Title: Interview with Mary Gowdin
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007006/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Mary Gowdin
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Spatial Coverage: Lumbee County (Fla.)
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00007006
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Lumbee County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: LUM 12A

Table of Contents
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
Full Text


This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.

This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limts the amount of material that may be

For all other permissions and requests, contact the
the University of Florida

Doris Duke Foundation
Oral History Program
Lum 12A

Interviewer: Lew Barton
Subject: Mrs. Mary Godwin

I: This afternoon I am in the home of Mrs. Gouin, Mrs. Mary Godwin and

she has fin;aly/consented to discuss her connections with Indian

history...just about anything you want to talk about, Mary. First

of all we had better establish your identity and could you tell us

about yourself, your name and age and place of residence.

S: Well, my name is Mary Godwin and I am 35 years old and I live in

a community called Saddletree.

I: This is near Lumberton North Carolina?

S: Yes, it is north of Lumberton iL is a rural community.

I: Is it predominantly Indian community or is it..are there other t-

S: Yes, more Indian than any other.

I: And could you tell us something about your family. Now, your married

name is Godwin. Would you tell us something about your immediate

family, your children, their namesand your husband's name

S: Well, my husband is Nacer Godwin and he's a concrete finisher,

and he's self employed)and we have five boys and one daughter. We

have twin boys, identical twins, Keith and Paul, 14 years old and
o0f onY
Jacqueline, W daughter is 13, and Michael, he's the one we call our

white one, he is 12 years old and we have one 8 years old and one

4 years old.

I: Do you think there is a difference in living say in this part of the

county and living in Penprook or some or rabu or some other, do

you think there are any differences in the communities, indian

communities in this county?

LUM 12A Page 2

S: Well, I would think in this community here there wold be more white

than there would be in the Pteook communities at- s phkphete


I: Tan you think this is, ah, you could describe this area as being

sort of on the fringe or next to the edge of the indian community.

S: Yes.

I: Well, I know you are very active in bible study and things like this

and ah, we want to leave it as open as we possibly can. We'd like

to let you say anything you want to say about anything you want

to say anything about. I would like to mention several things

of interest to me in connection with you and one of these is the

fact that you have traveled extensively)and you have come into

contact with other people probably other races, you know, aid IV

your religious work and you've had an opportunity to meet ohrer /nw

people and ah...some of their reactions, this is just a suggestion,

but it seems to me this would be aga-insort of an adventure in

human relations you know and knowing you as I do and being related

to you, I know that you are very sensitive about things and yet

very level a-Iy; and you are very observantand-ae. .if you.. if

you could give us some of your impressions I think this would be

helpful because other people would like to understand ah as much

as possible about the Lumbees, not only in one area but in all areas

of living.

S: Well, as you know, I am one of Jehova s witnesses and have been for

five years or more, but I have studied the bible around ten years.

I feel that this has helped me quite a bit in my view of the

LUM 12A Page 3

different races//because you know the bible teaches that all men

were made from one man, Adam.

I: WI this accounts then for the fact that you're, I know from

my own experience that you're a...your group is.a..a..I could

describe them as liberal..I mean they...they...they are not

prejudiced say in the degree that other..other religious groups


S: This is true.

I: And I think this is a very commendable trait and this has given you

contact with a good many people, hasn't it?

S: Yes, it has.

I: Mary, do you have any experiences in mind that-you would like to

share with us or observations or anything at all in connection with

anything you experience or community experience or personal

experience, I'll just leave the door wide open.

S: Well, I know there have been a lot of changes since I was a girl, well

say in the past 15 years there's been quite a few changes.

I: Can you name some of those or would you, I know you can.

S: Well, I can remember we lived in this, we mentioned a while ago,

the prospect community and we lived near this small town, Red Springs,

and it was very prejudiced there towards the indians because ah.. I

remember one occasion going into a restaurant with a white man and

I was told that he could sit at the table and eat but I would have

to sit up at the front. I could not sit with him in this restaurant,

LUM 12A Page 4

and the woman said,"Well, you know how it is here, you don't have

to be told',' you know, and if you were seen walking down the street

with one everybody just turned all the way around and looked,and I

remember I married very young and in this same town, the lady

in the department store, I had a layaway, and ah..she didn't want

to put the Mrs. to my name. She said"you're too young to be called

Mrs." even though I was married. You see, she was white and I

was indian and she just didn't want to call me Mrs.

I: Mary, let me ask you something personal, if I may. Don't answer if

you don't want to, but ah in appearance, you know, we have ah..the

pure caucasian type in appearance and then we have the indian type,

and you're one of the luckier ones, in my opinion, because you do

have indian features and ah..I admire anybody like this..I sort of

envy because I'm a little on the bright side..ah..light side,and

ah..has this been an advantage to you or a disadvantage?

