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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
INTERVIEWER: Lew Barton
INTERVIEWEE: Commissioner Brantley Blue
Mrs. Helen Shierbeck
November 4, 1974
I: This is November 4, 1974. I am Lew Barton recording for the University
of Florida's History Department's American Indian Oral History Program,
in office of Commissioner Brantley Blue of the United States Indian
Claims Commission, and very shortly we want to get together with him
and Mrs. Helen Shierbeck, and do a three-way interview. We're recording,
of course, for the University of Florida's History Department's American
Indian Oral History Program. Commissioner Blue, we're so appreciative
of this time that you're giving us for this interview, you and Mrs.
Shierbec. How've you been doing?
B: Well, Lew, I've been doing better than I deserve. That's what I
always tell people when they ask me how I've been doing, because I
honestly feel that I've been doing better than I deserve.
I: Good Lord, .
B: I've scratched up further than I've been entitled to scratch, I
I: Well, I don't know about that, Brantley. In order to be a little
more informal I'm going to call you Brantley. May I call you?
B: Oh, of course.
I: Mrs. Shierbedk, you are here with us, and we don't...
B: ]Why don't you give her first name so people will know who you're
B: Helen Maynard Shierbeck.
I: Right. Be sure to get both those names in there. You're so kind
Page 2. dib
to give us an interview and we're going to sit here, just the three,
you and the Commissioner and I, and talk very informally. Let's talk
with the tape recorder going between us. You have been such an inspira-
tion to our people as well as the Commissioner, and we're all so very
proud of you. You don't know how proud. She ought to tell us some-
thing about her family background. Don't you think she should give us
some biographical information here?
B: Yes, certainly.
S: Well, I'm very happy to, to be a part of the interview this morning,
Mr. Barton, because no matter how far away I am from Pembroke, North
Carolina, all of my heart is still in that area.
S: And of course I was born like most of the Lumbees in Robeson County,
North Carolina, in the town of Pembroke. And my father and mother were
Mr. Lacy W. Maynard and Mrs. Sally Rebels Maynard, and I went to school
in Pembroke through the sixth grade, and I went to Pembroke Elementary
School. And I was one of those lucky students that had Miss Mary Sharp
for a teacher, and Miss Sharp saw a number of young Lumbee students,
not just in my generation but a little earlier, and she always kept
them in her grade for two or three years to make sure that they had
a good command of English, a good command of math...
S: ...and a good command of reading.
I: You've certainly got that. You certainly, you're very articulate.
B: One of the best.
Page 3. dib
S: Then after Pembroke Elementary my father sent me to Pennsylvania
to junior and senior high school, and there I lived with one of my
aunts, because he felt at the time that our high schools were not quite
good enough, and he wanted me to get a good grasp of elementary and
secondary education. And it was first in Pennsylvania where I learned,
I think, that most people look at us as individuals and accept us
for what we are.
I' Then I would go home in the summertime and I would find that for
some reason there were certain areas that we really were not accepted
in, and climate was quite different. And I was just watching a T.V.
show last night called, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and al-
though it was about slavery, the issue that seemed to be most upper in
their minds was the issue of the drinking fountain that said "White Only,"
and of course that reminded me of the same kind of problemsthat the
Lumbees had in many parts of Robeson County where we had three-way
drinking fountains that said "Indians, Whites, and Negroes," oAthe
drinking fountain. At any rate those high school years were very inter-
esting. I finished high school and I won about ten awards, and my
father and mother always made two trips a year. One was to take us to
school and the other one was to bring us home.
I: How many of you \ Al ,. c ?i
S: There were two of us that went away. Well, actually, all four
of the girls went away. But with me my sister, Olivia. Olivia, Frankie,
Patsie, and myself. And so what happened at graduation, I'll never for-
Page 4. dib
get this, after it was all over and we went back to my aunts house, my
father said, "I was really proud of you tonight, because I was sitting
in the audience and somebody said, "Who is that Maynard girl? She's
winning all the awards.this year." and it was a very deep honor,because
those people in Pennsylvania didn't know a thing about me. They just
accepted me as that little runt from North Carolina who had come in to
their community to go to school. And that had a deep lesson on my life,
because it taught me that most people will accept you on your human
S: ...and your ability to move ahead.
I: Most people are great, aren't they?
S: They really are.
I: Would you tell us what you're doing right now?
S: Well, I'm involved in a very exciting project. I'm entering into
the second year of the project. I'm on a foundation grant from the
John Haye Whitney Foundation, and I am taking a look at the history
of American Indian education since the beginning of the country.
I: That is exciting.
S: I'm trying to look at the policy and how it was financed, and then
I hope to put together about four or five ideas beginning in February,
and move into an action phase, and I'd like to change a lot of the things
that I've been unhappy about in Indian education. And it's taken an
awful lot of discipline, because not much has been written in this area,
and we're having to use the archives in the library.
Page 5. dib
S: And I'm really a person who likes to be outside and work with
S: So I've had to say to myself all year now, "You've got to hang
in there, because what you're doing could be very important for
S: ...in Indian communities later on.
I: Indian children are very fortunate to have you on their side. All
of us are.
S: Thank you.
I: You want to let's talk about the Lumbee Bill and how it's making out?
B: I think, I think, Lew, it would be, you know the Lumbee Bill wouldn't
be important to the Indian community at all west of the Mississippi if
LRDA were not involved.
I: That's Lumbee Regional Development Association.
B: Yes, and, and I'd like for Helen to tell you how it got started. I
know a little...
I: Yes, that's...
B: ...something about it, and I know who, who pushed it through to
get it started four or five years ago.
I: Because that is our central organization. You might say LRDA...
