Lumbee Indians

Talkin' Tar Heel

May 8, 2014

    

For more than 20 years, researchers at North Carolina State University have collected interviews exploring the rich diversity of dialects in North Carolina. 

  

Chapel-Hill based band Dark Water Rising mixes southern rock, gospel harmonies, and traditional Lumbee influence to create their "rocky soul" sound. They got together in 2008, when none of them had any formal music training. Since then, they have gained local and national recognition throughout Native American communities. 

Wikimedia Commons

    

The Lumbee are the largest American Indian nation east of the Mississippi River and many of them live in Robeson County, North Carolina.

Many of the Lumbee people worked in the manufacturing business in the county, but since the 1980s and 1990s, the industry has declined. Students and faculty at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke have studied the intersection between Lumbee identity and working-class life in Robeson County.

Songwriter Willie French Lowery is best remembered for penning Indian heritage anthems like “Proud to be a Lumbee” and writing the original music for “Strike at the Wind,” an annual outdoor drama that honors a Lumbee cultural hero.  Lowery was also a successful rock musician, educator, activist and Robeson County community leader before he passed away in May at the age of 67.

A bison on RG Hammonds' farm in Lumberton roams close to his golf cart
Leoneda Inge

There’s a section of eastern North Carolina where the Lumbee Indians call home.  The Lumbee have a long history of farming and ranching.  But just like African American and women farmers, they were discriminated against by the federal government.   And just like those groups – Native Americans filed a class-action lawsuit – and won. This week – lawyers are back in Pembroke, North Carolina helping the Lumbees file their claims for long-awaited compensation. 

Preparations are being made to pay thousands of dollars to Native American farmers and ranchers who were discriminated against by the U-S-D-A.