S: Well, I don't really know. I've been called everything from a to

z in the racial line. I've even been called white,and I remember

one man told me one time he said, "If anybody can...if someone can't

look at you and tell that you're an indian", he said,"you just remember,

he said, that they're either ignorant of their races or they don't

know their history or they're just plain ignorant people."

I: Well, I know you're very proud of this and I'm proud of you too.

azd I would appreciate it very much and I know other people would

too, your listeners, anything that you would want to tell us along

those lines or any other line. I want to still keep it open. Do

you think for example that its more prejudiced..that there is more

LUM 12A Page 5

prejudice against the indians inside Welbrssn county than there

is in one of the adjoining counties just across the county line?

S: Yes, I really do. Like someone else mentioned, its very subtle,

it still is even though there has been quite a few changes and in

some places you can still tell it because I had an experience

jp-st recently .you can just feel it. I've been away from home

for ten years and I lived in seven different states and you could

tell the minute, you know, that you crossed that Mason-Dixon Line,

you just knew it. You didn't have to be told, but you knew it.

You know, one time I remember traveling from Kansas and ah.. when

we crossed the line, well, the man put us, my sister and I and my

children, put us into the paet, you know, where the negroes were
and ah.. I told man, well at that time I felt different about the

races than I do now, and I told the man, I said, "We don't belong

here." And his remark was, "Oh, you must be from Pehbrook." See,

he knew.

I: He knew all the time.

S: Yes, he knew, bpt see he didn't know whether to a..

I: Did he make the change?

S: Yes, he made the change, but he didn't, actually in the beginning

he didn't want to put us with the whites, so I guess he would

have just let us stay there if we hadn't said anything. And I remember

another occasion, I live right here in North Carolina and I live

above Charlotte about miles, just below Kings Mountain, and

these were the nicest people and everybody wanted to meet me because

LUM 12A Page 6

I was indian. And this town had three theaters in it,and I went

to the nicest restaurant in town and the manager was so excited,

you know, to meet me and he told me, he said, "Next to my wife

you're the most beautiful girl I have ever seen." And I was really

treated nice until I went to the third theater .and I was not allowed

permission unless I was carrying a white person's baby-and then

either I would have to go with the blacks or I would have to have

a white person's child taking it in to sit with the whites. And

we got into this to find out what the problem wasjand this lady

that owned the theater happened to be from Lumberton. See, this

was quite a shock because she was the only one in this whole town

that I had any, encountered any kind of racial problems.

I: Mary, why do you feel, why do you think it is that people in their
ot r
own county, in their native county, feel this way when people in

other counties of this same state don't and mainly in the state

of South Carolina which is generally considered to be very

prejudiced against minorities,.ah, but it seems we have hardly any

problems at all in South Carolina.

S: Well, my honest opinion is, I've heard this mentioned by whites) and I've

heard this mentioned by blacks' the white people in Weber1en County

are afraid that you might get to digging around in their background

and come up with some indian ancestry somewhere.

I: We might find they're related to you.

S: That's right.

I: Well, I am sure this is true in many instances, you know, and during

LUM 12A Page 7

my investigation, I certainly found this in some instances. Of course,

if they don't want to be identified with us, we don't want to be

identified with them either and I guess it is as strong one way as

the other, bnfsah..now in your religious group, they definitely, this
is one thing that is characteristic of the Jehovas witnesses. They

do preach against race prejudice, don't they, I mean

S: Certainly do. We preach it and practice it.

I: Right. That's great.

S: IZ- wouldn't be showing the love that Jesus commanded his followers

to have if we had this feeling.

I: If somebody went into some section and ah..some white section and the

people were not very educated and said, "Well, Jesus was a Jew." Do

you think there is a possibility that somebody might be offended?

S: Probably (laugh)

I: Well, what do you think about our problems, our current problems?

We've had some problems with the integration plan which was introduced

in 1970, which wasn't really an integration plan in my opinion; but

I'm really not supposed to be voicing my opinion, except on my tape,

but I am trying to clarify something,.e..do you think, do you think

we as a group, not as your group, but as an entire indian group, do

you think our people were just as reluctant to integrate with the

whites as whites with them?

S: I think so.

I: Now, your experiences are very interesting. Can you think of any other

incidences in your life that might cast some light on the subject of


LUM 12A Page 8

S: Well, recently I was visiting the Cherokees on the reserv..on the

mountains, in the reservation and I met this white lady that was

married to an indian,and she made the remark to me that when the

indian and the white marry and then they have these children, that

each race balances the other and I think this is true.