B: LRDA is a battle ground between the reservation Indians and the,
and the urban Indians today. LRDA is the central focal point.
B: And here's the lady that got it started, and I'd like for her to
Page 6. dib
tell you a little about...
I: Oh, yes.
B: ...how she did it. Because I happened to be present down there in
Pembroke when it came up at a, maybe a :discussion of some twenty people
that Helen arranged in either late '69 or early '70. She, she got it
off the ground.
S: Well, I'd kind of like to talk a little bit about the whole area
there and then move into LRDA.
S: Actually since I've finished graduate school I've been trying to
do what my father taught me and what a lot of other Lumbees have done.
I: And that's, that's the late Judge Maynard, right?
S: Right, and that is to try to be of service to Indian people. That
was the main reason he said I was going away to school and I was to get
and education. And so I came out and began working right after gradu-
ate school with the National Congress of American Indians,3 I was always
very concerned about the poverty and the lack of organization and the
lack of education that many Indian people and their communities had
throughout the country, and I would look at our community, the Lumbees,
and I would say, "Now we've got the education. We've got the community,
but we don't have the organization to pull these things together." And
so I've been working now for about twelve years, and I've worked first
with the National Congress of American Indians, and then with one of
the senate committees looking at the rights of Indian people, and then
I ran a large training center in Wisconsin training people from all walks
Page 7. dib
in a community organization. We had a number of Indians in those
work shops, and then, of course, I've been trying in HEW to put
together focus relating to Indian education. And in all the things
I've done I've always said, "Now how can I relate these things back
to North Carolina?" And we've always had to relate it to individuals,
and as long as my father lived, for example, we.tried to get scholar-
ships to Indian students in the area. But we never had a group that
was really a coordinating point. And the Lumbees are like many Indians,
we have many factions...
B : !. -
S: ...all pushing in directions
S: Unfortunately is right. So before the anti-poverty war started
in 1964,1 was one of the consultants setting up the Office of Economic
Opportunity, and I was to organize the Indian desk. And one of the
big battles we had was to try to get...
I: And that was in Washington?
S: That was here in Washington. One of our biggest battles was to try
and get the Indian desk,known as the Office of Native American Programs
now, to extend itself to reservation and non-reservation Indians. Well,
we lost that battle, because most of the people had always known reser-
vation Indians. So they felt that, Oh, we'll have, should only serve
the Indians with a defined reservation mandate. That was very disappoint-
ing to me, because there were so many other Indians that needed that kind
S: So what I did then was talk with a fellow named George Ecker,
who had been funded by the Ford Foundation to put together the North
Carolina Fund, and I talked to him about the Lumbee, where we were
located, and we got him to hire first a fellow named Tommy Dial, who
had just finished our community action program in Wisconsin.
I: A law student?
S: He had finished law school then, but he had finished at Cumberland, in
Tennessee. And so Tommy went to work for Mr. Ecker, and Tommy was...
B: In Pembroke?
S: No, in c,, ,r North Carolina, with tie North Carolina Fund. Now
the North Carolina Fund was one of five areas in the United States
funded the year before the poverty program started to test out the
idea, and it was funded by the Ford Fundation. And so we had a Lumbee
on that staff I guess about six months after the North Carolina Fund was
founded. Then I took a week off and invited all those officials to
Robeson County, and I took Mr. Ecker, Tommy of course had to organize
it, and a lot of the Ford Foundation staff all through Robeson County.
I didn't do it, but I had local people do it and I went along. And
the idea was to try and sell our community on organizing itself and
receiving money from the North Carolina Fund to run one of the agencies.
Well, our folks wouldn't do it. They had never, because they had never
had a corporation there.
I: This was something new to them.
S: Something new.
Page 9. dib
B: And strange.
S: And very strange, and they couldn't imagine, you know, getting
a grant for a hundred thousand dollars.
B: Without it going through Lumberton.
S: Yes, absolutely.
I: Which would have been...
B: Or Raleigh.
S: So then what happened, of course, was Tri-County came into being
through the North Carolina Fund, because it was a pilot area. And
of course they claimed the Indians, and that's how the Anti-Poverty
Agency got started. Well, I guess about three or four years passed
and then I came back to Washington, and I saw at HEW all the money
going into non-profit corporations whether they were Indian or not,
and so I went home one weekend and talked to a number of our young
people and a number of our older leaders, and we decided to have a
meeting at the Old Foundry. I think we almost needed to say that's
the brewing ground for all of our ideas.
I: That's certainly true.
B: And still is I believe, largely.
S: So we had a meeting of, I guess, about twenty-five or thirty
people that night.
B: And now what year was this?
S: That was in 19...
B: Was that when I was there?
Page 10. dib
B: Was that when I was there?
S: You were, that was the first night, you were there, and you were
one of the speakers.
B: In '69 or '70.
S: I think it was 1970.
I: Oh, that's interesting.
S: And the whole idea of that meeting was to have Lumbees that were
outside talk about the opportunities for the community if we could
get organized, and so we said to each of the people in the room, "We've
been involved in work. We've raised money. We've always helped every
community but our own, and we'd like to see an organization here so
that we could begin the whole process of relating resources...
S: ...to the Lumbees. And so we said, "If you'll do it, we'll do it,"
and it was a partnership between the Lumbees in Washington and the
Lumbees at home, and I think the first small grant we got, and this
is very ironic, was from the National Congress of American Indians, to
do a voter registration...
I: How about that.
S: ...program. It was something like five thousand dollars. It wasn't
a lot of money, but we started. And then, I think, in about six months
we had a number of federal grants coming into the area. But let me just
say it was a battle to get that money. I'll never forget...
I: I know it. I know it was.
