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Road To Recognition: LUMBEES Learn From Travails Of Texas Tribe - HISTORY

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« on: March 08, 2009, 05:23:45 pm »

The Texas Lumbee Tribe performs a
Friendship Dance at Apache Pass.

The lady on the left is the tribal Chief, Ms. Pierce


                                   Road to recognition: Lumbees learn from travails of Texas tribe

By Venita Jenkins
Staff writer
March 8, 2009

— Whites mistook them for Mexicans.

The federal government thought they no longer existed.

But the Tigua Indians — also known as the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo — maintained their Indian culture and traditions for centuries in impoverished neighborhoods of east El Paso.

It wasn’t until they faced the threat of losing their homes to foreclosure in the 1960s that the Tiguas fought to be recognized by the federal government as an Indian tribe. For them, it was a matter of survival.

Nearly two thousand miles away, another Indian tribe — the Lumbee — is engaged in a similar battle.

At nearly 55,000 strong, the Lumbees are the largest Indian tribe east of the Mississippi River and the ninth-largest in the country. Members are scattered along the East Coast, but the largest concentration — about 40,000 people — is in Robeson, Hoke, Cumberland and Scotland counties.

Yet in the eyes of the federal government, the tribe is almost nonexistent.

Congress passed a bill in 1956 that recognized the Lumbees as American Indians, but it failed to provide benefits given to other tribes with the same status. The tribe has lost out on money for education, health care and economic development.

The quest for federal recognition is not just about money. It has become a matter of dignity and an effort to silence those who believe the Lumbees are not a real tribe.

They testified that like the Lumbees, the Tiguas had long been recognized by the state before Congress passed legislation to recognize the Texas tribe.

Unlike the Tiguas, the Lumbee tribe has not been able to obtain the federal status that would bring millions in aid for the tribe and remove the stigma of being second-class Indians.

The tribe has been close in recent years. The House passed a bill in June 2007 recognizing the tribe but the bill died in the Senate.

Now the Lumbees find themselves back at square one.

The Fayetteville Observer spent time with the Tigua Indians to see how that tribe has used the federal aid that comes with recognition to improve the lives of its members.

For the Tiguas, recognition has helped reclaim most of their tribal land and provide basic health care, educational opportunities and better housing for their members.

Gaining that recognition, however, took years of persistence.

TIGUA TRIBE:,16732.0.html
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2009, 05:26:09 pm »

A better way of life

Tucked between the busy roads of El Paso and a half-mile from the Mexican border lies the Tigua reservation. A marquee encased in stone announces to visitors that they are on the one-square-mile reservation.

Two streets lead to a cluster of dark brown adobe homes, the tribe’s first subdivision. Its most recent addition is apartment complexes for tribal elders. The subdivision provides housing to more than 100 Tigua families.

Four miles east of the old reservation is the tribe’s upscale subdivision of single-family homes and two-story adobe houses. The subdivision, which tribal members call the “New Res,” sits on 300 acres. It includes a multimillion-dollar wellness center and an education center for tribal members.

The living conditions for the Tiguas were drastically different more than 40 years ago.

A majority of the tribal members lived in one- or two-room adobe houses without electricity or running water. Nearly everyone in the tribe was facing foreclosure, and more than 50 percent of their tribal members lived in poverty.

“When I first met them, their living conditions were deplorable,” said Tom Diamond, the tribe’s lawyer for the past 40 years. “They were an impoverished Indian tribe that was ostracized by everybody. The Mexican population looked down on them, and the Anglo population didn’t know the difference between a Mexican and an Indian. They were in a hell of a mess.”

A small group of tribal members took it upon themselves to improve the tribe’s condition. They felt the only way to save their homes and reclaim their ancestral land was through federal recognition. Pablo Silvas was a leader of the effort.

Silvas gathered his family each summer and headed to Arizona to pick cotton. There, he would talk to other Indian tribes about what the Tiguas needed to do to become federally recognized, said Dora Beltran, Silvas’ daughter. It wasn’t until after the death of one of her siblings during one of the trips in 1964 that her father explained why they left home each summer.

