Title: Interview with Luther Oxendine
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007000/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Luther Oxendine
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
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: UF00007000
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 6A

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Full Text


This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.

This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
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the University of Florida

Interviewer: Lew Barton

Subject: Luther C. Oxendine


: Mr. Oxendine, as I've explained to you, these recordings will be

placed in the University of Florida library to be used by students

and scholars and writers and what have youand many people are

interested in the Lumbee indians of North Carolina. What is your

full name?

S: Luther (A ci // Oxendine.

I: What is your occupation?

S: I'm a retired school teacher.

I: How long have you been...how long did you teach before you retired?

S: Twenty-five years.

I: How old are you now, Mr. Oxendine?

S: Fifty-nine

I: Fifty-nine..and a..you taught in the Hba n County School system?...

S: I did.

I: ...most of those years.

S: Yes, sir

I: Did you serve as a teacher and as a principal or just as a teacher or

just as a principal?

S: Teacher and principal..both capacities.

I: Yes, sir, and you retired. Why did you retire?

S: Disability, 01 i disabled.

I: I understand that you have a heart condition and is that correct?

S: That's correct.

I: But you have been very active. Is this because some problems are so

pressing or...

LUM 6A Page 2

'F, Ddo"5
S: Well, I was-about to say that I'm not physically fit nor able to

carry out the full duties of a teacher any more.

I: I see. Now, Mr. Oxendine, there is an organization among the indians.

You are a Lumbee indian, aren't you?

S: That's right.

I: And there is an organization among our people called the Concerned

Indian Parents Organization. What is your position with that?

S: I am president.

I: Could you tell us a little something about the purpose of it?

S: The purpose of the Concerned Indian Parents is to end this school

integration process where we're being discriminated against and

the closing of our all indian schools, Zosing them down completely

and leaving us without any indian schools,and we foresaw that in

'69 when the county boards of education had their proposal for the

integration plan ok'd by HEW. We lost 59 teachers as a result of

that)and we saw wherein that all of our schools were going to be

closed down and we would have no more indian schools.

I: I see. Well, I would like to get back to that in a minute. That's

very interesting. I would like to hear a little more about you. I

didn't ask you about your relatives or a....what was your mother's


S: First name and last or just a....

I: Last would like to know her name and her maiden name.

S: Lowry Oxendine.

I: I see and how about your father?

S: Luther Oxendine.

LUM 6A Page 3

I: Is this the same Luther Oxendine who has been active in school

matters and who contributed land or something toward the building

of Oxendine School?

S: He's the founder of that school.

I: That's very interesting. Could you tell us a little something about

the problems when that was done and when he made this contribution

and so forth. Did he talk to you much about it?

S: Well, he talked to me right much about it. He wasn't the type

to and boast on what he had done,but they were trying to get a

school in this particular location so the children would have

opportunity to get some educationand the only way that they could

get it was for tm to donate the land, all the timber and' the

lumber that went in the first building. You might say he built the

first one room school building.

I:. I see. Well, now I'm jumping about quite a bit but it seems that

something is relevant here. We mentioned the school problems and

the so called desegregation plan of 1970. What happened to

Oxendine School when that so called integration plan was adopted.?

S: Well, the plan they drew up in the pupil assignments, that school

lost three teachers as a result of the reassignment of pupils. They

moved 103 indian pupils to the Red Springs city district and brought

twelve, assigned twelve blacks and two white to that school for

integration, and as a result we lost three teachers.

I: I see. How about the plan...what kind of plan did the 1970

so called desegregation plan follow? Did they draw up a new plan

in new districts or..

LUM 6A Page 4

S: They drew up new district lines. They moved the lines to take

away this amount of indians.and as you might think, the one line

they had to draw was just around the school campus and take it and

move it opposite, swap and put it in a different school district

and that did the trick.

I: And do you think they deliberately manipulated or a..you know..the

lines to favor the majority booth or a...

S: They did that deliberately and they had in mind of closing the

school completely down within three years.

I: Was there gerrymandering in connection with Oxendine?

S: Clear case.

I: A clear case. I see. It shows on the map.

S: That's right.