Page 11. dib
S: ...the first grant that came from HEW, my job was to be the ad-
vocate for Indians in that agency. So we had the Lumbee grant was
a talent search grant. I'll bet you every politician called HEW
against that money...
B: North Carolina politicians?
S: ...except, yes, except the two senators, Mr., our good friend,
Mr. Lennon, I'm not sure about the friend part, but Mr. Lennon called,
a number of people from Lumberton called.
B: Well, what do you think...
S: And, well, they were trying to say, Brantley, that we were not
capable of managing, and it was interesting...
B: We didn't have the...
I: It's what people are always saying...
B: ...administration ability.
S: Didn't have the administrative ability.
I: ...where Indians are concerned, right?
S: Right. And the other thing they tried to say is there were black
organizations down there that had more ability than we had. Now the
second grant that came to the Lumbees was-something called The Emergency
School Assistance Act,and it was very interesting. They had Rollin
put together an ad-hoc black group and applied for the same money, and
then they tried to prove up here in HEW that the blacks were more
qualified than we were to run the Emergency School Assistance Grant.
And we did some investigating and found that the black group had never
even been incorporated they had put it together so fast, see. It was
Page 12, dib
just a committee.
I: Hadn't even had time to do their paperwork.
S: Yes, so whenever have a lot of problems against each other in
that community, I always feel like we need to say, "You need to un-
derstand that if Lumberton could cut off that money they'd do it in
a minute." And the best way to do it...
I: How about Raleigh?
S: Raleigh? Yes, any of those groups. If they could get it cut off
they'd do it, because they don't want to see us become economically
self-sufficient. And so any excuse that they can find of Lumbee against
Lumbee, they're going to use it to our disadvantage. And so we've
got to keep that...
I: That's too bad.
S: ...uppermost in our mind, I think, as we move forward.
S: Now I've done an awful lot of talking, Brantley. It's your turn.
I: How about that Commis-...?
B: Well, Lew, I told you that, when you first came in the room, that
we wouldn't even be here on this Lumbee Bill if it hadn't been for you,
the voice of twenty, fifteen years ago, speaking alone, and Helen May-
nard Shierbeck's efforts which resulted in LRDA. And LRDA is the thing
that Lumberton resents today. Lumberton can't understand Indians opera-
ting Indian programs involving millions of dollars a year. They oppose
it. They oppose the Lumbee Bill. Charlie Rose told me they opposed
Page 13. dib
B: I said, "Charlie, how come they opposed the Lumbee Bill?" He said,
"Cause it's not coming through Lumberton."
I: Right. I can understand that.
B: Indians are handling the money. Indians are making the decisions.
Indians are doing the thing. And they don't...
I: Have you seen ?
B: ...they don't like that. They want to keep the Indians down."
I said, "Well, Charlie, you understand some things, don't you, even
though you're a democrat.d You understand some things, and I appreciate
efforts that you've put forth to, in support of the Lumbee Bill."
And, of course, I was not the only one present when that was said.
You were there, weren't you? There were about eight of us there. And
he was a little bit amazed to know that we understood that in advance,
wasn't he, Helen?
S: Yes, he was, very much so.
B: And, and he also said, you know, there's some Indians that oppose
it down there. And he thought he was really surprising us when he
said that. We let him know right quick that we knew about the Indians,
too, and we characterized all the Indians that opposed it by naming
just one Indian man who supposedly had been our leader for, one of
our leaders for twenty or thirty years, and I won't mention his name.
S: I think your_
I: I think we all know that man.
B: And when I mentioned his name to Charlie Rose, he said, "O.K. You
LUM 14. dib
all know what I'm talking about then, don't you? And we just told
him, yes. Now this thing that's happening now, the Lumbee Bill, of
course in 1953 the state of North Carolina passed a Lumbee Bill
naming us Lumbees, but doing no more than that. And this is all
the state of North Carolina had ever done. They just named us,
starting in 1885 with the word 'Croatan,' and all the state had
done from 1885 until 1953 was just to change our name from the
Croatan to the Cherokee to the Siouan, you know, just playing patsie
with our name and keeping us in separate schools and the like.
I: And didn't think we were interested or had any other needs
in any other I'bMr.5 .
B: .Yes, just to name us. Yes, that, that was a big thing. But
at least the fact that they did that is a part of our history now,
and it shows a relationship at least between the Indians of Robeson
County and the state of North Carolina, even if it was only con-
cerning itself with naming us. It, it does show that they recog-
nized our presence,and such as that, dating back to 1885 so far as
the name is concerned. And we can go even beyond that. In 1835 by
constitutional amendment they, they made sure we couldn't vote any
longer, and couldn't attend public schools any longer unless we
did it with members of the black race which Indians refused to do.
So for fifty years we lived in ignorance.
I: Well, they did the same thing to the Cherokee, didn't they?
B: No, no, no. This was specially directed to non-reservation
Indians in the state of North Carolina. No, Sir. Now they did, what
they did to the Cherokees, but it was separate and apart from what they
Page 15, dib
did to us...The Indian, now, now the struggle is, well, in, then.in
1956, three years after the state designated us as Lumbee Indians,
the United States Congress for the first time passed a law all the
way through the Senate and the Congress, designating us as Lumbees,
and, and, and copied the words of the state statute. Then they added
the clause, "However, nothing in this bill should entitle said Indians
any federal benefits."
I: Talking out of both sides of their mouths at once.
B: Yes. So a few years ago efforts were started to get rid of that
last clause, that added clause that Congress put in it that the state
didn't put in it. And so that's the struggle now, and, and if there
were no LRDA down in Pembroke this change in the bill would go through
and nobody would say a word. But by reason of LRDA and by reason of
millions of dollars going down there each year for the Lumbee Indians,
the Western Indians now know about us because of the moneyAreceived
through these programs that Helen Shierbeck started down there, and,
and they're fighting us to the toenail.