“Little did I know that all that time, he was going to speak to other tribes in Arizona,” she recalled. “He found out how hard it was to get recognition.”

Beltran recalled the morning a group of people knocked on her parents’ door to look at their house. That was when her parents’ learned their home was in foreclosure because they had failed to pay taxes.

“They tried to get a lawyer, but no one would take the case,” Beltran said. “That is when they came across Tom Diamond. He believed that we were an Indian tribe and started working for them.”

Silvas and other tribal members met Diamond, who was in El Paso assisting in a political campaign. He took the tribe’s plight to heart.

“I became convinced that the tribe suffered a terrible injustice,” he said. “The state itself came in and stole their land. And so I became more determined to do something.”

The tribe had a land grant that dated to the 1680s. But that didn’t stop speculators and the state of Texas from taking the land. When the state incorporated the town of Ysleta, the tribe’s community, the Indians ended up with scraps of land here and there, Diamond said.

“They became homeless,” he said.

With the help of an anthropologist at the University of Arizona, Diamond and tribal members began to dig into the Tiguas’ history. Diamond learned that the Tiguas were once part of the Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico. The Spaniards encountered the tribe in 1540, he said. During the Spanish Revolt in 1680, the Spaniards enslaved a number of Indians and relocated them to what is now El Paso.

“So we were sort of left behind and were documented as a tribe that didn’t exist anymore,” said Carlos Hisa, the lieutenant governor of the tribe. “We managed to survive as a tribe and had to come back to prove it.”

The tribe had to undergo a test by tribal members from the Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico, Beltran said.

“They questioned us to find out whether we were really from the Isleta,” she said.

Tribal members from the Isleta Pueblo learned that the traditions practiced by the Tiguas were the same as those of the tribe in New Mexico, Beltran said.

Diamond knew that obtaining federal recognition for the Tiguas would be difficult. At that time, the U.S government wanted to end providing services for American Indians.

“They were terminating tribes all over the United States, and there we were trying to get a tribe recognized,” he said. “Everybody was opposed to it.”

With the help of supporters, Diamond and the tribe were able to get the Tiwa Act passed in 1967. The act recognized the tribe but denied its members benefits. The tribe fell under the responsibility of the state of Texas, not the federal government.

“The federal government threw us to the wolves,” said Joe Sierra, a tribal elder and a former governor of the Tigua tribe. “The federal government did not want the responsibility.”

Diamond said there was no way he could get the tribe under federal control.

“It was a ploy we used to avoid the problem that we had with the federal government being adamant about no longer recognizing tribes,” he said. “They didn’t want any new recognition of Indian tribes. It was easier to say, ‘Recognize them, but transfer the trust responsibility to Texas so you won’t have to worry about it.’

The state bought land for the tribe and set aside programs for education. Those programs gradually disappeared as the state decided it could no longer fund the tribe. It became increasingly difficult to get services from the state.

“They saw it as a charity,” Diamond said. “They didn’t see it as an investment in the oldest culture in Texas. This was a functioning tribe, a tribal government long before there was a Texas. But they saw it as a drain on their coffers.”

The first check the tribe received from Texas was for $35,000, said Sierra, a former governor.

“The next year was a little more, but we had to beg,” he said. “Each year we had to beg for help. Then the state asked, ‘When are you guys going to be self-sufficient?’ How could we, when we didn’t have the resources? Most of our land was gone. At that time, we had big problems with education and health.”

The tribe turned back to the federal government in desperation when it learned the state no longer had the money to provide services.

“By that time, the policy had changed and (the federal government) started admitting new tribes and stopped terminating tribes,” Diamond said. “So when the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Restoration Act was passed in 1987, the climate was right in Washington to again help Indian people.”

The tribe was able to provide basic needs for its members when the 1987 bill was passed, said Hisa, the tribe’s lieutenant governor. There are 1,600 members of the Tigua tribe.

“When we were struggling, a lot of our tribal members were forced to leave because there wasn’t anything here. We were poor,” Hisa said. “A lot of them left to be migrant farm workers in California and Arizona. Those who did stick around fought for our way of life. Everything that needed to be done basically came out of their pockets. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here. With federal recognition came opportunities for our people, and those who left started to come back.”

