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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
B: Today is November 27, 1972 and I am in my home interviewing Mr.
Loyd Ray Oxendine who is a Lumbee Indian originally from
Pembroke, North Carolina. First I would like for you just to
tell me some of your family history.
0: Well, my mother is Ann Clark and she comes from the Clark family,
among which her brothers and sisters are Barow Clark, who is the
principal of the high school here and Raymond Clark, who is the
assistant principal. And then, of course there are others who
are not living in this area now.
B: Is this Clark family, are they related to Ward Clark? He is the
first Lumbee Indian to own a shopping center. Is this the same
0: I am not sure. I really could not say.
B: And your father is?
0: My father is Clyde Oxendine and his parents were Stiden Oxendine
and Lucy Oxendine. I do not know, I cannot go any further back
in those terms, but I know that he is related to Henry Berry
Lowry. He was his uncle. So, that is probably about as far back
as I can go in his history.
B: Which area did you live in here. Usually we have sort of areas
that they say someone had lived. Was this the Chapel area?
O: They came from around Fairmont.
0: They lived there all my life. They are dead now.
B: Do you have cousins I may know? I mean teachers. Do you have
any first cousins who are living here now?
0: I am not sure, I really do not know what they are doing now so I
cannot really say.
B: Are you married?
0: I am married.
B: To whom?
0: To Ursula, she is originally from Switzerland. We have one son
who is six. His name is Mark.
B: Starting back then from the time you lived in Robeson County,
where did you begin your education? The first grade, where did
you go to school.
0: I was born in Pembroke, then I went to Pembroke Elementary School
for five years.
B: Do you recall any of the teachers who taught at Pembroke?
0: Well, Miss Ruth Dial, Adolf Dial's wife. And then there was Miss
Lucy, I do not know her last name.
B: Lucy Locklear?
0: Right. She was a teacher of mine. I think those are the two I
B: How far did you go in school at Pembroke Grade School?
0: Five years, through the fifth grade.
B: Do you recall a Howington?
0: I remember he was the principal there.
B: And Brady Oxendine. I am trying to remember the time you were in
elementary school. After you passed the fifth grade did you
remain in the county or did you move to another school, or what
happened to you?
0: No. I moved first to Detroit for a year and afterwards to
B: One important thing I forgot to ask was your date of birth. This
will tell me something too.
0: June 8, 1942.
B: 1942, then about 1952 is when you moved to Detroit?
0: Somewhere around there.
B: During this time--you probably would not have paid attention
then,but since you have become an adult--was this about the time
we had quite a few Indians moving from this area to Detroit? I
know there were quite a few in Detroit.
0: Yes, I think it was sort of on the tail end of it. But, I know a
lot of Indians had lived or were moving to Detroit at that time.
B: Why did your family move, do you think?
0: Because they had relatives there.
B: And your father was in what kind of business?
0: I do not know what he was in.
B: Did this influence his moving?
0: No, I do not think so. I think he was just going there to get a
B: How long did you live in Detroit?
0: I lived there for a year.
B: One interesting thing that I would like to hear your expression
on is--you were quite young--but do you recall any difficulty in
the adjustment, having lived in an all Indian school area. In
moving to Detroit do you remember any transition you had to go
0: I do not think there was any transition, only the basic
transition to Detroit. I think I was more concerned with being a
child at that time and there were no problems.
B: So, at least there was no impression that was negative or
B: After your year in Detroit, what happened to your family then?
0: Then we came back to Wilmington.
B: And how long did you live in Wilmington?
0: I lived there for the greater part of my life. I think I left
there when I was twenty-one.
B: So you were in school down there when you finished elementary?
0: From the sixth grade until three years of college.
B: What was the name of the elementary school there you finished?
B: Then you went to which high school?
0: New Hanover.
B: Did you have any experiences in Wilmington, being a North
Carolina town, fairly large size compared to many of them, do you
recall any experiences in Wilmington you had that you could
reflect on as far as racial tension?
0: Well, I was always aware that there was a difference, that I was
darker than some people and that sort of hurt me every once in a
B: Did you have any relatives in Wilmington?