I: Why do, why do they fight us, Frank?
B: Well, I think, aid Helen can express her viewpoint, my viewpoint
is this, that about half the Indians in the country today are off
reservations. We have Indian centers in Denver. We have Indian cen-
ters in Albuquerque. We have Indian centers in Los Angeles, SandFran-
cisco, Chicago, Baltimore. About half the Indians are off-reservation
Indians and-;many of them, as the Lumbees are, are getting federal funds
for needs in the community. And the reservation Indians have a feeling,
Page 16. dib
and they're without, you know, outside of the BIA, and we're not
seeking BIA status.
B: I'm told that there's a small group down there that might be inter-
ested in that, but not the vast majority of the Lumbees.
I: Right. It's a different...
B: Yes. And, but the reservation Indians would like their BIA
stuff and they'd like all of the Labor Department, HUD, Housing,
they'd like the whole, whole pack. And every penny they see going
to Pembroke, North Carolina for the Lumbee Indians, they look at it
with green eyes and they want it for themselves. Now that's the pro-
blem. Like I said, if we didn't have...
I: That's i ( .
B: ...our LRDA, we wouldn't have any opposition to this bill.
I: I hate to see Indian against Indian.
B: That's the way it is, and it's, it's, it's reaching that point
nationally now. Reservation Indian against off-reservation Indians.
They are using the Lumbee Bill as the focal point for the whole battle
I: Are we going to win, Brantley?
B: ...between reservation and off-reservation. Are we going to win?
You're dang right.
I: How good for you. We're already got it through...
B: Got it through the house.
I: Already, we're already passed the House.
B: We'll get it, we'll get it through the House and the Senate before
Page 17. dib
it's over in March. Then we've got to win. I mean, there's no, no
such thing as can we win? We'll just win.
I: We had a favorable report, did we not, from the United States
Office of the Interior. They support the bill.
B: The testimony of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in the House,
when the House had its hearings, he said, "This clause is discriminatory.
It ought not to be there." And he had his restrictions. He does
not want us to become a part of BIA, and we have no problem about
that, because we don't want...
I: We don't want that to.
B: ...to become a part of BIA as it now exists.
B: So the Department of Interior supports our efforts to get rid
of that clause. And in spite of all of the crying by the part of the
regulation Indians, if the Department of Interior changes its posi-
tion between the House Hearing and the Senate Hearing, they'll have
to get some reasoning, rather than just saying we're parroting the
requests of reservation Indians, because those requests do not make
I: Right. And they are discriminatory. We were saying a while ago
before we were, we startedjrecording, that we've outperformed, and
I don't think this is in bad taste to boast this much about our people,
because they have outperformed every single group of American Indians
in the Indian world, haven't they? Educationally, wouldn't you say,
Mrs. Shierbeck, or would you rather not comment there?
Page 18. dib
S: No, I think you're right in terms of the number of people edu-
cationally and in the professions, certainly in the modern day.
If we went back in history, of course, those five civilized tribes
would have outperformed us. But I think in terms of contemporary
day we are those that are,the Indian group that is performing most.
But I'd like to say why I think that is, and then also say why we're
doing it. You know, I believe that the Lumbees bring a special in-
sight and appreciation into the Indian world that most tribes don't.
We have had to really struggle with the Indians to keep our identity as
Indian, and I have run into many groups where they have lost a lot of
their culture and a lot of their traditions. And I said, well, the
Lumbees had a choice a long time ago like Commissioner Blue said in
the 1830's, our choice was either go with the BTack or dig in and be
stubborn and maintain our identity. So we made the decision a long
time ago that we were Indians and were going to maintain that Indianess.
S: And so that's helped us, because I think most of us are clear where
we're coming from. We may not have all the dots and t's in terms of
our, our identity, in terms of the linguistic stock, you know, and all
that, but certainly the fact that we're Indians. We've never doubted
that, and we've fought hard to maintain it.
B: That if Tennessee, I mean the state of North Carolina never doubted
it, and neither did the Klu Klux Klan.
I: That's right. And if we aren't Indians, why did they treat us
Page 20. dib
S: All the time. So we do, I think we fought harder as a people. Those
of us that 0GiA moved outside to -rik-in the Indian world, we fought
harder to help Indians maintain their communities and their identity,
because we can appreciate the problem. We've been through it.
S: And so...
B: The moving, the moving force, the moving group against us apparently
at the National Congress of American Indian Convention which just
completed lastweek, was USET, which is the United Southeastern Tribes.
I: That was very disappointing.
B: Which Cherokee, eastern bound of Cherokee, they're a member of USET.
Let Helen tell you what kind of a hand she had in getting them started
back-in, I think, 1964, getting them funded.
I: Absolutely, we'd like to hear about that.
S: Well, I was one of the national consultants to setting up the Indian
desk at the Office of Economic Opportunity, and of course, interestingly
enough the problem faced by the Cherokees, the Seminoles, the M
and the Mississippi Chocktaw, were similar to ours. They were small
groups. They were not incorporated bands of Indians. They had the
BIA service, but that was all. So I went into all of their communities
the first year of the poverty program, talked to their tribal councils,
and suggested to them that what we try to do is create an intertribal
council so+At they would have enough people to qualify for money. And
in fact after that visit I wrote to Mr. William Bieler, the Executive
Director of the Association on American Indian Affairs, and I said,
"Bill, these people need money just to come together to meet and plan
Page 21. dib
how to put an intertribal council together." So he gave them ten
thousand dollars, and that's what started the ball rolling to get
USET organized and pulled together. And we also fought hard to
make sure they got funded. You know, we stayed on top...
