The Lumbee Indians.

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“The Lumbee Indians.”   In:  Ross, Thomas E. American Indians in North Carolina: geographic interpretations. Southern Pines, NC: Karo Hollow Press, 1999.  Chapter 5, pages 103-136.


The Lumbee, the largest tribe east of the Mississippi and among the ten largest in the United States, numbered 46,100 in Robeson and adjacent counties as of the 1990 census and numbered 50,000 total.  The urban areas of Greensboro, Fayetteville, Charlotte, Raleigh, Detroit, and Baltimore also have large Lumbee settlements. 

Ross describes the cultural hearth of the Lumbee, Robeson County, as “mostly level to undulating coastal plain, traversed by the Lumbee River and numerous swamps.” The highest concentration of swamps coincides with the areas most heavily populated by the Lumbee. Ross also discusses the Carolina bays—shallow, elliptical depressions commonly found in Robeson County.  Ross believes that when the bays were formed 10,000-60,000 years ago, they held water and were excellent campsites for Indians moving through the area. 

Ross reviews the history of the Lumbee, including various theories of their origin; the Henry Berry Lowry period; land loss by the Lumbee due to a project to drain the swamps in the 1910s which many of them could not afford; the Ku Klux Klan routing of 1958; state and federal recognition; and population growth.  He notes that Lumbee population increase in North Carolina has been in the double digits every decade since 1910.  He predicts that because the number of Lumbee of childbearing age is higher than in the county's population overall, the Lumbee will probably comprise 50% of the county's population by 2010 (p. 121).

He also discusses Lumbee religion, employment, farming, and land ownership (explaining the four types that have been used throughout history).  Chapter 12, “Urban Indian organizations and unrecognized tribal groups,” pages 211-226, discusses Lumbee settlements in Cumberland County, Guilford, and Metrolina (Charlotte), as well as the Robeson County Tuscarora.  Chapter 13 discusses future prospects for North Carolina Indians in terms of population growth, culture, and recognition.

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