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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEE: Paula Connelly
INTERVIEWER: Lew Barton
DATE: September 27, 1972
B: I am Lew Barton, recording for the Doris Duke Foundation history
program under the auspices of the University of Florida. This is
September 27, 1972, and in my home, I have been favored with the
presence of a very pretty VISTA worker who has been in the area
for some time now. I'm going to ask her to give me here name,
first of all, and age, if she doesn't mind.
C: Okay. My name is Paula Connelly, and I'm twenty-two.
B: And how old did you say you were?
B: And where are you from?
C: I am originally from Rochester, New York.
B: That's not far from New York City, is it?
C: It's about 400 miles from New York City. It's in upstate New York
on Lake Ontario.
B: How long have you been with VISTA?
C: Well, I've been with VISTA since mid-January, 1972, and I've been
in the Pembroke [Pembroke, North Carolina] area since mid-February,
B: I wanted to talk to you about your impressions here, whatever your
impressions are. You come from the northern part of the country.
This is the southern part of the country, and I don't suppose there
are as great differences as some people think. But there are some
differences, and I would like to ask you for some of your impressions
as you've felt them here in this county. You've come into an entirely
new territory, and you've been working among the Lumbee Indians, and
has it been pleasant or unpleasant? Maybe I'm putting you on the
spot. I shouldn't ask you that.
C: Well, it's been very interesting, and most of the time, pleasant,
although when you walk into a home which has no plumbing or no elec-
tricity or no running water, certainly that is not a pleasant sight
as I term it, but the people that I have met have been very nice
B: Well, that's good. I like to think that the Lumbee Indians are
a hospitable, friendly people--friendly, outgoing people--and
this sort of confirms my faith in that. I'm glad it's been
(pleasant), and I hope it will continue to be, and I'm sure it
will. Do you make notes of your...? Your organization is called...?
B: Which means?
C: Volunteers in Service to America.
B: I like that. I really like that. And I admire you young people
so much for what you're doing, because this shows real interest.
What you have to say is so much more important because of this--
because this is a heart work, I think. Don't you think?
C: Well, I think...
B: It's a love of labor; a labor of loveI
C: I think I must have just entered for idealistic reasons, and pretty
soon, learning more of the reality of the world in say, local,
political and economic situations.
B: It's sort of part of your education, isn't it?
C: I've heard it termed graduate study in a course called "The Real
B: Oh, that's great. Do most of you come from wealthy homes?
C: No. I would say the majority of volunteers are from middle class
backgrounds--mostly suburban northeast, I would say, the majority,
come from, but there's a trend in VISTA now to emphasize the re-
cruitment of volunteers on a local level, of recruiting people to
work within their own communities rather than to go to another
section of the country.
B: Oh, I hope you keep it the way it is. I think it's much more in-
teresting to go elsewhere, don't you?
C: Well, it is, for a younger person, but we're trying to recruit
people of all ages, and not only, say, the early twenties age
group, although the majority of volunteers are usually recent
college graduates, or at least of that age with or without that
B: And did Robeson have any surprises for you--Robeson County, North
C: Well, I think I can honestly say that I came with no preconceptions.
I had no idea what Robeson County was like, except that it was
rural and that it was in North Carolina, and that we would be deal-
ing with Indian people. I think the first thing that surprised me
was the nature of the Indian people, who certainly did not conform
to any stereotype I might have had of an Indian person before. The
only experiences I have had were through books or the movies or
television, or something similar to that with the old Wild West
idea. Now, of course, I didn't expect the Indian people in North
Carolina to be like that, but perhaps just the variety of educational
experience, of skin color, of occupations, and just the fact that...
you know, the non-reservation type Indian. I had never had experience
with Indian people of that nature before.
B: Well I'm sure your personality is a great asset in this, because
you have a very likeable personality, and you're so very nice, and
I don't mind saying that on the tape, because I sincerely mean it.
I'm sure the Indian people generally appreciate you and love you
for what you're doing and what you're trying to do.
C: Well, the people certainly have taken myself and the other volunteer
into their homes. We've been invited to many houses for dinner, and
I have stayed overnight with a couple of families, and we've been
very well-received by the people, actually. They've been very kind
B: That's great. I'm certainly glad, because they don't always do what
I want them to do. But I certainly hope our people will always be
open-hearted and open-minded to all people of all different ethnic
groups, and I don't think.... Do you think--of course, this would
be putting you on the spot again, but, as you know, there are no
races who are free of prejudice--and have you found any prejudice
in our race? I wouldn't be surprised at all if you have.
C: I've found very definitely among the people who I have visited, es-
pecially among maybe the more uneducated people, a definite anti-black
B: Which did you feel might be the stronger of the two?
C: I'm sorry. I didn't understand you.
B: This anti-black prejudice, do you think it was stronger than anti-
C: Definitely, definitely. I think so.
B: That's too bad. But facts are facts, and when we know that a fact
exists, then we are in a position maybe to do a little something
about it. I know in my own case, I think everybody has to work
on this problem of prejudiced individuals, you know, and I've really
worked on my problem, because I don't think I'm prejudiced, but some
things have taken a little work to understand. I'm so very happy
that my early experiences with the caucasian group were very pleasant.
I've told this very often about the lady who lived next door to us.
Her son and I were about the same age, and were playmates, and she
used to make us cookies. I didn't know any difference at that age,
because this was a very early age, but I'm sure these early impressions
may color our entire lives. I'm so happy that I didn't have this
sort of experience. What other problems have you run into?
C: In the area of prejudice?
B: Well, in any... I want to leave you just about wide open to discuss
anything you would like, you know?
C: Well, it seems one problem the Indian people seem to have is that
they're segmented into all various groups, both politically and
geographically as well as economically and socially. To me, this
segmentation is the chief cause of why the Indian people cannot
unite together, and perhaps gain the rights and privileges they're
now entitled to in the political system. Let's start geographically.
I guess just every little section of Robeson County seems to have
its own little provincial attitude. People from Philadelphia don't
really like the people in Pembroke, and the-people in-Prospect are
suspicious of the people in other areas.
B: That's too bad.
