Title: Interview with Peter Brooks (July 10, 1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007101/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Peter Brooks (July 10, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: July 10, 1973
Spatial Coverage: Lumbee County (Fla.)
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00007101
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Lumbee County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: LUM 114A

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Interviewee: Peter Brooks

Interviewer: Dexter Brooks

Date: July 10, 1973

D: This is July 10, 1990. Mr. Brooks, when were you born?

B: April 29, 1902.

D: And you were the son of who?

B: I am the son of Sandy Brooks and Effie Hunt Brooks.

D: Right.

B: I am the thirteenth child in that family.

D: What occupation did your father practice?

B: My father was a farmer, but owing to the large family that
he had, he was never able to make enough to survive on the
farm, during that day and time. There was very little
farming land in Robeson County at that time. My daddy
worked what little farming land he could and he also had
what he called a "crop of boxes." This was turpentine wood,
and he took care of (I do not know how many were in it) but
he very often talked about 2500 boxes and right on up as
much as 5000. Whenever he was using 5000 I think he always
had to have a little help with the children. Not only that,
but he would also cut wood for people; cut what they call
"ton timber," cut the whole log. I do not know what they
did with it, but they floated it down the river. I forget
the name of the places, but it is down below Lumberton,
where it would go.

D: Fairburn?

B: Boardman. Yes, it was put in the river and floated down to
Boardman and ditched. He was a ditcher, also. So, he had
four occupations.

D: This turpentine you spoke of, this was on someone else's

B: Always, yes. He never owned any land of his own.

D: Would he rent the land or would he split the turpentine with
the owner?

B: Well, he generally rented the boxes on the land where he
would farm, is the way I understood it. This turpentine was
going out about the time I was born in Robeson County.

D: What kind of farming did he do? What crops?


B: He raised cotton and corn. That is about all he raised
whenever I was a little fellow. He would always have a
garden for the family, a potato patch, things like that.

D: What kind of foods would your family mainly eat?

B: Well, we were one of the lucky families, about having
something to eat. We had a smart mother and smart daddy.
My mother always had two milk cows. She raised a lot of
chickens and Dad saw to it that he killed plenty of pork in
the first of the winter, in December. We generally had meat
year around and there was very little he had to buy. We had
potatoes, sweet potatoes, milk, butter, chicken, eggs and he
always cured his own meat. I can remember when I was a
little fellow, he would always try to get a barrel of fish
for the winter, too, salt fish. We had plenty to eat, but
it was raised on the farm.

D: Where would he get the salt fish?

B: He would generally buy his salt fish from the merchants or
go to the beach. Now, I do not remember too much about when
he would go to the beach. But, as you understand I was the
thirteenth child in the family; there is only one younger
than myself. So, whenever he first got married, I have
heard him and my mother talk about walking to the beach and
toting salt from down there. They would go down there and
even render their own salt whenever they first got married.

D: You mentioned he cured his own meat, pork?

B: Yes, he killed the hog and he would always have a way that
he cured that meat. Salt-cured it and then whenever it took
salt he would take it out of the barrel and wash it and
prepare it with black pepper and a little meal. I believe
he used to use some borax on that meat. He would make a
powder out of the meal and the borax and rub that meat into
it after it dried, whenever he got it cured, and then hang
it up in the smokehouse.

D: What about beef?

B: Well, I do not remember that we ever killed but, maybe one
or two beef. This would always be in the winter time when
there was not much chance of it spoiling.

D: You say your father and mother were smart people. You mean
by that, they were industrious, they worked hard?

B: I mean they were smart with their hands and intellectually,
they looked out for their children. At that time there was
no welfare; there was no food stamps. You would sell your


cotton for about five or six cents a pound; we had not
started raising tobacco at that time.

D: Mentally what sort of person was your father?