I: And this was in the western part of the state, Cherokee reservation?

S: Yes. And I think the Lumbees are one of the most attractive race

groups that there island really if they were allowed to some of

them they..they..would really..are very intelligent.

I: Yes, indeed. I'd have to agree with you. I may sound immodest,

but I think that we have some of the most beautiful women in the


S: We certainly do. I have seen lots of indians, full blood indians,

still I think that the Lumbees are the most beautiful.and I have

heard several different people making the comment that the Lumbee

women were really beautiful,and I feel that way myself, I mean,

not being partial, but I think I have beautiful children.

I: You certainly have.

S: =emb /r, do have one that is blonde haired and grey eyed (laugh)

and very fair.

I: He's beautiful too.

S: Yes.

I: Well, ah..ah.. these things are a little bit personal but they are

still interesting to other people and ah.. do you think there is

anything we can do as a group to promote understanding between races?

LUM 12A Page 9

S: Well, I feel like ah.. that when I was a child this prejudice was

put into us. It was taught to us, maybe indirectly, maybe the

indians felt inferior, I don't know, possibly, bht I feel like if

we could, if we would teach our children because I think the racial

prejudice starts with the children. It comes from the parents and

if they would teach the children the different races, what their

qualities and why we should love each other then we wouldn't have

this problem. I've been in families where I've heard children

call each other by another race, you know, in that derogatory

name,and this I don't have in my family because we don't practice

this, and we should try to understand one another and find out

what the problem is. But I think, you know, the Lumbees,to begin

with I think we were just afraid to step out. Maybe we had been

hurt so much, pushed .down so much that we just took a long time

to come up, but I think the more generations come^the stronger it


I: Do you think that gradually we are becoming we are overcoming this

feeling of a? do you think this feeling of inferiority that I have

heard it mentioned several times, do you think it has had its

origin with our caucasian brothers or that this was a conscience

thing on their part that they promoted this or is it, we just felt

that we were inferior because ltdt we lacked the same opportunities

that other people had?

S: Well, I feel like some of it was on their part and then I feel like

LUM 12A Page 10

that a lot of us lacked the same opportunities,and I can remember my

Grandfather; I loved him dearly' he looked like a full blooded indian,

but he felt inferior. Matter of fact when he, he wouldn't even stand

up to send his children to school because at the time they wouldn't

allow the mixing of the children in schools. So all of his children

came up uneducated because he wouldn't stand up even though he was


I: Where do your children attend school?

S: They attend Magnolia School.

I: Is Magnolia, originally was an all indian school, was it not?

S: Yes it was.
lTh y ht out N-o- fw i97 w when /B , "
Ad about now since 9 when the so called desegregation was adopted?

Were there vast changes in Magnolia?

S: I think so. We've seen the black teachers come in.t, e black students

come in, but to me this, I don't care what color school or what color

anything as long as, you know, I would want..if I had the choice, the

color or the best, I would want the best no matter what the color.

I: In other words, your choice would be based on the best possible school

for your children.

S: That's right. It wouldn't be the color. I wouldn't care about the


I: And have they had any particular problems you know, about because of

their race since integration began?

S: No, they really haven't. I know my daughter, one of her best friends

at school is a white student. And then my son, one of my sons, one of

his best friends is a black boy. I make no comment either way about it.

LUM 12A Page 11

I feel like they have the right to choose their own friends.accordiing

to their personality and not their color.

I: Right. Do you have, living here in Saddletree, such, Magnolia, such

S: Pardon?

I: This is Saddletree, isn't it?

S: Yes.

I: Ah..I'm kind of mixed up on my directions. This community is made

up of ah..mostly indians, but there are also some white families


S: Yes, and a few blacks.

I: Do you think this is advantageous ah..to children and ah..

S: Yes, I certainly do. Because our nearest neighbors are white.

I: Then you feel that them knowing other people, attending school and

so forth with other people is part of the educational process. Would

you put it that strong? In other words, what I am asking ah.. do you

think we're not as well as educated as we might have been unless we

actually knew somebody more intimately than has been the case in the

past, you know,.do you feel that this is an advantage?

S: Yes, I certainly do.

I: Well, I certainly agree with you.

S: I feel like we have been held back from learning. I really do, and its

just ah..one year my children attended a white school, a city school in

Lumberton and my little boy that is twelve now was just beginning first

grade. Well, he had a wonderful teacher. She was a white teacher/and

he was very smart. He could read better than any other children in

LUM 12A Page 12

his class and she didn't try to hold him back, see. She would just

ah..the more that he made progress, the more books that she would

let him read'and she didn't hold him back, but just let him go

ahead. And I think this should have been the way all along, but

its not been. One child would maybe be smarter than another in the

class and it 1fe. back.