TAPE I; SIDE II
I: Mrs. Shierbeck, you were rudely interrupted there by the tape
running out. Would you please pick up where you were, because that
was so interesting and)vital information. We don't want to miss any
S: I was just saying that what we tried to do once we got those
programs in from the southeastern tribes we stayed on top of them
and made sure they got through and got funded. And let me just
say that the idea of the intertribal was something we tried first
in Nevada with small groups of Indians, and so USET was about the
fourth intertribal to get funded, and I spent many weeks training
the tribal councils, at the Seminoles, for example, and at M_
And after I came back to Washington I made sure even at HEW, when there
was money at the last minute that we needed to spend, I would always
say to HEW, "Those M are trying to start a school. They need
help. Let's give them some extra money." So I, the one thing we tried
to do was to be helpful to the people all 1j __jr
I: You haven't been discriminatory, that's clear.
B: Lew, I'll say this abouthe Lumbees. I, I have never heard of the
Page 22,. dib
Lumbee opposing any Indian group in this country if they were making
efforts to do any better.
B: And it's...
B: ...absolutely atrocious now for them to oppose us in our efforts.
It's, it's inexplicable.
I: Do you think they're getting some prompting from respective _
offices? I mean, something like, are there people, don't answer this
unless you want to, of course, you won't, but are there key people,let's
say in the BIA, who are putting the Indians up to this to uphold that
B: I don't think it's a governmental effort. I think it's a tribal
effort. I think it goes back to what we were discussing earlier. It's
a battle, that it has been fizzing up for a long time. Now the battle
lines are gone. -The reservation Indians against the off-reservation
Indians, and we represent the big group. We're the biggest group
of off-reservation Indians in this country, and if they can knock
us off, then they can knock the others off easily...
I: They can lick the rest.
B: ...one by one by one. So this is a big battle, and it's amazing
these same people that I was just telling you how she helped them get
their efforts off the ground, their leader out in San Diego at the
National Convention of the National Congress of American Indians, during
the vote on the resolutions the last one of which is a resolution to
Page 23. dib
oppose the Lumbee Bill, one of their leaders got me up in my room and
he threatened me. He threatened Helen. He threatened Tom. He
threatened He threatened our job.
I: What kind, oh, your job.
B: Yes. He said, "Get the Lumbees out of here. Just don't let them
be present when this resolution comes up. If you don't, these people
are going to go after your job, Helen Shierbeck's job, Tom Oxendine's
job, r-c. /\cijob. I was told that face to face.
I: What did you tell him for me.
B: We stayed and we responded.
I: I know you told him plenty in your nice way.
B: What he replied...
I: But very firmly.
B: But it was a direct threat, and he was answered. We remained and
we did respond to the resolution.We're still responding to the communi-
cations that they're sending all over the country. We're still working
at it, and this is why I say I think we'll win.
I: I want, I'd like to know where the Acostos stand on this thing.
You know, they run...
B: The Acostos were the one that first alerted the Lumbees out there
that this document was going to all the Indian tribes and all the De-
partments of government dealing with Indians, vilifying the Limbees.
They attended the National Congress of American Indians Convention for
Page 24. dib
a couple of days. They went back to their office and they had received
this package which vilifies the Lumbees. They got on the phone,
called Tom Oxendine,because they knew they could reach him because he's
all over the place out there you know...
B: ...being the public relations man for Commissioner Thompson.- They
reached him. They told him that this was being sent to everybody.
They were the ones who alerted us. They're our friends. The Acostos
I: That's great. I'm glad to hear that then. I, they are a great
B: Don't you think, Helen?
S: Yes, without a doubt.
I: They're a great people, and they are so vital to the Indian world
with their publication and...
B: They called it a vicious package...
I: And that's great.
B: ...and I think they will call it that in their next edition of
their W Paper. They will read about that.
I: That's certainly great. We need them. They need us, too. We need
them. We need all our friends now.
B: Right, and we have a lot of friends in the country.
B: Just because the vote went like it was the Lumbees the next day
had a governor who came up and said, "I just had to vote
Page 25. dib
like I voted." But he took our luggage to the limosine from the
motel so that we could go to the airport. He was very helpful. We
have these friendships still among the western Indians. We have friend-
ships among the Indians at the Indian desk here in the governmental
departments. I talked to several of them last night, and one of them
that I talked to which de't with the housing program, you live in one
of our housing programs down there don't you, Lew?
B: You know how great it is
I: They are great.
B: And the man up here at the Indian desk in charge of that,last
night he said, "When this stuff came in my whole staff were mad as
wet setting hens when they read this document against the Lumbees."
He said, "I didn't have to convince them. They read it, and they know
what the Lumbees have done. They know who the Lumbees are and what
they are, and they just got mad, mad, mad when they read it." He
said, "We're ready to go in support of the Lumbees." And we've got
friends up here.
I: Well, that's good, because we've always been friends to all the
other groups. You know, our people, even though some of these groups,
some of the activities were not exactly the kind of activities that
some people would like to go along with. But we were at Alcatraz.
We were at Wounded Knee, too. We were right there with them.
B: Somebody was at the VIA, too, weren't they?
I: Somebody, right, the VIA takeover. Some our people were involved.
Page 26. dib
B: We met Lumbees everywhere.
I: If there, if it's an Indian movement there will be some Lumbees.
Oi 5m e, o mlU
B: There's nothing wrong with that.
I: That's, that's great. It's a good proverb.
B: Nothing wrong with being involved.
I: It's the feeling of brotherhood. Don't you think we'have a great
feeling of brotherhood among us A ?