B: My dad was eleven years old when the state of North Carolina
instituted the public education system. I have for the last
ten or twelve years, known more about the public schools of
Robeson County than I have ever known before. A lot of this
I have learned from other people. I learned some of it
myself, because I did not live here all of my life. I moved
around a little bit. I know that when you cross the Mason-
Dixon Line going to the north, that there was never any
slavery after you crossed that line. My father being born
in 18--, eleven years before we had the public school. He
went with the colored people to school some and not only
that but, he educated himself is what he did.

I have heard him talk about picking up papers where they
were being ready to be carried out of the offices, or where
they were already carried out of offices; where he would
trade. He would pick up those envelopes and bring them home
and practice writing. He would practice trying to do as
well as the man that backed the envelope to the merchant.
There was no printing press, there were no typewriters then,
and everything was addressed in handwriting. He would
practice on that. He always said that his education
consisted of a blue-backed speller and I have forgotten the
name of the arithmetic that he always talked about. But the
blue-backed speller was pretty rugged and if you got that
and a little reading and arithmetic--that is about the gist
of his education. But, he had an awful good handwriting.

D: Could your mother also read?

B: My mother could also read and write, a little bit. She
probably had about a third-grade education.

D: Did she also attend school with the blacks?

B: I do not believe my mother ever attended school with the
blacks. She was ten years younger than my father. She may
have, but I do not believe she did. She kind of learned
herself, is the way I understand it.

D: Was your father a religious person?

B: Yes, my father always carried his children to church, Sunday
school, and was a kind of lay preacher at one time, for the
Methodist Church.

D: Was this the first recollection you had of him?


B: From the first time I had recollection of my father and he
was one of the first men I ever knew. I can still remember,
I believe about a dozen old timers, like my father, that
went to church at the same place.

D: Your mother was religious also?

B: Yes.

D: What sort of personality did your father have? Was he

B: Very talkative. Very talkative. You could hear him when
you could not hear anyone else. My mother never did have
too much say.

D: Who made most of the decisions in the household as far as
how the children were going to be growing up?

B: Well, I do not really remember that there were any fights
about that. We had to walk to church and it was not a
question of where you went; it was where your father and
mother went, is where you went. Churches were kind of few
and far between. You had to go to the closet one to you and
that was the Methodist Church.

D: Your father was a Methodist?

B: Yes, he was a Methodist all the way.

D: But, you were?

B: I am a Baptist at this hour.

D: Was your mother--you say she was a quiet person? Did she
have a temper?

B: Yes, she had a temper.

D: Did your father, also, have a temper?

B: No, he was not so easy to get riled-up. But, he was a
talkative man.

D: Your mother could get riled-up easier?

B: Yes.

D: When you were a boy growing up, you came from a large
family. How many of the children were at home at the same


B: There were five boys and two girls.

D: Did you live in close proximity to any other families or off
by yourself?

B: Well, all the families were kind of far apart at that time,
and there were no next-door neighbors at that time.

D: Was there very much visiting?

B: No, not a whole lot. On the one end of the road, I know,
there were two swamps you had to go through before you
reached the next house. On the other end of the road (that
was the south end) now going back up the other way to what I
would call the north end you did not have to go quite that
far. In fact, there was, I reckon, it was about two miles
that way where there were no woods at all--was all fields
and clearing. So, there are some three or four houses back
that way.

D: As a boy, do you recall any incidence where you came in
contact with members of other races?

B: Oh, yes. There were always the whites and blacks. We
lived, I believe, in the third house from the north end.
The fellow who owned that land was Mr. Locklee Martin. A
real old-timer; he was somewhat younger than my father, of
course. But, he owned about a four or five horse farm just
to the other side of us on the north. My dad rented this
farm that we lived on, right down in the fork of what is
known as Ashpole Swamp and Johnnikin Swamp, where they ran
together. To the north of the Martin family was the Eadon's
family. Then when you left the Eadon family, the Magert
family and there were three white neighbors. That I
remember very well. They always worked their farms, mostly
with colored people.

D: Was there any sort of social communication between your
family and these white families?