C: It seems that until recently there had not been that much communica-
tion between areas and that people tended to grow up in an area and
stay right in their own little section of Robeson County. I
think this is changing certainly with the increase of automobiles,
with teenagers now having their own automobiles, and more travel
throughout the county, and more communication between the schools,
and more events which are countywide--more organizations which are
bringing people together. This is changing, but I never really
understood how this developed until someone mentioned to me that
I guess back in the 1930s when the system of roads in the county
was not what it is today, and it might be a half a day's journey
to travel across the swamps to the different areas in the county,
and this does not facilitate good neighborliness nor communication.
So it seems that these little geographic pockets are something
which are still here, but hopefully will be melting away with more
B: I certainly hope so. I know that this is true, and there is some-
thing like a spirit of competition, maybe or something like this--
a little jealousy and that sort of thing.
C: And it's fostered by present institutions, also, I would say. Until
recently, the high schools, I believe--now correct me if I'm wrong
on this, Mr. Barton--but the Indian high schools in sports, say,
would only play other high schools which were predominantly Indian
within the county system. Therefore, a great rivalry, naturally,
between one football team and another football team, or one base-
ball team and another baseball team would evolve. Also, although
the church in the county is something like I've never seen before--
certainly, our sedate churches from the North do not compare at all
with the revivalist churches in this county--but just the number
of these churches I would think would segmentalize the people. Now,
I've not noticed any hostility, someone saying, "Well, I go to such
and such church and he goes down the way, so therefore we don't
communicate with him," but yet all social groupings and everything,
the whole social scene, seems to be centered around the church.
The husband is in the choir, or the woman's in the choir, or they
have a dinner after church, or there's a prayer meeting on Wednesday
night, or the people from the church will go to so-and-so's funeral,
or this kind of thing, and this adds to the closing in of a certain
community, because each church only caters to a small congregation.
Where I come from where there would be thousands in one church, where
here, the most I've seen is about 300, 400 people in a congregation.
B: You know, don't you, that we have among the Lumbee Indians almost a
hundred churches. Can you imagine that?
C: I'm amazed. I knew there were many, but I didn't know there was
quite that many.
B: It's between seventy-five and a hundred, and I don't know whether
this is because we're more religious than people suspect, or because
people are more individual in matters of religion, but all these
are Protestant churches. There is not a Catholic church in the
group. Which is very unfortunate from my point of view, although
I'm a Protestant, too.
C: Well, it is nice, but there aren't that many denominations. Even
though there are so many churches, I believe there are only three
or four denominations among them, right?
C: Church of God, Baptist, Methodist, and maybe one other.
B: Dr. E. Stanley Jones, the great Methodist leader, came here several
years ago, and somebody told him that there were some eleven churches
in the little village of Pembroke, and he said, "If this makes sense,
then I haven't got any."
C: Well, a village with only--what is there, 1300, 1500 people in Pembroke,
within the town limits? To me, that is .
B: Of course, people do come in from outside too.
C: But they needn't, because they have churches out there too.
B: Yeah, that's true.
C: But, well .
B: Do the people you've met seem to be genuinely Christian, though, or
C: People are very religious by their own definition. Now, what I would
term a Christian from my upbringing--which, by-the way, was in the
Catholic church.. .
B: Well, they're the most Christian of all, I guess, in a sense.
C: Well, no. I don't know, I might not conform. Don't profess belief
in the Catholic church now, but I do try to follow what I consider
are Christian principles, and to me the Christianity here takes
on a different definition. You are either saved or you're not
B: You're lost.
C: Right. And if you're not saved, you're lost. And if you're lost,
you are of a different kind than the people who are saved. A lost
person might be a person who goes out and drinks, or goes out and
raises some kind of ruckus, whereas a saved person goes to church
regularly and has every once in a while some type of religious
experience. I've seen people screaming and shouting and praising
the Lord, very emotional, at the services and there seems to be
this dichotomy that the people establish it. You are saved, or
you're not saved. People know the exact date when they "got saved,"
you know, and this again is another break. You have a whole segment
of the population which really does not socialize with the other
segment--which is not saved, although they're trying to get them
saved, in a way.
As far as Christian, this is their definition. Their definition
of a Christian person is one who goes to church regularly, and who
has gotten saved in some way, whereas I would like to define Chris-
tianity more in social action terms. Which to me is not being, does
not seem to be carried on consciously by the churches in Robeson
County with the exception perhaps of the Robeson County Church and
Community Center, which is established for social action. The churches
will help out members of their congregation; if they're sick they'll
go visit them, help out a family in need, but there is no conscious
effort for community improvement being sponsored by the local churches.
Now, United Methodist Foundation, I believe it is, has sponsored a
community developer, Mr. Herbert Warren, in the Prospect area, and is
also funding the Robeson County Church and Community Center, but again
this is money from outside the county--people from outside the county
concerned about the communities here, and funding them, but the local
churches themselves give little impetus for this as far as I can see.
B: Well, I'm not a typical Indian Christian, according to you definition.
I believe in Christian principles, and it-grieves-me to see anything
divided. The reason I'm not an active member in any church is simply
that there is so much division, and I don't want to shut myself off
from somebody else. I want to be free to go to whichever church I
choose, and this is why; and I think I'm sincere in saying this, if
I understand my own heart. But I do believe in Christian principles,
and I do believe that Christ died for our sins and all this.
C: It seems almost to bear out the traditional argument that if you
sell people on the idea of heaven, then they won't worry about
the problems here on earth. I think it's fine to insure people
a ticket to salvation as the churches here do. People who are
saved feel they have their ticket, and that security is good for
any person certainly. I would be the last person to mock something
like that, but yet I think there should be some effort to concentrate
on life here now as well, and improving that for all people.
B: This is where I differ again, because I believe in terrestial things
as well as celestial.
C: That's how I feel exactly.
B: I think while we're here we have to make our contribution; we have
to pay our rent, so to speak, because life is a gift from God. I
think we should do whatever we can to help matters for those who are
coming after us, and also for those who are living, and this is my
own personal ideal. I'm glad you're observing these things, because
it's so interesting to get the point of view of somebody who hasn't
lived here before, and who probably visited the area for the first
time just a few months ago. What else have you noticed that is quite
different? Of course. I noticed things different about New York City
when I was there.
C: Well, of course, there are the differences between a rural area and
an urban area, and differences between "Smalltown," U.S.A. and "City,"
B: Is there a difference between the friendliness of the people of your
area and the friendliness of the people of this area?
