Looking back while walking forward (column): The Indian pageant.

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Hunt, Cynthia L. “Looking back while walking forward (column): The Indian pageant.” Carolina Indian Voice 20 July 2000: 4.


This installment focuses on a project of the Red Banks Mutual Association, the pageant “Life Story of a People” (written and coordinated by the anthropologist Ella Deloria). Tribal leaders had noticed the success of the outdoor drama “The Lost Colony” and contacted the Farm Security Administration, asking the agency to hire an “Indian specialist in cultural history” to plan a pageant and agricultural fair to celebrate the tribe's progress and history. Ella Deloria was paid $1,200 to work for five months in 1940 on the project.

Deloria began by going to see “The Lost Colony” (without tribal representatives, who opposed the trip). She wrote afterwards, “I find that some of the leaders do think they might be related to those lost people, but there is a reticence about claiming it partly because it brings up the name Croatan which . . . is distasteful to them.”

The pageant (see The Lumbee Indians: an annotated bibliography, items 304-307 and 310 for more details) ran for three nights in December, 1940 and was deemed highly successful. Deloria was rehired in 1941, and the pageant's second season was attended by Governor J. M. Broughton, Catawba Indians, state historian C. C. Crittenden, playwright Paul Green, and (at a special matinee performance) Robeson County school children . The article includes a list of the pageant's cast.

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