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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Barton interview w/
B: Today is April 19, 1973, I am Lew Barton recording for the Doris Duke Oral
History Program under the auspcies of the University of Florida. I'm in
my home in Pembroke, North Carolina, and with me is United States Indian:
Claims Commissioner, Branley Blue who has favored us with an interview.
Mr. Blue, you are very kind to be with us, and we appreciate you giving us
this opportunity to talk with you.about some of the interesting things in your
BB: Well,Lew, it's good to be here for several reasons : I'm glad to back
down to my hometown for a few days. It's also good to be here at this particu-
period in our history because it's a very exciting period it seems. I was
talking' to somebody the other day while I was in Washington who lives in
Pembroke, they said what's happening in Washington? And I said, it's a
dull city compared to Pembroke That's where the action is, I'm anxious to
go down there. So I'm down and uh, I'm havin' a very enjoyable visit. And
B: That's great.
BB: And it's a pleasure to be interviewed by you with respect to the Doris Duke
Foundation. I'm pleased to know that there is some group in America who's
anxious to get a little-bit of our history down, particularly orally, so
that something may be retained in the future, even carrying the voices of
some of those who now live.
B: Right. Well, you were instrumental in getting this program here to us too,
were you not, Commissioner?
BB: Yes, I ran into a professor at the University of Florida in Washington and
we got to know each other and he inquired as to whether or not I thought
there would be those interested in this area, in'recording oral history,
and I immediately thought of you and several others and gave him names
and addresses and I'm pleased to know that the movement is underway. You've
told me of some of the persons whom you've interviewed and I'm confident
that you've enjoyed it and that it has been enriching to .. to you as
well as to those that you've interviewed.
B: Well, I certainly thank you for considering me and others in this connection.
If it's alright with you, since this is an interview which is very important
to the program and to all of us, I would like to have Mrs. Taylor come in.
She's also an interviewer so between the both of us maybe we can ask you
some pertinent and significant questions and maybe this will help in the
interview. Is this alright?
BB: Very fine. We'll just make it a three-way conversation.
BB: Sometimes it's more easy to talk to two persons than it is one.
B: Right. Well, I certainly appreciate your seeing us in this connection.
We've been thinking about things like we're seeing manifested for many years,
as you were saying just a little while ago, and that you have certainly been
instrumental in this.
BB: Well, I don't know how instrumental I've been. My work concerns itself pri-
marily with matters that occurred oh, 'round hundred, hundred and fifty
years ago, 'bout a hundred year span. Well, from the time the first treaty
was made until the last onewhich covered a considerable period of time.
But we'll get into that a little bit later.
B: Well, suppose we talk a little bit about your personal biography. Would
you tell us about your ... something about yourself?
BB: I was born here in Pembroke, North Carolina in the Indian community, as an
Indian. Though I don't look the most Indian of all here. We're what we
are. You know the definition is very difficult.
B: Yes, um, huh.
BB: The best I ever came upon was that you're what the community says you are.
You're ... you're what you're treated as being, ...
B: That's good.
BB: And you're what you have lived your life as being. And it's hard to improve
on that definition. But I was born and reared here in Pembroke; attended
... back then of course you know we had all Indian schools, all white schools
and all black schools, and I attended the Indian ... Pembroke Grammar School,
Pembroke High School. Graduated in '42. Then went to Baltimore to work for
a year. Back then we didn't have but eleven grades in high school so I
graduated at the age of sixteen, went to Baltimore to work for a year, then
returned to1 broke and attended Pembroke State College it was at the time
for half a year.
B: Um, huh.
BB: That was during World War II. Then I went into the Navy for a few years,
and upon completing my tour in the Navy, completed my one year college here
in Pembroke, after which I went to Lebanon, Tennessee, Cumberland University,
finished my pre-legal work and my three years law work there in law school.
After graduated from Law school in Lebanon, I took the Tennessee Bar Asso-
ciation. Obtained my law license, then went to Kingsport, Temnessee- some
200 miles east of Nashville, a place where I had never been. I went there
by reputation listening to law students talk from through out the state;
Kingsport, Tennesee app.'ared to be a growing young man's town. So I went
theee sight unseen, after my mother borrowed $300 for me here in Pembroke
at a bank due in 90 days. So I left here to go to a strange I place in
Tennessee to establish a law practice. Which ... knowing what I know now, I
would nver dare attempt anything like that. There's nothing like youth
and i optimism!
B: Right! That's ... that's very valuable.
BB: So I practiced law there for twenty years, during' which time I was city
judge for four years, and was active in various civic and church activities.
Then in 1969 President Nixon appointed me as the first Indian to the Indian
Claims Commission in Washington where I have been serving since that date.
B: How about your wife and your children? Could you tell us about them? Who
was your wife before you married?
BB: I married a girl from Kingsport, Tennessee. Her name was Dorothy Milam.
We have two daughters, Janet, aged 20 who is married and lives in Jackson-
ville, North Carolina presently, and Patti, aged 14, who of course resides
with us in Fairfax, Virginia, and is a senior in junior high--her last
year in junior high. And she of course is in the public school system there
in Fairfax, Virginia.
B: Um, huh. I seem to call ... or I do recall that you and I were awarded,
Jiven awards by the PSU Alumni Association. Was this in 1969?
BB: That was just a few days before my appointment. It was in April of 1969,
I believed I received the Outstanding Alumnus Award for that year and you re-
B: Distinguished Citizen Award.
BB: ... the Distinguished Citizen's Award. Fine. And I felt I was in real high
cotton that night ...
B: Oh, so did I.
BB: ... on the same platform with you.
B: Oh, that's flattery! I seem to recall some anecdotes; you like to talk
about your mother, whom you kid quite a bit, and she is such a ...an unusual
person. Uh, how does she feel about you becoming a lawyer?