0: Yes, my mother had a brother there.
B: And there were other children, Indian children, in school along
with you then.
0: Not where I was going to school, no.
B: Were you aware of differences in physical features or your color?
Were the other students aware that you were different, do you
0: Well, I think in some cases they were and in some cases they were
B: Back during that time were you proud to be Indian, I mean, was it
to your advantage then?
0: No, it was not at all.
B: I would like for you to elaborate on that a little bit for me if
you would. Because it is only recently that I feel we have
somewhat swallowed some of the discrimination and hostility that
has been shown toward us and we have become proud of our
Indianess. Do you feel like this held you back any because of
your attitudes about being Indian? Did you not feel like it was
to your advantage? Do you feel like this sort of stifled some
potential in you?
0: Well, I think in retrospect it may have. I know I had quite a
problem of adjustment in terms of say, high school age or say the
ninth grade to the tenth grade, or in junior high school, more or
less that age level. I think it is about thirteen, fourteen,
fifteen or sixteen.
B: Did you actively participate in activities maybe because it was
not an advantage and you were aware of difference? Did this
cause you to not respond to opportunities that may have existed
because you felt like you were not the same? Not necessarily
implying that you were not equal in ability, but did you...
0: Well, sometimes I sort of sat back and stayed quiet about things.
And being very aware of being an Indian in a society--not a
society necessarily--but in a regional location where Indianess
was certainly not accepted and Lumbee were definitely not
B: Do you recall having visited your grandparents often? When you
were living in Wilmington, did you come back to Pembroke often?
0: Oh yes. I used to come and visit my grand mother, Emma Clark,
quite often. I also used to spend summers in Fairmont, on the
farm. That was not only when I was living in Pembroke, but
afterwards for a few years until I went into high school.
B: Did you have any special achievement in high school that you
might like to mention? Did you do any particular activity that
you feel you excelled in?
0: I did quite a few things that I excelled in in high school.
Well, I played on a football team my first year. I was second
string which is equivalent to being a junior in high school. I
think for a high school student, that is some sort of
achievement. I was the president of the Spanish club. I was
treasurer of the debating club. I was president of the art club,
member of the student government, president pro tem of the student
government and about fifteen other things.
B: Well, it certainly does not sound like you had a feeling that you
were not capable of doing these things. Often times, if we feel
outnumbered by another race, like you say, we sit back and even
though we might be able to do something or perform even better we
do not show what we can do because of the feeling we have. And
it seems that in high school you were certainly displaying that
you did seem to have unique qualities that may exist among others
of the Lumbee Indians that just have not had a chance to develop.
After graduating from high school, what happened to you then?
0: Then I went to college. I got a scholarship to Wilmington
College; an art scholarship and I went there for three years.
B: In high school, did you take many art courses?
O: Actually, I started really concentrating on art, I think, my senior
year or junior year in high school. I had taken a couple of art
courses and then I had some encouragement from my teachers and I
B: Were you always interested in art, I mean, even from a little
0: Well, I used to draw. I used to draw horses and cowboys and
things like that--Indians. But there was very little
encouragement at that time.
B: Your scholarship to college came from which source?
0: It came from Wilmington College. It was a full scholarship and
it covered everything.
B: And this was a four year college?
0: No. At the time it was a junior college and then the year I was
leaving it became a four year college. I went there a year. I
was also concentrating on drama. As a matter of fact, I was also
in the drama club there in high school. I was a member of the
Falians which was the theater group in Wilmington. I do not
know, I did about every play that they had around. I was also
majoring in Spanish. I lacked about three points when I left
Wilmington College from having a degree in Spanish. I did not
want to pursue that.
B: You know, you really do display quite a broad spectrum of talent.
Speaking of your dramatic endeavors, this seems to be a unique
interest of young people in the Lumbee race. I know there are a
lot of us who pursued this, but beyond college we have never been
developed as far as dramatics. After your college experience did
you not go any further in dramatic training?
0: No, not in training. I did a few plays, but I never pursued it.
I mean, other than the fact that I still intend to do it.
B: After your two years of college in Wilmington, three years.
After it became a four year you did stay for another year?