C: I would say that because the people in this rural area are people
who plan to stay here--there is not that much mobility in and out
of this area--these people know everybody who's here. They know
who's here; who this father was; who they married; who their kids
are; who the wife or husband is running around with. I mean, every-
body's business is known. Now, I might be exaggerating a little bit,
B: Not too much.
C: With this comes a certain openness to strangers, especially when they
find out that you're going to be becoming a member of their community
for a certain length of time. People seem more ready to accept you.
They want to find out about you. You know, "Where are you staying?
Who are you living with? Where are you going to church?" They want
you to become part of their c immunity right away, almost, so that
they can put you in your place in their minds. You know, I like,
"Who's that girl?" They can't rest until they find out. "Well,
she's staying over at so-and-so's." Oh, yes, and they kind of cat-
alog her in their minds. "That's where she's staying," you know.
B: There might be a little jealousy there, too, you know?
C: They're very, very anxious to include you in their community, which
is a very nice feeling. At the same time, I think you'd find this
in any small town. Kind of a Peyton Place syndrome, if I can call
it that, with everyone knowing what everybody else is doing, you
know, dut to the smallness of the community.
B: Now, this I don't like, but I think this is characteristic of.....
C: ...of rural America.
B: Rural, yes.
C: And also of smalltown America now. I don't think this is characteristic
of the Lumbee people any more than any other people in a small town,
but again, it's different, f om say, the city of Rochester, New York.
B: Oh, yes. I'm sure it is.
C: But a lot of personal jealousies play into things on a local level,
because people have more dealings with the same people every day,
whereas if you went to an office in Rochester, New York, you would
meet maybe ten times as many people as you meet here, or maybe ten
times as many new people, and you may not see them again. But here
the people are constantly dealing over and over again with the same
people and remember things, let's say. And this is unfortunate be-
cause these private jealousies of some sort do tend to hold up progress
and unity I believe also. Now, I don't know if you agree with this,
Mr. Barton, or not.
B: Do you think this is a form of clannishness?
C: In a way, in a way. When I think of clannishness, I think of family
groups, and in Robeson County, among the Indian people, family groups
are still very intact. Everyone is very willing and very proud to
tell me, "Well, that so-and-so is my cousin, or my sister's girl," or
something like that. They're very family conscious. Also, it seems
that if you go in a certain area of the county, and you look at the
mail boxes, all the Sampsons live over here, or a lot of Sampsons
are concentrated in this area, and a lot of Oxendines are here, a
lot of Mayhurs are here; so much that even an outsider like myself
can easily remember where people live, and easily pick out an Indian
name as opposed to a white or a black surname.
B: The Indian names here are exclusively Indian in most cases, aren't
C: It seems to be that way unless there has been an individual interracial
B: Unless you have something like the Joneses and the Smiths.
C: Yes. Joneses, yes, that's....
B: Common names, very common names like that, we have a few of those,
How about your observation of the education process? Or have you
been able to look into that any at all?
C: Yes, sir, and I don't know how qualified I am to speak on this.
B: Well, you're as qualified as anybody else. We've already established
that you've been here...well, how long you've been here, and we do
know that you haven't had an opportunity to find out all that you
would like to find out.
C: Well, I think the educational system suffers from an ailment that
many educational systems across the country do, and that is lack of
money. It seems that poorer areas such as Robeson County, which is
pretty much a depressed county across the board, except for its
supposedly that live in the county--I haven't met
'em yet--but a majority of people are poor; property taxation as
compared to, say New York state, is low, and therefore from poor
people you cannot raise a lot of money to support your schools.
Therefore, the schools do not have the facilities, and tend to produce
a not as well educated person as someone from a better system. There-
fore, this person does not make as much money as someone, from a system
in another county, and therefore when he stays here, perpetuates the
system, is also poor and cannot support an expensive school system.
So it seems to be really no way out of this circle at first glance,
but a lot of federal money is being pumped into the area through Title
1 funds, and a lot of it is going into schools which have a heavy Indian
population. What progress this program makes, I don't know, but
there seems to be a high dropout rate here, and.,.,
B: It is very high.
C: One of the reasons that I can detect for this lack of incentive to
stay in school and lack of opportunity for someone who does have
the education. The lack of incentive comes from being brought up
in a home where your parents did not go very far in school, and most
of the Indian parents here who have not gone to school were denied
this opportunity, or through racial discrimination. Therefore,
there are not the books in the home; there's not, you know, the
parental guidance and parental motivation to the children to continue
their education. Then, even if a child can decide for himself that
he does want an education, or even if the parental impetus is there
behind him, until recently it seems that there are very few white-
collar occupations existing in the country to begin with, and very
few that the Indians seem to have equal opportunity in obtaining.
Now, of course, if you spoke to someone who was employing people,
they might claim that the statement I made is ridiculous; that all
qualified Indians who apply for positions are equally treated, and
I'm sure that is the case. It is the case; but how do you get the
people as qualified as, say, a white person who comes from a better
school system? So naturally, how can you be as qualified? Or, when
are the positions open? Are they open when the Indian people go in,
or are they open when the white people go in? It's hard to tell,
especially for an outsider.
B: Discrimination is very devious. I mean, if you want to discriminate,
you can always find the means, you know. It's like anything else,
I guess. Let me ask you something personal. May I?
C: Yes, sir. I guess so.
B: You're sitting here with me. I am an Indian. You are caucasian.
Do you feel uncomfortable because of this?
C: No, sir.
B: That's good. That's good to know. I just wanted to interject that.
Well, we've talked about so many things. Could I ask you a couple
of questions more about your biography, if you want to call it that?
How many were in your family?
C: Five children. I'm the oldest of five.
B: All boys? All girls? Or sort of mixed up?
C: The four oldest are girls, and the last one is a boy.
B: That's something rare, isn't it? That reminds me of my own family.
I was the only boy in a family of six girls. Where did you go to
C: Well, I went to grade school and high school in Rochester, New York,
and then I attended St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York,
where I received my bachelor's degree in political science.
B: How about you parents? We didn't get their names, did we?
C: No, I don't think so. My father's name is Jack Willis Connelly,
and my mother is Carolyn Melville Connelly.
B: Who was she before she married?
C: Carolyn Melville.