I: Right. This reminds me of another complaint I have heard related to

some of our schools and that is some people have gone so far to say

we have traded segregated schools for in class segregationland they

separate students on the basis what they call scholarly level and

this sort of thing. But do you think, of course we know that some

kind of grouping is necessary, but do you think they use this as an

excuse and in any instances that you know anything about?

S: Well, I don't believe in this system and I have talked to a lot of

the teachers about it and they don't..most of the teachers I talked

to about it they don't like it because like one teacher told me it

don't really tell you anything,and its not beneficial. I don't see

where it is beneficial.

I: Well, I take it you would go along with the grouping that is necessary

strictly along scholarly lines, I mean, scholarship or ability..

S: Ah huh

I: We do know that each student has his own unique personality, his own

intellectual level 4nd so forth and ah..the uniformity, you have lots

of differences in ability and somehow the teacher just has to deal

with that one way or another.

LUM 12A Page 13

S: This is true.

I: Well ah.. how long has it been since you were away for how many years?

S: I was away for ten years approximately and I came back here in 63 and

I have seen a lot of changes since coming back.

I: I'll ask you this question I've been asking other people because-

I'm intrigued by it and I've heard people say that ah..any Lumbee

indian who left elbeCron County eventually returned. I've asked

that because I would really like to get some reaction on this.

S: This is true. This is really home; I don't care where you go, you

want to come back.

I: What ever the conditions.

S: That's right. I mean you go away and you get used to all the city

conveniences that you didn't have in the city, ah..in the..in

W+trers .County, put it like that and even though you come back

you still want to stay regardless. And I feel like you fit. To

me you just fit.

I: You fit into the Lumbee group?

S: Yes, I do.

I: And you feel more comfortable?

S: That's true. I've met many different tribes of indians and I've heard

opinions of other indians that live on reservations. The people didn't

think too much of them because here they were living on a reservation

and had opportunities to have a college education and they were getting

paid and yet they were just doing nothing actually JuIst sitting back,

and the people really didn't think too much of indians. I remember

LUM 12A Page 14

one man I worked for in Kansas, he told me, he said, "Mary, indians

aren't very well thought of here." Bit I think he saw a change,

because I get along with all groups.

I: Right. Well, do you think your ah..your ah intellectual level is

ah.. I can say this, you wouldn't say ths, but I can say it, your

intellectual level is probably above, well above average and your

scholarly aspirations and your studying and reading and learning 'QS

about the world...do you think this helps in race relations whoever

you are, whatever race?

S: I certainly do. I think study, travel and then applying it, you know,

apply these things after you learn these things. We can get along

with the ,ter groups. We don't have to be fighting and carrying on

and having a civil war. Its not necessary. I mean, the indian, I

feel like the Lumbee are their own worst enemy, you know, I feel

that way about myself or I used to feel that way.

I: What do you mean by this, Mary?

S: Well, if they were insulted this would hold them back. The indians used

to have a terrible inferiority complex. I remember I did. It was just

-terrible,and I think that we used to hurt each other. Because one here

he is trying to learn how to speak correct english then here's his

neighbor over here belittling him for trying to do this. Well, this

hurts and this is true in our group. They will do it.

I: In other words, our english was so different that speaking correctly

would set you apart in a sense.

S: That's right.

I: And if you didn't use the local dialect.

S: That's right. You know, we have our own. (laugh)

LUM 12A Page 15

I: Did anyone ever consider you to be conceited because of your use

of the language or trying to improve your use of the language?

S: Oh, yes.

I: Of course, we know this...I don't think this is true at all, do you?

I believe people try to improve themselves and I think this is what

we need to do all the time. Mary, do you see any differences...

languages ah..are very interesting thing in this county. We even

have different dialects in different parts of the county among

different indians or some people think so. Do you think this is


S: Yes, I do. I remember, you know, I was brought up in the, reared

in this prospect community)and you know they have even a different

speech sound.

I: Well, this is ah..for the sake of our listeners..let me say that prospect

is in the heart of Lumbee territory, you might say. You have no whites
e}d 15
or black families around for miles r mile

S: This is true.

I: And some of the people probably live there and die there and don't

get out of the community too much.

S: That's true.

I: And in the past when they did get out they didn't have many contacts

with other people did they?

S: That's right.

I: Mary, and not only this. Do you see a distinction between ah..the

LUM 12A Page 16

language of the blacks and the language of the whites and the language

of the indians as a whole?