0: No, I left and went to New York.
B: And then you went to which school?
0: Then I went to the Art Student's League which is a professional
art school there.
B: And how long was this program?
0: I went there for a year. I got a scholarship there. Then I went
to work for awhile. I worked at the World's Fair as a guest
relations person. My job was to pick up VIPs at the airport and
bring them to the World's Fair and show them around, take them to
dinner and that kind of thing. Then I worked as a shirt designer
for the nation's biggest sportswear firm. Then I went back to
school. I went back to Columbia University and got a degree in
Art History. Then I got a Master of Fine Arts at Columbia
University School of the Arts.
B: Recently you have been concentrating mainly on Indian art or
Indian artists. Exactly what kind of programs are you involved
in now as far as Indian art and especially Lumbee Indian art?
0: Well, while I was in graduate school at Columbia, I was working
on this project of gathering information on contemporary American
Indian artists. I continued it afterwards. I got a grant from
the New York State Council on the Arts to do research and
development. After doing that and promoting the art--first of
all, gathering the information, then disseminating the
information in terms of shows, articles--I finally decided that
it needed an outlet. So, I opened a gallery for art by
contemporary American Indian artists.
B: Is this your personal gallery, I mean..
0: The gallery is my personal endeavor, right.
B: It is not a corporation?
0: It is not, I am the sole owner.
B: You said you had done research, did you have to travel the nation
and attempt to meet Indian artists?
0: I had to travel; some came to me. I correspond with some; I
ran the whole gamut.
B: How broadly is the Indian art in the nation represented in your
0: Well, I have people from all over the country.
B: You have to personally purchase their work for it to be displayed
in your gallery?
0: In most cases, yes.
B: And this had to be your own funding, you have no help in
0: Right. That does not come from any other source.
B: Tell me something about your own work. The kinds of paintings or
whatever you have gone into.
0: I started out basically as an abstract painter, an abstract
expressionist more or less. Then I moved back into figurative
work, more realistic things: drawings and paintings from the
figure and nudes; painting still life; painting landscapes. Then
I moved back into more abstract art. But at the same time, I was
researching Indian motifs, trying to see where I fit in as an
Indian, and as an Indian who was an artist.
B: In light of the changing attitudes nationally toward Indians, has
this influenced the type of ar that you produce, say the art work
you did six to ten years ago compared with some you might be in
the process of doing right now. Has the mood of your work
0: I think the mood of my work changed...well, actually all the
places I studied art were more or less European oriented. When I
was just graduating, I had been giving it a lot of thought. When
I was just graduating from Columbia from the Art History degree,
I decided that I wanted to investigate Indian art more
thoroughly. Because, I had been taught from one point of view.
Whereas, not only I, but I think most Americans, whether they be
Indian or not, are oriented toward European art. You know, you
have to look for the grass roots. We are not in Europe now and
those people who have been here have not been in Europe for over
200 years. So, it is about time to start looking at the
influences of the land on the artists.
B: What about some of your ideas, as far as the changes among the
Lumbee Indians back home? You now live in New York, right? And
your gallery is located in New York. You have been there for how
0: I have been there eight years.
B: Perhaps you have not lost any of the ties that you had in Robeson
County, but have any of your experiences in childhood influenced
your production in art?
0: I do not know what motivates a person to be an artist, maybe it
is talent, maybe it is sensitivity. One will never know. Maybe
it is because I am an Indian that I became an artist.
B: One thing, from the little bit of knowledge I have of you, that I
can certainly appreciate is that you are willing to express
yourself without any limitations that we usually place upon an
artist. Your work is Indian art because you are Indian and you
are not necessarily producing a unique kind of masterpiece.
0: I think the thing that should be said in light of this is that I
am an Indian. I am an artist and whatever I do is Indian. In
order to look Indian it has to look old and I am not an old
Indian, I am a young Indian living today.
B: But most of the American public would expect Indian art to
represent something from the past.
0: Well, most of the public knows absolutely nothing about Indian
art. They know very little about art, so I do not think the
public generally has any idea of what art is and especially
Indian art. I think they have outmoded ideas with the Indians
and the only Indians they have seen have been on the movies and
so forth. And they were not Indian, they were generally Jewish
or Italian or really quite American.
