Largest tribe in East called NC home for centuries. Feds say it’s not Indian enough.

Posted in Arts, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-02-19 18:51Z by Steven

Largest tribe in East called NC home for centuries. Feds say it’s not Indian enough.

The Charlotte Observer
2019-02-15

Bruce Henderson

The largest American Indian tribe east of the Mississippi, North Carolina’s Lumbee, counts 55,000 members and has called the state’s southern coastal plain home for centuries. But to the federal government the tribe exists largely in name only.

Unlike the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in the Smokies, the Lumbee have no reservation and no glitzy casino.

Instead you might notice on a drive to the beach that U.S. 74 in Robeson County, Lumbee territory, is called American Indian Highway. Lumbee tribal offices are housed in a turtle-shaped building in Pembroke, the heart of their community. A school that opened there in 1887 to train American Indian teachers is now UNC Pembroke.

South of the highway, a state historical marker commemorates the Battle of Hayes Pond, in which armed Lumbees routed Ku Klux Klan members intent on intimidating them in 1958.

Reader Elisabeth Wiener of Durham wanted to know about the history of the Lumbees, their native territory and why they aren’t a federally recognized tribe. She queried CuriousNC, a special reporting project by The Charlotte Observer, The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun that invites readers to ask questions for journalists to answer…

Read the entire article here.

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Finding Edna Ferber’s Showboat

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-02-14 01:23Z by Steven

Finding Edna Ferber’s Showboat

David Cecelski: New writing, collected essays, latest discoveries
2018-03-10

David Cecelski

Souvenir program from the world premier of the first Showboat movie in 1929. Courtesy, Beinecke Library, Yale University
Souvenir program from the world premier of the first Showboat movie in 1929. Courtesy, Beinecke Library, Yale University

I don’t know how the great American novelist, short story writer and playwright Edna Ferber heard about the little river town of Winton, N.C.

But I know she did. In a collection of her research notes that I found at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale when I was in New Haven, Conn. last summer, she scratched the following:

Winton, N.C.—The Croatans, relic of the lost Roanoke Island

settlement. Tar River. White negroes.

Winton is a no-stoplight town in Hertford County, on the Chowan River (not the Tar River), in a rural part of northeastern N.C., between the Albemarle Sound and the Great Dismal Swamp.

I was a surprised to find a reference to Winton in the notes of a New York writer like Edna Ferber.

I was also a little surprised to discover a reference to Winton in an archive like the Beinecke Library, a sleek, modern, glass-walled vault of literary and historical treasures in the heart of Yale’s campus.

So of course I had to wonder: why was Edna Ferber interested in Winton? And what did the Croatan Indians and the “lost Roanoke settlement”—the Lost Colony—have to do with anything? And last but not least, what did she mean by “white negroes”?

In today’s post, I’d like to explore those questions. By the end of considering them, I hope we will understand northeastern N.C.’s history a little better and understand where Edna Ferber found at least some of the inspiration for her most popular and enduring literary work…

Read the entire article here.

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The Lumbee Indians: An American Struggle

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2018-09-20 03:54Z by Steven

The Lumbee Indians: An American Struggle

University of North Carolina Press
September 2018
328 pages
5 maps, notes, index
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4637-4
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-4638-1

Malinda Maynor Lowery, Associate Professor; Director, Center for the Study of the American South
University of North Carolina

The Lumbee Indians

Jamestown, the Lost Colony of Roanoke, and Plymouth Rock are central to America’s mythic origin stories. Then, we are told, the main characters–the “friendly” Native Americans who met the settlers–disappeared. But the history of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina demands that we tell a different story. As the largest tribe east of the Mississippi and one of the largest in the country, the Lumbees have survived in their original homelands, maintaining a distinct identity as Indians in a biracial South. In this passionately written, sweeping work of history, Malinda Maynor Lowery narrates the Lumbees’ extraordinary story as never before. The Lumbees’ journey as a people sheds new light on America’s defining moments, from the first encounters with Europeans to the present day. How and why did the Lumbees both fight to establish the United States and resist the encroachments of its government? How have they not just survived, but thrived, through Civil War, Jim Crow, the civil rights movement, and the war on drugs, to ultimately establish their own constitutional government in the twenty-first century? Their fight for full federal acknowledgment continues to this day, while the Lumbee people’s struggle for justice and self-determination continues to transform our view of the American experience. Readers of this book will never see Native American history the same way.