Staff writer Venita Jenkins can be reached at
or (910) 738-9158.

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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2009, 05:43:18 pm »

                                                 T H E   L U M B E E   T R I B E

The Lumbee are a Native American tribe of North Carolina, though their origins are disputed.

The name "Lumbee" is derived from the region near the Lumber River (or Lumbee River) that winds through Robeson County, North Carolina.

In 1885, the Lumbee were recognized by the State of North Carolina as Croatan Indians. They unsuccessfully sought federal recognition thereafter.

In 1951, the Robeson County Commissioners conducted the first tribal election of a name. Tribal members voted for adoption of the name "Lumbee Indians of North Carolina."

The Lumbee claim to be descendants of the Cheraw and related Siouan-speaking tribes of Native Americans originally inhabiting the coastal regions of the state of North Carolina.

In 1956, the United States Congress passed House Resolution 4656, known as the Lumbee Act, which recognized the Lumbee as American Indians. However, the Act also specifically prohibited the Lumbee from receiving federal services ordinarily provided to federally recognized tribes through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. As the only tribe in this circumstance, the Lumbee have sought full federal recognition through congressional legislation.  Federal recognition through congressional legislation is generally opposed by some recognized tribes,  most recently in 2007.
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2009, 05:48:01 pm »

Origins and legends

The area of North Carolina today occupied by the Lumbee is called Robeson County. Until 1787 it was part of Bladen County. When North Carolina Governor Matthew Rowan dispatched surveying parties in 1753 to count Indians in the state, the report stated there are "no Indians in the county."

Colonial tax records from 1768 to 1770 identified only one Indian in Bladen County, Thomas Britt, and Britt is not a name traditionally associated with Lumbee families. Inhabitants of Bladen County with characteristically Lumbee names were classified as "Mullato." Genealogical researcher Paul Heinegg traced the 35 Mullato families listed on the 1768-1770 Bladen County tax rolls and 24 "other free" families listed as Robeson County residents in the 1790-1800 censuses back to free persons referred to as "Negro" or "Mulatto" in Virginia or North Carolina. They were mostly descendants of white women and African men who worked together in colonial times. The children were free because of the status of the mother.

A colonial proclamation in 1773 listed the names of Robeson County inhabitants who took part in a
"Mob Railously Assembled together," apparently defying the efforts of colonial officials to collect taxes. The proclamation declared that "[t]he Above list of Rogus," which included many characteristically Lumbee names, "is all Free Negors and Mullatus living upon the Kings Land." A colonial military survey described, "50 families a mixt crew a lawless People possess the Lands without Patent or paying quit Rents."

In the first federal census of 1790, the ancestors of the Lumbee were among those enumerated as
"free persons of color," a category used to describe free Negroes and Mullatos and meaning freed African slaves or products of mixed race unions.  In subsequent censuses, they were counted in "all other free persons" or later "Mulatto." In the 1870 census, the first in which "Indian" was a separate category, almost all Robeson County residents with characteristically Lumbee names were classified as "Mulatto."

Alarmed by the Nat Turner rebellion of 1831, North Carolina and other Southern states enacted laws known as the Free Negro Code, curtailing the rights of free persons of color. In 1835, North Carolina adopted a new constitution abolishing the right to vote granted to free people of color by the 1776 constitution. During the debate, Judge Gaston of Craven stated that the majority of free persons of color in North Carolina during the colonial period were the descendants of white women who had unions with blacks and were "therefore (because of the race of the mother) entitled to all the rights of free men." Craven's argument was rejected and free people of color were disfranchised, regardless of their maternal ancestry, property holdings or literacy.
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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2009, 05:51:51 pm »

Reference to the origins of the present-day Lumbee population was made in 1840 in a petition by 36 white Robeson County residents, complaining that Robeson County had been "cursed" by the presence of what they described as being a "free colored" population that migrated originally from the districts near the Roanoke and Neuse Rivers.[11]

The first recorded instance of any reference to the Lumbee being Indian dates from 1867 after the
Civil War.