BB: Well, when I decided that I would go to law school, and it was my decision,
because I had spent "m/ time in the service and had built up some GI Bill
0 l benefits and I didn't want to see them wasted. So I decided to
go to law school some place. And I told her that I wanted to become a
lawyer and her reaction was immediate, and ...and ... and quite like my
mother. She said, Well, you're signing your death warrantin effect to
hell! And I askedher why? She said, Well, you know what the ---, what
the Bible says, 'bout Woe bein' to the doctors and the lawyers!!! And I
tried to explain to her that in my opinion, according' to my conception,
lawyers back in those Biblical times referred to the Pharisees, the religious
experts, ... the Ten Commandments, and the Jewish religious law was their law
and experts in the Jewish Mosaic law were the lawyers who were in effect
what we today would call religious experts, so the condemnation was upon
the preachers of the day! Not the lawyers of this day! Quite a distinction.
B: I seem to recall that your mother has always been a ... a Democrat, and
you're not a Democrat are you?
BB: Well, I was one by heritage I guess to the extent that you can have a poli-
tical party by heritage. Everybody around here back in those days were
Democrats except for a few, and ... and maybe the postmaster during' a Re-
publican administration, but those few stood out and, and became objects of
amazement, and sometime es scorn and disbelief. It's been a heavily one-
party structured county for a long, long time.
B: Yes, I ...
BB: And I guess, well, I know the young people start off assuming and identifying
themselves with whatever church, whatever political party that their parents
are affiliated with, and of course we all did that. I considered myself a
Democrat until many years later, after having lived/considerable life of my
own. I made a judgment as to which political party I wished to permanently.
associate with and I did the same with respect to my religious affiliation.
I think that every person ought to do that. To me there's no reason, there's
no logic, there's no intelligence in saying my great-grandfather was a
Democrat or Republican before me, so 1 was my grandfather, so was my father,
and by God, so am I!! If that's their only claim for their political affili-
ation or religious affiliation, if they aren't things that have been thought
out and determined 4 in an individual's own mind, then to me that individual's
thoughts, proclamations are not too worthy of following.
B: As a person who has known you for a long time, I know how persuasive you
are. 'Course lawyers are supposed to be persuasive, but I think you have
a little edge on even some of our brightest lawyers and uh, you seem to have
done quite ...
T: He is the brightest.
B: I ...I have to agree with you. His mother seems to have been persuaded by
this power of his,'cause I remember last year, just last year., she changed
her political affiliation. I went down to the station with her and uh, 'course
they had some forms there. You had to swear that you knew what you.were doing
or something to this effect;anyhow there was a note to be taken, but I said
I think this lady has some religious scruples about swearing and 'course they
knew who she was, and they said,"Well, she ... all she has to do is sign
her name. We'll take her word."
BB: Well, Momma was a ... more than seventy years old when she did that and finally
she became her own woman, so far as politics were concerned, and she ... she
... she registered out of a personal belief rather than because of parental
BB: And those are things that are occurring in Robson County which may be some-
what symbolic of changes that re occurring, and I strongly belief that in-
dividuals should take such actions regardless of age and use independent
i judgment about such matters and we see more and more of it and it's very,
very heartening to see our elders making these type judgments.
B: Yes, indeed. I remember that at one time nobody had hope of a change.
I did a little complaining in the papers. I guess I've written more editors,
letters to more editors than just about anybody that I know, and I guess
people sort of said, "There goes Lew Barton with Lew Barton's lamentations
again." I think the reason that I was tolerated at one time was because
everybody knew I stood alone and you and I have always hoped and dreamed
for the time when people would be awakened to the need of rectifying some of
these grievous matters.
BB: I think there was a long period of time when ouf people seemed to feel that
there was very little hope of real progress, that the only way to get ahead
was to work with fear and trepidations within the system, and without rock-
ing the boat, without thinking their thoughts, but being aware of the thoughts
of the superiors and in effect parroting those thoughts and if anything to the
contrary were attempted, that it would immediately mean your livelihood,
your sense of security, your well-being, and to a very great degree, that was
very, very true. And uh, you were one who, who weas among the first to
come out first, perhaps the first to come out publically in the news media as
the,'the. first among us really, in the news media, as a news man, as a
columnist, as a free-lancer, instilling pride in the Indian community,
instilling pride of Indian-ness rather than it's being something that we
should steer clear of or try to pass for white if we could in order to be
treated gently and reasonably, and it took a long time to accomplish that
but I've always felt that if we could get a goodly portion taking/independent
step, then there would be too many birds flying for ,... for the hunters
to get 'em all.
B: Uh, huh.
BB: And I think we have more birds flying today than ever before.-and there will
before and more because we're not as restricted and cramped up as we were
thirty years ago when the only activity or endeavor that the average Indian
could engage in in Rob/son County was either in the teaching profession or the
BB : There have been other areas that have opened themselves up economically
in the county, much due to industry that has come into the area, uh, much
due to the servicing aspects of life: Kilvinator refrigerators had to be
serviced, people own more modern appliances, all that has ... requires
service. So the service field has opened up. Many fields have opened
up that were in effect closed completely thirty years ago. And to the extent
these fields continue to open up and se get competent, able, qualified
Indians serving in these various capacities, then it will be to that extent
that we will become a freer and a freer people economically, politically
B: Well, that's great. Do you think poeple still fear expressing themselves?
Now we'noticed that in interviewing, I'm sure Mrs. Taylor's had this ex-
perience as I have, that some people are reluctant even to participate
in a program of this kind. Do you, think this is because they are afraid
of retaliation from their employees or something like that?
BB: I think that's a baisc instinct in ... the human being, and I'm sure
that, to the extent that I'm still knowledgable about the Indian community,
in Robison County, and to the extent that I converse with Indian leaders
and others in the county which is quite extensive,I'm convinced that there
is still a ... a substantial feeling like that. But I'm extremelly pleased
by the knowledge that it isn't nearly as rampant as it used to be. It's, it's
less prevelant now.