I: A clear case of gerrymandering. It seems to me that this...we're

going along and I've forgotten to ask you and I would like to ask

you particularly to clarify the school situation as to structure in

W.ibe-'en County. How does it...how many districts we have and

where the indian students are located and where the blacks are located

if you could enlighten us some on that because somebody might not know

about this that listens from the outside and maybe they could understand

our problem better if you could show us, you know, tell us about the

S: Well, in the beginning after about 50 years of struggling without

any schools whatsoever, the race prejudice in this county against

the indians was strong enough that when they started building schools

we were out in the countries...out in the country... and not in

LUM 6A Page (

the towns and they had, of course, white and black schools in

the country..out in the country as well. And as time went on

in the twentieth century they ee-ried what we call these special

chartered districts and the white schools..moved all them out

of the country into the cities and they moved the black schools

as well.

I: Where did they move them into the ...

S: Into the cities. Moved them into the cities and towns and left

the indians out in the country.and we were not allowed to even run

a business own any land or move within the cities,and that left

our schools rather scattered around out in the country alone,

practically no white and no black.

I: I see. I've forgotten something else I wanted to ask you too and

that was about your immediate family. Who was it you married?

S: Mabel Woods Oxendine.

I: Was this name Woods...is this not a Lost Colony name?

S: It is.

I: How many children do you have Mr. Oxendine?

S: Seven

I: Would you mind giving us their names?

S: Emily Oxendine.

I: Her age too if you remember right off hand.

S: Thirty-two.Luther C. Oxendine Jr. is 28. Truman Oxendine is 25.

Widey Oxendine, 23. Phyllis Oxendine, 19. S Oxendine, 17

and Avis Oxendine, 10.

LUM 6A Page 6

I: Um hum. Well, that's a nice family. Nice sized family. I wonder

if you would ah....could you name the six school districts that we

have in this county?
S: That's right. Six school districts. Wilbersen County School

system, Red Springs City School, St. Pauls, Lumberton, Maxt&'

and ft.

I: Now, where were most of the a...where were most of the indian

students originally?

S: In the county system. In the Wi'en County System.

I: About what percentage was...would you say...was in the Wlbereae

County System before the so called desegregation plan went into

effect in 1970.

S: What percent of....

I: In numbers or could you give us any indication.

S: indians?
I; Yes, sir. Was the Wilb4eeen County School District predominantly


S: Predominantly indian.

I: Would you say more than half the students in that system were indian?

S: I would say 99'and a half percent.

I: Uh huh. How about today? Has anything much changed since the so

called desegregation plan went into effect two years ago? To change

#a& I mean.

S: Well, to give a figure, I don't know the exact figure, but as the result

of this plan, we lost 78 teachers the past two years out of our indian

schools which meant, if you figure that on a basis of 30 pupils per

LUM 6A Page 7

teacher that would be how many indians had gone to these other

five school districts.

I: I see. Do you think a...do you think the beso County School

System, which was predominantly indian before the desegregation

plan went into effect, is still predominantly indian?

S: It still is.

I: Uh huh, and could you tell us something about the protest, you

know, how the people..how the indian people felt about this

desegregation plan and whatever protest they made or anything along

those lines. What happened when that so called desegregation plan

went into effect in 1970? Did the people set it or were they

discontented about it or just what did happen?

S: Well, I'd have to say a...the indian race...I'd have to say there

was a few that seemed to agree with it and be satisfied with it but

the mess majority was dissatisfied with the way it was being done.

I: It has been said that we had in this county among those schools, the

longest sit-in in the history of this country. Now, were these..these

indians students...was this long sit-in a fact?

S: It was. Whole school taned. .180 days.

I: And they sat-in for the full 180 days. Was this in their own

schools or was it in white schools or black schools or what?

S: In their own schools.

I: This is probably then the first time in history that a minority group

has sat-in in its own school, then, would you say?
has sat-in in its own school, then, would you say?

LUM 6A Page 8

S: The first I've heard of or know about.

I: I wonder what kind of result this got, if any?

S: A...well..it got mighty little results, but it did attract

vast attention.

I: Was there a lot of publicity about this?

S: A lot of publicity.

I: Now, were people, were many people from the outside honestly

interested,in your opinion,of helping or did they make gestures

to help straighten the situation out or were there efforts directed

toward getting the people to accept the thing that already was?

S: They helped.. they helped us in trying to correct it and get it

back since we were unfairly treated they sympathized with usi

and they were helpful in that trying to help us get it straightened


I: And how about legal action. Was any legal action taken in the


S: There was.