During a multiple murder investigation by Lieutenant Birney of the Freedmen's Bureau, two suspected men wrote a letter that stated the tradition that the Lowry gang had descended from Tuscarora Indians: "They are said to be descended from the Tuscarora Indians. They have always claimed to be Indian & disdained the idea that they are in any way connected with the African race." The Freedman's Bureau had jurisdiction over newly emancipated slaves, not Indians.

In 1872 George Alfred Townsend published "The Swamp Outlaws" about the famed Lowrie Gang. Townsend described Henry Berry Lowrie, the leader of the gang, as being of mixed Tuscarora, mulatto, and white blood: "The color of his skin is of a whitish yellow sort, with an admixture of copper—such a skin as, for the nature of its components, is in color indescribable, there being no negro blood in it except that of a far remote generation of mulatto, and the Indian still apparent." Townsend also stated in reference to Pop Oxendine that "Like the rest, he had the Tuscarora Indian blood in him...If I should describe the man by the words nearest my idea I should call him a negro-Indian gypsy."

Townsend's statements were reiterated three years later in both the memoirs of General Jno C. Gorman and in Mary Norment's "The Lowrie History" (1895)

During Reconstruction, the ancestors of the Lumbee joined newly freed African slaves in voting Republican. After Reconstruction, when schools and society were segregated, they objected to being classified as "colored" and having their children required to attend schools with children of freed slaves. In 1885, Hamilton McMillan, a North Carolina Democrat who represented Robeson County in the legislature, put forward the theory that the Lumbees were actually "Croatan Indians" descended from survivors of England's "Lost Colony" who intermarried with the Hatteras, an Algonquian people. McMillan's theory was motivated by the desire to politically separate the Lumbee from the newly freed slaves and bring them over to the Democratic voting column.

Other authors subsequently repeated McMillan's speculation as fact. However, no extant evidence exists for "Lost Colony" origins and the theory has been discarded by scholars. Of the many characteristically Lumbee names, none is shared with members of England's failed colony.

McMillan introduced legislation declaring the Lumbee ancestors to be Croatan Indians and giving them their own schools, separate from the white and black schools. This was the first official effort to classify the Lumbee ancestors as Indians. McMillan's success created a three-caste society in Robeson County. Prior to 1885, surviving records described Lumbee ancestors as colored, free colored, other free, mullato, mustie, mustees, or mixt blood.
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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2009, 05:55:07 pm »

Despite the lack of direct genealogical proof, in the early decades of the 20th century, various Department
of Interior representatives also described the Lumbees as having Native American origin, and assigned them variously to one tribe or another.

Skeptics of McMillan's theories argue that the North Carolina politician may have been motivated by a desire
to court the votes of the Lumbee. Free people of color were enfranchised again after the Civil War by the 15th Amendment, which protected suffrage for all male citizens, regardless of race, at the same time protecting suffrage of the new citizens who were emancipated slaves.  Reclassification as Indians of McMillan's colored Robeson County constituents gave them a social status above the newly emancipated slaves.

In 1936, Carl Seltzer, a physical anthropologist engaged by the federal Department of the Interior, conducted an anthropometric study of several hundred self-identified Indian individuals in Robeson County. He determined that twenty-two were of at least half-Indian blood descent. 

In 1972, Dr. William S. Pollitzer published a combined anthropometric and serologic study of the Lumbee population. He estimated that the Lumbees had 47% African ancestry, 40% white, and 13% Indian. Most contemporary scholars no longer consider such types of studies valid for determining racial or ethnic identities.

In the late 20th century, genealogist Paul Heinegg and historian Dr. Virginia E. DeMarce performed extensive research in primary source documents, such as deeds, land records, wills, tax lists and court records to develop detailed genealogies of free people of color in the Chesapeake Bay area during the colonial years and later.

They were able to trace the migration of numerous primary Lumbee ancestral families from the Tidewater region of Virginia into northeastern North Carolina and then into present-day Robeson County, North Carolina.