B: Perhaps there will come a time when freedom of speech will reign in the Lumbee
River Valley. We certainly pray ad hope so. And we certainly hope that
all the facets of democracy will open up to us as to all other peoples.
Uh, could you.tell us about some of the claims that you've worked with or
that you've known about since you've been with the United STates Indian
Claims Commission. I believe you said you've been with them for four years
BB: Yes. Just about four years. The Indian Claims Commission was established by
the United States Congress in the year 1946. i, theoretically, to afford
a forum for all Indian tribes and groups who ad grievances against the
United States Government which would handle those grievances. And of course
there were many grievances unresolved, unsatisfied. Prior to that time if
a tribe felt that its lands were either taken by the United States Government
without the benefit of treaty,Kby a treaty cession, but felt that com-
pensation was inadequate or that fraud was committed, they would have to
seek and obtain a special act of Congress in order to ... to have a court
of law review the event.
B: Um, huh.
BB: Which was a little bit difficult for ... because we had somewhere near 300
tribes and in order to ave a grievance aired, to get a special act of Con-
gress passed. for that particular grievance was a ocnstant source of friction
and the like. So Congress passed the Indians Claims Commission Act that said
all Indians tribes and groups who have a grievance that they want looked
into, they have five years in which to file the f grievance before the Indians
Claims Commission. They will look into the grievance and try to right the
wrongs if they exist. So those claims were filed; and more than 600 such
claims were filed in all, involving 90% of the land base of the continental
limits of the United States. In effect all of the land base of the country
except the extreme eastern portion which was taken from the Indians f during'
the move westward prior to our becoming a constitutionally-formed nation
as we today. And of course land that was occupied, or lands that the
Indians were removed from prior to that time, cannot and could not be
filed against the United States Government because it could not be held legally
responsible for those things that occurred prior to our forming ourselves
into a nation.
B: Um, huh. Well, some of those cases are certainly interesting. I remember
that a story appeared in Reader's Digest several years ago relative to the
state of Florida and the State of California and it was said at that time
that 80% of California and 80% of Florida legally belonged to the Indians.
Was this an actual case?
BB: Yes, those cases were filed. The only reason that I can see for the 80%
proposition is that of course the Indians occupied all of Florida at a
... at one time, and all of California at one time, the only reason that I
can see for 80% figure would be if a portion, if 20% of Florida were taken
prior to our becoming a, a nation.
B: Um, huh.
BB: And uh, which probably occurred. And there were treaties or such involving
the 80% which the. Seminoles filed before our commission and the same in Cali-
fornia. Uh, but the Seminole case was tried and determined by the Commis-
sion; the California case was pending before the Commisison; evidence had been
received, but an agreement was reached between the United States Government
and the lawyers representing the various Indian groups in California and ...
on a particular figure. The agreement was presented to our Commission and
we approved the agreed figure between the Indians of California and the
United States Government.
B: For a time alot of the difficulties in settling these claims--the fact that
the Indians feel that the land was given them by the Great Spirit or Mother
Earth belonged to people; and ... I recall that in our case here we owned our
lands in common when we were discovered by the first permanent white set-
tlers. Uh, nobody owned individual land, but it was all owned common.
This was a fact of our history and this is a universal fact among Indians
just about isn't it?
BB: Yes, the primary Indian religion uh, worships or has a very high spiritual
feeling for the earth, that is referred to as Mother Earth. The earth gives
life.Today, this is in April of '73, I've been home for three or four days
and it has ben wet for several weeks. It is now dry enough for planting
and just about every person I run into owns a piece of land; they're getting
out their garden; they're ...they're they're using the benefits that flow for,
from Mother Earth for their sustanence, and they're planting the seeds so
that they'll have something to eat within the next few weeks which the earth
produces and gives life to. Theseseeds will receive life and the Indian
concept is that Mother Earth gives life andkthen it receives back the results
of life once that sets in. Mother Earth gives, and Mother Earth receives
and we can't leave the earth unless we go out in outer space.and crash out
there. So the concept of owning the giver to the Indian is incomprehensible.
And a piece of papAer doesn't solve that intellectual problem. And neither
does it solve it for me if you looked at it from the Indian perspective.
Because when a man dies whatever paper he L)S signed or anything else it
becomes immediately without value. Indians regard the earth as something to
be occupied, possessed in order to receive sustenance, not for ownership.
And they've never understood and many today still don't understand the concept
of ownership and title to, to, to Mother Earth.
B: Well, that's certainly is interesting, and it's certainly reasonable. Uh, that
nobody really owns the land bpt it .j.that it is given temporarily by the:Great
Spirit to all of us to be used and enjoyed to sustain us.
BB: Yes, Indians never did as a family or as a person set aside a plot of laa ground
and say"this is mine." They jointly occupied it, they jointly:worked it,
they jointly reaped the benefits and they shared its bounty or its hazards.
It was a joint group venture.
B: Uh, huh. I want to ask you something about Old Main which is inevitable I
suppose. Would you like to talk abut Old Main for a little while?
BB: Old Main is the ...I, I think that in ... in the last couple of years it has
been the springboard from which much has occurred. It is the only building
or was prior to its fire destruction a few weeks ago, the*. only building existing
in ... in this country that ever housed a full year college curriculum for
Indians only. Of course the Indian-only aspect of it ceased to exist about
1950, or '51 immediately before the Brown decision by the Supreme Court. But
prior to that time no ... no one could attend Pembroke State without being
Indian. And Indians were not under the North Carolina law permitted to
attend any other ... higher public institution in the state of North Carolina.
Educational discrimination was quite rigidly imposed by the force of law.