B: Oh, I see. You had told me and I passed right over it.
C: Well, you didn't know if it was her maiden name or her middle name.
B: Right. What kind of neighborhood were you brought up in? You were
in a middle class neighborhood, I know that, but was it a very thickly
C: Middle class, suburban Rochester. It was an area called Gates, and
not as thickly settled as a city. We had our little lot, probably
about a half acre, and then there was a house next door to us on
each side, and houses across the street. It's one of the older sub-
urbs of Rochester.
B: Were there adequate recreational facilities and all that sort of thing?
C: When I was younger, there weren't as many. The town is outside the
city; was in charge of recreation. There were summer programs in the
grammar schools, you know--archery and baseball, and this kind of thing.
And there were baseball leagues for both boys and girls, and we had
access to YMCAs and YWCAs in the city of Rochester. There could have
been more. But the street that I lived on was not a main street. It
was off of a main street, so there was plenty of room for children
to play and ride their bicycles, and roller skate, and all this
kind of thing. There were plenty of children on the street.
B: I hope this doesn't sound incongruous but this is quite different
from, say, the slum areas of the cities.
C: Quite different.
B: And don't answer this unless you want to, but could you...I believe
it would be helpful maybe to somebody if you could remark or say
something about your feelings toward slum people and that sort of
think as a child growing up--your impressions. Did it...?
C: As a child?
B: Uh, hum.
C: Probably, as a child, I never met a slum person, never even knew that
B: And when you first came to know them, were you shocked? Were you
sorry for them, or were you...?
C: I guess the only contact I had was, say, riding a bus to downtown
Rochester, and travelling through a depressed area. At that time
these neighborhoods were becoming increasingly more inhabited by
black people. Gee...how I felt toward it?
B: Were you sort of indifferent? I mean, until you know about a problem,
you certainly don't have too much....
C: I don't really think that I even considered it at that time. I was
not aware that these people were leading harder lives than I was.
I just wasn't aware. Probably the only impression I had was that
these areas were dirtier than my home street.
B: This is the most obvious thing, I think.
C: Yeah, and also probably I was a little fearful, and I would not walk
through these areas by myself.
B: Do you think fear plays a big part in human prejudice?
C: I think definitely. I think anything strange, people fear. If a person
is from a different area of the country, or if a person is a
different color, or if he speaks a different language, or if
it's English, perhaps, he's not the same, you know. People
fear anything that they can't understand.
B: I know your experience with VISTA will at least help in those
C: Well, certainly. I think that in high school and in college you
were taught about this theoretically, you know, about low income
B: It wasn't the same as....
C: It's not the same as experiencing it, certainly. I think that college
leaves you with a correct orientation, you know, accepting everyone
on an equal basis, no matter what their race, their color, their re-
ligion, their economic level, but I think the VISTA experience cer-
tainly has personalized all these theoretical concepts for me.
B: Have you found things, factors and things, anything which was the
same in both groups, which we could label as being maybe human, or
do people in different groups this far apart or this different react
to things generally in the same way, or do people in some areas react
maybe more intensely or more indifferently, or have you noticed any-
thing like this?
C: Well, I've noticed one thing about the concept of death here. It
seems that death is so much more easily accepted in this area than
what I am used to. People will speak of it, you know. Someone is
killed on the highway, and it seems that there are, disproportionately,
the number of traffic accidents on Robeson County roads. People will
speak of someone who has died as having known them, and "Isn't it
awful? Isn't it too bad?" But yet, I don't know...they accept it so
B: It happens very often.
C: I don't know if this goes along with the religious belief. It happens
very often, and maybe because they know more people from their own
home area, each individual person is exposed to more deaths of people
they know. You know, I could probably count in one hand the number of
people I know who have ever been killed, much less close relatives.
Or you know, it might have been somebody who I had met, but I did not
know them very well...but just this acceptance of death and really not
seeming to put much value on that person's life almost.
B: You know, the life span of the Lumbee Indian is probably lower
than any other group in the country. Right? I'm not sure.
C: No. How would you account for this?
B: I don't know exactly, but the life span of the American Indian
generally is something like forty-five--in that area--and the
life span of the average American is something like seventy. And,
I don't know. Probably this is partly because of deprivation,
lack of proper health facilities. I'm sure there must be several
factors which enter into it. But being exposed, maybe not being
clothed warmly in the winter as other people; poor diets; so many
C: Definitely. Poor diet, nutritionally. Too many carbohydrates
and not enough protein. People are eating potatoes and biscuits
and all these starchy foods, and not enough of the fresh vegetables
that they have right in their own back yards; and even the veg-
etables they do grow, they boil to death. They boil every nutri-
tional, vitamin element out of it. They cook it for hours, and
then they...to me it's not even appetizing sometimes anymore, but
this is the way they've been taught to prepare their vegetables,
and it's definitely poor nutrition. You see people, a lot of over-
weight people here. They eat enough food, but not the right kinds
of food, or not prepared, really, in the best way.
B: I know you've met the inevitable collard greens.
B: And can you stand them?
C: Well, they're not my favorite vegetable.
B: The way-they're prepared among the Lumbee Indians is quite different
than the way they're prepared anywhere else, by the way.
C: How so? How do they differ?
B: Well, I never bought a meal with collards on the plate in any public
eating place where they tasted right to me, you know? So, I think
some of this is conditioning as far as taste is concerned.
C: Yeah, certainly.
B: But the collards are very important to the Lumbee Indian, because
you can have collards all the year round. You can have them from
one end of the year to the other. If they survived the frost, and
if it isn't too cold, you'll have them way up into the spring of
the year here. And so here, they're usually washed very carefully,
and then they're sliced very carefully, and then they're boiled.
They fix them two ways. They boil them with a slab of pork, or
else they fry them.
C: I haven't had any fried ones yet.
B: Fry them with fat, and they cook very quickly this way. I would
think the fried ones wouldn't have as much cooked out of them as
doing it the other way.
C: They shouldn't but again, using all that fat to fry them in isn't
B: Right. So our people definitely need help with their diet planning,
and this sort of thing. Tri-County Community Action is the community
action center in this area, and I think they have offered some help
in planning meals, not only to be more nutritional but in order to
be more economical in preparing those meals.