They found that 80% of those identified as free people of color (or other) in the Federal censuses in North Carolina from 1790-1810 were descended from African Americans free in Virginia during the colonial period. Most of those free African-American families in Virginia were descended from unions between white women (servant or free) and African or African-American men (servant, slave or free), reflecting the fluid nature of relationships among the working classes.

From documenting family histories through original documents, Heinegg and DeMarce have traced most Lumbee ancestors and have been able to construct genealogies that show the migration of specific families and individuals from Virginia to North Carolina.
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2009, 06:01:19 pm »

18th century

In 1754, a surveying party reported that Anson County was "a frontier to the Indians."

Bladen County abutted Anson County which at that time extended west into Cherokee territory. The same report also claimed that no Indians lived in Bladen County (which at that time contained what today is Robeson County).

Land patents and deeds filed with the colonial administrations of Virginia, North and South Carolina during this period reveal that Lumbee ancestors were migrating into southern North Carolina along the typical routes of colonial migration and obtaining land deeds in the same manner as any other migrants.

In the first federal census of 1790, the ancestors of the Lumbee were enumerated as Free Persons of Color.  In 1800 and 1810 they were counted in "all other free persons."

In 1885, Hamilton McMillan wrote that Lumbee ancestor James Lowrie received sizeable land grants early in the century and by 1738 possessed combined estates of more than two thousand acres (8 km˛). Dial and Eliades claimed that John Brooks established title to over one thousand acres (4 km˛) in 1735, and Robert Lowrie gained possession of almost seven hundred acres (2.8 km˛).

However, according to a state archivist, no land grants were issued during these years in North Carolina, and the first land grants to documented Lumbee ancestors did not occur until more than a decade later.  The Lumbee petition for federal recognition backed away from McMillan's claims.

Land records show that beginning in the second half of the 18th century, ancestral Lumbees took titles to land described in relation to Drowning Creek and prominent swamps such as Ashpole, Long, and Back Swamp.

The Lumbee settlement with the longest continuous documentation from the mid-eighteenth century onward is Long Swamp, or present-day Prospect, North Carolina. Prospect is located within Pembroke and Smith townships.

According to James Campisi, the anthropologist hired by the Lumbee tribe, this area "is located in the heart of the so-called old field of the Cheraw documented in land records between 1737 and 1739." However, this appears to be pure conjecture on Campisi's part, since the Lumbee Siouan petition prepared by Lumbee River Legal Services in the 1980s clearly shows that the Cheraw old fields, which were sold to a Thomas Grooms in the year 1739, were actually located in South Carolina not far from the current day town of Cheraw, more than 60 miles (100 km) from Pembroke.

Pension records for veterans of the American Revolutionary War listed men with Lumbee surnames such as Samuel Bell, Jacob Locklear, John Brooks, Berry Hunt, Thomas Jacobs, Thomas Cummings, and Michael Revels. And in 1790, ancestral Lumbees such as Cumbo, "Revils" (Revels), Hammonds, Bullard, "Lockileer" (Locklear), Lowrie, Barnes, Hunt, "Chavers" (Chavis), Strickland, Wilkins, Oxendine, Brooks, Jacobs, Bell, and Brayboy were listed as inhabitants of the Fayetteville District, and enumerated as "Free Persons of Color" in the first federal census.

Through documenting and tracing family histories, Heinegg has found that 80% of those people in North Carolina counted as "all other free persons" in the 1790-1810 federal census were descendants of African Americans free in Virginia during the colonial period. He found the surnames Cumbo, Gowen/Goins, and Driggers could be traced to slaves who had been freed in the mid-17th century in Virginia. Chavis was another family whose ancestors had been free since the 17th century.
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« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2009, 06:06:27 pm »


The year 1835 proved to be critical for Lumbee ancestors in North Carolina.

The state passed amendments to its original 1776 constitution that abolished suffrage for "free people of color." This was one of a series of laws passed from 1826 to the 1850s that historian John Hope Franklin characterized as the "Free Negro Code," erecting restrictions on that class. Free people of color were stripped of various political and civil rights which they had enjoyed for almost two generations and thus could no longer vote, bear arms without a license, serve on juries, or serve in the state militia.