B: In your work with other Indian artists, how broadly do you think
you are making the impression on America that the work now being
done by Indian artists is Indian art? It is not necessarily
depicting a warrior in feathers or arrows or any artifacts from
yesterday. Are you having any impact do you think nationally?
0: I think it is having a great deal of impact. On the art from
Latin America it has certainly had an impact. It has not had an
impact--not on a great deal of the public--because the public that
buys art in America are people who earn over $40,000. So, it has
reached those people and in those terms I think it is important.
Because they are the people who subsidize art and in order to
prolong the life of an artist his work has to sell.
B: What steps are you taking, or your colleagues, in introducing
Indian art to grass roots people like your own people here in
0: Well, through shows of Indian art, art by Indians and through
lectures. For instance, I did not mention the Today Show, but we
reached around four million people. I think it is probably those
people who are more grass roots than the audience we reached in Lat
America. Also, Arts International, which is an international
arts publication did a story on a show we had at the Brooklyn
Museum in the summer of 1972. We are also working on a show in
one of the museums in Stuttgart, Germany and shows all over the
B: Are these merely shows of Indian artists?
B: Why are you in Robeson County at this present time?
0: Well, I am here because I wanted to come back. I had something
to come back with; that is to give a lecture, a slide lecture on
contemporary art by American Indians and to do the show at St.
Andrew's College of Art.
B: We do have very talented, brilliant Lumbee Indians who for many
reasons were not able to develop their potential within our
county. They have gone away and have become quite successful.
Recently, I had an experience with one such Indian who is using a
certain vehicle upon which to return home. You have returned
home temporarily to show what you have done. Do you ever foresee
that, perhaps, some day you may return home and continue in the
area that you are now working? Is there a potential that you
could come back home and develop?
0: Well, I think it terms of my organizing abilities, there is
potential there. In terms of selling art, I do not think I could
sell art here.
B: So from an economic standpoint we are very much in agreement that
you stand greater advantages in staying in New York, as far as,
selling your art? But you do admit that there is potential here,
even resources for you to produce from? Maybe you have not given
much thought to things that exist in Robeson County that you
could paint. But we look forward to having you come spend
vacations and maybe painting some of the scenes here just to have
you back here with us for a while.
0: Well, I look forward to coming back. As I say, you know, my
talents are organizational and creative. Not only in terms of
painting but in terms of ideas. I have a lot of ideas and that
is my forte.
B: In recent years, the last two years, we have had many pilot
programs starting in various Indian communities all over the
nation, development programs. What is your response in thinking
that there maybe high school level Lumbee children who you could
work with and develop in different areas. Perhaps drama,
painting, or other avenues that you yourself have had experience
in? Do you think there exists out here, in rural Robeson County,
talent that if it were developed, perhaps, could do quite well?
0: I am almost positive that there is talent here and I know that it
has to be guided well other wise it is lost.
B: What kind of handicaps do you see under the present or past
situation in Robeson County that would not allow a Lumbee child
to become an artist and maybe as successful as you are?
0: Well, a lack of the ideas, or the lack of resources. For
instance, if you wanted to study art here, what would you look
to? I mean, would you go to an art library? Is there an art
library? And, you know, if you did paintings, how would you pay
for your material? Where would you exhibit your work? There is
that sort of thing.
I think that I could talk to people about that and about the
ideas behind being an artist in terms of the historical
continuity of why certain people chose to be artists and how they
handled the problems of being an artist in society.
In America, artists generally are not accepted as well as in
Europe. For instance, an artist is well respected in Europe and
sells his work generally. Not all artists, of course, but I do
not think this has been the case in the United States. It just
seems that people sort of denigrate the position of an artist.
We all know that art is important for the soul and it is
important for the complete self and it is not something you can
use like you use a spoon. Of course, a spoon could be artfully
made too, but painting and sculpture are something else.
B: I just cannot help but wonder why though you have been quite
successful for the past number of years, and to be honest, I had
never heard of about you until a couple of weeks ago when the
announcement started appearing in the paper. I wonder why Indian
art and specifically you have not been available to this area
prior to now.