S: Well, I think now its not quite as bad as it used to be.

I: It used to be more pronounced?

S: That's right. It did.

I: But you as a native of Wlersn County, can you identify, could you

identify an indian by his speech say if you met him in the dark do you


S: Yes, I feel, if he hadn't lived away for a few years I'm pretty sure

I could because I have a white friend and ah..she has lived among the

indians for a few years and she told me once she said, "you know, she

said, some of these people I can't tell if they're white or indians,

she said, but I can tell it when they open their mouth." So, I can

tell unless they have lived away.

I: But somebody from outside might not be able to, do you think?

S: I think they would see a difference, yes. I remember taking a trip

one time with a school group. This was when we were youngerand we

didn't go really too far from home, about one hundred miles, and this

girl, I won't ever forget this, but the way she talked, the boy he

never could understand what she was saying.

I: It was that..she had that much of a dialect.

S: That's right.

I: And, of course, education is changing all that isn't it?

S: Yes, it is and too I have learned over the past years that where ever

you live, whatever the people ah..the dialect they use.. I think you

LUM 12A Page 17

pick it up.

I: Subconsciously.

S: Thate-rht, because I remember when I first came home in 63. Just

about everybody that I would meet would say, "Well, you're not from

here are you?"

I: Did you consciously cultivate that you think or you just adapted to


S: I think I adapted to it and I've noticed this in a lot of other
ba Cc/
people that have lived away. But once you get hereand you get back

into it, adapt to it all over again.

I: So when you come back and you speak different are there people who have

a tendency to say that you're stuck up or something like that or think

you're better than the group or what?

S: No, they used to, but I think now they can see the need for this

improvement, you know, in the speech and all, and I have a case of,

you know, my sister lives in New Orleans. She can come-home and she's

really..she talks, speaks the dialect that they speak there, but after

she is home two or three weeks you can see her falling back into the

Lumbee dialect. And I think you just learn to talk the way the

people around you talk.

I: Another person whom I interviewed recently mentioned what he called

the Elizabeth2an twang.

S: I'll agree. (laugh)

I: Do you think we have preserved a lot of this without trying..ah.. this

has been a part of the language that it has been marked by old.

LUM 12A Page 18

Elizabethfan terms and older forms of English. Do you think

they have been preserved and that they are still being preserved

today in some sections?

S: Yes, in some sections I'll agree. Especially in a prospect

section,I would think they, remember one time I told you that

my mother had a language of her own, you know, sometime I would

like to write a book of just her words. (laugh)

I: Your mother is beautiful. She is a..a..

S: She looks the typical indian.

I: Uh huh and I love those words because they are different and ah...

do you think there is a scattering of indian words that we've used

so much that we don't even realize that they are our own?

S: Yes.

I: Somebody came into the county some time ago and said that a boy

came up to him and said he shot the bird with a 'dramber and he

said what the devil is a 4ramber. (laugh) I think this is..

well, I love language and I know you do too and ah-.I know this

is going to be lost eventually and a lot of it has already been

lost because of education and we know this is inevitable in the

long run ah..Do you think it is a good thing or a bad thing?

S: I don't..I think it is a good think because I remember being teased

when I lived in the state of Kansas. I would pronounce this word

I don't know..I still don't know how different it sounded to them/

but they would always tease me about it,and I never could figure

out the correct pronunciation, but they would tease me, the word

LUM 12A Page 19

was joint (spelled out))and I would say jointbut they would

really laugh about it and tease me and ask me to say it, you know,

so they could laugh, you know.

I: That's very interesting. Some of the words that we find very

difficult to isolate people from the outside seem to notice them1

and I am very careful about language being an English major and

being conscious of this, you know, and consciously trying to

speak a correct form of Englishland yet people occasionally,

you know, something? little d-iffrent slips, so to speak.

S: Well, sometimes you have to use these words to make yourself

understood by some of the people, the older generation.

I: Do you?

S: You really do. You have to get right down to their language or

you can't communicate.

I: And, of course, our language has probably been influenced by other

things other than Elizabethian English, wouldn't you think?

S: Yes. I feel like the Lumbees didn't get to travel like the rest

of the group;and they didn't study like the rest.and, you know, the

Lumbees are hard working people and they thought more about work

than really sitting down and studying. But that's one reason I

appreciate my dad so much, you know, he really instilled this into

me with books. fe always had books around.

I: You read them all didn't you?

S: I read them all. (laugh)

I: I think that's great and this probably came out in you without

LUM 12A Page 20

anybody actually coming you or anything. Do you think you were

born with this love for books, or you cultivated it yourself, or

you unconsciously copied him in his love of books or...