C: Yes. Also, the county agricultural extension agent has been...there's
...a woman in the neighborhood has been working in this field, although
I don't know what progress she's made out in the field. But you asked
me about differences in the attitudes between my home, say, and Robe-
son County--I also detected a kind of, I don't know how to describe
it, living hard and fast.
B: Living what?
C: Hard. Living very hard. Working very hard in the day, drinking
hard at night; or if you're not drinking, maybe you're praying hard.
You're doing everything very intensely, even if it is not at, say,
a pace that a northerner is used to. And you know, life is slower
throughout the whole South, I think, than throughout the North, but....
B: But there's an intensity that you've noticed?
C: Yes. Yes, I have.
B: Oh, that's interesting.
C: And also, some people who are prone to anger and violence in some
way; a lot of shootings, personal killings, you know. It seems
that they're more personal murders, rather than up in the North
where we have our share of crime and violence also, but yet it
seems to be up there more impersonal. Someone going into a house
of someone they didn't know, and robbing them or killing them, or
someone being mugged down the street. Here it's almost personal
vengeance, an argument resorting in violence. I think a crime
of passion, almost.
B: Right. I asked a psychiatrist about this once, and he said that
perhaps it was because...one factor might be frustration, because
no matter what the small ethnic group tries to do, it's frustrated
in trying to accomplish its goal. They take their frustrations out
on each other...this sort of psychological reasoning, but I'm sure
there might be other reasons as well. I think when people hate,
they hate more intensely, perhaps, but during the few minutes that
they're actually hating.... Do you think it's possible that they
also love more intensely when they love? You know, some of these....
C: It's certainly possible. I don't want to....
B: You know, we don't want to go into that, though. But it is a
psychological, sociological possibility that, in personal relation-
ships that there might be a difference. I don't know; I really
don't know. I'm sorry for all this violence. I've always abhorred
it. I remember in one experience in my own life when I.actually
stepped between a man who was about to shoot his wife, and I saved
her life. She did the same thing that he was about to shoot her
for that time, and actually he did shoot her later on, and that time
he killed her. Things like this...this is as close as I've come to
this kind of human tragedy. I know when this woman was killed, and
I heard about it, I just sat down and wept and wept and wept, and
said, "My God. What awasteof life." I hate that sort of thing.
C: I don't know if it's an indication of a lower economic group--or
maybe I was thinking of a group with a lower education level--that
not as much value is put on individual life. I think that the more
you learn in any field, the more you are impressed with man's cap-
ability, the more importance you would put on the individual. Perhaps
this could be one of the explanations.
B: Well, it's interesting, whatever the causes. It's certainly a problem.
You might think that some of this would be between races, but it isn't.
C: No. It seems to be all within the races. I've seen very few incidences
of racial violence since I've been here.
B: We have a very surprising small amount of racial violence; hardly
any at all. When there's what people call racial incidents, when
they occur, they really make the front page, because they do so
seldom happen. In this county where we have three races, there
is, I don't know whether you've discovered it or not, a sort of
respect for the other fellow.
C: There is a respect; almost an avoidance of the other races in some
aspects. A grouping, social groupings and everything, are all racial.
A lot of housing patterns are also racially determined, but there is
this respect also. There's really no, or little, overt prejudice
practiced. It's all underneath the table.
B: More subtle, isn't it?
B: Sophisticated, would you say?
C: I'd say a lot more subtle and sophisticated on the part of all three
B: I've said this about the North and the South, and if I'm wrong, I
can apologize to you, but I said at one time that there isn't less
prejudice in the North, perhaps, but that in the North prejudice
was more sophisticated than in the South.
C: Well, I think the South is now ready to catch up.
B: The South is more sophisticated too?
C: I think so.
B: But, you know, in days past the North had a tendency to look down
its nose at the South because of its prejudice. I think a lot of
this has disappeared within recent years, because perhaps people have
begun to realize that it is a universal problem. It's not just a
regional problem, although we know that much progress has been made
in the North certainly, and you remember the song about sitting at
the dock of the bay?
C: Uh huh.
B: Where this black man is sent all the way from Georgia to California
to find a better life, and when he gets to California, same thing--
nothing; sitting on the dock of the bay, watching.,.,
C: ...the tide go away.
B: And the Indians have a song like that too. And their song is, "Leave
me alone. I want to go back home." You know, it isn't any different.
Human problems aren't basically any different, I don't think; do you?
I mean, I think we have to solve our problems wherever we are. Do
you think, maybe, a textbook and a course in human prejudice would
help, if it were taught in school?
C: Definitely. I think any enlightenment on the situation would help,
preferably with younger people.
B: I've often thought that I would write a book someday on the nature
of human prejudice, and maybe it would be Adventures in Human Relations.
Call it something like this, because this has always been an adventure
with me, and I've always hungered in my heart to promote understanding
between people. I'm not bragging, nor complaining, but this is a
dream that's very deep in my heart. I think dealing with anyone can
be an adventure, or going into a new community. Certainly, you're
having an adventure here, and I hope these are going to be very pleasant
adventures, and I'm sure it will be. But I've been in other areas,
and it is a new thing, and it is fascinating. It's a little exciting,
too, isn't it?
C: Oh, it's exciting at times.
B: And it's dull at times. After a while, it gets dull, I'm sure, but
I wouldn't take anything for what I know about human beings, including
nature, and different practices and customs, and this sort of thing.
Working in the North, I was employed and residence in King's College
in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The year before last, I came across
some food I didn't even recognize, which I very quietly ate without
saying anything. Everybody else-liked it and I wouldn't have said
I didn't like it for the world.
C: What was it?
B: Sometimes I didn't even know what it was. But the reason I mentioned
this is to show you that the diet in the North is so much more varied.
I mean you can get just about anything. It may cost you a fortune, but
it costs a fortune here, too.
C: There is an overreliance on chicken, corn products--corn bread,
sweet corn, hominy, grits, you know--and ham products; all parts
of the pig rather than the finer grade cuts, and it seems it is
B: Well, all the corn products are contributions of the American
Indian, incidentally, you know.
C: For which I'm grateful. Some of them...I don't know about the
B: The grits, too, come from corn, from the heart of corn.
C: Well, I'm not sure I'm thankful to you all for that.