And that being true, this Indian higher learning institution sprang up and
it finally evolved into a four-year college. The building still stood;
'bout fifty years old now it is, and the powers that be at Pembroke State
University and the educational powers of the state of North Carolina saw
fit to remove and replace Old Main as we call her with/more building for other
purposes and there was an effort made by Indians in Robion County to pre-
serve Old Main, to restore her, and to keep it as a landmark because of the
heritage involved and that was a long-fought battle finally won. So far
as everybody could ascertain by those who sought to preserve her and that did
much to rally our people and to instill a sense of pride in our history. It
was the only remaining building on campus at Pembroke State University that
was Indian-oriented to any extent that ... that could relate to a group of
people who had a building that they could really have pride in like that.
And they were most reluctant to see it torn down.
B: Mrs. Taylor's been doing some interviewing on campus recently, I wonder if
she'd give us the enrollment figures, I mean percentages. I believe you
mentioned those earlier. Would you mind tellin' us what the enrollment
figures are at Pembroke State University now?
iT: I think Mr. ... Commissioner Blue probably knows these, but uh, I was
speaking' with the Director of Admissions, Mr. Jason Lowry, as you knby.
He was giving me the figures, he said it's about 80% white, 7% black, and
maybe 13% would be of Indian ... not necessarily all Lumbee; we have some
Creek, some Cherokee, some ...as identified with the Tuscarora movement.
In fact we have some Tuscaro$ra on campus; some of which I've interviewed,
some students. And I wonder how you view these, these group of people?
It's a small movement in number but how do you see them from your po ition
where you stand?
BB: Well, I find it to be very interesting. The nucleus frmm what I can ascer-
tain, the nucleus of the Tuscarofra movement comes from a particular section
of the county and primarily from a particular group of Robsotn County
Indians that have more or less throughout my lifetime considered themselves
closer:.allied with each other than with the outside area, be that outside
area occupied predominately by white,black or Indian. And they have chosen
to become known as TuscaroAra. I don't understand the accent on blood tests
because there's no blood test that can denote Cherokee, Tuscaro a, Creek,
black,-ae, white, green. or yellow. I don't understand the blood test re-
liance. I'm convinced that when the Vt came down here with an expert on
that it was just a sham. And I give no credence to that. But for
whatever purposes historically I don't question, but that oral history, that's
what re're dealing with. I think perhaps the oral history of that particular
segment of the Indian populace in Robson County has Tuscaro -a sources
I'm not that familiar with the particular oral history of that par-
ticular segment of people in the county, but in my opinion the name and ...
and the word Lumbee is scorned by these particular persons. I guess there
may e what two, three hundred of them though.
B: Something like that.
BB: There's some 35,000 Indians in Rob/son County. And the act by the North
Carolina legislation, by the United States Congress, denoting the fact that
all Indians in Rob4son and adjoining counties shall be known as "Lumbee"
simply sought to give a ...gave an identity to all persons of Indian descent
in this area so that instead of just simply saying that Indians, that there
would be some more descriptive word which is "Lumbee." I see no problem in a
in an individual saying "I'm Lumbee;" that means in effect that you are an
Indian from this area of the United STates. In addition to that that person
could say, "I'm Cherokee," "I'm Creek," "I'm Tuscaroora," whatever. t
,f LI identity that individual or group of individuals desired in ad-
dition to the overall umbrella of Lumbee would ... would be perfectly ...
I don't know of anyone who complains about those things, but _O_ this
groups then to say"well, we hate the name Lumbee, we urge everyone to be-
come Tuscaro#ra," that ... that's their problem and I'm not too ... I'm just
not sold on it a'tall.
T: I had this analogy g ven ... given to me on yesterday or sometime this week,
and I'd like for you to comment on it. They compared it with the Black
Power, saying that we are now in a Red Power movement. As Martin Luther
King did, he went through legal channels, he was more of a passive type
of person. Many people that 0 followed him or, you know, it was this way
too. But he also had the Black Panthere there to kinda give this threat
of force if it was necessary. Now some Lumbees have said that the Tuscaroora
is in a sense an analogy to the Black Panthers. That we have to agree they
$ are perhaps more militant, but ... and Martin Luther King perhaps would
be compared to our Carnell Locklear, or Cornell, with the Eastern Indians'
aims. Now he calls on the Tuscaro#ras perhaps to give this sense of
threat or force. Is this necessary or is this just something that someone
hsa made analogy of out of someone's imagination or how do you see it?
BB: I think it may be a true analogy. Through our old history there's an old
saying that the squeaky wheel on a wagon gets oiled first, you know. Uh, it
may be a true analogy but for someone to sit down and program that kind of a
thing, I don't think that has happened. I ... looking from way off with
a perspective of the whole picture that might be the way the ... the puzzle
might be, being placed together, but I think that every person has to live
with his own concepts. I just don't believe that the .... I just don't believe
in force. I just don't believe that the that the ends justify the means
in all instances a't'all. I believe that the true power in, in our system
of government is the pwer of the vote, far more powerful than the threat of
force. And I would much prefer leaders of the Indian people of whatever
group being concerned with making the strength known at the ballot box. Now
that will threaten a politician more effectively, more meaningful and more
constructively than the threat of a burned something, or physical harm. That
tends to perhaps raise the ... strengthen the backbone; if, if if somebody
threatens me physically I tend to react not in a cringing fashion, but if
somebody threatens me if I were a politician at the ballot box then I would
tend to react, well now what can I do about this? If I'm not doing the right
thing, what can I do? What should my attitude be with respect to this question
that so many people are disagreeing with me about? If they're disagreeing
with me, am I right?
T: 'Scuse me Commissioner, let us cut the reel.
CC./J> OF 0r-D &> N-
B: This is side 2 of the interview with Commissioner Blue of.Washington,
D. C., also from our own area. tod were saying when we interrupted by the
end of the tape, Commissioner, that staying within the legal realm and
operating at the ballot box instead of demonstrations and militancy and this
sort of thing is preferable to the others.
BB: Well, I didn't rule out demonstrations, and I don't rule out militancy. I
rule out force, and the threat of force.
B: I see.