S: Well, I think that I either copied him or I was born with it one

or the other because I tried to instill this in my children but

I have only one child that would really sit down and take a book

and read it, but when I was going to school I read every book

that was in the library at the prospect school and the teachers

can vouch for this, that I read every book in the library.

I: I don't doubt..

S: I would check out at least ten books a week. And I have one child..

and see I have over 300 books of my own; but they're really not

interested in readingand I have bought them sets of books...the

books that I really enjoyed reading as a child, but I must have been

born with it.

I: Mary, you attended at Prospect High School, right?

S: Yes.

I: How far did you get in actual formal education?...ah...you know...in

school. I know darned well you're far beyond your actual a..

S: Well, I completed the twelfth grade.

I: Well, I am sure you are much beyond the twelfth grade. Do you think

it is good for people to read?

S: Read and travel. You know, travel is very educating and I feel like

my younger sister that lives in New Orleans, I feel like that she

is more educated, you know, well educated than I am because she has

LUM 12A Page 21

traveled more than I have. She and her husband own a restaurants

and they are always constantly before the public and ah..she has

tried to educate herself.

I: Do you think a Lumbee indian as a person can eempse his own

chances of acceptance among other people by concentrating on his

personality and attempting to improve his personality?

S: I certainly do. Yes.

I: That's very interesting. What do you think about ah...what do

you think about when you get out and you're in a new neighborhood..

the first time and its different ha-your own. Is there something

that says you've got to be on your P's and Q's.

S: Yes, that old feeling that I had years ago, it comes creeping back.

It really does. I mean, you know, Jehovas Witnesses do house to

house work and to be truthful when I go into a real nice place in

town, location of homes, you know, I feel something that ah..I think

I have overcome it but once in a while it comes back.

I: Mary, we have..we have a good many places, so called places of

worship in the county`and several denominational groups. How

many groups of your particular group..I mean how many groups of the

Jehova Witnesses are among our people, would you say?

S: Well, see we're integrated. We have a Red Springs congregation;

we have the Lt Ra vh7o congregation and our newly formed Clamont

congregation. And of course there is quite a few in Fayetteville.

I: Well, isn't this one of the fastest growing groups in the country,

I mean, religious groups?

LUM 12A Page 22

S: Yes, it is because ah..ah..there's over, there's about a million

and a half Jehova s Witnesses now.

I: And ah..I know for myself that judging from the people I have

come into contact with that this is certainly a very deeply

dedicated group)and the people do work hard'and they strive and

they study and this sort of thing)and do you think this is one

of the things that might have appealed to you in the first

place? You know, because they are so studious and so serious

about it. They take their belief very seriously and I certainly

agree with you that they live by this. Do you think this is what

attracted you to them?

S: Well, to be honest, yes, because I was always searching for more

knowledge. I can remember as a young girl I would read my bible

through and through. I went to church, but still I felt something

was lacking,and I can remember my dad reading from the bible...

the prophecy in Isaiah about the bear would lay down with the lamb

and the young child would lead the lion and this and that..but, I

never heard it in church. And when I was living in Kansas, I came

into contact with Jehov s Witnesses and here I saw the opportunity

to learn God's word and I really ...nothing could stop me. I remember

the first thing I learned, you know, we don't..the Lumbees as a whole

they don't sit down and study their bible.

I: Well, I think this is true of most groups.

S: That's right. This is true in most groups, not just the Lumbees, but

LUM 12A Page 23

the Jehov s Witnesses do study their bible.

I: / True.

S: And I remember the first thing I learned, you know, my mother

always told me, well my mother can't read so she was telling me

what she heard, that the sin that Adam and Eve committed was

sex relations. Well, when I started studying the bible with

Jehova's Witnesses, I learned that it was disobedience by

>a ,q ofle o the truth and nothing could hold me back after

that. And, too, they were teaching the prophecy I mean about

it and my dad had taught me the same thing that people would

live on earth in a righteous condition and ah..then I just had

to grasp hold of it. Of course, I had to make a lot of changes

in my life.....

I: Mrs. Godwin, we ran out of tape right in the middle of the statement.

Can you remember what that statement was? You were discussing

something in relation to early religious teachings or something

like that...religious impressions..

S: Well, I was just about to say that a person's religion should

make a better person of him. This is what the true religion does

to a person. In other words, you have to, like I said I had to

make a lot.of changes in my life and we have to continue trying to

make changes,and this is what the true religion would do for us,

it would make us become a better husband, better wife or whatever.

