Reading back' to find community: Lumbee ethnohistory.

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Blu, Karen I. “'Reading back' to find community: Lumbee ethnohistory.” In North American Indian anthropology: essays on society and culture. Ed. Raymond J. DeMallie and Alfonso Ortig. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994. Pp. 278-95. Key source


Blu uses materials from her fieldwork in Robeson County and from documentary research to bring recent conditions to bear on interpretation of older documents describing Lumbee communities.

To begin with, she notes that (1) the landscape, and the Lumbees' relationship to it, have changed greatly in the past 125 years; and (2) for the Lumbee, communities are vaguely defined, without distinct boundaries; recognizing them requires both a keen knowledge of local geography and an understanding of the importance to the Lumbee of family and community connections.

She discusses the history, politics, and social nature of the communities of Pembroke and Prospect, with briefer mentions of the Brooks Settlement, Magnolia, Mount Airy, and Black Ankle. She then looks at documents describing Scuffletown during the Henry Berry Lowry period; a planned community of Oxendineville (the N.C. legislature was petitioned for its creation in 1885, but it never materialized); and various aspects of community mentioned in the writings of J. J. Blanks (1888), O. M. McPherson (1914), John Pearmain (1935), and Guy B. Johnson (1939).

From these documents, Blu concludes that a community's character can change, and that churches and schools continue to play important roles as the nucleus of a community.  Even after Indian schools closed in a community, families tended to cluster there and maintain the community; and local leaders emerged from within.

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31 references, 7 notes