Anthropologist Gerald Sider recorded accounts of "tied mule" incidents in which a white farmer tied his mule to the post of a neighboring Indian's land or let his cattle graze on the Indian's land. The white farmer then filed a complaint for theft with the local authorities who promptly arrested the Native farmer. "Tied mule" incidents were resolved with the Indian's agreeing to pay a fine, or in lieu of a fine, by giving up a portion of his land or agreeing to a term of labor service with the "wronged" white farmer. Sider did not document such incidents; instead he recounted stories which he had been told in the late 1960s. Robeson County land records do show an appreciable loss of Indian title to land during the 19th century, but mostly because of failure to pay taxes and other more common reasons. No tied mule incident has yet been discovered in Robeson County records.

In 1853, the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the state's restrictions on free people of color's bearing arms without a license with the conviction of Noel Locklear in State v. Locklear for the illegal possession of firearms.  But in 1857, William Chavers, another Lumbee ancestor from Robeson County, was arrested and charged as a "free person of color" for carrying a shotgun. Chavers, like Locklear, was convicted. Chavers promptly appealed, arguing that the law restricted only
"free Negroes," not "persons of color."

The appeals court reversed the lower court, finding that "free persons of color may be, then, for all we can see, persons colored by Indian blood, or persons descended from Negro ancestors beyond the fourth degree."

Two years later, in another case involving a Lumbee ancestor from Robeson County, the North Carolina Court of Appeals held that forcing an individual to display himself before a jury was the same as forcing him to provide evidence against himself. Most of the charges under the law were brought by members of the proto-Lumbee community against each other. They used the racist laws to settle petty disputes amongst themselves.

Overall however, the ambiguity of the legal and political status of Robeson County's free people of color only increased in the years leading up to and during the Civil War.
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« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2009, 06:09:34 pm »

Civil War

As the war progressed and the Confederacy began to experience increasing labor shortages, the Confederate South began to rely on conscription labor.

A yellow fever epidemic in 1862-63 killed many slaves working on the construction of Fort Fisher near Wilmington, North Carolina, then considered to be the "Gibraltar of the South." North Carolina's slave owners resisted sending more enslaved African Americans to Fort Fisher.

Robeson County, along with most eastern North Carolina counties, began to conscript young free men
of color.

A few were shot for attempting to evade conscription, and others attempted to escape from work at Fort Fisher. Others succumbed to starvation, disease and despair. Documentation of conscription among the Lumbee is difficult to locate and the practice may have been limited to a few specific areas of the county.

Several dozen Lumbee ancestors served in regular units in the Confederate army; many of these later drew Confederate pensions for their service. Others tried to avoid coerced labor by hiding in the swamps. While hiding in the swamps, some men from Robeson County operated as guerrillas for the Union Army, sabotaging the efforts of the Confederacy, and sought retribution against their Confederate neighbors.
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« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2009, 06:14:56 pm »

Lowrie Gang War

Perhaps the most famous Lumbee ancestor is Henry Berry Lowrie, who organized an outlaw group.

Most of the gang members were related, including two of Henry Lowrie's brothers, six cousins (two
of whom were also his brothers-in-law), the brother-in-law of two of his cousins, in addition to a few others who were not related through kinship. The Lowrie gang included formerly free men of color and also freed slaves and whites.

The gang committed two murders during the Civil War and were suspected in several thefts and robberies. After an interrogation and informal trial, Robeson County's Home Guard killed Henry Berry Lowrie's father and brother as General William T. Sherman's army entered Robeson County.  Shortly thereafter, Henry Berry Lowrie and his band stole a large stockpile of rifles intended for use by the
local militia from the Lumberton courthouse.

Lowrie's gang avenged the deaths of his father and brother by killing several of the men responsible,
one of whom was the sheriff of the county. The band stole two safes (one of which belonged to the sheriff), plundered the plantation storage bins and smokehouses of local elites, and gave the spoils to the poor in Robeson County who had suffered at the hands of local elites.

In 1868, Lowrie and his band were outlawed.

The reward for his capture climbed to $12,000, second only to that offered for Jefferson Davis. Robeson's elites and the governor of North Carolina requested the aid of Federal troops and federal detectives in the attempt to apprehend North Carolina's most famous outlaw.