B: I do it on a logical basis. To the extent that we have advanced from the cave
man days it has been the extent to which we've tended as a civilization to
rule out force in determining the, ... manner of living, and the way of
living in communities. If, if we resort to force then, br4wn becomes ...
we become a nation of brawn rather than a nation of brains. And, and in
all civilization anytime they speak publically, if they're responsible, they
frown upon force. Even nations that make war.
BB: Their public prodomations are "We don't want war;" "We don't believe in
war." Well, if ... why does everyone say that if there's a more reasonable,
if force is more reasonable? Now to justify one group using force you must
then justify that other groups equally have the right to use force.
BB: And if you resort to force in solving your problems why then make a distinction
between men and animals? Why / that we are the superior something that God
made? Because He gave us a soul, He gave us a mind, He gave us intelligence--
that places us in a position to have dominion over the fish, the animal, the
fowl and the like. If we just resort to force. And I don't know of any
group around here that publically proclaims the use of force. Not a
groups that I know of. Because it doesn't cut the water. It doesn't soften,
it doesn't make sense to the extent that it is publically proclaimed.
And we ought to publically proclaim that which is force, if force is best,
it ought to be publically proclaimed. If it is not best it should not be
publically proclaimed, and it is not publically proclaimed.
B: Um, huh.
BB: We would be going backward, backward, backward, anytime we admit that ... force
should be ... that might makes right. This just makes me sick. You
can't believe it, you can't advocate it. Mankind cannot progress if his
pledge is "might makes right." It's got to be the opposite; right makes
BB: And that's where the ballot box comes in. This is our system of persuasion
through selectivity. We're a political ...when I say politicians I don't
mean that with disfavor, because we're a political system.
BB: We need politicians, but we need politicians who are responsible to the
needs of the people, the desires of the people, the reasonable demands of
the people. We don't need politicians to yield to force or the threat of
force. That keeps him from being the man that he ought to be, and
that's what makes the back bow /... if force is threatened. It can never
B: You're saying ...
BB: Not to me it can't be condoned.
B: You're saying that force generatesCgunter-force.
BB: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, there's no other way, there's no other result.
BB: I want to ask you one question about the legality of the name "Lumbee."
This is the law of the land, is it not?
B: This is true on a national scale and the state scale?
BB: Yes, this group of people is known all over the country, and in a favorable
way by the, the word "Lumbee." And it was initat&d by Indian. I, I don't
get the ... it's my understanding of the history of the word "Lumbee",
that Indians in Rob/son County initiated the word "umbee" and presented
to the legislative powers the request of the name "Lumbee" both on a state
level and on a Federal level, and I don't understand it being said that
that's a name given to us by the white man. Of course it was given to
us by the state legislature and by the United States Congress at the re-
quest of the Indians in this area following a public vote which was over-
whelmingly for the word "Lumbee". And it's distracting to me that the very
group that says "Lumbee" is a word given by the wite man that group is
seeking recognition for the word "Tuscarofra" and only the white structure
can give 'em the name "TuscaroFra" and make it legally--it just doesn't
T: Commissioner Blue, how many Lumbees would you estimate that we have in
government positions today in Washington?
BB: Well, you say in government positions --we have/considerable number as
secretaries; we have considerable numbers in... in various agencies that
are government-related. I don't know that anybody knows the exact number.
We have Indian ... we have Lumbees throughout the Washington area in, in
business, in industry in the educational field; we have principals of
schools, we have fine educators in the entire Washington area; the longer
I live up there I run up on twenty and thirty groups of highly able,
capable Indians from down here living in that area that I didn't know
lived. Every few weeks I run into other so-called clan, and, and they,
they live in the finest of homes and they're some in some of the bigger
cities who don't live in very fine homes. They, they kinda live in the
... in the ghetto. They're those who haven't really had the opportunity.
But you have in my opinion more in the area who live very successful
lives in all walks of life than you have who live under those under con-
ditions that I mentioned also.
B: That's certainly interesting.
T: But it seems to live in this more, more abundant life, if I can say that,
you have te leave the area and I believe you spoke something about that ....
BB: Oh, that used to be. That's what my father said on his dathbed some
thirty years ago. Um, he called his older, he had nine children, and
called his older ones around and in effect said if you want to ever amount
to anything, you must leave Rob/son COunty. And that was very true back
then, I think. It was a very practical suggestion because the only two
avenues that were really open for the Indian populace was teaching and
farming. And the teaching field as you know, Lew, was quite crowded. It
always has been quite crowded here in this section of the country because
that was about the only way that a that an Indian could progress and
assert himself and participate vocationally or professionally in this com-
munity. And things have changed drastically, however, since that time.
Many field have opened as I mentioned earlier and, and achievements can
be attained here without having to leave our ... the cream of the crop no
longer is going much is remaining. And all who go, I don't want to get
... you to get me wrong, everybody who leaves here is not the cream of the
crop. Everybody who stays here is not the cream of the crop. I think to
tf-extent that we have such as "cream of the crop" stuff, I think that it's
getting more balanced now than before. They're not leaving in droves,
they're not staying in droves, they're being scattered all over the coun-
try, ht yet they have those home ties. That, that's where the feeling of
Indianness I think comes in very, very strong. There is this communal
feeling even though it ceased to exist here long, long, many, many years
ago so far as owning land in common. But yet the communal feeling among
the Indians in this area is very strong, and uh, the lack of a particular
tribal identity and the like doesn't destroy the Indian feeling, the to-
getherness, the identity and the pride of it all has been on the increase,
not on the wane.
B: Well, do you think it's true almost all the Indians who leave for economic
reasons eventually return to Rob son Cdunty and to the Indian communityO?
BB: No, I don't think they return and take up residence. Um, but there, ...
they have ... they regard home as one place and that's Robison County.
When the say "home" they mean Robson County. I'm going' home--that's where
they mean. But I don't think that the majority of them return here to
reside, do you?
B: .No, I wouldn't think so,but they always invariably, almost invariably
regard this as home.
