Violence plagues Lumbees who are trying to stem tide; tribe in Robeson gets $30,000 state grant to study death rates.

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Collins, Kristin. "Violence plagues Lumbees who are trying to stem tide; tribe in Robeson gets $30,000 state grant to study death rates." News and observer July 25 2006: A1.


This article provides background information on violent deaths in Robeson County, prompted by the recent announcement that the Lumbee Tribe has received a $30,000 grant to study the high rate of homicides among tribal members and factors that may be related to that rate. Grant activities will include forming a task force of local leaders, gathering statistics on the problem, and developing a PowerPoint presentation to describe the problem.

The article presents specific examples of violent deaths, such as the family of Rose and Ervin Brooks, whose son, James Ervin (Bubba), was killed in 1999, and Judy Locklear, whose husband Odis was killed by a family member under the influence of drugs. It focuses on the increasing problems of drug abuse and prostitution and mentions underlying factors such as Robeson County's poverty rate and rate of high school dropouts. Collins states that "the epidemic of violence has gone largely unexamined by officials in Robeson County," noting that (1) Pembroke's town manager, McDuffie Cummings, said he had not given the murder rate among the Lumbee any thought, and (2) longtime County Commissioner Noah Woods said the commissioners had never discussed the murder rate at a public meeting. She points out that local law enforcement may be overworked. Robeson County's murder rate was 23.8 per 100,000 people in 2005, compared to the state average of 6.9 per 100,000 people. The county sheriff's department made arrests in half its 2005 murders, while the state average is arrests in 3/4 of murders.

Collins presents information from James Locklear, Lumbee, who is a crime reporter covering Robeson County for the Fayetteville Observer. Locklear, who sometimes writes as many as two or three murder stories a week, has been invited to serve on the task force being created by the grant. He and Jan Lowery, a public health consultant working on the grant, comment that there is speculation that the Lumbee distrust the criminal justice system and, therefore, one factor in the high rate of violent deaths might be that Lumbees take justice into their own hands.

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