These efforts proved useless.

Lowrie enjoyed wide support, and he and members of his band were seen at public events. Reports of the Lowrie band's derring-do received national coverage; their exploits were featured in the New York Times and in Harper's Magazine. Lowrie's last-known feat occurred on February 16, 1872, when he and his band stole $20,000 worth of goods from a Lumberton store. They also managed to take the store's safe, which contained approximately $22,000 in cash.

Most observers believe that Henry Berry Lowrie accidentally killed himself while cleaning his gun. Some members of the community, however, claimed to have seen Lowrie in various town locales long after news of his death was broadcast. The true cause of his death remains controversial. All the members of the Lowrie band, save one, suffered violent deaths. One cousin and member of the gang, Henderson Oxendine, was publicly executed by the state of North Carolina.

The war that Lowrie gang waged against the Democrats in Robeson County had far-reaching consequences:

the mulatto community developed a sense of itself as unique, possessed with a unique identity and history, while Henry Berry Lowrie became a culture hero to the Lumbee people.
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« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2009, 06:18:15 pm »

Post-Reconstruction: education and state recognition

In 1868 the legislature elected under Reconstruction created a new constitution, which established a public education system in North Carolina. The following year, the state legislature approved a measure that provided separate schools for whites and blacks.

Many Lumbee ancestors complied with the legislation and sent their children to Freedmen's Bureau schools. Other traditionally free people of color refused to enroll their children in schools for freed slaves.

In Robeson County, this impasse ended when, in 1885, North Carolina formally recognized the historically free people of color in Robeson County as "Croatan Indians." That same year, the North Carolina General Assembly approved legislation that authorized a public school system for Indians.

Within the year, each Croatan Indian settlement in the county established a school "blood committee" that determined students' racial eligibility.

In 1887, tribal members petitioned the state legislature to request establishment of a normal school to train Indian teachers for the county's tribal schools. North Carolina granted permission, and tribal members raised the requisite funds, along with some state assistance that proved inadequate. Several tribal leaders donated money and privately held land to the tribe on which to build their schools.

In 1899, North Carolina representatives introduced the first bill in Congress to appropriate funds to educate the Indian children of Robeson County. Another bill was introduced a decade later, and yet another in 1911.

In 1913, the House of Representatives Committee on Indian Affairs held a hearing on S.3258 in which the Senate sponsor of the bill reviewed the history of the Lumbee and concluded that they had "maintained their race integrity and their tribal characteristics."

Robeson County's Indian normal school evolved into Pembroke State University and later still, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

By century's end, the Indians of Robeson County established schools in eleven of their principal settlements.
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« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2009, 06:23:17 pm »

Attempts to gain federal recognition

When the Croatan Indians petitioned Congress for educational assistance, their request was sent to
the House Committee on Indian Affairs.

It took two years for the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, T.J. Morgan, to respond to the Croatan Indians of Robeson County, telling them that,

"so long as the immediate wards of the Government are so insufficiently provided for, I do not see how
I can consistently render any assistance to the Croatans or any other civilized tribes."

The government's rejection of assistance to the ancestors of the Lumbee was based solely on economic considerations. For Commissioner T.J. Morgan, services would have been readily extended to "civilized" tribes like the Croatan were it not for the Commission's insufficiency of funds.

By the first decade of the 20th century, congressional legislation was introduced to change the Croatan name and to establish

"a school for the Indians of Robeson County, North Carolina."

Charles F. Pierce, Supervisor of Indian Schools, investigated the tribe's congressional petition, reporting favorably that

"a large majority [were] at least three-fourths Indian"

as well as law abiding, industrious, and

"crazy on the subject of education."

Pierce also believed that federal educational assistance would be beneficial but opposed any such legislation since, in his words,

"[a]t the present time it is the avowed policy of the government to require states having an Indian population to assume the burden and responsibility for their education, so far as is possible."