BB: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Very stroily so.
T: I want to reinforce for the benifit of our readers and listeners that you
are a lawyer, and so I want to ask you for some, you might say,blanket-
coverage legal advice, for our people, I'm speaking' of Lumbee or all, ...
my definition of ndian" is as an attitude, as an attitude of Indian-ness.
'Course it doesn't tell as many things, but you're familiar with the Doris
Duke Program and what it is trying to do and I have encountered people
who feel so intimidated so fearful of speaking' ... even tellin' their
story, their own personal story of how they came 4A rough some, maybe
political machine or something Could this ever be held against them or used
against them job-side in any position, or how do you see that? What would
you say to these people that feel that way?
BB: Well, that would depend entirely upon their superiors and they know their
better than I. The, the feeling of pleasing your superior,or feeling
the need to please your superior, and and, and feeling the risk
of non-self expression because it may displease a superior and result
in a discharge of a, of a job is not restricted to the I- RObison County
Indians. It's true in Washington, it's true wherever you go. But I
think that much of it occurs because of the uncertainty and insecurity
of the individual involved rather than a ... a ... I think perhaps most
of it ... more of it is imagined than is real. Some people tend to go out
of their way not to displease their superior because there is a risk. Others
... at the same time I see this happen. Others become very outspoken,
but reasonable. Uh, and to an extent it gives them added security because
they have spoken out and they feel stronger and it makes abetter, stronger
man or woman out of them because they do insist upon this something
that is within each and every one of us whether it's controlled and dampened
or not to be a free agent--to freely express your thinking and to be per-
suasive and ... there are those who exist that feel as you do but my mother
had a particular word for those type people that I shan't put on tape.
But it was most descriptive!
T: We wish you would! I didn't .... I want to establish it's not that I feel
that way; I say I've encountered people who feel this way.
BB: Oh, yes. No doubt.
T: In simply refusing interviews.
BB: I say that this is true all over but I think perhaps it's more true here
because there has been economic oppression, there has been political op-
pression, there has ... these oppressions have occurred here; they still
exist to te extent they have not been disgorged. They will continue to
exist and it is stronger here ... than in other places perhaps. But I
can understand it, and at the same time I can't understand it! It
constitutes an enigma for me. And there's no way that ... these are
things that each person has to figure out in his or her own mind and heart
T: At first it would appear as apathy; as a ... as a person coming from the out-
side; but thenpu understand that it's not. You learn that it's .. this
...it's really just fear.
BB: There is a real reason for fearing in many instances. And each person has
to make ... like I say they know their superiors better than any ... any-
one else and I, I, ... I think that each such person ought to try to make
certain : does my superior really feel that way?
T: Um, huh.
B: It's been said that"freedom is never free." Do you think this is applica-
BB: You have to achieve it. Each generattion has to win freedom all over
again. It's not somethingyou can set up ona closet e shelf and expect to
remain there til i you return. It has to be wonAand rewon by every genera-
B: And kept.
BB: And guarded very closely.
B: The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.
BB: Eternal vigilance alone is the price you i, pay.
T: I want to ask you ...
BB: I think Thomas Jefferson said that if I'm not mistaken.
T: Possibly, I should know that hut from an educational standpoint tell us
what you're job is all about. The Com--, the Indian.... you're the Com-
missioner .... give us your title and so that students or whomever, ...
what ... what is this EF kl I about ... the Indians Claims Commission?
BB: Well, it's a judicial body; it's an independent, judicial body in effect.
The commissioners are appointed by the President, approved by the United
States Senate and serve for the life of the commission. That gives a
sense of indepency because we don't serve at the pleasure of the President
or the Senate or anybody else. We serve for the life of the commission.
And uh, the Indian tribe for instance that has a claim with respect to to
nine million ... let me, retrace what I was about to say because one
of the tapes went out. As an illustration: an Indian tribe that in 1870, for
instance ceded to the government nine million acres of landwhich was not
uncommon. The government paid fifty cents an acre for the nine million
acres. Some years later the Indian Claims commission was formed. That
Indian tribe or its descendants come before the Commission with a claim
4 saying our land was really worth more than fifty cents an acre. We knew
that if we didn't cede the nine million acres for fifty cents an acre,
that we would be arbitrarily removed from the land anyhow. We acceded to the
government price because we had no other alternative. We should have in
all fairness and in.all justice been paid more per acre because of the mar-
ket value of the land was worth more. We consider that. The Indian
tribe brings with it expert's,, anthropology experts, experts in history,
mineral experts; whatever is necessary to prove the real value to the ex-
tent it can be proven of the land at the day it was taken. Out of nine
million acres a portion of the nine million acres might best have been fitted
for timber land so they need experts to show what the timberland was worth,
what the mineral rights were worth, what the grazing portion of the nine
million acres was worth; if that was that's portion's highest and best
use. So we listen to all sorts of such expert testimony and the government
brings in its witnesses who are equally expert, giving the governments
version of what these lands were worth with respect to their highest and best
and finest use. And of course the experts differ. We have to decide between
the experts and make a judgment as to what the land was in fact worth
as we view it from the evidence as of the date it was taken from the Indian
either -/ cession or by force or whatnot. And then we if we feel that
the price that was paid the Indian tribal group was unconciousable, was
unfair then we can say it was in fact worth such and such. And give
a judgment against the government for that difference. Now ... so the
purpose of the commission is to right the wrongs to the extent poss-ble
of the past. Not current matters.
B: Uh, huh.
BB: No claim that came into existence after 1946 can be filed before the com-
mission. So current problems, current matters are not within our judicial
domain. Those matters are within the Bureau of Indian Affairs which is
separate and aprt.from the Indian Claims Commission. Those matters are
matters of concern to the United States Congress and governmental agencies
that are presently administering the needs of the people which do not
fall in our jurisdiction.