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What Makes Someone Native American?

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2018-08-21 03:27Z by Steven

What Makes Someone Native American?

The Washington Post Magazine
2018-08-20

Story by Lisa Rab
Photos by Travis Dove


Brittany Hunt (Travis Dove)

One tribe’s long struggle for full recognition

In March 2012, Heather McMillan Nakai wrote a letter to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs asking the agency to verify that she was Indian. She was seeking a job at the Indian Health Service and wanted to apply with “Indian preference.” Nakai knew this might be difficult: As far as she was aware, no one from her North Carolina tribe — the Lumbee — had ever been granted such preference.

Her birth certificate says she’s Indian, as did her first driver’s license. Both of her parents were required to attend segregated tribal schools in the 1950s and ’60s. In Nakai’s hometown in Robeson County, N.C., strangers can look at the dark ringlets in her hair, hear her speak and watch her eyes widen when she’s indignant, and know exactly who her mother and father are. “Who’s your people?” is a common question in Robeson, allowing locals to pinpoint their place among the generations of Lumbee who have lived in the area for nearly 300 years.

Yet in the eyes of the BIA, the Lumbee have never been Indian enough. Responding to Nakai the following month, tribal government specialist Chandra Joseph informed her that the Lumbee were not a federally recognized tribe and therefore couldn’t receive any federal benefits, including “Indian preference.” Invoking a 1956 law concerning the status of the Lumbee, Joseph wrote: “The Lumbee Act precludes the Bureau from extending any benefits to the Indians of Robeson and adjoining counties.” She enclosed a pamphlet titled “Guide to Tracing Indian Ancestry.”…

…In the Jim Crow South, white ancestry was acceptable for indigenous people, but black blood was not. When the United States was dividing up reservations and providing land “allotments” to Indians, a government commission told the Mississippi Choctaw that “where any person held a strain of Negro blood, the servile blood contaminated and polluted the Indian blood.” Many Native Americans internalized these racial politics and adopted them as a means of survival. After North Carolina established a separate school system for Indians in Robeson County in the late 1880s, some Lumbees fought to exclude a child whose mother was Indian and whose father was black.

In their segregated corner of North Carolina, Lumbees enjoyed more power and privileges than their black neighbors, but this was not the case for Native Americans in every state. In Virginia in the 1920s, Indians were required to classify themselves as “colored,” whereas Oklahoma considered Indians to be white — prompting Creek Indians to reject tribal members with black ancestry…

Read the entire article here.

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We Are the Original Southerners

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Social Justice, United States on 2018-05-28 01:09Z by Steven

We Are the Original Southerners

The New York Times
2018-05-22

Malinda Maynor Lowery, Associate Professor; Director, Center for the Study of the American South (and Lumbee Indian)
University of North Carolina


An Indian delegation visited the White House Conservatory in 1863 during the Civil War. The story of American Indians during that period is largely overlooked in the contemporary struggle over statues of Confederate soldiers and politicians.
Mathew Brady/Buyenlarge, via Getty Images

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The people clamoring over whether to keep or remove Confederate monuments agree on one thing: This is a black-white issue. Last month, a graduate student doused the University of North Carolina’s Confederate monument in a mixture of her own blood and red ink. The monument, she said, “is the genocide of black people.”

I recognize my blood on these statues, too.

When people see Southern history in black and white, where are American Indians? Most people believe that the American Indian genocide took place long ago. But it wasn’t completely successful. There are over six and a half million American Indians, and many of them live in the South. North Carolina is home to the Lumbee Tribe, the largest tribe of American Indians east of the Mississippi (55,000 strong), of which I am a member. We are the original Southerners, and we shaped and continue to shape Southern history.

