River dreams: tales of a Lumbee warrior

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Cummings, Delano. River dreams: tales of a Lumbee warrior. Illus. by Eileen Harrison and Van Wilkins. Ed. by Marian Novak. Livermore, Maine: Signal Tree Publications, 2001. 146 pages. 17 illustrations.


This book consists of fifteen chapters, several of which recount one of the author's dreams (these begin with the phrase “In my dream . . .”). Recurring themes in the book are (1) the healing, soul-satisfying effects of being home among the Lumbee and following Indian ways; (2) the author's Vietnam War experiences; (3) the Lumbee River, its flora and fauna, and the spiritual gifts derived from spending time there, and (4) progress made by the Lumbee people.

Several of the dream sequences begin with the author as an Indian warrior (living in a village and consulting with Indian elders or with the red-tailed hawk) or, later, as an Indian elder and storyteller in the same village. The dream sequence then shifts to Vietnam War experiences.

Some of the non-dream chapters include: Chapter 4, “The Land of the Lumbee,” describing elimination of obvious forms of segregation, and indicators of progress for the Lumbee, since the author left Robeson County in 1963; Chapter 5, “The Lowry Wars,” a descriptive account that ends with the author wondering if Henry Berry Lowry had dreams; Chapter 6, “The Tuscarora,” on Robeson County's Tuscarora groups, with recollections of the author's participation in Tuscarora protest rides through the county in 1972; Chapter 7, “Land of the Cherokee”; and Chapter 13, “The Wall,” on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D. C.

Many of the stories involve animals which have spirit qualities and are able to communicate with the author, whether or not he is in a dream or out-of-body phase. There are stories involving the red-tailed hawk, tiger, alligator, wild dogs, a German Shepherd scout dog (in Vietnam), deer, brown bear, and rattlesnake.

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