S: I think that's what makes us, you know, as a, as a tribe more out-
standing because of the feeling of brotherhood. We can accommodate
many ideas, many movements, and be in the background helping all of
them. And that's been our history.
I: And some people describe that as if they were clannish. Indians
should be clannish. They have to be in order to survive, wouldn't you
S: I would say so. I'm a little worried about, you know, the cleavage
that Mr. Blue described between the reservation and off-reservation In-
I: It disturbs me, too.
S: Because I'm afraid that if the reservation Indians don't stop and
think a little bit about this they could find themselves on the short
end of the stick. If they want only the services from VIA because of
the trust responsibility, that's fine. But that's extremely limited.
Because many Indians, including myself, have fought for ten years to
open up services of all departments for all Indian people. And we can
Page 27. dib
clearly show legislation in that direction. Now if the reservation
people want their services coming back to the VIA, that's fine. But
they have to realize the price, and the price is going to be limited
resources and not the freedom to run their own programs. So if this
fight keeps shaking up some of us are going to have to start writing
on those kinds of issues so that they'll begin to realize what they're
I: I think maybe that you could get on their nerve right there, some
people oppose things without really considering it as deeply as they
ought perhaps. They haven't taken all the factors into consideration
maybe, would you think ,-
S: I guess I'd like to just say a word or two about the future of the
I: Oh yes, I'd like to hear that.
S: You know I'm very excited about the things that are happening in the
community, the way people have pulled together in terms of politics and
in terms of voting, and the way we've got, gotten a lot of our small
businesses started and a lot of our large businesses like the bank,
things like that. I really feel that if we keep the momentum going and
the positive nature of things....We've got the state university moving
now in a more positive way in terms of the Indian community and its re-
sponsibility to the Indian community. I just think, you know, the world
is there for the taking and we're on our way up.
S: I really like that Lumbee bank sign. Every time I go home...
Page 28, dib
I: Oh yes.
S: ...it says, "We're on our way up,"and I can sing it, "You're right.
I: That's us all right. Do we exaggerate when we say the Lumbee bank
is the first and only Indian bank in America?
S: No, that's true.
I: That's good. I'm glad.
S: That's true. That's true, and I think pretty soon we're going to
be able to show the history of Pembroke State clear enough and I'm, one
of the things I'm doing is also a booklet on the higher education efforts
of American Indians.
I: Oh, I hope, I hope you'll let me get in on some of that information
of yours. By the way my book is supposed to come out very shortly in
my second edition to my most ironic story.
I: And we have to fill in those, those seven years and they are amazing
years, because these are the years of the unfolding of the Lumbee Indians...
1; ,.,and the development where we're really getting there.
S: Yes. Yes, no stopping us.
I: So anything you can help me do in that direction, I sure would ap-
S: About January Ill have most of this pulled together and I'd be glad
to share it with you.
Page 29. dib
I: Certainly would appreciate it so much. We have set us up a little
publishing house, and we're going to do it ourselves. We call it
I: We'll have to, Oh, we'll call it the Barton Plant.
S: The Barton Plant.
B: Lew, one thing I'd like to say about the present empathy is the
importance of the North Carolina Indian Voice which your family...
I: It's helping isn't it?
B; Yes, your family is doing it. There is so much happening in the
Indian world down in Robeson County that if you didn't read the Carolina
Indian Voice you simply wouldn't know it was happening. The one paper
monopoly is just that, a monopoly. They tell the people what they want
to tell the people. It's a, it's a controlled press. The finest thing,
two very good good things happened to the Lumbee Indians to help put all
this in motion. Helen Shierbeck, Lew Barton, and Bruce Barton of the
Carolina Indian Voice.
I: Oh, thank you, Brantley, and how about Brantley Blue?
S: Brantley Blue, too.
1: You better believe.
S: Oh my.
I: Communications, of course, we all know this is vital to any operation.
You can't, democracy doesn't operate unless you have communication, free-
dom of speech, all this help and we are able to publish the news and give
the Indian viewpoint. We give our own version of things as they happen.
Page 30. dib
And this is what I think we've always needed. I've wanted a paper. I've
always tried for an Indian voice because every community needs this, and
but, we're just now in a position where the paper will support itself.
And of course Bruce is very aggressive.
B: You know a lot of people didn't, a lot of people didn't give it a
snowball of a chance in Haiti?
I: Right, because it failed before. We've tried it before. But Bruce
they hadn't figured on.
B: It's coming along now, yes.
I: Bruce is aggressive.
B: Oh boy. If he didn't have but a nickel a week to keep that paper going,
he'd keep it going.
I: He'll be happy, wouldn't he?
S: ,SV= ^Jo/Jl *
B: And that's what it takes. That's the kind of stuff that.....You see,
Lew, Helen, do you know any Indian paper in this country that isn't funded
from some source other than the Carolina Indian Voice?
S: No -
B: Is it not perhaps that only after ,_t / a free enterprise Indian
paper in the country that has no funds from any other source except its
subscriptions and its classified sections.
S: Right, I'm sure that's true, Brantley.
S: Because you look at the Navajo Times, as old as that is the tribe is
still putting money into that paper.
Page 31. dib
B: Probably a losing venture.
I: Bruce says he's going to make it pay off financially.
B: It ought to, and I think it will if he can stick with it,
Ro Last week was...
B: Helen Shierbeck is making good money now. But it took a long
time to scratch her way up to it.
I: Yes, I know.it.
B: She stuck with it.
I: I know it. She deserves whatever...
B: Dang right.
1: ...whatever good things come.
B: __-__ _" We've had a lot of fun.
S: Yes we have.
: v1 j That's a good old-fashioned word.
I: It's a meaningful...
B: Yes, it is.
