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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Lew Barton Monologue (I)
January 25, 1974
Pembroke, North Carolina
Typed by: P. F. Williams
I: This is January 25, 1974. I'm Lew Barton burning
the midnight oil in my home in Pembroke, North
Carolina. There are two reasons for this. First
of all, I'm still a little-bit excited about an
air mail letter received by me today from Cambridge,
England, informing me that I have been selected for
biographical inclusion in the 1974 edition of the
Dictionary of International Biography. The other
reason is that I have long felt that this program,
the Lumbee Indian Oral History Project, needed a
point in time, say, some ten years ago, against
which we could check the progress and/or changes
in the lifestyle of the Lumbee Indians from that
point to this. After digging through scads and
scads of old newspapers with the help of an
assistant, I finally discovered just the thing
to refresh my memory. Just the thing being a
LUM 169,A 2
story published Sunday morning, May 1, 1966, in the
Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel which had been
written by Roy Thompson. I still remember Mr. Thompson's
visit with a great deal ot warmth. The situation at
that time was this: Robeson County had twice as many
races as most counties in the United States. Whites,
blacks, Indians, and a group ot obscure origin called
the Smiling Independents, spelled s-m-i-i-i-n-g, I-
n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t-s. I just adore that name, by
the way, which seems to say, "Well, by gosh, we
don't have to have any truck with either of you people."
Roy Thompson's article, headed, "Robesonians compromise,
get along," put the situation this way, "Robeson
County's four racial groups are in a leaky boat
together and wishing that outsiders like the Ku Klux
Klan would stop making waves. That's right, four.
Whites and Indians have made all the headlines recently,
but there are also Negroes and a difficult-to-classify
group known locally as the Smiling Independents.'" At
this particular time the Ku Klux Klan, which had been
defeated in the so-called Battle of Hayes' Field on
LUM 169A 3
the frigid night of January 18, 1958, were trying to
stage a comeback in Robeson County. But now their
methods had changed dramatically. Instead ot coming
now with threats and intimidation efforts, they were
actually attempting to recruit Lumbee Indians into
the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan. But nobody in Robeson
County trusted them and nobody wanted them. It was
said that there were less than half a dozen KKK's
in the whole county of Robeson. Back to Roy Thompson;
"White people are actually a racial minority, but
they run the county. The Indians, Negros, and
Smiling Independents outnumber the whites collectively
but they don't do anything else collectively. Robeson,
with twice as many races as most Southern counties,
has the makings of twice as many racial problems, but
things haven't worked out that way. The people of
Robeson have a system of getting along. It's an
intricate maze of ancient habits, gentlemen's agree-
ments, unwritten laws, and under-the-table political
alliances. It doesn't entirely satisfy anyone in the
county and would shock C ,0 R ar 1the Klan and the
people in Washington, but it has worked. Now, tor
LUM 169A 4
the second time in eight years, the Ku Klux Klan is
making waves in Robeson. In 1958, after burning a few
crosses in Lumbee yards and administering a few middle-
of-the-night threatening to Indians, the Klan tried
to have a rally here. The Lumbees, tiring rifles into
the air and making the night hideous with their war
cries, chased the Klan right out ot the county. This
year, the Klan announced a comeback and the Indians
began to stockpile semi-automatic weapons, dynamite
and hand grenades. The proposed rally was stopped
by a temporary injunction, but the Klan lawyer went
into court recently and had the injunction removed.
Now the state proposes to go into court asking for
a permanent injunction. The KLan says it will contest
the move. The Indians continue their stockpiling.
Most or the Klan action comes from outside the county.
Robeson has some whites who would fit in just tine
anywhere in Mississippi or Alabama. They are deter-
mined to keep the county's non-whites in line. That's
why they don't want the Ku Klux Klan rocking the boat.
They don't think the Klan can improve things, and just
talk ot a cross-burning in the county has made a great
LUM 169A 5
many things worse. The Negroes and Smiling Independents
haven't become involved in the Klan-Lumbee hassle but
they're hoping it will somehow blow over before Robeson
blows up. The Indians' position on the Klan is a
matter of record. The thing that rankles in Robeson
is this. There aren't more than a halt-dozen Klansmen
in the county. Some say there's only one, C. A. "Cateye"
Brown, Jr., of near Maxton. Most people here, whatever
their racial designation, don't see why outsiders
should be so determined to make a mess in their county.