0: I think it is a matter of...some people knew it. You know, but
it is the right people knowing it at the right time.
B: So, you think maybe now is the prime time for Indians to look for
and maybe start developing whatever potentials they might have.
0: I think it is, yes. I think he had better start now, because it
is already too late and you know there are all of these people
around who could possibly work in other areas. Not only in
painting or sculpture but in writing and music, many areas. I am
not including poetry, straight writing or novels.
B: What kind of experience do you recall from Robeson County that
maybe you have reflected in your writing or your painting? Have
you got anything specifically that you can say, "I did this
because of a certain experience or place I lived or went in
0: Well, I think all of my paintings come out of my total life
experience. Sometimes, I can point to certain ideas that I had
when I started the painting, but there are so many things that
are ingrained subconsciously that I do not think I could reach
the source. And I am sure that Robeson County had a great deal
of effect on my life, as a Lumbee has.
B: Well, this is what I was trying to dwell on, because Lumbee have
more or less lost their Indian identity. And the Anglo geared
society in Robeson County has influenced us so much as far as
pinpointing Indianess in us. It is just something that seems to
be we are now trying to regain or to make it more prevalent
among us. What kind of things can you recall that happened to
you that maybe influenced these beginning ideas in your painting?
I saw on of your paintings on your slides that you did because of
a bitter attitude you had at the time you began this painting.
Can you tell me a little bit about what this bitterness came
0: Well, the painting was generally a painting of Geronimo.
Geronimo was the leader of Indian resistance, so I think that
naturally speaks for itself. Not only that, going back I always
resented the attitude people, the non-Indians around here and
some of the Indians, had about themselves. They were so ashamed
of being what they were that they always wanted to be white and
that sort of really hurt me for a great part of my life.
B: Even though this attitude has changed among Indians. Most
Indians in Robeson County, those of us who maybe could not fit
into the white society because of our physical features or
because of the economic barriers that may have confronted us, we
have maintained being victims of the status quo. But because
there are Indians who could very easily slide into the white
society and be accepted by the white society, they have done very
little to change the situation in Robeson County. Do you see any
change from the time you were a child? Has Robeson County or
your image of Robeson County changed any? You came back to visit
now, do you feel freer? Do you feel more accepted by the total
population of the county than when you were here as a child?
0: Well, I have had no dealings with the white population. I
remember when I was a child I used to go to the bathroom and
there were three bathrooms, white, black, and Indian and I did
not appreciate that too much. I no longer see those signs, but I
am sure that some of the things behind them still exist. I have
not had any dealing with the non-Indian population in Robeson
County. So, I really cannot reflect on that. I do think that
there is a greater pride in the people, the Lumbee, and in their
B: Earlier in our conversation you said you did not like the
attitudes of whites and some Indians when reflecting on some of
your experiences when you were here. What do you think accounts
for a society that has produced an Indian who makes you not like
his attitudes? What do you think would cause Indians in Robeson
County to display white attitudes so much?
0: Well, I cannot say that they do it now. I am saying they did it.
The reason they did that was to succeed in life. They felt that
they were in a lower position and in order to reach a higher
position they had to do everything the whites did, not only that,
ultimately be white which they could never be, which probably led
to a lot of frustration.
B: I think this has certainly been quite evident in recent days.
The frustration felt by many Indians has been vocalized by a few,
but it was a sigh of relief to all of us to hear an Indian
expressing this frustration. Many of us have felt ashamed of the
way some of this frustration has been displayed. However, we
have accepted the fact that we share this same frustration. In
your experience away from here, well in New York, did you ever
have any difficulty fitting into the society that you worked in.
I mean, you probably did not hide the fact that you were Lumbee,
but you did not advertise it either.