I: ...word. It adds something, doesn't it?
S: I'm sure it does.
1: It intensifies.
B: One of my descriptive words,
I: I like that.
S: Now Brantley, should we talk about the problems other than the Lumbee
Bill? We've made it sound like there are no problems down in Robeson County.
Page 32. dib
I: Oh, we'd better not say that had we?
B: Well, bring them up.
I: We still have problems, don't we?
S: Well, you know, I think a lot of it is getting tackled now. I've
been very concerned about the school system for a long time.
B: I'm interested in the two party system, Lew, and she's interested
in the school system.
I: Good, we need both.
B: And they're both important.
I: Right, they are important. We're, we're sort of, we sort of had
a vicious cycle it seemed, you know from my point of view, because not
being able to improve our schools in the way that we wanted to, then
there was a gap between what the schools were able to do and entrance
requirements and so on. And we, we don't want to bring anything down.
We want to move up to it. But if, if...
1: ...our hands are tied there isn't too much we can do is there?
S: No, I think it's important, though, for the community to decide
that that school system has just got to be tackled, and we don't have
to talk about names. We just know that there's got to be leadership,
and there's got....And that will not only benefit the Indian children,
but it will benefit all of the children in Robeson County.
S: Because we're educating generations of young people, and we've got
to educate them for the modern day world...
Page 33. dib
S: ...with an understand iof the past. And one of the most disappointing
things to me was to learn that the first year the Indian Education Act
funds went down there I was told that it was used to buy football jerseys
for a football team of all colored. And I said, "My gosh. With the
interest the Lumbees have of, in terms of getting their heritage into
the school system I wonder what happened there. And of course I learned
later that somebody had slipped something by. But with all the intelli-
gent-educated Lumbees we have they've got to decide to mobilize a cam-
pain to straighten out that school system and get some leadership in
all the key positions. And I think that's coming, but it's not moving
quite as fast as I would like to see. Because every year we stall more
children go to that system, and we've just got to get it put together
in top-notch shape. And I, like you, don't want to see the college
lower it standard, but I want to see the University recognize that
it's got a community there to serve...
S: ...and begin serving that community in more ways than recreational
I: Right, and that's so true. The integration plan, of course, in
1970 I've always been anti where that was concerned, simply because
it wasn't, it wasn't. I called it, I'm writing it up in my book now,
and I have a section called 1The Integration Fiasco of 1970.'' They did
push some things over, although if we can't keep our schools then I
think we have to have, what we want is a fair integration plan.
S: That's right.
Page 34. dib
I: And something that doesn't work against us, which is what that
plan has always done.
S: Well, you know, I tried to get that plan reviewed up here, and it
was the hardest thing to do because I couldn't find anybody in the Lumbee
community that would come up and talk about it and who understood those
lines. I still don't feel it's impossible to get a review, but we've
got to decide down there we want it and go after it, see. So I have
B: And this is what people still fear to do...
S: Yes, go after what they want.
B: ...because of the, because it's a possible risk to their jobs.
I: Right, everybody's...
B: The people who do understand the system fear to come up here and,
S: That's right. That's right
B: ...because they may find themselves having to go to South Carolina
to teach cA.- ,)I p .
I: Right, and they have taken over.
B: Some of which our friends have had to do.
I: Well. Well, that's true. We've lost,we've lost more teachers because
of this plan than we can afford. Our community needs a middle-class,
and we're one of the few groups of Indians who have developed a solid
middle class. But we need those people, and they need their jobs. And
we need, we need for them to have that.
S: Well, you know, I had also tried to get a number of our folks to join
Page 35, dib
the National Education Association here in Washington, because they
have an Indian caucus. And one of the things NEA does is it has a
whole section on the protection of Indian teacher rights, you see.
But we've got to be willing, I think, to, to affiliate with some of
these groups and take a chance. And a lot of our folks are willing
to help it on the side but not openly.
I: We have secret disciples, don't we?
S: Secret disciples.
B: Here's one of them, Lew. I was just looking at something on my
desk getting back to the Lumbee Bill? Here's a letter from tg
A\f You know he's the one that wrote, Custard Died For Your Sins?
B: He's taken a position on the Lumbee Bill and he sent a letter to
Senator Sam Irving y o-. a4,- .
I; That sounds interesting.
B: He says, "Dear Senator Irving: It is very disappointing to me that
you have not exerted leadership in getting the Lumbee Bill(--4045)
through Congress this year. Your working with American Indians has
been one of the finest in American history and it would be too bad to
tarnish that now by refusing to assist this group in getting their
right recognition from the federal government. I understand that the
eastern Cherokees has raised some questions about the Lumbee. You
surely must remember that the eastern Cherokees themselves, the Missis-
sippi Chocktaws and other eastern and southeastern tribes have had such
charges raised against them often in the past, because they were living
Page 36. dib
east of the Mississippi or in the south. There is discrimination among
Indians also. In that respect many of the present tribes complaining
about the Lumbees were not federally recognized until this century
themselves, and in their efforts ,at recognition were often made the
targets of derogatory attack. I would feel very bad if you sided
with the narrow and bigoted members of the Indian communities who do
not know their own history enough to have sympathy and offer to support
the Lumbees here in this country. I would therefore urge you to ignore
some of the derogatory attacks now being made upon the Lumbees, and exert
the leadership for which you have become world famous and use all your
influence to assure justice to the Lumbees by getting their bill written
in to law.
I: Great. What's the date on that, Brantley?
R: That's dated October 15, 1974. This is November the fourth, some
nineteen days later.
I: We appreciate you sharing that, this with usr ee.- i '4 man who
is an authority on Indians. He is one of c-L*r'.
B: He's a good friend of Helen Shierbecks, too.
