were not very generous when it came to providing Indian families with basic amenities such as housing and food.  In an article from a memo from the National Council of Churches, June 15, 1966, it was reported that nine out of ten Indians lived in substandard housing, and the occurrence of communicable diseases among Indians were six times greater than the national average.  The author of the article (not specified) wrote, “As much as they wish to overcome the appalling conditions of poverty, they will not do so at the expense of losing their Indian identity.”  This desire to hold on to Indian identity can be seen in various ways, including their desire to keep schools segregated.   Going against the social system meant going against the democrats who threatened to take away their schools and other institutions that helped to define their identity as a separate people.  Thus, one reason for the Lumbee’s impoverished state – their desire to hold on to Lumbee identity.  In asserting a separate identity through educational institutions, the Lumbee  gave white supremacists an outlet to control their economic situation, and therefore effectively prevent Lumbees from gaining too much power; or really any power.

North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Library

So Lumbees endured a constant battle with poverty.  One organization that helped the Lumbees fight back was the North Carolina Fund (Fund).  Established in 1963, its main goal was to eradicate poverty through the empowerment of the poor.  The Fund sent volunteers into the poorest parts of North Carolina to educate the underprivileged, as well as to help them form self-sustained organizations that would ultimately give them enough power to allow the poor to fight for their civil rights – to fight the system that had been imposed on them.  The Fund implemented a number of organizations in the Tri-County Area (Robeson County, Scotland County and Richmond County), including the Neighborhood Youth Corps (in-school and out-of-school), the Summer Head Start Program, and the Manpower Development Program.  Both the Neighborhood Youth Corps and the Summer Head Start Program helped children to stay in school, among other things.  The Manpower Development Program helped to train the rural unemployed and underemployed for jobs that they otherwise could not have acquired.  This was a crucial step toward alleviating poverty among the Lumbees, and thus reintroducing them to their civil rights.  With better-paying employment, and employment which did not require the help of children, Lumbee youth were able to attend school much more frequently and regularly.  Earning higher wages and more education were crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty among the Lumbees, and thus breaking the stronghold on power that the white supremacists had maintained.

Lumbee Citizens Council Proposal - Scan 2: Presents demographic information for Robeson County

The Lumbees themselves recognized the need for higher wages and increased education.  The Fund was not the only organization to try to provide aid to the impoverished people of Robeson County.  The Lumbees themselves tried to alleviate some of the burden of poverty through a proposal by the Lumbee Citizens Council to the National and State Council of Churches.  This proposal also sought to eradicate poverty among Lumbees by empowering the poor.  The target population was in Robeson County and consisted of 127,095 of the 208,495 total population of the area served.  The goals of the proposal included improving education, economic status, their living environment and general welfare as well as to promote community organization and participation.  The proposal also included the stipulation that the Lumbee Council would be in complete control of the allocation of funds.  They recognized that the funding would be most effectively used if the Lumbees were able to help each other.  The council wrote in their proposal, “The target population is comprised of mostly illiterate and poorly educated farmers and farm-laborers, who are most conscious of the white supremacy and dominating power structures.  All aspects of life within the project area are controlled, some more than others, and the populous to be served in this project are not afforded the luxury of making a decision of their own, but rather, they must take what they can get and if they decide they want more, there isn’t much they can do about it.”  Indians had been stripped of their civil rights – civil rights to a nation that they did not necessarily even want to be a part of, but rather were forced to be a part of.  The Lumbees were granted the proposal under what came to be called the Lumbee project.

Lumbee Citizens Council Proposal - Scan 4: Describes goals and objectives of project, etc.
Courtesy of Charlotte Eloise Stancioff

Essentially, poverty is what stripped the Lumbee of many of their social and human rights.  The Lumbees were not economically and politically strong enough to (alone) combat the Jim Crow social system that was imposed on them.  With the help of the North Carolina Fund, the Lumbee Citizens Council and other organizations, the Lumbee were able to overcome poverty by gaining better employment, more education, and ultimately, more power within the community.  Although poverty does still exist among Lumbees in Robeson County today (as shown in the figure above), it undoubtedly infects fewer lives than it has in the past; and ultimately does not correlate as strongly to such a complete lack of civil and human rights.


Dial, James. Telephone INTERVIEW. By Malinda Maynor. 4 February 2004.,5368.

Franklin, B. A. (1970, September 13) Indians Resist Integration Plan in Triracial County in Carolina. The New York Times.

Indians Resist Integration Plan in Triracial County in Carolina. (1978, September) Carolina Indian Voice.

Locklear, Cynthia. Telephone INTERVIEW. By Kasey Oxendine. 25 April 2010.

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.

Lowery, Malinda M. Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity and the Making of a Nation. Chapel Hill: The U of North Carolina P, 2010. Print.

Tri-County News, 1967, Folder 4619, in the North Carolina Fund #4710, Southern Historical Collection, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Tri-County News, June 1968, Volume 2 Number 3, Folder 4619, in the North Carolina Fund #4710, Southern Historical Collection, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Interview with Rev. Robert Lee Mangum, Oct. 5 1972, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida.

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.

Proposal of Lumbee Citizens Council to National and North Carolina State Council of Churches of Christ, Folder 4626, in the North Carolina Fund #4710, Southern Historical Collection, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Korstad, Robert R. “Citizen Soldiers: The North Carolina Volunteers and the War on Poverty.” Law and Contemporary Problems 62.4 (1999): 177-197. Print.

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