0: Well, I think the difference is in Wilmington saying you were a
Lumbee is a very demeaning thing because they have a very--and I
am not speaking of Wilmington specifically, I am talking about
areas surrounding Pembroke--if you are a Lumbee they immediately
have a stereotype for you. Whatever their ideas were, their
ideas were basically, as were most of their ideas about Indians
in general, that Indians were inferior, that they were dirty,
In New York people do not even know what a Lumbee is. So, it
does not make any difference. Lumbee or whatever, they do not
know the difference anyway. But to say that you are an Indian
elicits several reactions. First of all, if you are an Indian,
so what. It does not matter to them. Then, "Oh, I have never
met an Indian before," is another reaction. And then there are
people who really...I think my attitude that I went to New York
with was a carry over from North Carolina and it was a very
turbulent experience for me. But after thinking it out and
talking it out a lot, I came to the realization that basically,
and I feel this way, in New York I am just accepted as a person.
B: I would like to talk more about your input, or maybe I want to
say, do you have any feeling of responsibility toward the Indians
in Robeson County? I know a lot of times Indians may do things
that most of us who supposedly have a little more education do
not condone. But when we think about why this happens it makes
us hang our heads and say, "Well, what have I done to change
that?" Do you have any feeling of responsibility towards the
Indians in Robeson County? Just from an individual, humane,
0: I do not like to think of it in terms of a responsibility, I do
not know what I would call it. But I remember growing up as a
child here and I remember growing up as a Lumbee in a time when
it was not so nice to be a Lumbee outside. I went outside and I
found that out through first hand experience, but you know, I do
not really think I had anyone I could relate to in terms of
The opportunities that were offered to me here were
to be a teacher, which I did not want to be, or to be a clerk or
something of that nature and I did not want to do that. What I
would like to think I am doing is offering an image for people to
work up to. The fact that I can do it, they can do it too
perhaps. If not, they can at least try it and I am thinking in
terms of children now. The adults, it is sort of a little too
late to change them because they are set in their pattern,
economic and otherwise, but the children can be.
B: Do you have any definite plans to make your image known to more
of the Lumbee Indians in Robeson County?
0: Well, I would like to. We are trying to work this show at
Pembroke at the college. I would like to work with the Regional
Development Association in terms of a cultural center, which is
an idea I was talking to them about. The cultural center could
certainly be an outlet for an educational center as well.
Because you could bring the children into that area and the work
would be there. They would not have to look at books and
magazines like most people all over the United States have to.
The art they get is from books and slides and that sort of thing.
But the real thing, the real art whatever it is, you know, is
certainly more of a stimulus to people who have not experienced
it. Then they can try to get to that point. They can see the
real thing and then they say, "Well, maybe I can do that."
B: Do you think you would have a problem in making me, as a Lumbee,
appreciate your art? Because in Robeson County, art was one of
the areas that was thought of as only a thing for the upper crust
of society or the wealthier class. Generally, Lumbee just did
not appreciate this kind of thing as well as drama or ballet and
these type outlets for people. Do you think you would have
difficulty in having your art accepted by Lumbee Indians in
0: No, I do not think if you presented it on a certain level, I do
not think that you would. It is according to when you isolate it
and put it on a pedestal. Then you do, you know. But when you
bring art, I do not necessarily, you do not bring art down to the
people, you bring the people up to art. I do not foresee having
any more difficulty here than I would have anywhere else.
B: What kind of response would you have if you were to have an art
show for some of the basic adult education classes? What kind of
an approach would you take with these people as far as displaying
your art? Would you almost put words in their mouth to interpret
your art or tell them what it meant? How would you deal with an
adult basic education in Robeson County? They do not read and
0: Well, you do not have to read and write to see. I would first
put it on the wall or where ever, then I would talk to them about
it and relate it to some of the things in their lives.
B: By doing this, do you think that there exists much art in Robeson
County that is not yet categorized as art merely because the
value is not placed upon whatever exists out there?
0: I think there are lots of things that, well, first of all you
have to--art is sort of a luxury to most people and I can
understand that art has not been accepted because people are
mainly surviving and art sort of comes after survival. Could you
shut it off for a minute?
B: To repeat the last question, I wanted to know that if you had the
opportunity to discuss Indian art, specifically your own before a
group of adult basic education students in Robeson County, would
the thought in the back of your mind that you create an
appreciation within them of something they may be able to develop
or may be developing?