I: How about the blacks were they satisfied or dissatisfied with the

integration plan?

S: They were dissatisfied.

I: Was there any legal action on their part?

S: There was.

I: What legal action was taken, Mr Oxendine, on your part and on the

part of the blacks.

S: We filed suit against the six Boards of Education a...and the three

complaints that we filed was the gerrymandering of the district line,

LUM 6A Page 9

which was to favor some and disfavor others, and the seating

of the WT0h-een County Board of Education, the constitutionality

of that, and then it was discriminatory against us in that it was

closing down our schools that we had fought long and hard with

out monies and efforts and every way we could to build and establish.

I: Do you think the indians were called upon to make more contributions

to these schools which we think of in the county as indian schools

even now. Do you think the indians were called upon to make greater

contributions toward the maintenance of those schools than other


S: Why, sure they were, without a doubt.

I: Well, how did you meet these expenses, I mean, these added expenses?

S: Well, we had what we called a box supper, which dates back further

than I can remember. Public auction box suppers, cakes and plays,

operettas just mostly anyway we could think of to have a small gate

fee to raise the funds necessary.
I: How would you get fhE boxes? As I understand it those were boxes

which were auctioned off?

S: That's right.

I: by the school.

S: That's right.

I: And where did you get the food? I mean, did you buy the food or was

it...or did the ladies ....
"-7 /QSt5s
S: Afom the individual homes.

I: Indian homes?

LUM 6A Page 10

S: Indian homes ...bought their own food and prepared and cooked it and

fixed their box, decorated it, bought the decorations to make it look

attractive, as well as attractive on the inside.

I: And so the ladies made the food?

S: That's right.

I: And it was auctioned off and a...do you remember the names of any

of the people who were good at auctioning off those boxes and making


S: I remember the names of three T in / my life time.

I: Would you tell us about them? That's interesting.

S: One was Reverend Lonnie Jacobs, Penrook and the other one Lonnie
PI. o4rn PerA 6
H.Oxendine of PRnbrcok and Judge Lacy Manard of P2neek.

I: Do you think...have you any idea how much money those three men

that you've mentioned raised for schools..for indian schools?

S: Well, I was teaching three years at Oxendine School where we had

five teachers and we had two box suppers that we raised between

$1000 and $1500 at each one of them and then one we raised between

$2000 and 2500,and that w= one of the smaller schools. Our

higschool would surpass hat by a large amount and over the years

I don't feel like that a figure close to a million, between one

and two million dollars would be exaggerating it.

I: Oh, that is something. Do you think the people resented doing this

or did they do it freely or did they accept this burden without

complaint, Mr. Oxendine?

S: Well, as -a teacher and serving in the capacity as a principal and

having the responsibility of getting the supplies that were supposed

LUM 6A Page 11

to be furnished by the state,and we couldn't get them.and as a

teacher we did resent it but to resent it in full would have

meant inferior education much more than what we were getting,and

rather than to be faced with that problem everybody freely just

rallied to it and tried to make our schools a success and a...

as good as we could.

I: Well, now I've heard that you did make quite a success. Obvious

despite all the limitations and whatever other problems you had*

and I understand that a study was conducted in 1968 by the United

States Office of Education. Do you remember anything that this

report said and what it stated or did it compare our schools to

other schools and did it tell how we compared with other indian


S: Well, we were way out front of any other tribal group in the


I: Was this stated in the report?

S: Stated in the report.

I: Official report of the U.S. government.

S: Yes, I have a copy of that bulletin. After this study commission

completed it I got ahold of one of the bulletinsand at one time

the other tribal indians, some of them had control of their schools

and they were making progress then the government took them over and

then they went on the downward trend, and in that report, the study

of it, they found that to let them control their own schools they were

making progress but when the government took over it went the opposite

LUM 6A Page 12

direction, so they recommended that they take full control of the


I: I wonder what accounted for that. Do you think it was just the pride

they took in that or a...they felt they were helping to shape their

own destiny or why do you think they a...these changes took place?

Why there was such a difference, in other words, when they had some

control and when the federal government took over completely?

S: Well, the average person, I feel, that has that desire within him

to do something on his own. Get out and work and help improve

himself and not be dependent on someone else all the time,and when

they had control they went ahead improving as we have here in
Wi+setin County. No matter what the obstacle was we felt that we

could crawl over it. Move it out of the way and go on. Now with

the situation as it is here our morale has somewhat knocked.... should

I say in the head. We're not so much..as interested now in the school

system as its now functioning as we were before.