And yet even the most progressive Americans don’t seem to realize this. The coalition organized to oppose the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., last August did not invite any representatives of Virginia’s seven American Indian tribes to participate…

…Indian communities defied the logic of racial segregation; their very existence belied whites’ insistence that there were two races, never to be mixed. In 1924, the Virginia legislature passed the Racial Integrity Act, which outlawed interracial marriage, in part by reclassifying American Indians as “colored.” The act erased the distinct identity that people like Chief Branham are still today trying to protect…

Read the entire article here.

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White Supremacy and the Dangerous Discourse of Liberal Tolerance

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States on 2018-02-15 02:06Z by Steven

White Supremacy and the Dangerous Discourse of Liberal Tolerance

The Paris Review
2018-02-13

Ismail Muhammad
Oakland, California


A scene at the race disturbance in Wilmington, North Carolina. Originally published in Colliers Weekly, November 26, 1898.

Watching Donald Trump speak about the violent white-supremacist rally that took place in Charlottesville last summer was a surreal experience. Not the first press conference where he referred to neo-Nazi protestors as “very fine people.” I mean the second time, when he repudiated those fine people. “Racism,” he intoned, clearly reading from a teleprompter, “is evil … white supremacists and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” Nobody could mistake his droning boredom for actual investment in the words he was speaking: his attempt to embrace the decorous discourse of liberal tolerance was baldly hypocritical.

As the summer ended and the fall semester began at U.C. Berkeley, where I study literature, far-right agitators descended along with the cool weather. A succession of activists and pundits—Ben Shapiro, Milo Yiannopoulos, and their ilk—made their way to campus. They brought the far-right protestors and threats of violence along with them, all the while invoking the language of tolerance and free speech. Berkeley’s former chancellor Nicholas Dirks even cited the campus community’s “values of tolerance” in defending Yiannopoulos’s appearance. The myriad ways in which people were deploying the word tolerance managed to drain the already-insufficient term of its content. All that was left was am empty concept that could accommodate any agenda. It was more clear than ever that the language of tolerance had become ineffective, just a mask behind which antipluralist demagogues could hide.

Admitting that Trump and the far right are capable of surprising me makes me feel unforgivably naive. At this point, to be surprised feels like a luxury, and I find myself bored with the chorus of outraged liberal critics who sound the alarm every time Trump breaks another democratic norm. But it’s worth inquiring why white supremacy continues to surprise us when white-race hatred is such an intractable aspect of American society. And how our shock perpetuates that violence.

In Charlottesville’s aftermath, I turned to Charles Chesnutt’s 1901 novel, The Marrow of Tradition. In his novel, Chesnutt—an impossibly industrious author, activist, lawyer, and educator—looks back at the wreckage of post-Reconstruction racial politics and attempts to answer these questions via historical fiction. Marrow is, among other things, an examination of how the genteel language of tolerance obscures and enables antiblack violence. In his focus on historical calamity—the Wilmington massacre narrowly and the collapse of Reconstruction more broadly—Chesnutt uses the form of the novel to examine how our shared language reinforces white supremacy’s grip on American society…

Read the entire article here.

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Free People of Color in Slaveholding North Carolina: The Andersons of Granville County

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2017-04-03 02:27Z by Steven

Free People of Color in Slaveholding North Carolina: The Andersons of Granville County

Renegade South: Histories of Unconventional Southerners
2017-04-01

Vikki Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History
Texas State University, San Marcos


Map courtesy of Kianga Lucas.

Late last year, I was contacted by Raymont Hawkins-Jones, a descendant of a family I’d written about many years earlier: the Andersons of Granville County, North Carolina. The Andersons were one of the many fascinating free families of color that I’ve studied over the years, and I enjoyed learning more about their history from Raymont. Back in pre-internet 1992, pretty much everything I knew about my subjects was what I’d learned from records held at the North Carolina State Archives. Today, social media has enabled me to meet many of their descendants and to access additional records posted on the internet. The same digital revolution that stimulated me to create this blog also allows me to revisit my early topics of research and bring their stories up to date! (1)

The Andersons and the families with whom they intermarried belonged to a community of people defined by society as non-white, but who rarely appeared as slaves in North Carolina’s state and court records. As I’ve noted in earlier Renegade South essays about the mixed heritage communities of Gloucester County, Virginia, and the “Winton Triangle” of North Carolina, the lives of free people of color reveal far more complicated histories of racial identity and race relations than the broad images of “white freedom” and “black slavery” would suggest.