I: I wonder if there is anything you would like to add because ah..I

LUM 12A Page 24

certainly want you to feel free to talk and we want to talk

under right conditions. Anything that you would like to add

to your experiences or concerning any faze of your life as a

Lumbee indian. I am sure there are other people who wi-l be
5 A
interested in listening.

S: Well, I feel like the Lumbee are the most industrious of all

indians. They really work hard at whatever they do. I know the

majority of them used to be farmers and I remember the girls when

they would go away to college, the majority of them would be

teachers, but this is all changed now. They are reaching out for

positions and different occupations than just being a farmer

or a school teacher. They see that there is more to it than that,

but they really strive to accomplish their goals. I really

appreciate this about the Lumbee. They really work hard at whatever

they do.

I: Do you...you being a woman you probably wouldn't be as aware of this

maybe as a man..but do you think the industrial, so called industrial

revolution s hit the Lumbee indians as it has other groups'and has

this brought about change, you know, improved farming methods, mechanization

of farming, even cotton pickers.

S: Yes, it has. I remember just this year I helped ah..worked 4dryng

tobacco, which I hadn't done in many years. You remember, we used to

string it on the sticks. Well, now they have what they call a leee

and you just throw it up there and it sews it right on.and, too, all

the industrial business have helped the Lumbee because we have..the

Lumbee has really built more homes' they have a lot of new homes, new

LUM 12A Page 25

ah..well, like now we have the different business. A lot of

the indians now have their own businesses. This is very commendable.

I: Being closely associated with your group, your christian group,

have you found that there is a great deal of poverty also in the

county among our people?

S: Yes, I found poverty among the Lumbee, but also among the

blacksAand the whites.

I: Well, you know, when tractors came in and things like this some

jobs were eliminated for instance picking cotton, which I don't

think anybody laments..

S: No, I don't. (laugh)

I: But people could make so much money by picking cotton or hoeing

cotton and farming with mules and plows and this sort of thing.

Don't you think a good many of the jobs have been eliminated due

to the machines coming in and improvements in farming methods

and equipment?

S: Yes, but if we still had these same jobs today that we had back

then with the cost of living now we couldn't make it.

I: Never make it, would we?

S: No, I remember working a whole day for three dollars. Where now we

get ten dollars, so its been quite a change.

I: Mary, did you ever pick any cotton?

S: I certainly did. (laugh)

I: What's the lowest per hundred pounds of cotton that you ever..you

remember getting?

LUM 12A Page 26

S: I don't know, but I think I usually had to pick around two hundred

pounds a dayand like I was telling my children the other day, we

didn't even start to school until maybe December, November, December,

because we would have to stay out of school and pick cotton.

I: And this was necessary in order to ah..to

S: To eat through the winter (laugh)

I: Well, I am certainly glad that some changes are taking place and

there is improvement in spite, you think, in spite of the industrial

revolution we have, we are still better off today then we were a

few years back...in the past while we have a lot of these tractors

and things.

S: Yes, because I can remember, I lived in a shack; they didn't call it

a shack, they didn't want to call it a shack, but it was really a

shack when you look back on it now and a lot of indians lived in

shacks and there is a lot of new homesand I am very happy that these

people can have these new nice brick homes,and it really makes the

heart feel good to go up to a house and this Lumbee family is living

here or this black family with a nice brick home, because it used to

be only the better class as in a nice home. Or, yet,the ones that

were a little, had more than the others. For instance, like our

landlord, he is idian, but he is considered one of the wealthiest

indians in lin County, but he's worked hard all of his life.

He worked at least sixteen hours a day for what he has.

I: And what is his name, Mary?

S: This is Mr.kJ; Hammond.

I: He's an interesting person, you know, himself isn't he?

LUM 12A Page 27

S: Yes, he is.

I: I've always been interested in his chicken farm. Do you know how

many chickens he has raised?

S: Well, I think every 14 months he raises, well, I'm (?) raising

them now, about 22,000.

I: That's 22,000 chickens..

S: About every 14 months.

I: And he raises these as layers, right?

S: Yes, he sells eggs to the market ,and also you know he has tobacco on

his farm and corn and beans.

I: Well, it must be a happy combination, you know, to work with or for

a fellow Lumbee.

S: And, yes, he's the kind too, he, you know some people if they have

an abundance kind of lord it over you, you know, but he's not this

type. If you met him and went by his dress and his attitude, well,

you would think he was just another small town farmer, but he's

really not. He's well known by the majority of the white people.

You very seldom mention his name among a white person in lberson

County that don't know of him,and I think this is commendable. He

does have a fine reputation.

I: Yes, I am sure he does.

I: Does he utilize his land for any other purposes other than poultry?