I: Well, do you think now that some, there has been some integration,

do you think this is just token integration that we have today here

in Wilberson County?

S: Well, I think it would amount to that. I don't....its not solving the


I: Well, I have heard this complaint and I would like to ask for your

opinion about it or if you know anything about this particular thing..

problem. Some people complain that we've just traded building...

segregation in buildings to segregation in the classrooms. Could you

explain..do you know ...have you heard any complaints like this?

LUM 6A Page 13

S: Yes, I have. We have in one system ....I know of one who has

several classrooms where nothing in but white, and I know of

a number of classrooms who have black and one indian maybe another

one with two indians and the rest black, no white at all, and that

do exist.

I: And how about when you do have these students and in some cases

I imagine there is more integration than others, in those cases
is there anything like in class segregation still?

S: That's right. They are r I

I: Do you think the students are being, the white students are

still being separated in the classroom or in the school itself

from the white students....the whites are separated from the

black and indian students on some pfi T '-- ?

S: That's right. The classrooms I know the white seats themselves

on one side of the classroom and black on the other side. They

don't mingle together in the classroom.

I: I wonder if there has been any incidents since the 1970 so called

desegregation plan went into effect...any racial incidents?

S: Only at a...... they had been in the Red Springs city schools and
Ro 6EifS
they had been in the Wilbaeron County system. Nothing...no big

degree but I think one of the reasons why i didn't because the

indians have filed suit and also the black and that may have held

it down somewhat.

I: How about this attitude of these schools, the Wilb3eren County system

and the other school districts, the city districts, are they pretty

LUM 6A Page 14

open toward the press? Do they let the press come in and see

what is going on inside?

S: I had the pleasure of attending one unit with a ABC news reporter

from New York and had the cameras and we asked to go in and have

a look and the superintendent of that particular unit denied us

the right.

I: Would you mind telling us which unit that was?...or which super-


S: That was I.J. Wicker, the superintendent of the Red Springs

City Unit.

I: I see. What excuse if any did he give for this?

S: He said he didn't allow any cameras in the classroom or any visiting

in there only on the own cameras and at a set time.

I: In other words, the press was barred and in this incident the

press was not even allowed to go inside. Do you think his

attitude has changed any in that respect?

S: None whatsoever.

I: Do these incidents that do crop occasionally, do you think they are

fully reported or do you think they're kept down and not reported

to the press or is there anything like that going on?

S: It's kept down, yes, that's kept down and its not reported to the press.

I: Well, suppose I would go into this Red Springs school as a reporter

now ,do you think they would admit me inside that building?

S: I'm pretty sure they would not.

I: Suppose I were not an indian reporter, supposed I were a white

reporter, do you think they would still keep me out?

LUM 6A Page 15

S: Well, they would question you extensively to find out the

purpose and if it is to portray what you found, portray them

of what you found you would be barred. I have all reason to

believe that.

I: Well, that's a great pity and you can't see any improvement then

in the schools since the so called desegregation plan of 1970

went into effect?

S: No, I can see where the school system is losing ground as a result

of this integration.

I: Uh huh, well, what we'd like to get back to these two suits. Could

you tell us specifically what charges were made in the indian suit

first, just take the indian suit first of all and see what the

complaints are..the allegations and that, could you tell us in your

own words about that?

S: Well, the allegations, we had three main allegations' one was the

gerrymandering of the district line and the second one was the

illegal seating of the board members of the Wilbesen County Board

of Education.

I: Could you tell us something about that? Now that is an interesting

problem. You say its illegal. Could you tell us why you consider

it to be illegal?

S: Well, the people in the city districts, when their board members come

up for election, only the people in that district is allowed to vote

on their board of education and in the county system everybody in

the county is allowed to vote on them, the city units and also the

LUM 6A Page 16

people living in the county system.

I: Well, that just about gives them two votes to our one then doesn't


S: Exactly, two votes to our oneand the reason for that is so that

they can keep full control of the Wilberson County Board of Education

even though eighty percent of the students enrolled in the county

system is indian.

I: Uh huh. Hasn't there been anything we could do so far toward getting

that problem eliminated?

S: Not as yet.

