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Lumbee

LUMBEE

LUMBEE. Numbering over 54,000 enrolled members, the Lumbees are the largest Indian tribe east of the Mississippi River. Located mainly in southeastern North Carolina along the Lumber River, the Lumbees have lived among the river swamps for almost three centuries. There are numerous theories regarding the historical tribal origin of the Lumbees. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the prevailing theory was that the Lumbees were the descendants of the coastal Algonkian tribes of North Carolina and the English colony that mysteriously disappeared from Roanoke Island in 1587. More recent theories suggest significant tribal influence from the many Siouan-speaking tribes from the Piedmont and coastal plain, particularly the Cheraws, who had long lived in this area. Regardless of tribal origin, archaeological evidence indicates a continuous indigenous presence in the area for at least 14,000 years.

A number of events in Lumbee history have forced the tribe to assert its rights. The decade of the Lowry War (1864–1874) saw unbounded violence against the white establishment throughout Robeson County. Led by the Lumbee outlaw Henry Berry Lowry, the Lowry gang waged war for ten years in an effort to fight the injustices perpetrated against the Lumbees by the Confederacy and local militia. Because of his unrelenting struggle, Lowry, who mysteriously disappeared in 1872, has become the legendary hero of the present-day Lumbee people.

By the late 1800s, reform had come to North Carolina. In 1885 the state legislature created a separate educational system for the Indians of Robeson County. In 1887 an Indian normal school was established to train the Lumbee people to be teachers in their own schools. For many years, this was the only higher educational institution available for the Lumbees, and from 1940 to 1953, Pembroke State College (which grew out of the early normal school) was the only state-supported four-year college for Indians in the United States. Pembroke State College is now the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, one of the sixteen constituent campuses of the University of North Carolina, and serves a multicultural student body.

In 1956 the federal government officially recognized the Lumbees but withheld customary Indian benefits and services. Through administrative and legislative efforts, the Lumbees have continually tried to remove the restrictive language of the 1956 law but have not yet been successful. On 7 November 2000, the Lumbees elected a twenty-three-member tribal government, part of whose focus is on achieving full federal status as a tribe.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dial, Adolph L., and David K. Eliades. The Only Land I Know: A History of the Lumbee People. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1996.

Sider, Gerald M. Lumbee Indian Histories: Race, Ethnicity, and Indian Identity in the Southern United States. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Starr, Glenn Ellen. The Lumbee Indians: An Annotated Bibliography with Chronology and Index. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1994.

Linda E.Oxendine

See alsoTribes: Southeastern .

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Lumbee

Lumbee

ETHNONYMS: Cherokees, Croatans, Indians of Robeson County, Scuffletonians

The Lumbee are English-speaking descendants of the remnants of various Native American groups who now live principally along the Lumbee River in Robeson County, North Carolina, and in adjacent counties in North and South Carolina. The Lumbee number about forty thousand, making them the fifth largest American Indian group in the United States and the largest in the East. Today Lumbee are found in small concentrations in Greensboro, North Carolina, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Detroit, although most migrants do return to Robeson County. Lumbee ancestry includes tribal groups that largely disappeared from the Carolinas in the eighteenth century and perhaps some African and European intermixture as well, leading to their classification as American Isolates. Lumbee oral tradition traces their ancestry to Sir Walter Raleigh's lost colony at Roanoke. Today, Lumbee self-identity is based on having a socially defined Lumbee parent and no socially defined African-American parent.

In the nineteenth century the Lumbee shared a common culture and life-style with their White neighbors that included landownership, farming, and Baptist and Methodist religious affiliation. Until 1835 they also shared the same civil rights, but in that year the Lumbee, along with other "free persons of color" in North Carolina, were stripped of most of those rights and began to suffer discrimination and impoverishment at the hands of Whites that persisted until well after the Civil War. In the 1880s the prejudice they faced lessened to a degree and some of their civil rights were restored. During the 1960s Lumbee began to develop a pan-Indian consciousness and increasingly became politically active.

From the late 1800s well into the twentieth century the Lumbee were employed mostly as farm laborers and sharecroppers and occupied a depressed social stratum in a society dominated by White farmers and landowners. Beginning early in the twentieth century the modernization of farming in the region reduced labor demands, resulting in unemployment and underemployment for the Lumbee. In the 1960s industrial development in Robeson County offered some hope. Most Lumbee, however, were not able to take advantage of the new job opportunities as they lacked the necessary skills and education, a product of more than a century of "separate, but equal" schools. In the 1960s Lumbee began to move into white-collar and skilled blue-collar occupations, but those doing so have been forced to migrate to urban areas to find employment.


Bibliography

Blu, Karen I. (1980). The Lumbee Problem: The Making of an Indian People. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Evans, W. McKee (1979). "The North Carolina Lumbees: From Assimilation to Revitalization." In Southeastern Indians, edited by Walter L. Williams, 49-71. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Makofsky, Abraham (1980). "Tradition and Change in the Lumbee Indian Community in Baltimore." Maryland Historical Magazine 75:55-71.

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Lumbee

Lumbee, descendants of Native Americans whose language belonged to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). The ancestors of the Lumbee occupied the coast of the SE United States and were part of the Eastern Woodlands culture area. Generally friendly to the Europeans, they taught the settlers their methods of fishing, hunting, and farming and introduced them to many of their foods. They were one of the few Eastern tribes to escape removal to Indian Territory in the 19th cent., but were pressed into service by the Confederacy during the Civil War. They were formerly known as the Croatan Indians and the Robeson County Indians. In 1990 there were over 50,000 Lumbee in the United States, many of mixed Native American, African, and European ancestry; they are centered in Robeson co., North Carolina. The tribe's focus on education is embodied in Pembroke State Univ., founded in 1887 as a Lumbee college and now part of the Univ. of North Carolina system.

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