B: The social communications and visiting was always whenever
they needed something done and wanted my mother to help his
wife do something. She would go up there sometimes,
especially in the hog season, to kill hogs. She generally
always helped the Martin family kill hogs, about the only
thing she helped them do. Very seldom, if Mr. Locklee's
wife got sick, would she want my mother to go up there and
maybe cook a meal or two once and awhile. My mother always
did that.

D: This was for pay?


B: Well, maybe a pound of coffee.

D: Did these families have any children?

B: Yes. I do not remember just how many either one of them had
but, I believe there were as many as two boys. I know there
were two boys and three girls in the Martin Family, but I do
not remember the others.

D: Did you ever play with any of these white children?

B: No, I never did play with any of them.

D: Were you told not to?

B: No, I do not remember that we were ever told not to. You
just did not.

D: Sort of understood?

B: Well, more or less, yes.

D: Were there any black families in the area?

B: Oh, yes. There were some black families and it was the same
way there. We did not have any business over there except
my mother as I have already mentioned, she always had plenty
of milk. I remember one old colored man, by the name of
Saul Graham, he used to come there and if he could not bring
a "sheet of shucks" or a little bit of corn meal husks for
mother's cow (especially in the summertime), he would bring
two sheets full of potato vine on his head--for the cow, for
his milk.

D: How much schooling did you have here in Robeson?

B: Well, all my school has been in Robeson. But, I remember my
first day of school. I was five years old when I went.
Now, I went to school with my oldest brother, who was a year
and five months and twenty-six days older than myself. My
mother and father sent me so I would be with him, and for
him to look out for me at school.

I remember that when we went to school some of our fathers
were making some benches for us to sit on and finally made
some desks. I believe the school was (this is my
recollection of it) weatherboarded from the outside and had
window shutters hung on hinges, maybe made by the county. I
do not remember too much.


So, up until I was big enough to plow and you might say take
a man's place, my brother went to school a day and I would
work. When I was at school he would be at work helping Dad
on the farm. This was about the time the oldest boys began
to move out and give us a place at the farm. I went to
school like that until I was about seventeen years old.
Then, I quit at about the fourth grade level, I would say.
Before I went to anymore school, I plowed for other people
by the day for fifty cents a day and my board. Then in
1918, in August, I went away to Detroit, Michigan. Lacking
about six months of being eighteen years old.

D: Why did you go to Detroit?

B: Well, I had a brother there, one of my older brothers, at
that time. He had already got a job and told us to come on
up there and go to work. So, I went up there and worked
until 1931.

But, in the mean time I came back to school three years. I
went to school two of those years and started in the sixth
grade. Finally, by a little ingenuity, got by the sixth.
I made a pretty good seventh grade scholar in the seventh
grade. Then, the third year I came back to go to school
again. Instead of staying in school I got married and went
back to Michigan and went back to work a again.

The reason this happened, our school teachers--I might say
that I can count the Indian school teachers on my fingers
and neither one of them had a college education. Neither
one of them had what we call a normal education--two year
normal. The structure of education in Robeson County, at
that time, was such that they figured the only thing we
could do was to get enough to teach our own people. Our
folks went to teaching whenever they finished the seventh
grade. About 1920, we began to have somebody finish a two-
year normal course.

D: You went to Detroit because you did not want to farm?

B: I went to Detroit because there was nothing here to be made
from farming. Up there, at that time, whenever I got
married and went back, I was allowed to make ninety cents an
hour in the automobile shop. It was piece work and they
would let fellows make ninety cents an hour. I was in their
posting department for nine years.

D: What year did your brother go to Detroit?

B: I do not know exactly. He must have went there whenever I
was about fifteen years old.


D: You followed two years later?

B: Yes.

D: Which one of your brothers?

B: No, this was when I was fifteen years old; about three years
later. That was my brother Raymond. Let me go back to the
wages that schoolteachers were making. That is what I
started to tell you awhile ago. Whenever I came back that
third year and started school, I was making between thirty-
five and forty dollars a week. I came back and everybody
was bent over his books and beat his brains out. I asked
somebody how much the schoolteacher was making then and they
were making forty-five dollars a month. I quit just as fast
as I could and took my girl and went back to Detroit.

D: During that period of time was there a lot of out-migration
among Indians?

B: Oh, yes. There was not so much migration at that time, but
pretty soon they started going everywhere. I believe right
now there are some Indians from Robeson County in every
state in the Union.

D: But you did not see any significant number of people leaving
for cities until this time?

B: Yes, until that time. In fact my brother and I and one
other fellow (a friend of my brother's that was already
there) were the only people in the state of Michigan, I
believe, at that time from Robeson County.

D: How do you think your brother Raymond happened to go to

B: Well, I do not know just how he happened to go there, but he
had been all over the South. In fact, I expect he was in
about every state in the South before he ever went up to the
North. Just why? I will tell you why, better wages. A
little more money for a day's work is what caused him to

D: You say you lived in Detroit how many years?

B: I went there in 1919 and I moved back from there in 1931;
except one year that I spent in Philadelphia.

D: Was that because of the Depression?

B: Because of the Hoover depression, yes.


D: Jobs just became scarce in the city?

B: Well, everything became scarce in the city--jobs, I lived
there for a year and a half, and averaged working about two
days a week for the whole eighteen months. I had a family
and five children at that time. So, I just about had to do
something. I had a brother older and I had about seventeen
acres of land here at that time and you could grow as much
tobacco as you wanted. I came back here and he and I put up
a tobacco barn and built a house on that land. I moved in
the house and stayed there four years.

When President Roosevelt became president, some of the most
awful things, at that time, were done. For instance, 1932,
the crop we sold, he gave us parity on that crop in 1933. I
believe I got something like eighty-five dollars and it was
enough to just about feed my family that whole year; money
was so scarce. We built the house and built the tobacco
barn and built the little cribs. I bought a little heifer
calf from my brother for about nine or ten dollars. That
was my milk cow the next spring.

I would like to tell you more about this house and barn. We
bought lumber at that time from a man who ran a saw mill at
Bowie. I cannot think of his name, right now. I believe
his name was Hall, I have forgotten, now. We bought lumber
that he cut off of his own trees and sawed it and hauled it
for thirteen dollars and fifty cents a thousand. We went in
the woods and we bought some cypress trees. We sawed them
down and cut them into eighteen inch blocks and made the
shingles even to cover that house. We made boards and
covered the tobacco barn. We split them and nailed them on
there and had a cover on it in time to put our tobacco in

D: In your own impression, did many people know of any
incidence where people were unable to pay taxes?

B: Well, not only for taxes. Previous to President Roosevelt,
even before that, when I returned, I do not know of very
many farmers that were able to finance themselves even for
groceries to make a crop. We always had to give a mortgage
on about everything you had in order to get a little
something. If you had an old wagon, a mule, and a cow and
if you had a little piece of land, they would want a
mortgage on that, too. Even for your fertilizer in the
Spring. A lot of people lost their land for a little bit of
nothing. A lot of people never did redeem it either.

D: But you were able to successfully hold onto your farm?


B: Well, this little farm my brother had, he might have owed
fifty or sixty dollars on it. Part of that place was
inherited from our great grandfather, old man John Brooks'
estate. The other half of it, my dad bought it from one of
his sisters and we worked that little place; played up a
little more of it and we could plant as much tobacco then as
we pleased, as I have told you. Then after the first year,
I rented a little bit of tobacco land and had a little
tobacco to myself and gave my brother Johnny all that place

D: After you returned to Robeson, did you become interested in

B: Well, I was always interested in education after I left here
and saw what education does for a person. I came back and
went to school two years, as I have already said. But I had
so many children myself, I could never afford to go back to
school. I am the father of fourteen children. There were
fourteen in my father's family--little difference though
about the sex of it. There are nine boys and five girls in
my family and there were eight boys and six girls in his
family. However, I have been interested in education to the
extent that I have never kept one of my children away from
school to work a day in his life. I believe there is one of
them that says I kept him home a half a day once. But all
the rest of them have been able to go to school because I
always tried to look out for that.

D: Did you do anything to upgrade the educational opportunities
available to Indian kids?

B: Yes, 1931 is the first year that the Indian people had a
school bus to ride. They really did not have one then.
Whenever I moved home from Detroit I had a 1928 Model-T
truck. There was a fellow on the Board of Education by the
name of J. R. Poole, he was the county superintendent. A
fellow by the name of Ben Floyd was the assistant
superintendent. Every time somebody asked for a school bus
they did not have enough for themselves. White people did
not have enough school buses for themselves, yet. They
finally told them, I believe the same year that I cam home,
that if they would give them one, that the colored people
would want a school bus--only they did not call them colored
people, they called them "niggers."

My wife's father and his brother were interested in school.
The best I can remember now, Mr. Cummings was the man that
went down there. My wife's daddy and his brother, they
said, "Well, if you can get somebody that has a truck and
they will go over there to the old county garage and repair


one of them bodies and put it on the truck, we will pay him
to haul school children."

So, they came back home to get me. I had a little
experience in body work and I went out there and picked out
the best thing I could find. I worked on it about two days
and finally got it on the truck. I hauled school children
with that, that year. The first school bus that ever went
to an Indian school.

Then the next year up here at Enfield [North Carolina], was
a place where they made school buses. They had a bus body
made for my truck and I drove up there with the same truck.
They set on a brand new body. Whenever I came back,
everybody thought I had a new school bus. I drove another
year and I have always looked back at that time I spent
driving the first school bus those two years. Now, I
believe the next year they gave us another one, too. I
drove at the Union Chapel School the second year. The first
year I drove at the Pembroke Ladies School. I also brought
from the Union Chapel area about nine or ten I believe girls
and boys that were past high school to the two-year normal
course that was going on in September of 1933.

D: How old were you when you registered to vote?

B: I have been pretty interested in politics. I got interested
in politics while I was in Michigan. I registered and voted
when I was in Michigan, I expect about five years before I
left. I do not remember exactly the year I registered and
voted in North Carolina, possibly 1940.

D: You registered here in Pembroke?

B: Right.

D: Was the registrar an Indian?

B: No. Whenever I moved back here in 1931, I do not suppose
there were over three or four hundred Indians registered in
Robeson County. There were no Indian registrars.

D: No Indian registrars, so, you registered in 1940?

B: I believe about 1940.

D: Were there any impediments?

B: Could have been later. Well, you had to be able to read and
write. But, this never happened to me. There was a time
when you had to prove that your grandfather voted before
1835. But, I believe by 1940 they were not so hard on


Indian people in Robeson County. If you act intelligent and
could read and write your own name, they would let you
register to vote. But, you have to understand that the
county, this was the first time [1972] that the state has
ever gone Republican, in the last seventy-five years.
Everyone had to vote like they wanted or there probably
would have been a whole lot of impediments against Indian
voting than what there are today.

D: You say very few Indians were interested in politics at this
time. Were there any Indian candidates for any sort of
office in the 1940s?

B: There were no Indians running for county offices, no.

D: Was the Indian vote actively sought after by white

B: Well, not actually. I would not say they put too much
pressure, simply because there was no way that you could
win. Regardless of what you had done, because we had no
votes. We did not have enough people registered to vote to
make any difference. They would go out of their way a
little bit, sometime, with certain people of the Indian
race. For instance, if he was a little politically minded,
they would come out to see him and talk to him; to get him
to have all of his people, his community, to vote like they
wanted him to vote. That is about the gist of it. Pick up
a little something and give you a little more information
about it.

As I remember, the only town that, previous to 1940, that
there were any Indians working was Pembroke. I believe that
it was about the year 1948, when we had our fist Indian
mayor of that town. So, you see things went pretty rapidly
after about 1940. I think what caused it was the way the
white people treated the Indian people. In all those years,
I believe they started electing the mayor of the town in
1948. I believe, I am correct about that, now. Reverend C.
E. Locklear was the first mayor of Pembroke who was an

Now, we had mayors before that time but, he was always
appointed by the governor of North Carolina. I hope a lot
of people know this, the governor always saw to it that he
appointed a white man the mayor of Pembroke. That went on
for years and years. I believe at that time they had a
ruling whereby they appointed this mayor and he took care of
the whole thing.

Whenever Reverend Locklear became mayor, from then on, until
maybe four or five years ago, we always had two Indians and


two whites for the town council. I believe about four years
ago, maybe five, they elected an all-Indian council and
mayor. We have had the mayor quite awhile, ever since
Preacher Clarence.

D: Do you have any idea what sort of pressure or who was
responsible for getting the mayor elected instead of

B: I think it was the Indians themselves. They began to do
like the kitten. You know, a kitten stays with his eyes
closed for nine days and then he begins to open his eyes. I
think about 1940 the Indian people of Robeson County had
been opening their eyes a little bit and they have not got
them open quite yet. But, they will get them open now, in a
few more years.

D: Let me see, then. Mr. C. E. Locklear was the first Indian
to run for any public office in North Carolina. Do you
recall any candidates after 1950?

B: The first candidate, I believe, that I know anything about
ran for the Robeson County Board of Education. At this
particular time, 79% of the students in the school district
were Indian students. This comes about because the whites
always built their schools in the cities with the exception
of two or three, and the coloreds had schools in the city

Here in Robeson County, we have six districts in 900 square
miles. I believe that is the square miles of the county.
Each of the towns in Robeson County, beginning with
Lumberton, St. Paul's, Red Springs, Fairmont, Roland, and
Maxton have schools in them. Even today, the Indian people
do not even have a school house in Pembroke. There is about
a quarter of an acre of the college campus in the town
limits of Pembroke, but no other schools.

I want to tell you, I believe Dr. Brooks is the fist man
that ran for the board of education. At that time, what
started the Indians to open their eyes was the fact that he
carried Robeson County near 100%. But, owing to the double
vote situation in Robeson County (what I mean by "double
vote" is city districts all voting on theirs and the county
system) piled up a majority and he lost. He was the highest
man in the county in his first try for the board of
education of Robeson County.

We never elected but two Robeson County Board of Education.
We still have about a 62% majority of the pupils in the
county district. We have only been able to elect one person
to the county board and that is a lady. I do not know how


this happened, but it did. She is from here in Lumberton.
Now we have had one that was appointed possibly ten or
twelve years ago, by the tactics of the city school
districts. This is what kept him on the Robeson County
Board of Education for these many years. Here recently, we
have had the Board of Education of Robeson County enlarged
and two more appointed. We hope that in the near future we
are going to elect enough to take complete control of our
Robeson County Board of Education. We do not mean that we
are going to vote everybody out, but we need a controlling
power over the students in the county system.

D: Do you recall when the first Indian judge was elected?

B: No, I do not recall that right off. But, I remember it very
well; that is, I do not remember the year. Mr. Early
Bullard was the first judge of the district court at Maxton.
That comprised the Pembroke district. He kept that
judgeship for two terms, I believe. Did he keep it longer
than that?

D: I do not know. He was succeeded by an Indian, also.

B: Well, that is what I was going to say. I believe that he
kept that two terms and then he was succeeded by Mr. Lacey
Maynard, a fellow who had taught quite a few years in the
Robeson County school districts. Then Lacey kept that, by
the way, Lacy Maynard was a first cousin to my first wife.
He kept this until the legislature fixed it so a person had
to be a lawyer to hold the position.

D: What about county commissioners? Who was the first Indian
county commissioner and approximately when was he elected?

B: The first county commissioner to my knowledge was Mr. Herman
Dial. I believe he is serving his third term at the
present. So, that would be about six years ago that he came
in. Now, we have another one, Mr. Bobby Dean Locklear. He
was elected in the 1972 election.

D: What about Mr. Tracey Sampson? When was he elected?

B: Going back to the commissioner, I forget. Mr. Tracey
Sampson was our first one. Mr. Tracy Sampson, if I remember
correctly, he served at least two terms. Then there were a
few years that we did not have anyone on that job. Mr.
Frank White succeeded Tracy Sampson, did he not?

D: That may be.

B: I think Mr. Frank White succeeded Tracy Sampson. Mr. Frank
White's death gave us our first representative in the state


legislature; that being filled by Ward Oxendine. We have
two county commissioners at the present. Mr. Herman Dial,
who is serving the third year of his second term, and Mr.
Bobby Dean Locklear is serving the first year of his first
term. Both of these were elected.

D: Do you have any idea when the Pembroke precinct was finally
able to get an Indian registrar? Who was the first Indian
registrar? It seems like I have heard the name Henry Smith,
was he the first?

B: Yes, but I do not remember how long he has been in that

D: So, do you think he was appointed in the 1950s?

B: It might have been about 1954, somewhere along there.

D: So, the Indians go their first registrar sometime in the
middle 1950s?

B: Yes. It has been changing now for about a half dozen years.
There have been a whole lot of questions asked. I believe
Mr. Henry Smith is a little more cooperative, now, than what
he used to be. He was afraid, I imagine, whenever he first
got the job.

D: Right. In the fifties did more Indians become registered to
vote? Was this the period of time when the Indian votes
were solicited by whites?

B: That is right, the more votes we get, the more they solicit.

D: Did this take the form, in the Indian communities, of one
man who sort of controlled the politics?

B: Yes. I do not know why that is, but as I look back I can
remember a few preachers that used to. Well, I have heard
it said that if you go to Lumberton they would say, "Well,
if you can give me a certain preacher, I can carry the whole
township. Just let me talk to a certain preacher." Those
things are vanishing, now. We are beginning, as I said
awhile ago, we are kind of like a kitten, our eyes are going
to be open pretty soon.

D: Then you would say that a lot of preachers also doubled as
sort of a, shall we say, "locality leaders."

B: Yes, this is very well true.

D: Do you have any thoughts on why a lot of Indian preachers
seem to teach non-involvement in politics?


B: I just hate to say too much about preachers. I go to
church, now, where involvement is something you never hear
unless I mention it myself. I just do not know why this is.
I think sometimes, it is because he is an old man. My
pastor is an old man and he came along a few years ahead of
me. Those folks just do not seem to get it into their
blood, yet, that we are all human beings. There are no
super persons. I do not think one race is better than
another; it is just treatment that they have had that has
caused them to be ignorant. I believe that Robeson County,
for instance, if the colored and the Indian would have had
the education on a par, equal with the white people, I
believe this would have been one of garden spots of North
Carolina and maybe the world. Because if I know anything
about it, I tried to educate fourteen children. Education
is money, education is wealth, and if they would have given
the two-thirds of the county that did not get education, if
they tried to give us an equal opportunity with them. What
I am saying, is that if Robeson County is worth $500
million, today, it could have been worth $1,500 million.
Because Robeson County is very nearly proportioned on an
equal basis--white, colored, and Indian; three different
races of people.

D: Did you consciously set out to have fourteen children?

B: Well, I heard somebody say that in Vietnam and in China,
poor people thought children were wealth. I reckon I was
kind of like them. About the only thing we could have was
children. We had plenty of them. In fact, my baby's
already twenty years old. If you go back twenty years,
there was nobody hardly thinking about birth control.
Twenty-five years ago it was something that was not

D: So, children were just accepted as the normal course?

B: Normal course, and as I say, the bigger the family the
jollier. I have always had plenty to eat for my children.
It might not have been just what they wanted to eat every
time you came to the table. But, I kind of followed some of
my father's footsteps. I know when we used to have a couple
of cows and killed all the pork we wanted and beef. We
raised lots to eat and fed them all. Now that it has come
up like it has, we are going to give them a hot time in
Robeson County. We have got the majority of young people
coming up.


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