0: I think I could do that in terms of making it fun, and not only
making it fun but making it serious. Generally, I think art is
taught as you expressed in your question, that it is often
relegated to a certain class of people. I will say class and it
is not for those people alone. It is a matter that they have the
money to buy it and artists generally do not have the money so
they have to find the market for it.
B: Are the buyers, generally, people who really appreciate it or is
it because they can afford to buy that kind of work?
0: Well, I think they can afford it in many ways and I think they
appreciate it. They can afford it because they are no longer on
the subsistence level. Not only that, but the category is
breaking down now in terms of people who buy art. People with
incomes from $10,000 up buy art. They buy what they can afford
to buy. So, they buy it because they like it. I think that
elitism, cultural elitism will always exist because certain
people like to think of themselves as better. They can pay
higher prices, any price the artist wants. But also, more people
with a lesser income, or actually, more people are earning more
money now. So they can afford to get involved in buying art.
B: How do you think this is affecting the artist in general? Just
because a picture is pleasing or it creates a sense of
satisfaction or just because I like it--the fact that maybe I
have not had any formal training to appreciate art. But because
a certain work is appealing to the eye or it makes me feel
comfortable or it expresses just some of my feelings, do think
artists are being influenced by the common man enough that maybe
I could afford to buy some of his paintings without having to
sacrifice food on my table. Do you think Indian art will be in
this category as far as money?
0: Oh yes, I think so. I do not think the price has gone up that
much. Also, in buying the work, you are acquiring work first of
all and you are acquiring an object for the money that you put
out. But you are also stimulating the artist to produce another
piece and you are also stimulating him to go into that
profession. Which, unless you have buyers, you just cannot do
it. It is very expensive. Art materials are very expensive.
B: How broadly have you been able to sell your art? Where is some
of your work displayed or what kinds of places have you sold to
or individuals have you sold art to nationally, or
0: Well, I have sold work internationally and I have some work in
Ecuador, Germany, Switzerland and quite a few places in the
United States. I do not remember any other European places; I do
have some more.
B: Does this indicate then that you have done shows in foreign
0: Well, I have shown posters in Olm, Germany in 1969.
B: Usually when you have an art show does this mean that you do so
with other Indian artists or do you usually go with just artists
0: The poster show was a show of posters I made. I made them up at
Columbia University when they had the turmoil there and I
established a poster factory up there. Those posters were part
of the posters I made there.
B: How broadly have you traveled in the nation to hold art shows
similar to the one you are doing here now?
0: Well, we did one in Minneapolis. We have done several in other
areas of the country: the Institute of American Indian Art; the
Brooklyn Museum. We are working on a major show now in a museum
in New York. I cannot divulge that information right now. Also,
we are working on a show in Stuttgart at the Linden Museum. We
are working on a show in Geneva, Switzerland.
The poster show I had was a show solely of my posters. I have
had about three one man exhibitions in the past year which is
light because I have not had time to concentrate on promoting
myself as much as promoting a group.
B: And you work in conjunction with other Indian artist. About how
many artists are involved in your immediate endeavors?
0: Immediately, I would say I have about thirty artists in the
gallery. In terms of native North American artists, there are
approximately 150 members. In terms of the general arts, the
general Indian public, I think I have gotten the message over to
Indians all over the United States and in Canada. In other
words, they know the activity. They now know. And I am sure for
the first time in their lives that there is a phenomenon of, there
are a great deal of artists who are Indian. And I think not only
for the Lumbee this is uplifting, but for Indians all over the
country and all over the continent of North America.
B: And they can now approach you with the possibility of getting
some of their art displayed in your gallery?
B: Have you seen any art in this local area that there may be a
potential for purchasing?
0: Well, the things that have impressed me most were those baskets.
B: Yes, Cleveland Jacobs is a blind artist.
0: They really impressed me because I am sure, first of all those
baskets are traditional. In terms of latching on to something
that is very traditional I am sure that the Indians who were here
three or four hundred years ago made baskets out of wood
shavings. That was one of the most impressive things that I saw
in terms of looking at culture; certainly something you can
relate to traditionally. Now tradition is the thing, that in my
opinion, is built on to, not reverted back to, but built on to and
added on to. Everyone has added on to traditions throughout
history and I do not see where American Indians are any
0: Are there other Indian artists having works on display in your
show at St. Andrew's College in Laurinburg other than Mr. Jacobs?