Robeson's people ot color have made progress in recent
years. They've had a free ride on the coattails of the
civil rights movement. The county's whites have made
some compromises without any coercion from Negro action
groups. Robeson's Negroes haven't joined anything
and don't intend to in the foreseeable future. The
Indians, according to Lew Barton, Lumbee poet and
historian, have too much pride to crash down anybody's
doors. The Smiling Independents have taken things as
they came, having no other choice." Some of the racial
laws have come down without being broken down. Twelve
years earlier, the Supreme Court had handed down the
no school discrimination ruling. Mr. Thompson writes
LUM 169A 6
"Robeson County had its people pretty well pigeon-
holed." But although there were tour races in
Robeson County, each of which had la legal standing,
there were only rest rooms for three races in
Lumberton, the county's capital, and anyone who
didn't quality as a white, a black, or an Indian
might be just out of luck. Roy Thompson described
the situation this way. "The courthouse in Lumberton
had separate rest rooms tor whites, Indians, and
Negroes. Smiling Independents used the Indians'
rest rooms after waiting outside for a while to
be reasonably sure that the coast was clear. The
county had farm agents and home demonstration agents
for whites, Indians, and Negroes. The Smiling
Independents got advice wherever they could find it.
The schools were separate,even for the Smiling Indepen-
dents. They couldn't get into the white schools. A
few were allowed to attend Indian schools, but they
had to get the stamp of approval from the Lumbee's
blood committee' first. The ones who couldn't get
in the Indian schools wouldn't go to Negro schools,
so the .county had to have four school systems.
LUM 169A 7
There were cafes and restaurants for whites, Indians,
and Negroes. The Smiling-Independents mostly ate at
home. One theater in the county reportedly had four
entrances. Rather than argue about it in the streets
and in court, Robeson's whites have let some of the
old walls crumble. And the Indians, Negroes and
Smiling Independents have accepted these free-will
offerings, kept their seats in Robeson's boat, and
let the white folks steer. Sometimes they've gotten
something real in the way of progress. Sometimes
they've had to be content to have the right to do
something without exercising the right." Things
about Roy Thompson's article as viewed today is his
concluding paragraph which is almost prophetic. He
writes: "One of these days the white politicians of
Robeson who have had the Lumbees in their pocket for
years are going to find that the pocket has a hole in
it." As it turned out, the pocket did have a hole in
it. In the last gubernatorial election in North Carolina,
Governor Jim(Holshouzer kicked off his political cam-
paign right here in Pembroke, North Carolina. His
words to the Indians and to the blacks of this area
LUM 169A 8
were almost identical with those used by Mr. Thompson.
He told Robeson's non-whites that the Democrats had
had them in their hip-pocket for so long they were
taking them for granted. And he said this, "If you
people will switch political parties just one time,
you will have both the Democrats and the Republicans
coming to you instead of you going to them and asking
you what you would have them to do." This, too,
proved to be prophetic. When we started conducting
our campaign to save Old Main, oldest building on
the Pembroke State University campus and the only
remaining building that had any semblance of Indian-
ness, both Republicans and Democrats slowly came in
and lent their support. With Mrs. Janie Maynor
Locklear as executive secretary of the Save Old Main
movement, and with as little real organization as
possible for the movement, we solicited and received
support from the house next door all the way to the
White House. Almost the total American Indian press
supported us, and eventually the Democratic Party
wrote the salvation of Old Main into its very platform.
Today Pembroke State University, or at least Dr.(Rondus)
LUM 169A 9
and others on the University staff are making efforts
to bring about better relations between Pembroke State
University and the Indian community. The situation
at Pembroke State University has become this. Pembroke
State College for Indians, which became Pembrole State
University)eventually became a white institution in
a sea of Indians. This brought about some complications
especially when Old Main was condemned and an effort
was being made, it seemed, to destroy the last semblance
of Indianness on the Pembroke State University campus.
Other dramatic changes have taken place in Robeson
County since Roy Thompson wrote his article in 1966.
A local newspaper known simply as the Lumbee has
folded, but some of the things we attempted to do
through that newspaper have been done. That newspaper
has been replaced today by the Carolina Indian Voice
edited by my son, Bruce Barton. My daughter, Connie
Brayboy, is associate editor. During the last national
political campaign, we had a delegate to go to Washington
from among the Lumbee Indians for the first time in the
history of our people. John Robert Jones was the delegate
for the Republicans. Professor Adolph Dial of Pembroke
LUM 169A 10
State University was the delegate for the Democrats.