B: This I cannot understand, because, you know, universally in the
South, this is among all races, people want grits and eggs and
sausage or ham for breakfast, or bacon. In the North you cannot
find grits, and some people from the South visit the North, and
come back home complaining, "They don't even have grits." But
it's very interesting.
C: I think most people in the North don't know what grits are, and
surprisingly, people ask me if I had grits for dinner, and I say,
"No, no, no. They eat grits for breakfast." This is something
that I think almost every northerner is ignorant of--when you eat
B: This is almost unheard of, to have it for any other meal except
breakfast. If you don't get it while it's hot,.then it's not good
C: It's not all that good hot.
B: Oatmeal, for example--I feel about oatmeal the same way you feel
C: That's probably the northern counterpart to it.
B: But now, it's interesting. I think this goes back to conditioning,
C: Oh, definitely.
B: And what you're used to. I think collards are very delicious to me,
and I'm sorry they're not your favorite. I feel like you're missing
something, and you probably feel that I'm missing something of these
other things that you have that I haven't learned to appreciate. This
is why I'm enjoying this interview so much, because we can compare
notes. Now, tell me something else that you've been impressed with
since you've been here in Robeson?
C: I don't know if this is Robeson County, or Lumbee Indian people. Maybe
it's just rural America, but people seem a lot closer to natural things
in life--you know, growing their own food out in their garden. I
don't know, just the sight of a lot of kids around here who have ponies,
riding around on their ponies, would have made my little sister very
jealous at home where we lived in a mass of concrete sidewalks and
streets. The only thing I've noticed really is the attachment to the
county by the Indian people, wanting to remain in their home. This is
their home, and they have very little desire to more away. Those who
do seem to do so only because of economic necessity in search of jobs.
B: And almost invariably they return, or plan to return.
C: They return, or plan to return when they have made some money. It
seems that a goal of most of the people is to build a brick home in
the county, and stay here for the rest of their life. They are sat-
isfied with their home area, and they're very attached to the county,
to the land right here. I've found this characteristic mostly among
the Indian people, as opposed to the different races in the county.
It seems to be an Indian trait.
B: Well, I'm sure you're right. Perhaps this goes back to our clannishness
or desire to be with those with whom we can be comfortable and free of
censure, and we're never afraid of doing something wrong. Although we
do have standards...but I don't know, it probably is accounted for by
a number of things. This is home, and home has a very special meaning
for an Indian.
C: Sometimes I say to myself...when I hear someone talking about being
prejudiced against, I can't help but think if they left Robeson County
where there is this heavy prejudice towards Indian people, and they
went to a bigger city, or some other section of the country, that they
would be assimilated into the population, and would not feel this pre-
judice against the individual person. They wouldn't be typed as much
as belonging to a certain group of people which the establishment is
excluding from positions of power. And then, can't seem to convince
them on this idea. They want to stay and fight on their own home level,
which I'm proud of, in a way. It's a hard fight though. It's very
admirable that they want to, pick up the battle here, but the trouble
is they can't get together on doing it. It's like they're fighting
individual battles. They're very individualistic; especially the
farmers are very individualistic.
B: This might go back to the fact that we've been here since 1660, at
least. Our forefathers were born here, worked here, lived here,
died here, and this is home, or it has been since our people came
here from the coast, you know, in the late 1500s. Maybe this partly
accounts for it. I don't know, but I think most. American Indians
are sentimental about their home even when those homes are reservations
which can be considered prisoner of war camps in a sense. Because
they were put there to be kept out of the hair of....
C: Out of the new settlements.
B: Right, and so they did get attached, and maybe they don't feel as
free anywhere else as they do at home. I'm sure they don't feel
entirely free at home either, but....
C: I think this is characteristic among a lot of minority groups, and
also, I might add, among a lot of women, even though we're not exactly
a minority group in numbers. We have some of the psychological traits
of a minority group, and this is kind of an inferiority complex. When
they're meeting people from another race or from an established position,,
and they kind of feel themselves that they are not maybe as good as
that person. Unjustly so to feel this way, but they have...where their
parents have been kept down for so long that they still have this in-
feriority complex. A lot of people ask me, "Well, do you like it here?"
kind of in a tone of voice like they're assuming that I wouldn't. Or,
"How do you like the South?" in such a way that they're assuming that
I would not like the South. It's kind of doubting their own worth in
an outsider's eye, and I've noticed this from quite a few people who
have spoken to me.
B: Well, there is a feeling of inferiority among all southerners in com-
parison with the North, because of the North's industrial development
and other things. As far as our people are concerned, there is this
feeling of inferiority, because their efforts have usually been kept
down so long that after a while you may actually get to believing what
the other fellow believes about you. But I don't look on it as a person,
you know. I don't look on it as.... I don't feel this way. I feel
very proud, because I know that I can claim to be an American from both
sides of the ocean--I mean from the caucasian side, and also from the
American Indian side...I mean the very first European Americans who
came over here. Perhaps being able to study my own personal back-
groundand trace it all the way back to the earliest European colonies,
and so forth--maybe this has given me a boost I wouldn't have had
C: Speaking from myself being a white person--maybe I'm just not sensitive
to how people feel about this--but there seems to be a lot of people
hung up on the idea that they do not know where they came from; or
they do not know if they are Lumbee, or if they're Tuscarocan, or they
seem to not be able to justify their present worth unless they can
determine their past identity. I try to encourage people to do some-
thing great in the present. So then...
B: Right; that's a good approach.
C: you know, you can think of your present and future. And who
really cares about the past--whether you're from such and such a tribe,
or such and such a racial mixture?
B: The truth is, you know, I've spent some eighteen years studying our
history, and wrote a book on our history, The Most Ironic Story in
American History, and of course, I know these things for myself.
But not everybody knows these things. Not even our educated people
are as familiar with our history as I would be, having to work this
long or spending this much time in investigation on purely historical
grounds and this sort of thing, and I guess this does make a difference.
C: Well, certainly people must have pride in themselves, and if the
pride can be instilled through their past history, then this vehicle
should be used, if you can be proud of your history.