B: Commissioner, last year I recall that you were asked to do an intro-
duction to a reprint of all the Indian treaties made and I'm sure that was
quite an honor that you were chosen out of all the others to do this. But
/ could you tell us something about the number of treaties?
BB: Well, there are over 300 treaties that were entered between the United
States government and various Indian tribes and groups. And then there
were agreements that were entered and of course executive orders that
issued by the President# whichh set forth rights of Indian tribes, par-
ticualr tribes or groups depending upon what the problem wa () you i had
... you had a vast number of agreements or treaties and then you had all
the.statutes that Congress has passed relating to various Indian tribes.
Now for instance when we give a judgment now for a particular Indian
tribe based on historical grievances which are the ones that fall be-
fore our commission, that judgment is looked at by the Bureau of Indian
Affairs and the Department of Interior they determine what Indians are on
the rolls of that tribe: who are entitled to be on the rolls of that
tribe in order to determine who will participate in that particular
award. Then that plan is presented to the ... and how it irill be dis-
tributed; whether or not the tribe will receive the full award and di-
vide it among those enrolled as a member of the tribe or whether a por-
tion of it will be issued or distributed per capital to the Indian members
on the tribal roll of that particular tribe or whether a portion of it
will be retained by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the use and bene-
fit of the tribe collectively. And Congress has to make the final de-
cision as to the distribution of the award. After we send to Congress
our amount ... the amount of the award that we made then Congrees appropriates
the money to pay it and adopts and approves a plan for distribution to
the Indian tribe.
B: There's one thing that's always troubled me about this. Of course it's
good that we have this much adjustment but the matter of ... and you have
to ... certainly have to operate within the law ... but what bothers me is
that whatever acts established the Indian Claims Commission and their pro-
cedure and so forth seem to have ignored the matter of interest because
the interest on all this land over the years would.certainly amount to a
BB: Certainly would, Lew, and it's ... even though the effort of the Congress
was to attempt to finally bring about justice between the Indians the
United STates government the act did not go far enough in my opinion be-
cause we are required to give an award based upon the market value of the
land as it existed at that time. So say a hundred years ago the market
of property was a little bit of nothing compared to what it is today.
In the meantime the Indian tribe is been without the proper amount of pay
for the land and without the land itself and they get no interest for
that period of time because the United STates Supreme Court ruled years
ago hat interest against the government cannot be awarded by any court in
the land without the consent of the United STates government. And there is
no act which provides for us to award interest so therefore we cannot
award interest. Inflation has mounted and is still mounting since the
day fat the lands were taken and this still a big gap between true com-
pensation and what the Indians are receiving today. Many people say why
make a difference in Indians and other persons in this country. Well, in
treaty after treaty when the government would have ceded to the government
millions of acres of land by this particular Indian tribe. they would put
"you do this and we will give you the facilities to compete in life; we.
will train you and provide you. We will train you with the knowledge;
we ill give you the facilities; we will give you the tools with which you
can compete with all Americans;"put you on an equal standing in effect
in return for the land and, and the government has never done that. The
treaties have yet to be kept. President Nixon in his 1970 address, special
Indian message to the United States Congress said in no uncertain terms,
that of allthe groups in America that Indians are the most socially, eco-
nomically and educationally deprived of all groups of persons in this
land. And it's still somewhat startling that the first Americans are the
deprived Americans today. So that ... I, I think that the government has
much to do before they can say we've done all that we ever promised to do
for the Indians. They, they, they really haven't scratched the surface yet.
T: Do you see ... there has been a desire expressed here for a person to go
to college and to major in Indian Studies, to get a major in this field.
I'm told that there's not a university or college anywhere where a person
could even get a PhB. in this field although in the Black Studies move-
ment and this kind of thing, they do have degrees.
BB: I think you're perhaps right.
T: Do you see ...or envision ...
BB: But I don't think it'll be long before ... because many colleges and univer-
sities are more knowledgeable about the true plight of the Indians. You
see after ... the move westward the government would get all the pro-
ductive land really that the Indians owned. And then say, in return for this
section of land, we will now by treaty set aside this particular land for
you to use as your reservation and almost inevitably that land was de-
sert--unproductive. But the Indians would be herded upon that land, whether
they wanted to go and remain or not. Out of sight out of mind and they
remained there until very recent years America has rediscovered the In-
dians on these reservations. And, and many colleges and universities,
higher institutions of learning ... they're very concerned about that his-
tory; they're very concerned about the present conditions and they're making
it a point to deal in Indian studies, Indian history; to make college stu-
dents university students more aware of the true situation and I don't
think t'll be long before they start issuing doctorate degrees in Indian
T: Do you envision that perhaps this could be funded from .. some or some help
from the government?
BB: The government or universities could do it themselves. Private foundations,
there several sources. But like everybody else all these sources are
pretty well strained today, economically. _It's ... we're living in that
B: Do you think that the Lumbee Indians are ... talking' about the Robfson
County Indians, when I say "Lumbee" I mean all those covered by the acts
relating to the Lumbee Indians of North Carolina. Uh, do you think
we're more fortunate insome ways than reservations Indians?
BB: No question about it. Absolutely no question about it. There's more
productivity here. And uh, we have had better schooling generally than
the average Indian on a reservation, we're more advanced, more diversified
and better off.
B: We're freer anyhow.
BB: Yes, weC ...participate in, in the political struture of the county more
and nre and more.
T: Someone has made the observation that the Lumbee Indians are very politi-
cally minded. What do you think accounts for this and what would be your
comment on this as compared to other groups or ?
BB: Well, the Lumbee Indians don't have a reservation. Now the reservation
Indians are very politically -minded in dealing with the Bureau of
Indian Affairs because that's where the power is, that's where the source
of relief comes from for them: the BIA. So they're very politically-
minded with respect to the Federal Government and the Bureau of Indian
Affairs. We have never here been on a reservation so we don't have this
relationship with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Our relationship comes
from the state and the county. So we're politically-minded because that's
the aurce of relief that we may achieve for our schools and other well-
being. Just like any other American looks to the county school board,
looks to le county commissioners, looks to the town mayor and aldermen
or whatever it is; the people look to the source and that's where they use
their politics. That's why we're more politically-minded when it comes
to state and local government than are reservation Indians.