Brantley Blue, a Lumbee Indian lawyer who was refused
permission to practice law in the state of North
Carolina, nevertheless went to the state of Tennessee
and set up a successful law practice quite some years
ago. He was the first Lumbee Indian to become a
lawyer. In the state of Tennessee, He also became
a judge. When President Nixon was elected to office,
he appointed Brantley Blue as one of the five United
States Indian Claims Commissioners. He is the first
and only American Indian ever to serve on the Indian
Claims Commission. Brantley Blue has kept in close
contact with his people in Robeson County during his
service on the Indian Claims Commission and took part
in the Save Old Main movement. We also have another
Lumbee Indian in a pretty high office, in the Bureau
of Indian Affairs itself. This is Thomas Oxendine,
Jr., a flying ace and a test pilot during and after
World War Two. Oxendine is head of the Office of
Communications for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
LUM 169A 11
Through some shrewd political manuevering and sheer
luck, John Robert Jones was elected as chairman of
the Robeson County Board of Elections. Just a few
minutes after he was elected, news leaked out that
he was not a Democrat but a Republican. The democrats
went immediately into action and within the hour
they had diselected Mr. Jones. -For a while a squabble
followed, but finally the state head of elections
ruled that the first election was really the legitimate
one, and so Mr. Jones was returned to his seat. It was
a very dramatic fight and caused quite a bit of excite-
ment here in the county. About two years ago the Civil
Rights Commission itself came to Robeson County for
the first time in its history, andiit turned up some
things. Some of the people who were invited to come
were conveniently not present, but the commission
turned up many facts anyway. I told that body of
citizens at the time, "I charge that the reason that
these people are not here today to answer to the
United States Civil Rights Commission is that they
have no defense for their actions, and their absence
LUM 169A 12
speaks for itself." I'm glad I said that. After
my book The Most Ironic Story in American History
was published in 1967, I was called into the office
of Senator Hector MacLaine who is also the president
of the Southern National Bank and the son of the
only governor produced by this county, the late
Governor Angus Wilton MacLaine. Senator MacLaine
and I talked over plans for a pageant, an outdoor
Indian pageant to be staged in Robeson County.
With other interested citizens, we formed the
Robeson County Historical Association. We made
several trips to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to
talk with one of America's foremost playwrights,
Paul Green. We discussed the possibilities of a
drama in detail. It was decided that Randy Umberger,
an associate of Paul Green, should write the script.
He did so, a script called, "Strike at the Wind."
The script has undergone many revisions, but centers
around the person of Henry Barry Lowry, a Lumbee
Indian guerilla warrior of Reconstruction days and
of Civil War days. Plans to present that pageant,
LUM 169A 13
it seems, have fizzled out. With the stir-up of
so many other things, naturally some jealousy arose
among our people and we developed some domestic
problems of our own. People began to say that we
ought to produce our own pageant without the help
of anybody else, but of curse, this is financially
impossible according to our studies. To produce
such a pageant would require the cooperation of
all races in Robeson County, and perhaps this is
a blessing in disguise. As one of the historical
consultants for the Lumbee Indian Oral History
Program, sponsored by the University of Florida's
History Department, Dr. Samuel L. Proctor, director,
I have tried to summarize some of the important
events which have taken place since 1966, when
things looked very bleak and dark for the Lumbee
Indians, indeed. One of the results of the changes
that have come among our people is the agitation
to change our name from the Lumbee Indians of North
Carolina, which is the official legal designation
at present, based on state and federal law, to the
LUM 169A 14
Tuscarora Indians. This is largely a fight between
middle-class Indians and those who are largely
unlettered. This movement was really begun in 1970,
when the so-called Robeson County Integration Plan
was accepted by the United States Office of Education,
Welfare and Health. I, along with a group known as
the Concerned Indian Parents Organization of which
Mr. Luther C. Oxendine was president, objected to
that plan on the grounds that it was not really an
integration plan. What it really did was close the
lines, the old segregated lines for the school districts,
after some of the white rural communities had been
annexed to the so-called city units. In Robeson
County we have six school districts. The Robeson
County Unit is the unit, of course, which is predominantly
Indian even today, and there is currently a movement
to get abolished the practice of double-voting in
Robeson County. The Indians see this as a device
used by politicians to keep them in line..........