A later committee report of 1932 explicitly acknowledged that the federal bill of 1913 was intended to extend federal recognition on the same terms as the amended state law. Moreover, while the bill passed the Senate but not the House, the chairman of the House committee also abrogated any assumption
of direct educational responsibility to the Indians of Robeson County by the federal government. He believed they were already eligible to attend Indian boarding schools. Thus, the federal government
was meeting its responsibility to the Indians of Robeson County through Indian boarding schools such
as Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

The next year, Special Indian Agent, O.M. McPherson, who investigated the tribe under the auspices
of the United States Senate, found that the Indians of Robeson County had already developed an extensive system of schools and a complex political organization to represent their interests. While he, like Pierce before him, noted that Robeson's Indians were eligible to attend federal Indian schools, he also doubted that these schools could meet their needs. Despite McPherson's recommendations, Congress decided not to act on the matter.
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« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2009, 06:24:58 pm »

Indian New Deal

With passage of the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934, the Indians of Robeson County redoubled their efforts for access to better education and federal recognition.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) sent the eminent anthropologist from the Bureau of American Ethnology, John R. Swanton, and Indian Agent Fred Baker to determine the origins and authenticity of the Indians of Robeson County. Swanton speculated that Robeson's Indians were of Cheraw and other eastern Siouan tribal descent.

At this point, the Lumbee population split into two groups. One group supported the Cheraw theory of ancestry. The other faction believed that they were descended from the Cherokee tribe. North Carolina's white politicians abandoned the recognition effort until the two factions agreed on an identity.
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« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2009, 06:27:21 pm »

Lumbee Act

The Lumbee Act, also known as House Resolution 4656, which recognized the Lumbee as having Native American origins but withheld recognition as a "tribe," was passed by the U.S. Senate on May 21, 1956, by the United States House of Representatives on May 24, 1956, and signed by President Dwight David Eisenhower on June 7, 1956.

The Lumbee Act designated the Indians of Robeson, Hoke, Scotland, and Cumberland counties as the

"Lumbee Indians of North Carolina."

HR 4656 also stipulated that

"[n]othing in this Act shall make such Indians eligible for any services performed by the United States for Indians because of their status as Indians."

This restriction as to eligibility for services was a condition of recognition at the time. In testimony before Congress, Lumbee spokesmen repeatedly denied that they wanted any financial services; they said they only wanted recognition as American Indians.
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« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2009, 06:29:42 pm »

Petitioning for federal recognition

The Lumbees have repeatedly sought federal recognition as an Indian tribe, going before Congress in 1899, 1910, 1911, 1913, 1924, 1932 and 1933 with petitions variously claiming to be Croatan, Cherokee, Siouan and Cheraw Indians.

In 1952, the Lumbees adopted their present identity, naming themselves for the Lumber River, which winds through Robeson County, North Carolina, instead of claiming association with an historically existing Indian tribe. In 1956, Congress passed the Lumbee Act saying that the Lumbee were entitled to call themselves the "Lumbee Indians of North Carolina" but as a condition of recognition, denying them access to financial and other services accorded to other recognized Indian tribes. In testimony before Congress, Lumbee spokesmen denied that they wanted any financial services; they said they only wanted recognition as American Indians.

In 1987, the Lumbees petitioned the U.S. Department of the Interior for federal recognition, in a bid for financial benefits accorded recognized Native American tribes.  The petition was denied because of language in the Lumbee Act stating that the Lumbee were ineligible for federal benefits.

The Lumbee then resumed their lobbying, going before Congress in 1988, 1989, 1991 and 1993 with bids for federal recognition by Congressional action.  All of these attempts failed in the face of opposition not only by the Department of Interior but also by the several recognized Cherokee tribes, including North Carolina's Eastern Band of the Cherokee, some of the North Carolina Congressional delegation, as well as some representatives from other states with federally recognized tribes. Some of the North Carolina delegation recommended an amendment to the 1956 Act that would enable the Lumbee to apply to the Department of Interior under the regular application process for recognition.  The General Accounting Office and others have criticized Interior's process as backlogged,  and the Lumbee do not want to go through those delays.

The tribe made renewed bids for recognition with financial services in 2004 and 2006, and again in 2007 with introduction of the Lumbee Recognition Act by North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole.
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