I: Do you think that before this plan went into effect, I believe you

said yes to that question just a little while ago, that they made

certain plans so that the plan would come out to their benefit. Was

there anything like the annexation of white communities to the cities.

S: A definite 7fj One of the worst is called the 4/,iro fWS

annexation in Lumberton in the Lumberton city school district. They

draw the line out to pull the white section in and lines out to rule

the indian out.

I: But couldn't the indians have annexed the indian community to the


S: They could have.

I: Was that ever actually tried to your knowledge?

S: It was at one time and they were denied.

I: They wouldn't allow the indian community to be annexed.

S: That's right, wouldn't allow them to be annexed.

LUM 6A Page 17

I: Well, this seems like one form of taxation without representation

from your description. Would you agree with that description?

S: That's right, I would.

I: What happened to the school cases. How long have those two cases

been pending?

S: This September the first will be two years.

I: I heard about an incident in connection with one of the United States

Department of Justice lawyers who came down here to look into the

matter and could you tell us anything about that? What was his name?

It seems that I remember something like Smith.

S: That's right, Smith. He was a black lawyer. He came to my home

here and interviewed me for two hours and a half from the Justice

Department and after he finished his work here and returned back

to Washington with these reports after about a month's work here then

this tragedy happened to him after he went back to Washington.

I: Could you tell us what that tragedy was?

S: Well, the report that we got from Washington was he left his office

in the afternoon, went to his apartment,and he had forgot some papers

to...he intended to bring to his apartment and he went back to get

them and the next.... there's a missing link there from the next we

heard then was around two in the morning one of his friends came by

to visit with him and found him dead in his apartment, stabbed to


I: Stabbed to death with a knife?

S: A knife.

I: To your knowledge have they ever solved this murder? If it was in the

LUM 6A Page 18

back we know that he didn't put a knife in his own back so I'll

call it murder.

S: Well, I understand from the information we got his hands were tied

behind him and he was laying face down stabbed in the backhand I've

checked all the papers and made special efforts from that time on

to see if they ever solved it and what did really happen,but seem

like its been a dead loop. There's nothing more than that I've been

able to hear about or learn about.

I: And of course this would be opinion and a...but is it possible, do

you think, that somebody might have murdered him because he had

discovered evidence thatbhhey didn't want made known? I don't

know whether you want to answer a question like that or not, if not

it would be alright.

S: I would rather not speak my thoughts about that.

I: Well, there is a possibility there and I, of course, I am the

interviewer and I'm not supposed to know anything but just from

listening to you talk, I have my doubts and so on but that's neither

here nor there. Mr. Oxendine, what do you think about our past? Do

you think we are actually descendants of the Hatteras indians and the
English Colony of 1587? .....and other indian groups.

S: One question that I've been seeking that I haven't been able to find

the answer that I would like to find the answer for before I could

spend an opinion about that. On the discovery of America there were

indians who are now called indians all over the country,and they

wasn't called by tribal names. There was one group of indians all over

the place and there is one thing that I would like to know and that's

LUM 6A Page 19

when each tribe received its tribal name and by whom? Then I

believe we could truthfully say what group, to me its all the

same group.

I: Its all the same race, certainly, isn't it?

S: Its all the same race. Now the Tuscaror, there's some question

about that, the Hatteras, the Suonuup and down the eastern coast,

wet thr th we called that at the time they were here?

I: Uh huh

S: That's the big question unanswered as far as I've been able to find.

I: Yes sir. Those are questions which a...some of them are questions

which will never be answered I suppose because actually all the

groups were never identified I don't suppose, but there's something

else titS- interesting, that's always been interesting to me in

this area, and this is the habit, I call it a habit or maybe its

an avocation or a hobby that some people have of searching for

buried treasure. Is there a possibility that some of the Spanish

pirates on the high seas may have found refuge in this valley here

that we think of as the Lumbee River Valley. Do you think they

might have hid some buried treasure here or something like that?

S: I would think from a....it might be a possibility.

I: How about the farming land, of course you being a professional man,

what do you think about the indian's chance of earning a living

today on the farm and earning a living on the farm say twenty years


S: Well, the chances are...to today and twenty years ago..its a vast

difference its harder for him to earn a living like they earned

LUM 6A Page 20

it..many families farming a small farm and made a living on it...they

couldn't do that today. It would be impossible.

I: What's changed the situation do you think?