....Side Two of the summary on Lumbee Indian progress
since 1966. It seems obvious from the statistics
LUM 169A 15
on the county's population among the four races
that a coalition between whites and Indians would
absolutely rule Robeson. Similarly, a coalition
between Indians and blacks could rule Robeson,
or a coalition between whites and blacks could
rule Robeson. Naturally, this situation is cause
for fear among all its races, and so a lot of
jealousy exists. Sometimes people go to great
extremes to try to head off any such coalition,
but within recent years, black people and Indians
have been largely successful because they have
placed in Raleigh a black man. Dr. Joey Johnson
has been elected twice to the General Assembly of
North Carolina through such a coalition. Politicians
are keenly aware of this danger. Their only hope
of success, it seems, is to go from one group to
the other whispering mean and ugly things that
the other group supposedly has said and try to
destroy any harmony existing between the races.
I once wrote a poem picturing this type of individual,
who goes from one group to the other and tries to
LUM 169A 16
destroy any semblance of harmony between the two racial
groups. I call it lago. As you will recall, lago
was Shakespeare's master villain and he appears, of
course, in Othello. But I call this type of individual
or this type of politician who goes from one group to
the other whispering mean and ugly things the lago
type. Here is the poem which appeared Way Out in
Carolina, a collection of original poetry by yours
truly in 1961.
Man's supreme foe,
Form without a soul.
How can I know, like Othello's
Thou canst not steal my control?
Where the wind blows
Where exists bare souls of men
There do they go seeding Hell's woe.
They compel sheer saints to sin.
On our culture like a vulture
Thou hast easy prey.
Who can spot thee?
Who can blot thee from the world of men today?
Penicillin stamps out germs of death
But no antitoxin drives out thy diseased and
Innuendoes, hints and lies may choose.
So to shame me and inflame me
My own soul in Hell I lose.
Lew Barton, 1961. What do our people want? What is
their hope? What is their dream? I think their dream
LUM 169A 17
is pretty much like that of any other community. They
want participatory citizenship, and they're doing quite
well at it. Because after all, we the people" includes
all the races. And this country can be no better than
its collective people. I tried to say this in a poem
called, "How big is America?"
How big is America?
Not in square miles, but I'm asking
How tall does she stand?
How broad is America?
She reconciles the most varied groups ever spanned.
How deep is America?
Where beats her heart, her pulses, her passion for
Friend, you are America.
Let her there start her conscience, her weakness,
The heart of America beats in your breast.
She can feel only what you can feel.
She's yours to be plundered, exalted, or blessed.
Her future is yours to reveal.
At once you're her savior, her best friend and
And her destiny shaped by your hand
Can plummet to Rades, frustrated and cursed O
:c9G'0-\A as the fair promised land.
How small is America?
Small as you are.
Or as good.
Or as bad.
Or as great.
Yes, you are America.
You are her star,
Where you will her:and manage her fate.
Lew Barton, 1961. It seems obvious from much of the
LUM 169A 18
foregoing that the Lumbee Indians of North Carolina
are an oppressed people, but that they are slowly
coming out from under such oppression. But just how
do people react under conditions like this? The
reaction of some oppressed people is the bottle.
Some become so frustrated that they resort to some
form of violence. Others simply bury themselves in
music or some other constructive activity, like Larry
Warriax who is playing right here and singing, "Hey
[SONG: "Hey Joe"]
The music on this interview was pre-recorded. Yours
truly Lew Barton on the rhythm. Buddy's doing the
lead. Listen to that boy go!
This composition by Buddy Warriax is called simply
That was Buddy Warriax and yours truly Lew Barton
LUM 169A 19
doing an old Jimmie Rogers number called "The Matchbox
Blues"--"Sitting here wondering if a matchbox will hold
my clothes; Don't have so many clothes butI have so
far to go." Larry Warriax is the nineteen-year-old
son of Mr. and Mrs. Tracy Warriax. Buddy Warriax is
the seventeen-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Tracy
Warriax of Pembroke. Mrs. Warriax comes from Washington,
D.C. This is the end.
---END OF TAPE---