I: That's great.
B: We have some friends around
I: That's great. I'm glad to hear that. You were, I think we need,
we're about to run out of tape which is not too good. But we would like
to continue, if you would like let's go on a little bit further. We
could, we could put another tape on. /_.
B: Well, Lew, you can't cover the whole Lumbee thing just by talking to
Page 37. dib
the two of us. You've got a lot of other...
B: ...people you can interview if ,y,, got the time.
I: Well, we've got lots of tape I want you to know, Commissioner.
B: You've already done your thing with us. I, I don't know. You
know, you could talk about Lumbees for days. Lumbees, every time
they get together they talk about Lumbees...
S: That's true.
B: ...and nothing else. That's the truth.
S: It is.
I: And I like to hear that kind of talk. I certainly do.
B: I never see any two of us together unless that is the subject to
the exclusion of all the other subjects,
I: Well, I want you both.,.
B: And it's great,
1: ,..1 want you both to know how very much we appreciate this, and you've
made a great contribution to our program and, and to the understanding
of the Lumbee, and all these other facets, You know, there's so many
different things connected with our people that aren't clearly under-
stood and you're the only people who can explain these things.
B: Oh, no. There's more leadership down in Robeson County than you can
shake a stick at if they do show their heads, and they're showing their
I: They're, they're fighting..,
BR In the last sa teen months you've seen more, IVve seen more heads
come to the surface than in four years prior there to, really. I think
Page 38. dib
they re coming.
I: That's great.
B: They're, they're, they're blossoming out. They're, they're taking
a stand. And this struggle that we have against others will help to
unite us. vj r'n was helping us.
B: It was a symbol. It was something that brought some of us together.
This will bring more of us together when we're attached by Indians west
of the Mississippi. It will bring more together than ever before. I
think we're, we're moving. We're getting more unity...
I: Trb -a5 .
B: ...that IVve ever seen. You were there on the scene. What do you
I: Oh, I think, I'm, I'm certain that these, all these things help.
Even our resistance to this bogus integration plan helped. Although we
didn't accomplish anything in terms of actually rectifying anything, yet
we, it was helpful in that it brought us to the attention of other people.
And the United States Office of Education had to admit itself that we've
made more progress in the field of education than in any of these groups.
B: And the fact that it is being shown that Indians can be elected to
political office and get in positions of policymaking, I think finally
realizing that, and they're doing it.
I: Was this elite among the Lumbee criticisms? I like that. That
phrase is interesting. I, I don't...
Page 39. dib
I: ...like it, but I...
B: This fifteen page document that's going (.>. all the Indian tribes
in the country and all the governmental departments in, in the country.
The second paragraph states, "Today the elite of the Lumbee people who
are in high places in government in Washington, D.C. and others are
making desperate attempts in their desire to gain federal recognition."
Well, our answer to that is we don't have any elite. We're all.
I: That's good, Brantley. I couldn't agree with you more. How about
S: Yes, I was, we were laughing hard about that elite because like
Brantley says, we're all elite and we're all hard workers, too, you know,
1: Right, We're grassroots people and, and more.
B: There's not a one of us that ever got any where that didn't have to
scratch, scratch, scratch to get there.
B; And we know that. We know that there's not a one among us who was
just given a bed of roses. I know of no Lumbees...
B: ...that was just given a bed of roses.
1: We were given an opportunity...
B: That's all we want..,
T; .,.to get out and work,
B; ,,.and that's all we need.
S; Well, you know we might remember what they used to always say about
the Lumbees and the farm situation. Remember they used to say if you
could find a swamp and then get a Lmnbee to work it he could turn it into
Page 40. dib
a fertile field?
S: Well, I think that holds true nationally. We've always been in there
working and we can oufwork and out-produce and really out-think if we
have to anybody else. But I don't want us to sound arrogant, because...
S: ...I think the motivating thing has been we want to help Indian
people move ahead, and so that's been one of the things that has gotten
of the Lumbees who have come to Washington busy and active in Indian
B: Since coming up here, Lew Barton, I decided to devote the rest of
my days to the Indians in this country.
I: That's great.
B: In view of what happened out west last week I'm having to give it
a second thought. But my mind was clear prior to that time as to what
my future would be.
I: That's too bad, Brantley. We're going to have those segments and
we're going to have those people who will take advantage of those seg-
ments and play them up, you know, politically and otherwise. I don't
think we should be all that discouraged, because just a few groups, In-
dians have always been known to disagree.
S: Well, you know, the other thing,Mr. Barton, that occurs to me, my
gosh, all the Lumbees in Washington have really tried to get other
Indians to come to this town to work on behalf of Indians. We said,
"Come on. We'll find you a job, because we believe that there is need
Page 41. dib
to have Indians all over this town."
S: Most of them won't come. So I think the reservation Indians ought
to be thankful that there are Lumbees who will get in here and sacrifice
to be helpful to them. And, you know, I'm the first to say if they can
send us anybody else we'd be glad to find them a job in the government
and get them active and busy, too.
B: If they're qualified.
I; That's right.
S: That's right.
I; They have to be 6\i .
S: If they're qualified.
I: But this is the old dog in the manger attitude, you know. If
the dog wouldn't eat the hay and wouldn't let the horse eat it either.
I: You know?
S: Yes. Yes. Well.
B; Well, we're going to the tape, About done gone. O.K.
:I Well, we'd better say our thanks and our goodbyes then, and I want
to thank you all so much for giving us this time. It's always an inspira-
tion to me to talk to each one of you two,because you're very favorite
people. Both of you are so special and so special to all our people.
I want to just say think you fjreY 'tx\et'
B; Well, Lew, you know where you stand in the hearts of...