In fact, families such as the Andersons are central to understanding historical events that preceded and followed the institution of slavery, including colonization, the American Revolution, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the postwar rise of the Ku Klux Klan, and the New South era of white supremacy.

The very existence of free people of color, especially those in the South, threatened the growing institution of slavery. Southern whites especially feared their influence on slaves as the United States moved toward a Civil War generated by national conflicts over slavery. Determined to prevent free people of color from exercising full rights of citizenship and mobility, lawmakers increasingly policed their behavior through oppressive laws and customs…

Read the entire article here.

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Beyond black and white: Color and mortality in post-reconstruction era North Carolina

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Economics, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2017-03-19 21:35Z by Steven

Beyond black and white: Color and mortality in post-reconstruction era North Carolina

Explorations in Economic History
Volume 50, Issue 1, January 2013
pages 148–159
DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2012.06.002

Tiffany L. Green, Assistant Professor
Department of Healthcare Policy and Research
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia

Tod G. Hamilton, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Department of Sociology and Office of Population Research
Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

A growing empirical literature in economics and sociology documents the existence of more favorable social and economic outcomes among mixed-race blacks compared to non-mixed race blacks. However, few researchers consider whether the advantages associated with mixed-race status extend to mortality. To address this gap in the literature, we employ unique data from the 1880 North Carolina Mortality Census records in conjunction with data from 1880 U.S. Census of Population for North Carolina to examine whether mulatto (mixed-race) blacks experienced mortality advantages over to their colored (non-mixed race) counterparts from June 1879 to May 1880. For men between the ages of 20 and 44, estimates demonstrate that all black males, both mulatto and colored, were more likely than whites to die during the survey period. Although our results indicate that there is no statistically significant difference in mortality between mulatto and colored black men, we find a substantial mortality advantage associated with mixed-race status among women.

Read or purchase the article here.

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A Mixed-Race, Mixed-Marriage

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2016-07-26 15:40Z by Steven

A Mixed-Race, Mixed-Marriage

Cumbo Family Website: Exploring Cumbo Family Roots and Branches across Generations
2016-05-06

Andre Kearns
Washington, D.C.

My great-great grandparents Edward Biggs and Florence Cumbo were both listed as Colored on their 1890 marriage license.

So why am I classifying their union as a mixed marriage?

It is because Edward Biggs was born to an enslaved family and Florence Cumbo was born to a free family of color.

Both were born mixed race people but due to different circumstances. Based on a family photo, Edward Biggs appears white. Based on research he was likely a quarter black, a product of successive generations of offspring between white men and enslaved women. Edward Bigg’s father, based on his death certificate was a man named Kader Biggs, one of the larger slave owners in Bertie County, North Carolina. His mother Sarah Peele was a bi racial woman born into slavery around 1848 in Bertie…

Read the entire article here.

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Lumbee Indians seek end to a century of questions about identity

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2016-04-13 00:02Z by Steven

Lumbee Indians seek end to a century of questions about identity

The Baltimore Sun
Baltimore, Maryland
1993-10-12

Richard O’Mara, Staff Writer

Proud people from North Carolina find a home in Baltimore

Shirley Jeffrey, an East Baltimore resident, remembers the painful moment five years ago when two Sioux Indians told her that “Lumbees aren’t really Indians.”

Jimmy Hunt recalls a similar experience as an Army recruit when a sergeant asked the American Indians in the group to stand up. “There were two others besides myself,” he says. “Later they said I wasn’t an Indian because I was a Lumbee.”

Not really Indians? How could this be said of the largest American Indian group east of the Mississippi? The ninth-largest in the United States, with nearly 50,000 members, according to the Bureau of the Census. About 4,300 of them are in Maryland.

The question of identity has troubled the Lumbees for more than a century, but it may be resolved this year if Congress approves a bill introduced by Rep. Charles Rose III, D-N.C., to extend full recognition to the tribe.

It’s not that Mrs. Jeffrey is uncertain about who she is. Nor is Mr. Hunt…

Read the entire article here.

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