Lowrey, Clarence E. The Lumbee Indians of North Carolina. Lumberton: Clarence E. Lowrey, 1960. 64p.
Discussion of, and agreement with, the Lost Colony theory. Reviews the Henry Berry Lowry story and mentions disfranchisement and name changes. Many photographs.
Today’s Lumbee Indians are descendants of the Hatteras Indians that lived in North Carolina back in 1587. The tribe was about 300 members strong. In 1607, after white settlers had started to migrate from Europe to live in America, the Hatteras Indians began to move west, from the east coast of North Carolina to settle on the Lumbee River about 1630.
Years later, the European migrators began to move west, as well. However, the whites were looking to move further west and south, so the settlers passed around the Indians. The author stated that this left “the Indian settlement a calm pool among the swirling eddies and cross-currents of colonization.” It also helped that the European settlers were looking for high ground, and the Lumbee River area was on lower ground. This was a lot different than before the white settlers showed up, as land titles were something foreign to the Indians.
This territory extended along the river for 50 miles. The Indians even built roads to connect territory, some of which were over 20 miles in length. The Indians were courteous neighbors and were friendly with the white people as late as 1709. Some even spoke English. Still, the whites betrayed the Indian people.
Years later Henry Berry Lowrey witnessed the murder of his father and brother and vowed vengeance on the men who killed them. He declared 30 men must die. This launched a rebellion that lasted over ten years and resulted in at least 29 casualties. Lowrey, who was only 17 years old, was backed by a group of dedicated followers. At one point, a $40,000 reward was on the table for his capture and delivery to the white people.
In the text there is a long list of all of those that were killed by the “Bandits” that were made up of Lowrey and his followers, along with the stories describing how and why it happened. There is also a list of what happened to those that were members of the “Bandits.” As for Lowrey, he was first arrested at his wedding. He then broke out of jail and was caught two years later. That time, he had a pistol smuggled to him in a cake and broke out again.
Aside from Lowrey, and the tragedies he faced and caused, other Robeson County Indians struggled as well. The majority of the Indian population was forced into labor alongside slaves. On top of that, a constitutional amendment in 1835 cost Indians the right to vote, and the right to own a firearm. Indians would not be allowed to vote again until 1868.
Despite this, the amount of Indians in the area continued to grow. In the Census of 1860, the Indian population in Robeson County was 1,459. Fifty years later, the Indian population listed in the Census of 1910 was figured at 5,895.
In more recent history, in the early 1900’s, there was segregated schools for Indians, whites, and Negroes. In 1940, Robeson County said that white teachers were not allowed to work at Indian schools. Also, in 1958, the Ku Klux Klan set its sights on the Lumbee. However, the Lumbee attacked back and killed many Klan members. At the point this book was written, only 28 percent of Indians finished high school and only eight percent attend college. Congress declared this group of Indians the Lumbee Indians of North Carolina in June of 1956. The federal government will not grant recognition to the tribe.
This article also had many pictures, including: the author of the book, C.E. Lowrey with Lenzy Revels; Argatha Fay Lowrey; a group shot at the Union Chapel homecoming around 1900; a group picture at a picnic around the year 1913; pictures of Nealy Ann Lowrey and Henry Berry Lowrey; Allen Lowrey’s home; Olivia Dial; typical Lumbee Indian girls; groups of boys in tobacco crops working; Cecil Lowrey and Waltz Locklear; the Town Creek Indian Mound; an Indian father and his three sons; two other teenage Lumbee Indian girls; and Indian corn.
Please see the book itself for more.
Can be found at the Robeson County Public Library (Lumberton, NC).