S: Well, the cost of living has gone up and the price of labor's gone

up so high yet the commodities that's produced on the farm,..... -

abeiot as you might think twenty five years ago the top price for

tobacco was 59 )and today its 80. That's how much the price of

tobacco has gone up in the past twenty five years. Now compare that

with the cost of living twenty five years ago a.....how much its gone

up and that will show you where the, what kind of a situation the

farmer would be in with the same amount of land he tend twenty five

years ago compared to what he would have to tend now to make the same

living he did twenty five years ago.

I: I see. Do you think the so called Industrial Revolution using better

farm equipment like cotton pickers and that sort of thing have any

effect on farming in this county and so forth and did our people suffer

because of this as they did in other'..as other people did in other

fE 6(r sections of the country?

"Tflp p S: Well, they did. The industry took away a lot of farm labor.
i' r I: And I believe I understand from what you said a while ago that the

farm hand, the prices for farm labor had gone up, do you mean that

they've gone up so high that its almost impossible to hire farm

"~h .help and still make any money?

-Sdr t Mr. Oxendine, we were interrupted there at the end of the tape because
f fE o^ we ran out of tape and had to turn this over and I think I was asking

Mfr /,* you something about why it was not possible to live on the same amount

LUM 6A Page 21

of land now as it was sometime in the past. Do you remember the


S: Yes, why it would be so more difficulty, more difficult to live on

the farm now that it was twenty years ago is due to the fact that

twenty years ago a small family could take two to three acres of

tobacco and ten to fifteen acres of cotton with their own hand

labor and make a living off it. But today it would be impossible

for one to take that amount of farm today, a family, and support

his family due to the price he gets for his commodities against

the price he has to pay for the labor to house it,and too all the

farm expenses have gone up, insecticides and well the cost of living

has gone up four or five times.

I: And the farmer's prices haven't compensated for the rise in prices?

S: That's right.

I: Necessities to make a .... to keep one alive.

S: The commodity price has been pretty well stable and has gone up mighty

little as the price, the expense in making a crop.

I: Farm produced, you mean.

S: That's right.

I: Well, is there anything we could do about this do you think?

S: I don't see anything that we could do,if they would pay more for the

farm commodities, produce, then the retailers and wholesalers would

have to go up so high until that would run, bring about inflation over

night if that would be attempted.

I: Mr. Oxendine, how many indians do you think there are in Wlb*erson


LUM 6A Page 22

S: Well, I helped do the 1970 census and I would say there would

be between thirty and forty thousand in Wilberson County.

I: That many, huh?

S: That many.

I: Do you think there is a particular problem that people have in

identifying indians as indians? Do caucasian characteristics

come out prominently in a good many of our people making it almost

impossible to identify them?
S: Now I assume you mean within W++ beten County and for that matter in

the state. I would say that there's no problem in that here in the

county and state. There might be if you get on out in some other

state. There might be a little problem in some.

I: Do you think the speech, do you think the indian speech, now speaking

about the average indian of course you and I have been exposed to

the study of the English language and we have deliberately tried to

improve our speech and so forth, but do you think as far as an

accent is concerned, you know most places have an accent or different

speech characteristics, do you think that speech characteristics of

the overall group of indians is different from that of the blacks or

the white?

S: Yes, definitely so. It's somewhat different. The accent is different,

Slightly different to where it would be discernible on the tape,

I: Do you think this is one way of identifying the...like the indians are

identified by their speech, by their a...

S: Well, that's one of the main ways that he's identified average.

LUM 6A Page 23

I: Of course, we've lived in this county, its been spoken of as a

unique county, do you agree with that?

S: I agree with that.

I: No other county in the United States quite like ours.

S: That's right.

I: And a....as for the geographical characteristics, Dr. William

McKee Evans speaks of Wiltersen County or the Lumbee River area

as the sort of hide-a-way valley to which displaced persons often

came in the past and that this is a valley completely surrounded

by swamps, or at least it was one hundred years ago, it was almost

inaccessible. Can you remember back far enough that you could

a...you could verify or deny that? Do you think this was really

the case?

S: Well, I would think that was pretty well the case. I think that was

about it. We still have a good many swamps in this area.

I: Mr. Oxendine, when a...just a few years ago an anthropologist at

Ohio State University wrote a book called"Almost White". This was

an anthropologist who was born and brought up in South Carolina,'and

this was a book about indian survivorsand he counted some two hundred

groups of indian survivors along the eastern seaboard, but the

picture he painted of the indian survivors, descendants of the indians

such as our own group was that we were constantly striving to be white.