S: Yes, he has corn, tobacco, beans, soy beans, I don't know how many

acres of land he has.

LUM 12A Page 28

I: And he knows everything about poultry that a person could possibly

know .I would imagine.

S: Yes, I think he has been in the poultry business about five or six


I: It certainly is an interesting business and ah..from all I can hear

you really have to know what you are doing to make money on poultry.

S: Yes, I believe that.

I: What do you think we could do, if anything, toward improving chances

of employment in the future. Do you think it will be necessary to

bring in some industries into the area? More than we already have?

For example, you know, when the Goodrich plant was threatened with

being sold a few months ago people were pretty desperate because
about half the people over there are iLdians and its been rumored

that the plant moved into the area in the first place because of

the availability of indian labor, and you feel that our people have

a tendency to work hard and try to improve themselves?

S: Yes, I feel this. I think more so now than ever. You know, used to

be I think the indians, they didn't try to get out and get these

jobs because they felt like, well, they would be turned back and

in most cases they were and,but now these industries have come in

here and they new that the indians worked hard and they are

dependable, and they hire them right away and there are more plants

coming in.

I: Incidentally, I think we got the difficulties ironed out of J yj0

LUM 12A Page 29

a plant which manufactures..is it cloth shoes?

S: Yes, tennis shoes.

I: And I think they got it ironed out simply by selling out to

another firm, Coverse, I believe it was,and I think this saves

a lot of people their jobs and several thousand people and, of

course, if the plant had closed down permanently it would have

been a tremendous blow to the economy of the indians and the blacks,

also the white people in this county. But we don't have enough do


S: No.

I: Do you want to add anything, Mary? Do you..is there any ground that

we haven't covered that you would like to discuss?

S: Well, one thing commendable about the Lumbees, they strive to pay

their debts. They don't like to be indebted. I've noticed this and

they are conscientious about their debts,and I think if you were to

ask the merchants of the stores that they would tell you that they

find that the indian is more eager to pay than other races, I mean,

I feel like that they would say this.

I: How about our lost colony descent?

S: Well, I feel like we are descendants of the lost colony.

I: And do you individually take pride in this?

S: Yes.

I: It's not alone...is it because of your white blood generally or

because of your lost colony descent specifically would you think

or is this getting it down too thin?

LUM 12A Page 30

S: Well, I always remember my dad. He would say, "Well',' he was

English, you know, he would always say he was English and Indian,

and I took pride in that.

I: I think that we should take pride in what we are whatever that

happens to be, don't you?

S: Yes.

I: Some writers have had a tendency to say the indians want to be

white. They are proud of their white blood, but they don't say,

you know, I think we have been misinterpreted there, but really

do you think that pride was really in descent from the English

colony of 1587 instead of being proud of say just white blood

S: I think it was from being descendants from the lost colony; Because

I always enjoyed reading about that and could imagine myself being

in that group.

I: Well, this is something that..which has come to be accepted aeso al-/

universal now. Every scholar who has studied this in great detail,

as you know, confers that this is the only logical thing that could

have happened,and are you equally proud of your indian blood?

S: Oh, yes.

I: We can claim descent from the first white people and also the first

native people, right?

S: Right.

LUM 12A Page 31

S: My brother married an indian...a white girl and they are expecting

their first child and her grandmother made the remark that they

should really be proud of this grandchild because it is one of the

first Americans.and this made my brother feel real good that she

felt like this.

I: So you think that the attitude towards the American indian generally

is changing?

S: Yes.

I: -s becoming more benevolent?

S: I sure do.

I: I am certainly happy to see this because indians have always been

misunderstood. Mary, I know you are getting tired and we can

conclude this anytime you want to but we don't want to leave anything

out you want to tell us.

S: Well, you know, we could talk about the Lumbee on and on and on...(laugh)

I: I want to mention here that you were kind enough to work with me when

I was writing my book and I appreciate this very much. You were such

a tremendous help.

S: I didn't feel like I really did anything. (laugh)

I: Oh, yes you did. You were very patient and calm and worked hard to

help me and I certainly appreciate it and I certainly appreciate

_ar __ *,/vft ) because I think this is one of the things that will

help us be better understood is the same sort of thing that we are

doing right now. This is why I am with the program. If I had not

been...if I had not believed in it I wouldn't work with it. Indians

LUM 12A Page 32

are seo of peculiar that way.

S: That's right.

I: And I want to thank you very much, Mary, and a..I certainly enjoyed

the interview and I guess we will conclude here. We may have a few

footnotes that we want to add though.

S: Kyright. I'm happy I could be of assistance.

I: Thank you so much.

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs