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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Date: November 18, 1973
Subject: Bonnie Gail Sampson
Interviewer: Bruce Barton
Typist: Josephine Suslowicz
B: This is Side I. I'm interviewing Bonnie Gail Sampson at the office of The
Carolina Indian Voice in Pembroke, North Carolina. This is November 18, 1973.
Interviewer is, uh, Bruce Barton. Bonnie we appreciate you giving us this
interview. As you know, it's part of the Oral History Program--Oral Indian
History Program from the University of Florida, and hopefully, one day we'll
have the transcript of this for our Old Main Museum. So you might be being
recorded for posterity's sake. Now would you tell us to--just to get it off
because you're nervous and your hand's trembling, what your name is?
S: Bonnie Sampson.
B: That's B-O-N-N-I-E?
B: Alright, good. Now, could you just give us a brief history of Bonnie? Is it
Bonnie, or Bonnie Gail?
S: Bonnie Gail.
B: That's QA-I-L?
B: (Laughs) You are nervous, aren't you? Well, could you just tell us a little bit
s: Couldn't rI 0 F n:art7 xe.
B: Okay, Bonnie. No need to be nervous, now. Just tell me a little bit about
yourself. How old you are, where you go to school, your parents, where you live,
that kind of thing. 3v .ik
S: Well, I was ..t "_____ My mother's name, Margaret Sampson; my father's
Ave. I'm seventeen. I'm now at Pembroke Senior High, and going to my grade
school I went to Union Elementary near Rolard, and then I went to Pembroke Junior
High in eighth and ninth.
LUM 130A 2
B: You're a senior at Pembroke High this year?
S: That's right.
B: Well, you're very pretty. Too bad we can't get your prettiness on tape, and
you--were you born in Deep Branch?
S: I was born in Lumberton Hospital.
B: Right, but your--your parents live at Deep Branch, right?
B: How far is that from Pembroke?
S: Four miles.
B: Alright, good. Now you say you're seventeen and we wanted to tell--talk a little
bit on this tape about what teenagers do in Pembroke. Now to talk about your
heritage a little bit, you are a Lumbee Indian, are you not?
B: Alright now, one thing I'm interested in in getting in this tape so that we will
have it as part of the history, we're interested a little bit about what does a
teenage Lumbee Indian do in Robeson County when you're not going to school?
S: Well, considering I live in a very small communittee, that the recreation is very
limited so, uh, I usually go to baseball, basketball, football games, and the
extra school activities like the dances, and that's about it. AThere's not really
that many things to do.
B: Just ride around a lot? I noticed that a lot of kids ride around in cars on the
weekends Are you part of that migration?
S: Yes, sir. That's only because we don't have any other things to do.
B: Well, what kind of things can you think of that the community t could do for the
S: Uh, have places like where we could socialize, like folk dances, aqd more dances.
B: Do you think not having anything to do is one of the reasons we have such a
high mortality rate in Robeson County among young people? You know, young people
LUM 130A 3
--young guys going out drinking, killing each other, and that kind of thing.
B: And you say that the young go nowhere in particular except to high school dances.
They don't have a recreation center where you can go?
B: No recreation center. Alright, well, let's talk a little bit about school. You
say you go to Pembroke High. Now, do you remember going to, uh, where you still
in high school when integration began?
S: I was in grammar grade school.
B: You were in grammar grade school? Well, another thing I'm interested in in
developing--doing this interview, is how Indian kids get along with Black and
White kids. Do they have any problem adjusting?
S: Yes, they do.
B: What kind of problem?
S: Um, well, everybody's going to be prejudiced against the people that are not of
their race, and in Robeson County there's a big friction between the White people
and the Indian people. I don't think it's so much the kids. I think that their
parents put it into them--put it in them that they are better than we are, and
they--they--I think the kids would be willing to treat us human or equal with them,
but they realize, you know, that maybe their parents will find out, and they'll get
a big hassle from them. Now with the Black kids--I mean I find less prejudice
among them and the Indians, but still there's a friction in them.
B: There's still a--still a friction between Black and Indian, anyway, but not as
much as between Indian and White.
S: Right, because, you see, the Indian and Black had been treated about the same, so,
you know, they both know what it's like to be discriminated against, and they--I
guess they think about this.
B: Right. Uh, both of us know that the--where I went to school and where you went
until you were in grammar school, it was an all Indian affair, and we really didn't
LUM 130A 4
have any, uh, way of comparing ourselves against Indian and Black--against White
and Black. How do Indian kids, uh, measure up to Whites and Blacks as far as
scholastic go, start-eas far as their grade and leadership ability, holding
classes, uh, offices for classes and that kind of thing?
S: Well, at our school the majority of the kids are Indian and there're very few
White people, and then, I guess, the second largest is the Black group, and I
find that the Indian kids are just as capable, if not better, perhaps I'm being
prejudiced, and they seem to not really run our school, but they are voted in the
most offices, and I think they're just--right when the awards are handed out,
they're in the top ranks, too.
B: It's the Indian children--students?
S: Yeah, Indian.
B: Well, you proved a point, as far as I'm concerned, that Indian girls are prettier
than any other race. I'm not prejudiced....No comment on that?
S: What am I supposed to say?
B: (Laughs) Alright, but because, you know, there are a couple of things, too. I
wonder how high school students and teenagers feel about politics. Are they
interested in politics in general?
S: I think so, and I'ld really like to getinvilved and learn more about it, and I
think a lot of other kids would too, and I think it would, like, help them when
they get older, or, I guess most of the kids my age are now getting--oh, next
year they'll be able to vote, and if they could learn more about this, if there's
only some kind of project, or something offered so we could learn more about
this--politics, or politicians or whatever.
B: Why, that's interesting. Now, do you know there are six separate school systems
in Robeson County, and a lot of people can't believe that we have six separate
school systems, and the largest, of course, is the Robeson County Board of
Education where Indians--most of the Indians go. Do you think, just from your
LUM 130A 5
second-hand knowledge, maybe, of the situation, do you think that a student--an
Indian student at Pembroke Senior High gets as good an education as the kid--a
White kid from Lumberton High?
S: Of course not, 'cause our school--I don't think our school is as well equipped.
We don't have the facilities to work with and our main, like, I think Lumberton
High is just a better built school then ours, and I think that's because of
people being prejudiced. Maybe not, I mean I know that our school was built on
a state thing, and there's the city. .
B: Right. Our--Pembroke Senior High is in the Robeson County School system, and
Lumberton High is in the Lumberton City School system. Well, let's talk a little
bit about why. Why do you think we have such a poor school? I know at--at the
college here in town, which was once an all Indian college, Pembroke State Univer-
sity, I notice out of between two and three thousand enrollment there are only
about two hundred Indian students enrolled at Pembroke Senior High, and do you
think this is part of the reason that we just don't have as good an education as
they do in the other school systems, for instance?
S: Yeah, I think that, um, like they're not--it's not their fault that they're not
as educated. I'm not saying that we're dumber than anybody. I'm saying that
the majority of our kids don't get the education that they are worthy of, I don't
B: I think that's well put. bt
right now about double voting. Do you know what double voting is?
S: Yes, it's where the people who--like the city systems get to vote on, uh, county
B: And the county people don't get to vote on the city.
B: So the people living in the--within the city school administrative unit vote twice,
and residents within the county administrative units only vote once, right?
S: That's right.
LUM 130A 6
B: We want to be sure and mention that. Well, how--how do you think that young
teenagers feel about Old Main? You know that we've had--Old Main is the first
building on the P.S.U. campus--Pembroke State University campus, and it was once
an all Indian College, and the Old Main was the college for a long time until they
began to add buildings, and, you know, there was a move a couple of years ago to
tear down Old Main and replace it with another building, and since then it's been
burned, and I wonder if the teenagers feel as strongly about preserving Old Main as
some of the elder people do?
S: Uh, the Indian teenagers I think do, because this is really their only symbol of
being an Indian college, or once being an Indian college because now the, like you
said, the major part of the college is mostly White, and there's very few Indians,
and, also, that if the Indian--if Pembroke was more-and-te "Iri ndi mbulL
school, or whatever, you know, was just--that more of our kids would want to go
there, if it was made--like there's a lot of out of state kids coming there. If it
was made, uh, like, harder for them to get in and more--and, you know, made it
popular because it was an Indian school that more--more of our kids would want to
go there, because we're not--when you're out looking for a job, you know, society
shouldn't recall the fact that, you know, you graduated from Pembroke and, uh, the
person who-s competing against you graduated from Chapel Hill, but they are, even
if you are just as well qualified. They're going to take the person who went to
the better school.
B: Right. Now, let me ask you a very pointed question and see how you feel about
this. Have you ever been discriminated against because you are a Lumbee Indian of
S: Yes, I have.
B: Can you remember a particular instance?
S: Well, it's not just like one particular instance. It's, um, okay, Lumberton is a
LUM 130A 7
predominantly White city, and I feel a friction when I go there, because I--I
think they're looking down on me, or discriminating me because I'm an Indian.
B: We all have the same problem. (Laughs) How many Blacks are there at Pembroke
Senior High now? Do you have any idea at all?
S: About maybe eighty. Between eighty and a hundred. I'm not sure.
B: Do you know how many--what the total enrollment is at--in round figures?
S: Between seven hundred and 850.
B: So there's about eighty Black students there. About how many Whites would you say?
S: Maybe forty, if that many.
B: And the rest are Indian.
B: So, how do you feel about--I know one thing that disturbs me a lot, and maybe this
is prejudice in reverse, but I've always been alarmed because a lot--a lot of our
pretty Indian girls go off and marry, uh, right now mostly White. How do you feel
about intermarriage like, uh, Indian marrying White? Would you consider, uh,
marrying a White guy?
S: Well that's if I was really in love with him, but, you know, I don't think it's
that much in m age now that Indian girls want a White guy, I think it was more
like before--like maybe ten years ago when the White people were really, really
thought they were tops, you know, and so, I guess to feel tops, an Indian girl
wanted to marry a White guy, but I think our Indian girls now really feel proud
about their Indian heritage, and I guess they want to keep it within their race,
or at least I do.
B: Right. Let's see, you know the voting age has been lowered to eighteen, now, and
a lot of people feel like this is going to make a difference in Robeson County
among Indian voters--have a lot of young Indian people. Do you plan to register
to vote just as soon as you're eighteen, or have you given it any thought?
LUM 130A 8
S: Yeah, I want to be able to voice my opinion, or vote my opinion in, or whatever.
B: Uh, and you also know that, uh, Robeson County has been predominantly democratic
since time immemorial, and right now there's a movement on among a lot of young
Indians to change registration to Republican. Do you know anything about the
difference in the two parties?
S: I don't know as much as I'ld like to know. That's where I'ld like to be educated
B: Well, do they have any kind of course at, uh, Pembroke Senior High telling you
about the difference in the political parties, for instance?
S: Well, not like a after-school course, they don't. I think like in our history
courses it's about--there's a section, maybe nine weeks, it's on politics, or
something like that.
B: Right. Do they have, uh, a particular course that tells about the history of
the Lumbee Indians, per se?
S: Well again, in that same history course I'm not sure if they're going to do some-
thing on local history, and I--they, they might have a course on local history,
and I guess it would be--there would be something about Indians, and some about
Blacks and Whites too.
B: Okay, but do you--you do feel that there's a need for this.
S: For educational. p^Os ,, %
B: A course on the history of the Lumbee Indian of Robeson County, for instance.
S: Yes, I think our Indian people should be, uh, shown, taught, how--what--how we
were really discriminated against.
B: Do they have any kind of course, for instance, that tells about double voting, and
explains why there's six schools--separate school systems in Robeson County?
S: I don't think so.
B: They never mention why all the Indians go to Robeson County School System, for
LUM 130A 9
B: Hmm, I wonder about that. Okay Bonnie, now another interesting question I have for
you is what do you plan to do after you finish school?
S: College you mean?
B: Yeah, are you planning to go on to college?
S: Yes, and I want to go away.
B: You don't want to go to Pembroke State University?
S: No, because I feel that when I go to look for a job that it--who I'm competing
against, if they've gone to a better school, that, um, they'll look at, you know,
our two different schools and that will be the basic thing they use to decide
whose going to get the job even if I am as well qualified, or better than that
person. I want to go--I want to be an accountant, and I'ld like to major in--
have two majors; biological sciences, and business, and I'ld like to be able to
help my Indian people, like be an accountant for youth or people rt f( Y
Carolina Indian Voice.
B: Do you think the Indian people will let you help them?
S: Uh, well, at least I hope they will. I'm not sure whether they'll accept me or not,
but I'm willing Ito.
B: How do you think you could help your people, for instance, as an accountant? Can
you see any ways that you might help them? For instance, VA or FHA, helping them
process loans, and this kind of thing?
8: Yeah, those who are less fortunate to be able to Ld o* -C-IS f
B: Yeah, that's fine. Okay, now, if I understand you correctly, you would not want
to go to P.S.U. because it doesn't seem to be, uh, on equity with U.N.C. or Duke,
or some of these schools, is that right?
S: That's right, because Pembroke is just, um, too easy to get in. I--I mean not
really--not, you know, a breeze. You can't just walk through college, but
what I mean to say, you know, too easy to get into, people who, like, failed out
LUM 130A 10
at other schools, or are not, you know, well qualified to go to a bigger school.
Like out of state kids who just come here, like it could be a breeze for them.
B: What do you think P.S.U. could do to make it more, uh, of a challenge to Indian
kids, and something that they would be proud to say, I went to P.S.U. How--what
could they do?
S: Okay, for instance, most of the out of state kids are White kids. Make it harder
for them to come, and, and to let, like, you know, kids around the communittee
get in, and make it more like a--not a predominantly Indian school. You know,
not have just Indian kids, but have it an Indian, something about the Indian
heritage. Make it famous for that.
B: So you don't think P.S.U. has really gone out and looked hard for good Indian
S: No, 'cause other states--they let the White kids and Indian kids come to them.
B: Yeah, I think they've fallen down there, but that's just the interviewer's opinion.
I'm supposed to be interviewing. Okay, well, you've got it pretty well figured
out about what you want to do in the future, and if you can follow through, it
seems like it would be a pretty good thing. Let's talk a little bit about your
home life. Uh, what did you say your parents' names were?
S: My mother is Margaret Sampson, and my father is Edwin Sampson.
B: How do you spell that Edwin?
B: What does your mother do for a living, or does she work?
S: She's a school teacher at Union Elementary.
B: That's a school about, uh, five miles outside Indian--predominantly Indian school
about five mile outside Pembroke, is that right?
S: That's right, and I may add that they don't have any Black kids at their school
even now. I mean it's--was integrated when I was in seventh grade over there, and
that's the highest grade, and we only had one Black girl, and she only stayed for
LUM 130A 11
about a month, and they don't have any Black students now.
B: Wonder why?
S: Well, maybe--there's a Black school right near this school, but, like, I guess
that Black school has some Indian students enrolled in it.
B: How do you think most of the Indian people, talking about, and we'll get back to
your parents in just a minute, how do you think most Indian people feel about
Blacks? Do you think there are any Indians who are prejudiced against Blacks, for
S: Well, of course, you're going to find that, but, like I said, I think they feel that
the Blacks and themselves have been treated about the same by the White people, and
I guess they, sort of like, have sympathy for each other, you know, and, you know,
they were--both realize that they had to go through something tough, and I guess
this is why there's less friction between them.
B: Right. Okay, and let's get back to your back--family background. Now, what did
you say your father did for a living?
S: He's a farmer..
B: A farmer?
B: Okay, your mother's a school teacher, your father's a farmer, and, uh, you have any
sisters or brothers?
S: I have one older sister, and a neice and a nephew.
B: And that's a small family for a Indian.
S: Yeah, I guess so.
B: (Laughs) Now here's an interesting question I'ld like to put to each interviewee.
Are you proud to be a Lumbee Indian of Robeson County?
S: Of course, I am. Um, I think everybody's proud of their Indian heritage. Maybe,
like, some of them don't really let it be known because they're afraid. Like if,
um, you know, somebody they just met, or something, finds out that, you know, I'm
LUM 130A 12
a Lumbee Indian, well, they're going to treat them bad. I mean, because they're
going to be prejudiced to--to them, and I guess they've had enough of this, but
still, I think they're--there are those who, you know, let you know they're Lumbee
Indians no matter what it puts them through.
B: So, in this day and time people do take pride in being a Lumbee Indian.
B: Now, about--there's some of our brothers and sisters who want to be called Tuscarora
Indians. How do you feel about that? Do you feel that they have the right to
S: Okay, for our people, the Lumbee people--the Lumbee Indians we're not really all
Indian. I mean, and they knew that, and all of us are part Tuscarora, Cherokee,
White, unfortunately, but I think that we were given the name Lumbee Indians, which--
it's a name that really says we're part of--of all these different tribes, and
I don't really think that they have the right to say that, you know, I'm a--you know,
you're saying you're a Tuscarora, it's like saying I'm a full-blooded Tuscarora
Indian, and I think they ought to take in consideration how the other Tuscarora
tribes will feel about this, you know, without going--going ahead, you know, giving
themselves the authority to name themselves Tuscaroras, but. .
B: You'ld just as soon be a Lumbee?
B: Okay, Bonnie, do you know where the name Lumbee Indian came from?
S: Well, some of the Tuscaroras would say it was taken out of the river, but I guess--
no I'm not really--I really don't know, but I--if I was going to assume, I would
say that things and people are named from surroundings, or, and I guess since we
have lived on the Lumber River, it would be from the Lumber River.
B: Right. I think that's right because they used to call the Lumber River the Lumbee
River, so I think that's where the name came from. Do you think it's an appropriate
LUM 130A 13
S: Yes, I mean as appropriate as any other name that we've been given. I mean we--we
were once called Cherokees, but we're not really Cherokees, so we don't have the
authority to say I'm a Cherokee, just like the Tuscaroras don't have the authority
to say I'm a Tuscarora.
B: Right. We'll continue this on Side II.
B: This is Side II continuing the interview with Bonnie Gail Sampson. Interviewer:
Bruce Barton. Okay, Bonnie, we've covered most of the specifics, now. Let's talk
a little bit about generalities. What do you see is the future for the Lumbee
Indian of Robeson County? Do you think we'll eventually be--intermarry ourselves
out of existence, or do you think people will take a look at what we have, and try
to maintain our culture, and get to work, and try to get some things together so
that we won't be extinct in the future, like some of our brothers and sisters have--
has happened to them?
S: Well, yeah, I think that we'll--that our Indian people will try to keep our culture,
and our tribe together. I think that now that the people have taken a greater inter-
est in our inheritance and our background, and I think they want to, uh, make
better what we are.
B: What do you think's the difference, uh, with your generation say with your parents
generation. Do you think kids are more aware today, then, say your mother and
father's generation? I mean, are they more interested--the young today, are they
more interested in heritage and being an Indian, and taking part in politics, and
that kind of thing?
S: Yeah, and the reason, or at least the reason I feel, is because, okay, if you--you
want to be an individual, and being an Indian is being unique, and being an Indian
now is not so much--there's not so much prejudice, and there's not as much discri-
mination against us, as it was like in my mother and father's day, you know, Barry
Lowry's day, and I--I just think they want to find themselves, you know--impove
LUM 130A 14
B: Uh, you think--there's a story going around that most everyone you meet has, uh,
his grandmother, or grandfather, as this guy put it onetime, a Cherokee (pronounced
Sherokee). Is that the way you feel most people feel about being an Indian now?
It's something that they--they're proud of. That's a little pun. You never say
S: Uh, okay, I--yeah. Everybody wants to be recognized, you know. Especially like,
okay, I meet somebody, and you know, they find out I'm an Indian, and they go, now
you know, my grandmamma was part Cherokee, but they never feel like, I--they never
think about I can reply, well, my grandmamma was a White lady too, you know, but
I don't really find that many who want to say my father and my grandfather was an
B: That's interesting, 'cause I--not so much in Robeson County, but among the full-
bloods they run into that quite a bit. Well, how do you think things are going to
go politically in the future? Do you think, um, with a little background I might
say that, you know, that in Robeson County, it's a tri-racial county--three races.
We have the Black, we have the Indian, and we have the White; and that the--it's
almost equal in population--somewhere around thirty thousand for each. That's in
round figures with give or take a couple of thousand, but it's always been interesting
to me that Whites have always held all the offices, been superintendent of the
schools, and this kind of thing. Why do you think Indians and Blacks haven't been
able to take over Robeson County politically?
S: Okay, you got to go back real far and think about--they really never had that--an
opportunity to vote. They weren't allowed to vote, and I guess, some of them may
have the attitude that, uh, you know, the White people have already--always run
this county, they've always run over me, so, you know, why should I try to change
it now, when, um, I mean, it's always been done to me, but I feel, like now, our
Indian people and the Black people will try to have some togetherness, and bring
LUM 130A 15
about a change. I mean, even now I can see that they're trying awful hard, and I--
I feel that, ur, in years to come, with my generation, that they're really going to
try to have equalism in Robeson County, so that--so it'll be a fair opportunity to
all ot 4 -
B: Seems kind of easy to do, though, if you--if just the Blacks and Indians would get
together, but it seems to me there's something we haven't put our finger on as why
can't the Indian and Black get together politically. Are they jealous of each other
or, or is there prejudice on either side?
S: Well, okay, for instance, among the Indian people, at least this is the way I feel,
and, uh, I'm entitled to my opinion, but so is everybody else, I feel that among
our Indian race there is, uh, the prejudice, or jealousy towards your brother. I
think that, alright, our people--Indian people hate to see somebody really moving
up, you know, benefitting themselves, even if they really, really worked hard for
a long time. You got your different societies in our Indian race, too, and I feel,
okay, my mamma and father, they're not wealthy people, but they're not poverty
stricken, and I feel that I'm not in the big society, and I feel like I've been
rejected because I'm not, you know, I don't got a lot of money, and all that stuff,
but still, I mean that I feel that way, but still I can see a change where the
young people are starting to accept each other for being a person and not for having
a whole bunch of money, and stuff.
B: But now, have you ever heard a Indian call another Indian a--in a derogatory sense,
B: Do you think maybe this has something to do with the reason Indians and Blacks don't
control things politically, and socially, and economically in Robeson County? I
think we're on to something here, because when I was a boy, I don't know how it was
when you were growing up, but when we'ld be out playing, and one of us would be
angry with the other, we'ld say, you Black nigger, or something like that, you know,
LUM 130A 16
and use it in a very derogatory sort of way, and I--can you account for why, uh,
there might be prejudice, uh, on the Indians part toward a Black, or vice versa?
S: Okay, um, the--the Black person being in Robeson County being, or, as a matter of
fact, all over the United States, for a long time they were really, really looked
down on, and I guess we got a--as Indian people we--we are looked down on to, but
we got to find somebody to pick on so, you know, we all--we already know that the
White people control everything, so, I guess, the next thing we could go to is be
nigger--call somebody a nigger, but maybe now no--in this thing of trying to get
aqn L____ and I've heard people call other people honkies, you know, and
that's really putting them down, too.
B: That sounds a little bit better than nigger, doesn't it?
B: Well, this used to be prevalent, I think, among the older people, but you think
that the young are getting away from this?
B: Well, I certainly hope so. That ought to be our salvation. Do you have any Black
friends in school?
S: Yes, um, as a matter of fact, one of my better friends is a Black guy, and we both--
we've gotten some real pretty good conversations about our racism here in Robeson
County, and how we're both been looked down on, and how in elementary school there
was a lot of prejudice.
B: I think one thing, uh, a lot of our people like a lot of the Whites, are afraid
of Blacks sexually, but we won't get into that. They're always afraid they're
going to run off with their woman, or something, and I think probably the Indians
might feel the same way. We won't get into that. That's too volatile, but do you
plan to live in Robeson County, for instance, after you finish school? I know
we have a migration out of Robeson County. A lot of our talented Indian youth,
when they finish school, they all go somewhere else, you know, especially if they're
LUM 130A 17
a little above the norm, and, uh, do you think you'll come back here and live
when you finish college?
S: Well, looking at it from a--a standpoint of wanting a good job, no, I really don't
want to, but being here to help my people, I want to, but, you know, having a bit
of selfishness about me, I'ld want to better myself, and I'ld want to go away and--
for better opportunity.
B: Yeah, I think there aren't very many opportunities here, unless you teach school,
S: Right, and who wants to teach school. I mean teachers have to be very talented
people. I mean, patient people who give their time to--for your benefit, to help
you learn, but still that's their job.
B: Do you think an Indian teacher, from what you've been able to see from the students'
viewpoint, do you think they are--they have certain restrictions about what they
can teach and what they can't teach?
S: Uh, their ability to do things, do you mean?
B: No. Do you think the Robeson County Board of Education puts any restrictions on them
as far as teaching them about Indian history, and, uh, how the political system works
in Robeson County, and this kind of thing?
S: Well, this would most likely come under history courses, and, well, in the history
courses I've taken--one was world history, and one was U.S. history--American
history, and believe it or not, I had a White -tf teacher who wanted to get
on our local Indian history, and we--last year we learnt some things, or I didn't
learn anything because I had already read these books, but we went over some things
that were about our people, about my hero Henry Barry Lowry.
B: And then it was a White tiracu teacher who had to tell the kids about these
kind of things.
S: Yes, and, I mean, I feel that's pretty bad when, like when our own Indian people
won't offer us this information, but maybe this is something we got to go out and
get for ourself if we really want it, and we will, if we really want it.
LUM 130A 18
B- Right, now talking about--I--I'm kind of interested in this subject of double
voting. You know, there's a movement on to break double voting, and I'm all
for it, and try to helping it every way I can, but do you--do you think the majority
of Indian students on the--in the high schools know exactly what double voting is?
The fact that, uh, some people in the county can vote twice on school board
elections, and some can only vote once, and those that can only vote once, more
than likely, ninety-five percent of the time are Indian people? Do you think
they've been made aware of this?
S: I think they know from listening to radio, reading newspapers. They've got a
kind of an overall view of it, but they really don't know details about it.
B: That's kind of sad, and I guess I have to take some of the blame for that 'cause
I ought to be telling them more about it, and hope to. Well, I think there's
one thing that all of us can agree on, and that's Henry Barry Lowry. Do you know
very much about him?
S: Well, I--I've read some books about him, or, and I've done some other research,
but as knowing as much as I want to know, I just know he's my hero.
B: Could you tell us just a little bit about Henry Barry Lowry? What you know.
S: Okay, like, uh, in the Civil War the Indian people--during this time the Indian
people people of re- COlo I and the Black people and Indian people
had no right to vote, had no right to bear arms, and, but yet, they were--the
Indian young, able bodied Indian boys were taken down to this camp where--that was
embedded with a bad disease, and they were made to work there for no salary, or
very little, if any..... &eSh i A Af k C
B: Henry Barry Lowry's father's name? Allen.
S: Okay, and these Indian boys j people, came out into these, um, wooded
areas, and, um, they, like, bought food from them--brought food to them, and, um,
they were people--rumors were started that Henry Barry Lowry's people were the
ones who were--they were going around to White people's homes and stealing their
LUM 130A 19
foods and stealing their ammunition, and so, this--this group of White men went
out to Allen Lowry's house and found ammunition on his land, and he was punished,
and some people say that Henry Barry Lowry saw the--saw him being killed. He was
punished by being--they shot him, and they locked-- 1 s 2 a.,his momma up, and they
said that Henry Barry Lowry saw his father shot, saw him dig his own grave, and
he was shot like in--in his grave, and so they say that he went out to get revenge-
which I think was right.
B: You think it was justified.
S: Yes. Yeah, I do, because I don't think that you're, um, that these men who done
this would have been given any punishment, and I feel that the only way that they
would have--to get justice--justice was for Henry Barry Lowry to do it this way,
even if that means killing somebody, which is wrong, I know, but this was a start
for the--for the Indian people, and it's saying you can't run over me all my
life. I will take a chance and do something for myself.
B: You're saying this was during the Civil War, and these people that killed Henry
Barry Lowry's dad must be the militia that was the Home Guard they called.
B: You remember from reading and from legend how many people Henry Barry Lowry is
supposed to have killed?
S: No, I don't remember exactly the number, but I know he killed like--he was supposed
to be killed all the people in this Home Guard, and what was so rotten about it,
this guy, he was a Uarrf; guy, and his--we had some Indian people who their
last name was Harris. He was, um, having affairs, or whatever, with some Indian
women, which was--I think he should have been squashed to death, really killed,
'cause he could go out and have an Indian lady for a mistress, but he could treat
our other Indian people rotten, and I think he shouldn't have had any satisfaction
with our Indian women.
B: I think Henry Barry got him.
LUM 130A 20
B: (Laughs) Do you know anything, uh, have you heard anything from talking to old
people and from reading what little bit of historical record we have on anything
about his personality of Henry Barry Lowry?
S: I can't--I remember reading about him, but I don't remember reading that much
about his--his personality. I do know that he was a very handsome Indian, but, uh,
as--maybe I did read about his personality, but, you know, real--knowing what he
done, I realize that he was the one who wanted justice.
B: What are some of the things you heard about--like what did he--how he treated
other Indian people, and so forth? Have you heard any legends about him from the
S: Well, I hadn't really talked to that many old people about him, but, um, .
B: Where do you get your information about Henry Barry Lowry?
S: Um, from the books that I 45 V)A and then, um, ,i i_ what kind of books?
I know there's a Lowry History Book in Pembroke State University Library, and,
you know, just hearsay from other people.
B: Well you do feel very strongly about Henry Barry LowryV.
S: Yes, all, uh, he's just my hero, and when I think about what the people done to--what
the White people done to his people, and how we were treated, it makes me angered.
B: Did you ever hear about, uh, what happened to him?
S: They really don't know. They say he went away. Some say he may have committed
suicide, but I don't think he would have, 'cause I don't think, you know, like,
maybe he committed suicide because that was bothering his--on his conscience what
he done, but I don't--it wouldn't have been on my conscience .$ 4I4 rk l ,.**
I know they were out to get him.
B: Everybody needs a hero, don't they?
B: One theory is that he went away to Georgia and worked in a turpentine mine and
lived to be a hundred and five. Would you like to think that's what might have
LUM 130A 21
S: I just like to think that he was--spent the rest of his life being--you know,
financially okay, and being able to sit around and think about the revenge he
B: Alright, so if somebody, you know, in one history book I've read that there said
something about him shooting his brother and stuff. You don't want to talk about
that, do you? You'ld know he was a--he--you think he is a good man no matter
what you might hear.
S: A good man for his people. I mean, anyrWhite person who would feel Henry Barry
Lowry was their hero, I'ld think there was something wrong with him, 'cause I think
all people should feel--work, I mean, you know, want to work for their people.
B: Right, that's interesting, 'cause I kind of feel the same way about Henry Barry
Lowry. He's just a hero and, uh, historical facts aside, I'ld just as soon leave
it at that, wouldn't you?
B: Alright, Henry Barry Lowryja hero of the people. Now, would you like to see the
Indian communittee do something to memorialize Henry Barry Lowry, like maybe--what
would you think of them naming Pembroke State University after Henry Barry Lowry?
S: Yeah, that would be fine too, because, well what--I mean I really don't know what
the name Pembroke means or where it came from. I mean, if it has any Indian back-
ground that's fine, but everybody, or at least all Indian people, Lumbee Indian
people should know who Henry Barry Lowry is.
B: The only thing I ever heard about Pembroke is the legend that there was a breakman
on the--on the railroad that--that used to come through here. His name was Pembroke
S: Was he a Honkee? rnky
B: He was a Honkee (sp?) yeah. (Laughs)
S: Well, who wants to name an Ind--supposed to be Indian college after a Honkee?
B: Well, let's look into that. I--I really don't know why--where Pembroke came from,
LUM 130A 22
but, uh, Henry Barry Lowryville probably would sound a little bit better.
S: Yeah, a lot better.
B: Okay, what do you see ahead for us in the years to come as a people?. Will we get
stronger or weaker, or do you think we'll have some kind of working relationship
with the Blacks? Do you think we'll ever just intermarry until there's none of us
left? Overall view, what do you think?
S: Well, seeing what I see now, and seeing how the people are trying to face COWYIn
within theirself, I think it--it will just ip!TP4 Cf and make it better for all
B: Is Pembroke's Senior High School--what--what is the name of--I know Pembroke State
University, the name of their athletic team is--is the Braves. Do the senior high
school try to play up the fact that they're an Indian community?
S: We're the Warriors.
S: That's right.
B: Uh, I guess somehow, that that could be construed as having a Indian thought behind
it. During homecoming and celebrations and this kind of thing, do they play up the
fact of being a predominantly Indian school?
S: Right, we got our symbol is an Indian head, and during homecoming game our foot-
ball players, including the Blacks and Whites, all wore war paint.
B: Blacks and Whites too?
B: Well that's interesting. Uh, we certainly appreciate you taking the time to do--
sit still for a moment and give us this interview. Can you think of anything else
that you'd like to add to this interview, maybe that, uh, hasn't been said that
you'd like to say?
S: Uh, I was thinking about looking at how our Indian people are doing, and to stop
putting a name, like Indian people on them. Looking at them as their humans, and
LUM 130A 23
I was thinking about the teenage problem with the drugs and stuff like this. I
think it's our communittee should find some means of recreation and some enjoyment
for our young people. This bit about the drug thing would--would not--it probably
wouldn't be solved, but it would be decreased, and I--I want, like the older
people accepting their, you know, their being a generation gap, and they're not
accepting any young people because they got long hair, and all this stuff. Because
I got this one friend who has blond curly hair even though he's an Indian, and
he is really, really a smart guy, but well, he's not accepted as much as the other
students because he has this long hair, and he don't give a reck about a lot
of things that everybody else thinks are fantastic, and like his financial stand-
ings are not really super great, and I just think that he isn't given a fair
chance because of who he is. I think he could be valedictorian of our school--
all Robeson County as far as that goes, 'cause he is really smart, but I don't think
that he's given a fair opportunity 'cause of who he is. I just want to see people
accepted for what they are.
B: So you're proud to be an Indian, but you don't think it's enough to make you a
negative kind of person, and that, uh, humanity comes first.
B: Well I think you're pretty smart to be seventeen, and pretty, and we thank you
very much for allowing us to interview you, and, uh, what more can I say except
thank you very much.
S: And you're welcome.