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Blu, Karen I. “Lumbee.” Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 14, Southeast. Ed. Raymond D. Fogelson. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 2004. Pages 319-327. Key source


Blu has written an excellent brief introduction to the Lumbee. It reflects her many years of interaction with, and scholarly study of, the Lumbee (including her 1972 dissertation; her 1980 book, The Lumbee problem; and subsequent essays in 1994 and 2001). This introduction is detailed; wide-ranging, and accurate. It is enhanced by several photographs (both recent and historical), and it concludes with a briefly annotated list of recommended references.

Topics discussed in this article include the following:

• the geographical location of the tribe;

• the tribe's status in terms of federal acknowledgment;

• a brief account of theories of tribal origins (Blu surmises, "Except for the Indian affiliation of a few individuals, the connection between the Lumbee as a group and specific earlier tribes cannot be traced into the historical record" (p. 320);

• the Robeson County environment and its influence on the ways in which Lumbees earn a living, both historically and recently;

• the importance to the Lumbee of owning land in Robeson County;

• social and political organizations (family connections; communities (once called settlements) in Robeson County; Indian-only schools, churches, and church associations; LRDA and Lumbee River Legal Services; Lumbees in elected offices);

• culture (Lumbee English; the tribe's early adoption of Euro-American ways; Lumbee singing traditions; hunting and fishing; foods; basket-making; quilting; gourds, jewelry, and artwork; storytelling, especially about Henry Berry Lowry and about the Ku Klux Klan routing);

• diaspora (settlements outside Robeson County, including neighboring counties; Bulloch County, Georgia, 1890-1920; Detroit, Michigan; Baltimore, Maryland; tribal council districts as representative of the reach of the tribe's settlement; Lumbee Homecoming and other occasions for visits to, or relocation to, "home");

• synonymy (tribal name changes, with their dates)

Historical note: On September 26, 1989, William C. Sturtevant, General Editor of the Handbook of North American Indians, testified in the U.S. House of Representatives that "The Lumbee will be covered in a separate chapter in the Handbook of North American Indians, just as each other tribe is described in a separate chapter, and we have envisioned such a chapter from the beginning of our editorial planning in the 1960s." [See Hearing . . . on H.R. 2335, Lumbee Recognition Act, September 26, 1989. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1992, page 71.]

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