B: I'm glad you said that, because that's exactly what I try to do. Actually,
where the American Indian side is concerned we come from the Hatteras
Indians, that you can consider the Hatteras Indians, or the Coratan,
as they were also called. This was sort of the nest egg or the nucleus,
and then there were the Tuscarora. When the Tuscarora war was fought
in 1711-1713, some of the Tuscarora joined the colonists as did our people,
and, of course, after the Tuscarora was defeated in North Carolina, they
moved to-Niagara Falls, New York, and joined the Five Nations; became
the Six Nations [of the Iroquois confederacy.] Now this segment of the
Tuscarora which fought in the Tuscarora War against the Tuscarora was
not received back into the main group with open arms, as you can under-
stand, and so they remained here. So in this area you have Hatteras
blood; you have Tuscarora; you have some Cherokee; and you have some
Mattamuskeet [last remaining village of the Machapunga tribe.] You see
those Mattamuskeets were brought back as prisoners of war, and
eventually incorporated into the group.
Now, what I'm trying to say is that maybe knowing these things
and studying these things on a scholarly ground has given me more
confidence. Also, whatever success I've had, like being recognized
in Who's Who, in poetry, in the international sense; being recognized
internationally as a poet, and this sort of thing...but the average
Indian doesn't enjoy this. You know, I was also included, strangely
enough, in Personalities of the South this year. So, I'm very proud
of that; and the Henry Berry Lowry Award--I received that. I re-
ceived many, many awards, but only during the past few years. Also,
I'm the first American Indian ever to appear on a North Carolina
literary map, and I'm very proud of that. These things didn't come
I had sort of a pride all the time, you know. During the days
when people there had "White Only" signs, if I went where there was
a place like this, I was too proud to have gone. Knowing this, even
if they hadn't had the sign up, I would say to myself, "Well, as long
as you feel that way, and I feel the way I feel, you and my money,
the twain shall never meet." I think this is a defensive mechanism,
you know, sort of.
C: That's a great attitude. I think that this pride that you have in
yourself, Mr. Barton, is something that is lacking in a lot of people
in this county, both black and Indian.
B: I'd like to instill pride in people whoever they are, and whatever
they are, because all people are great, you know?
C: I think that across the nation there's the emphasis that's being
put on Indian people now, and a lot of the interest which Indians
themselves have started, and a lot of books that are coming out on
Indian people are helping to instill this pride.
B: Yes, I think so. I think this is definitely the era of the American
Indian, because nobody has ever really focused on the American Indian
before. This may sound a little political, but I believe the present
administration has done more for the American Indian, perhaps, than
any other administration in history... In terms of programs.
C: We'll have to talk about that some time.
B: At least, they're trying. I'm not necessarily endorsing the Republicans,
or anything like that, but what I'm saying...this is a new day,
and I think it began really with Bob Kennedy when he was attorney
general. I think this was where the interest began, because he
started studying the old treaties--of which there are hundreds and
hundreds, and almost invariably they've been broken--and he had
always assumed that these sixteen million square miles that make
up South, Central, and North America were contracted for one way
or another; and he comes across the startling truth that here are
these many claims that have not been settled. He was very dis-
tressed about this, and I think this is what started the nation
thinking along terms of more appreciation for the American Indian.
So I wouldn't put the present administration above Kennedy by any
C: Well, we VISTA volunteers aren't allowed to publicly discuss politics,
B: Ah, well. This is kind of historical.
C: One thing that sticks in my mind is the Indian calendar which was put
out by They have published a calendar, and each day
has all the events in Indian history which have occurred on that day.
The one that sticks out in my mind, which, I think, is really putting
the emphasis in the right place, is October 12, and on the calendar
it says, "On this day the Indians discovered Columbus on their shores."
Which really, you know, all the historical battles over who was the
person who discovered America...when they discovered America, there
were people already here, so how can they ever put such an emphasis
on it? I really can't understand how our history has been so biased.
B: There is something being done about that. That's another change that's
taking place. I mean, I know of a friend of mine who is a Cherokee.
She has worked so hard. She's a Ph.D. She's actually losing her vision
in the state of California, and she has traced down so many errors
and made so many corrections that all the great publishers are seeking
her out and begging for her help in revising their books. Ten years
ago this just could not have happened.
C: And this is something that's....
B: And they are revising.
C: This is happening also with black history, and eventually women history,
B: Yes, I'm certainly for that too. But the atmosphere is different; the
\es etil o htto
attitude is changing. The old stereotypes will eventually disappear
just as soon as the old western movies. The older ones are worn
out anyway. But I think it's very unfortunate that most of the
knowledge people have of American Indians comes from what they think
they are learning from the movies, and this isn't very accurate.
But it takes time to rectify all these things, and I have faith in
God and in this country, too. I believe in this country, and I
believe that eventually these things will be rectified. I believe
in my caucasian brothers too. I want you to know that. And I
believe--I've always said this about the caucasian race in general--
if you ever show them that they are wrong in something on scholarly
grounds and on intellectual grounds, sooner or later they will get
around to doing something about it. And I believe this is true.
C: Well, I hope it's sooner than later in the case of the American Indian.
B: Well, you're doing something about it right here, now, today. You're
doing so much. What you're doing is so important. You have no idea.
The human touch is the most precious thing, the most creative thing
on the face of the earth, and the feeling of the sharing of something--
just a conversation in this way--is something that cannot be priced
or evaluated, but it's important. This is what the American Indian
needs. He needs to know that his white brother is genuinely interested
in him and his destiny, and whether he exists or whether he passes
off the face of the earth forever.
C: Well, I think that is important, but it's even more important that
the Indians gain control of his own destiny, and develop the pride
necessary for controlling his own life rather than relying on his
white brother, who has many times stabbed him in the back already,
I'm sorry to say.
B: Well, maybe some of that happened both ways. I don't know. But people
generally react as people, I think. The fact that the American Indian
was so small in numbers meant a lot; this had a lot to do with it.
Also, the fact that they were scattered geographically, and they were
isolated even further, you know. All these things enter into it, and
it's just true that in a democratic form of government, the best things
to the majority. The majority rules, but we can say with a great deal
of pleasure that the majority is now considering the weaker ones--those
who don't wield the political power that they do.
For example, among our people here, we wield tremendous power in
this county, or could. But outside, we're just a drop in the bucket,
and so we have to depend on personal diplomacy. They have to depend
on Indian trading sometime in politics. "If we get a thousand people
to vote for you, will you put this project across for us?" That
sort of thing. And so numbers are very significant.
