Indians of North Carolina

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McPherson, O. M. Indians of North Carolina: Letter from the Secretary of the Interior, Transmitting, in Response to a Senate Resolution of June 30, 1914. Caption Title: Report on Condition and Tribal Rights of the Indians of Robeson and Adjoining Counties of North Carolina. US. 63rd Congress, 3rd Session. S. Doc. 677. Dated 5 Jan. 1915. Serial Set 6772. 252 p. Key source


Called the McPherson Report, this 252-page document was, when released, the most extensive study of the tribe ever done. The tribe’s name had been changed in 1913 by North Carolina’s General Assembly from Indians of Robeson County to Cherokee Indians of Robeson County, and once again they were seeking assistance from the federal government. As a result of their request, Senate Resolution 410 was passed (June 30, 1914) authorizing a study of the tribe. Special Indian Agent O. M. McPherson visited Robeson County, met several times with large groups of Indians, and submitted his extensive report in 1915. One conclusion he reached was that the Indians themselves felt they would be greatly helped by the federal government’s provision of “some higher institution of learning” (p. 30).

McPherson’s investigations for his report were quite thorough, encompassing reading of history and ethnology, fieldwork in Robeson County, and extensive correspondence. In the report he addresses statements from A. W. McLean that the Indians were originally part of the Cherokee tribe, but he rejects these claims (pp. 18, 19). He notes that “the ‘Lumbee’ River is a branch of the Pedee and the similarity of the names would suggest the same origin” (p. 23). Earlier than Swanton (entry 535), he mentions Cheraws in connection with Robeson County Indians. He finds it “not improbable ... that there was some degree of amalgamation between the Indians residing on the Lumber River and the Cheraws, who were their nearest neighbors” (p. 23). The 25-page report concludes that Robeson’s Indians are descended from Hatteras Indians and the Lost Colony, further mixed with Scotch and Scotch-Irish settlers and with other races (p. 17). It recommends financial assistance, land, and an agricultural/mechanical school. The remaining pages are exhibits that reprint legislation, correspondence, essays, and excerpts from histories, all intended to document the report’s conclusions. Microfilmed by the Library of Congress.

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View the full text at Documenting the American South
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