Because it is right

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Knick, Stanley. “Because it is right.”The Museum of the Southeast American Indian Center. U of North Carolina at Pembroke, 1998. Updated 29 September 2010. Key source


Presents strong and convincing arguments, from an anthropological perspective, that the Lumbee should receive full federal recognition. First, the archaeological record shows Native American presence in Robeson County from the Paleo-Indian era into the Historic period, with no apparent gaps. The Phase I archaeological reconnaissance of Robeson County, which examined 314 previously unrecorded sites, showed a very dense distribution of Native Americans in pre-Columbian times. This information, which was not available until 1988, points out a serious shortcoming in the “Indians-moved-in-and-settled” theory of Lumbee origins, which implies that there was no Native American presence until the Cheraws, Hatteras, Tuscaroras, and perhaps others moved in. 

Artifacts found at archaeological sites suggest that Native Americans were in Robeson County between 1200 and 1750 A.D.; their descendants, who joined with remnants of other tribes, became the Lumbee.

Besides the archaeological evidence, Knick provides other arguments. He explains the probable origins of the tribal name Lumbee. He elucidates the historical conditions for Indians in the Carolinas in the 16th and 17th centuries, which caused the Lumbee to quickly adopt European ways and lose visible elements of Indian culture, such as dance, language, clothing, and architecture. He discusses elements of culture which are strong and firmly held among the Lumbee, such as sense of Indian identity; importance of kinship; central role of spirituality and church; and use of herbal remedies such as sassafras.

He concludes by asserting that the Lumbee should receive full federal recognition because ". . . they have persisted in the culture of the heart, in holding onto what it means to be Lumbee. . . . and in view of all the evidence, they should be recognized because it is right."

In 2008 this essay appeared in the inaugural volume and issue of the journal Native South.

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