B: Well, I think that some of them need a little more development in
terms of technique. That is how to use the oil paint to its
greatest possibilities. Ideas are not enough. Technical
proficiency has to be there too. There is one thing there that
that has a great deal of potential, but it is at the point where
it has to be developed or stifled. I do not know whether this is
the case but just in observation of the paintings. And I know
when I was coming along as a painter, I started out with nothing
myself without technical proficiency. But if an artist is
encouraged at a certain point to stay at that point and to repeat
himself, then he becomes stagnant and he is a repetition of
himself, a mirror image of himself as he was, not as he is. I
also think that artists should develop technical proficiency is
something that comes with painting all day.
B: But as far as the ideas that they are depicting in their work,
there is a great possibility for development there?
0: Yes, I think so. Ideas are the most important thing and the
technical proficiency is important.
B: So we do agree that there is a great deal of potential if it were
developed among the Lumbee Indians?
0: Yes, and I have also noticed your blanket or quilt which--the
Sudoon call it Sumate quilt of a similar nature, very similar
nature and call it star blankets. I have seen work to equal at
least to the work they are doing and sometimes exceeding the
quality of work.
B: And this is often accomplished by a group of women tacking a
quilt on tobacco sticks and actually creating their design by
cutting out a piece of newspaper. Then they just use these get
together to sort of gossip and work together and they actually
make usable objects for the family. But it turns out a beautiful
piece of art and very much of this exists among us. I know you
are very busy and we have to cut this off but before we do, I
would like to know exactly the address of your gallery in New
York and your home address.
O: Alright, the gallery is called American Art, not the Gallery of
American Art, or American Art Gallery, just American Art and it
is located at 133 Wooster St. in the Soho area of Manhattan.
That is just below Greenwich Village. Also, the headquarters of
the Native North American Artists is located there and I live at
256 West 108th Street in New York, zip code 10002.
B: I would like a transcript sent to Mr. Oxendine's address and not
to me for approval. One other thing I must ask you before we go.
Are there other Lumbee living in the general area of New York
where you are, to your knowledge?
0: Yes. Carolyn Sampson is a block away from the gallery and her
husband, of course, lives with her. There is another Lumbee in
New York. I have not been able to get in touch with him, but
there are two or three and I am sure there are some under the
cover sort of.
B: They do not know yet that they ought to be proud they ar Indian.
0: Or they are too busy surviving that they cannot concentrate on
B: Do you agree that most often when we have Lumbee migrate to
other areas that somehow they look for someone to relate to or
they have a reason for going to that area. Maybe they knew there
were other Lumbee there, even though they never meet each other.
0: I think generally Indians who go to a city gravitate to other
Indians. Lumbee gravitate to Cherokee, Choctaws, Osage, or
Pawnee. It is a matter of one great Indian tribe in the city.
That tribe is Indian. I think that there are some people who are
interested in changing the name because it applies to Christopher
Columbus' mistake or was it Amerigo Vespucci.
Some like to call themselves Native North Americans. That is
where the title Native North American Artists came from. I use
Indian most of the time as a point of reference so that I will
not be misunderstood. But it does not necessarily apply and
these are people who were here all the time on this land so they
are the only people who did not migrate or immigrate to this
B: I have often heard a comparison concerning the relationship of
the white and Indian, and white and black. This one friend of
mine says the only difference in you and I is that they took me
from my land. She happens to be a black girl scout leader. They
took your land from you, so there we really have one common
factor is that we both will soon be landless if the trend
continues. I sincerely appreciate you and the work you are doing
as a Lumbee Indian. We are proud of you and like I have
expressed before, lots of times we feel like Lumbee go away and
because they are able to succeed they forget the oppression of
their people. But we sincerely appreciate you and the work you
are doing and I thank you for taking this time to give me an
interview in your very busy schedule while you are here.