But I'm not downgrading democracy. Self-government is the greatest
government on earth, but it isn't the easiest. The founding fathers
never promised us it would be easy. They only siad it was the best
form of government, and most satisfactory, and it does have its
drawbacks. I still wouldn't change it for any other form of government
in the world. But that's my personal opinion. It's certainly been
very pleasant, and you've been very kind to spend this time with me.
Would you like to add something to this?
C: Well, I.was just think of asking a question a while ago about noticing
any peculiarities of this area. I guess one thing which is very
obvious to an outsider which I forgot to mention is the language pattern
of people in the area. A lot of phrases are used here which aren't
used in other sections of the country, and I assume even other sections
of the South. For instance, people don't turn on and off lights in
Pembroke. They cut them on and off. And they don't start the cars;
but they crank their cars. And they don't push buttons; they mash
buttons, or mash the starter. And sometimes I have to stop and ask
somebody exactly what they mean.
B: Have you heard the word juvember since you've been here?
B: You know what a juvember is?
B: It's a slingshot, but it's called a juvember here, and nowhere
else in the world that I know of.
C: Oh, fantastic. I haven't seen a juvember around yet. When I do,
I'll be sure to call it that.
B: How about something which is catawampun?
C: No. I haven't heard that term either.
B: If you've had your hat on catawampun, it would be on an angle. It
would be crooked.
B: Uh huh, and if it were straight, it would be barsam. And you
might hear them...the older people might use piza for porch, or
something like that.
C: I've heard that. I've heard that.
B: There are any number of expressions, some of which go all the way
back to Chaucer. They certainly go back to the Elizabethan age,
a good many of them. But education is doing away with much of this
C: Well, I think a lot of the language patterns are developed in the
home even before the kids get to school. In fact, this is somewhat...
a local sociology professor here feels that this is somewhat of a
drawback to Lumbee children entering the first grade or kindergarten.
They are supposedly learning to read the English language in the
first grade, and it is assumed that they already know how to speak
the English language, when, in effect, they know almost a certain
dialect of the English language, almost a Lumbee dialect, with certain
phrasing patterns and certain words which Dick, Jane, Sally and Spot
and all those people in the first grade textbooks don't use. So,
naturally the little kid is confused, and cannot relate immediately
to his new reader. This professor at the university feels that this
might be one of the major causes of slow reading patterns which has
been exhibited in the primary grades, especially by the Indian kids.
B: Well, I'm sure this has its effect, because I don't wholly agree with
those tests. I think a test should measure native ability, not your
knowledge of somebody else's culture. If it's your own, well, that's
all right. But if it's not your own culture, then it becomes sort
of something which isn't quite right.
C: And along this line, a lot of the Indian childrenor teenagers have
a hard time passing the SATS, or getting good scores on the SATS, the
Scholastic Aptitude Tests, which are a necessary prerequisite for en-
tering college. It has been proven that this type of test is culturally
biased, and biased against the Indian kids. Probably biased against
anyone from a rural background as opposed to an urban background.
B: Right! Have you noticed a distinction between the white population
in the county, and the black population, and also the Indian population?
C: As far as language patterns go?
B: And dialect and so forth.
C: Well, of course. They're all different from my own. The Southern
drawl, if it can be called that. But I've noticed certain phrases
coming specifically from Indian areas--certain things like instead
of saying "right here," they would say "right chere," with a ch
sound. And they say "let's go with me to the store," instead of
"let's go to the store." You know...stock phrases. And I've noticed
this as peculiar to the Indian people, I believe; although most of
my contact since I've been in Robeson County has been with the Indian
people, so perhaps I'm not a competent judge of who speaks what.
B: You don't take somebody to town or to the movies. You carry them.
C: Yes. You don't live anywhere. You stay.
B: That's right.
C: Which, you know to me, is kind of funny.
B: A bicycle is a wheel.
C: And anyone who doesn't work on the farm has a public job. When
someone first told me that they had never had a public job, I thought
they meant working in a capacity with a public agency. They said no,
they meant any job off the farm.
C: It's a public job.
B: Right. And if you ask them what kind of work, they say public work.
It means you're working away from the farm.
C: Away from the farm.
B: And in most cases, it isn't public at all. Not what people usually
recognize as public work. Can you think of any other...?
C: Indian phrases? No.
B: This is interesting, because these things are more obvious to some-
body who comes in, you know, than they are to people who have been
using them forever, just about. Some people say'they pronounce "fairly,"
it sounds like the English where they say "fairly": "I'm doing fairly
well." It's something which is a sight or which is a spectacle.
"Isn't that a fadum?" Did you ever hear?
B: Isn't that a "fadum"?
C: Well, people reckon a lot. They don't think. They reckon.
B: Yeah. I reckon so. You coming to see me? I reckon so. That
means just about yes.
C: And one thing I've noticed is, up North people will say, "Well, come
back and see us," or "Why don't you come over?" and they say it
almost to be polite. Where here, people take it literally. If
you say, "Come see me," or "Come over," they really expect you to
come over. And if you say it to someone, they'll be at your
house that night to come see you...
B: Yes, they do that.
C: ...and it's taken quite literally and that's a cultural dis-
tinction, I think.
B: Do people wave at you when you ride down the road?
C: Yes. Everyone waves. Anyone walking will wave.
B: Anyone who recognizes you.
C: Even if they don't recognize you. At least, I don't recognize
some people. Very, very friendly cultural pattern, I think.
B: I like this myself. I'm biased, but I like friendliness towards
people, and this is perhaps more a mark of a rural area.
C: Yes. I think so.
B: Language tells many things. How about names? Have you been im-
pressed by our unusual names.
C: Oh, ever so much so. I think maybe one out of every three people
I met have a first name that I had never heard of before. And,
of course, the last names are of a limited number, especially a name
like Locklear which I think almost every third person I meet is a
Locklear. The first names have to be more unusual. It seems like
...oh, let me think, Carvey, Sorace--like Horace, only Sorace--
all sorts of names. I'd like to go down... said you should
down through the phone book and just read the first names. Very
B: The surname Locklear is invariably Indian. I guess you've learned
that, haven't you? And I think there are at least four hundred
Locklears listed in the telephone directory, and this county is
served not only by Southern Bell, but also by Carolina Telephone.