B: And we don't have a BIA imposed between us and the Federal Government
or the state government?
BB: No, sir. No, sir. No, sir.
T: You mentioned earlier the importance of the vote. Could you comment on
the double-voting issue that we have here, that it is a problem, and what
perhaps do you se as a solution to this?
BB: I think most groups that I have seen, or persons, that I have seen an
expression from in the newspapers or over the radio or by talking to people
agree &at there has been an inequity in the double-voting situation.
To where embers of a municipality, citizens of a municipality, who have
their own school system and control their own school system should not
rightly at the same time control the county school system and partici--,
have equal participation in the county school system where they're not
even permitted to send their children if they live within the city limits
of these municipally owned school districts. Uh, I think everybody tend
to acknowledge there is an inequity there. It's a long-standing,
structural situation that isn't surrendered at the drop of a hat. I was
pleased to see the legislature make progress and to come up with a com-
promise bill that seems to at least be an improvement over what we had
and I won't go into detail about the structure on this tape. But I was
pleased to see a step of progress made, and I'm very hopeful and, and it's
being pointed out by Indian leaders that it is to be hoped that this is
not the ultimate in, in remedying the situation. That in the future it
will be more ... even more equitably administered.
T: In our bcal area here we regard September I believe the 22nd as American
Indian DAy. Many people again voiced their wish for it bein' ...American
national holiday. Do you envision this or would you support such a
thing, or how do you ... how do you feel about it?
BB: Well, I havepersonal concept of the value of declaring national holi-
days. I don't ... I don't think one out of ten persons give any thought
to whatever the occasion is when. when they ... have a national holi-
dayexcept it's a day off maybe. But beyond that I don't think that there's
much thought given the, the reason for it's historical importance and ...
T: You don't think it would improve their pride or ...?
BB: I don't think it would be constructive, not particularly, no. I ... I'm
more interested in other things bein' done than a day called Indian Day,
and I wouldn't feel any achievement in saying, "Okay, all America is off
for the day because it's Indian Day." Because all America is not sitting'
down n that day thinking about the problems of Indians and wanting to do
something about them. I don't think we ought to waste a day.
T: You 'B3ss :. ....
B: Use that day towards solving our problems.
BB: Right. Rather walk up to a man say "What have you done our people to-
day?" And not let him claim that, well, this is Indian Day and I'm not
supposed to do anything for 'em!
T: That's a pretty good answer.
B: I had a question in mind. It escaped me just now. Uh, but uh, I'll
give you this other one. That is, I want to get it in before it's ... be-
fore we get along too far. Sort of a hypothetical question. If you had it
within your power to change anything for the American Indian, one single
thing, what would you change?
7 ?You speaking' as a group, the whole collective ...?
B: The entire American Indian group. Throughout the United States. Through-
out the A #-H, c-.s) re41 .
BB: I don't know that I would changeLew. I would and this is very, very dif-
ficult question to toss at a fella that when he's never considered it
before in his life. I don't think that it would be a change. I feel that
thebLggest problem among reservation Indians is this: you have and I
think perhaps this accounts for so much, such a high suicide rate
for instance among the teenage, Indian teenagers. It's higher, at
least three times higher than it is among any other group of Americans.
You have your ... every tribe has at least two factions that I come in
contact with and they're always there. The traditionalists, who tend to
look backward, who resist change. And the what you might call modernists,
who say let's get into the mainstream, let's compete, let's change, let
us progress, let's adopt programs and let's go, go,go. And there's a
real cleavage between those two groups. It's very difficult to belong to
both factions because they're so conflicting. I feel that there's much
in the Indian heritage and Indian culture to be retained. And that can
be retained. And I think that the Rob/son County Indians have proved
that perhaps more so than the average Indian group. We still have our
identiry, our guoup identity, our affinities with each other, but yet
we tend to accept the theory that we need to compete too--economically,
socially, politically. We need to be in the mainstream, we can't under-
stand the system unless we get into the system, we can't compete with
the system unless we understand the system. We need lawyers, doctors
engineers, teachers--we need to be representative of the entire structure
so that we'll know the structure, so that we can be aware and I tend to
go with the annQeri as opposed to the traditionalists. If we have to
do one or the other. But I see no reason that both can't --- both, both
courses can't run That we can't retain our culture, our history,
pride, our identity and at the same time be in the mainstream. And if I
could, if I had a wish that I could do, and achieve I htink htat would be
it--to let the Indian, the traditionalists Indian know that you know you
can do both. That you need not in order to retain your culture and your
heritage turn your back upon today's ... methods. We 've got to have both.
And, and that I would seek to have if I had had it in my power, but of
course no man has that in his power It's gonna take a long time for this
problem to solve itself. That's ... that's the:real problem confronting the
American Indian as I see it.
B: We seem to be always running out of tape when we 're talking to you. And
I'm glad it's like this but are you getting tired or could you talk to us
on another subject?
BB: Well, I ... I guess we've just about covered as much as anybody will sit down
and listen to, I thoroughly enjoyed it; been very challenging of course
and ... I hope I've done a credible job.
B: Well, you certainly have. Don't you agree, Mrs. Taylor?
T: I certainly do. We feel very honored and we're very appreciative to you
to have gone through the imposition of e./1 j 6 --- 4 takin' all
these other things, but we're certainly grateful to you. And for myself
and on behalf of Doris Duke Foundation and the contribution that you've
made to history, contemporary history, I want to say thank you.
BB: Thank you. Been my pleasure.
B: I want to say thank you, too.
BB: Thank you.
T: I want to shake your hand. and say congratulations and keep up the good
BB: Thank you.