We were constantly struggling to try to get into the caucasian race.

Do you think he was badly mistaken there?

S: I .......I would think so. I think he's mistaken there.

LUM 6A Page 24

I: This year long, this year long sit-in, do you have any idea how

many students were involved in that throughout the entire year?

Do you have any estimate?

S: I would say approximately fifty.

I; At the end of the year.

S: At the end of the year.

I: At the beginning of the year there were many more than that though

weren't there?

S: Many more, many more than that.

I: Uh huh and so it didn't turn out the way he predicted, of course,

he had no way of knowing inasmuch as integration hadn't taken place)

and he had no way of knowing what our reaction would be to it. What

he was saying was largely a guess and, of course, he guessed wrong.

Our people have not rushed to break down anybody's door, have they?

S: No, no, that's a....(laugh)

I: I wonder why this is? Do you think our pride has anything to do with

that? ...our indian pride?

S: Well, now I'm speaking of the average indian. We know and the average

indian know we're just what we areand we couldn't be anything else

if we wanted toand we're indians, the only true blooded American on

the soi2l and a person who is an indian who wouldn't take great pride

in that, I wouldn't count him an indian. (laugh) And for that reason

the average one don't want to be the more than what he is as far as

race is concerned.

I: Well, there are some people, and I think they're not too numerous,

Lum 6A Page 25

but there are some people that feel that the so called indian

problem could be solved by taking the brighter ones of our people

and submerging them into the caucasian group and the darker ones

and submerging them into the black group and they would still...

and they would then have only two races to deal with. Do you think

there are people who would actually like to see this done?

S: You mean indian people?

I: No, non-indian people (laugh)

S: Not in. "W osr County. I don't think there are any in Wilberen

County would want that done, want to see that done, because that

simply would not work because we all have to live here together.and

even though I'm dark and you're fair skinned, you're jndian same

as I and you feel that I'm an indian same as you and you wouldn't

be fair to yourself and I look at you and we'll take the two of us.

Yo wouldn't feel right to turn your back on me and neither would I

feel right to turn my back on you.

I: Well, that certainly is a good answer and certainly a true answer

true as far as I'm concerned this is exactly the way I feel. Do
you think that in time, now I talked to one man who wae middle class,

who feels that maybe within thirty years there will be only one race.

Do you think this is going to happen?

S: It will never happen. That's a broad statement, within in thirty

years it will be only one race, well that's impossible.

I. Do you think it would be a good thing if it did happen?

S: No, it wouldn't. It wouldn't.

I: There's one thing I've noticed about indians universally and that is

LUM 6A Page 26

that they are all opposed to assimilation,and one statement about

the Lumbee indians was that they had been partly acculturated but

they had not been assimilated.and a...do you think part of this is

on our part, or do you think most people, most caucasian people felt

as the professor did that our people really wanted to become white

when they didn't want to at all?

S: Well, in speaking of the indian race people, Mr. Barton, throughout

the country a...I want to say about the reservations.... I would like

to see the reservations blowed up because it's a penitentiary. It a...

its a place of land the government got and pushed this group of

indians there on desert land and /onY)taW land that's no good only

to house them and has forgot about them,and they are treated even

worse than our prisoners today are treated.and a...for that reason

to bring them into society and let them exercise their talents and

gifts, same as any other person, after all they deserve it more

than anyone else because they're the only true blooded Americans,

but they're in prison. We hear and read in the papers every day

about the Viet Nam war and about our prisoners of war. Well, the

data is if, let's don't take down otur /'E men out our soldiers

out unless they agree to release the prisoners of war, POWs. Well,

we got them in prison, all indians here on reservations are in prison

here in the United States. Well, they haven't been released yet.

I: In other words, you're referring to the stipulation or the definition

of the federal government which, the minute an indian leaves the

reservation he's no longer considered an indian and he forfeits his

rights as an indian when he leaves that reservation and this makes it

in effect a prison. This is how they keep them. Do you think this

LUM 6A Page 27

is deliberate?

S: Well, I can't see it any other way. Either the government is aware

of the fact that the indians, or near aware of the fact, they are

out there in the everglades of Florida and the deserts of Arizona,

and they're prctt ar starving and the government seems to be
unconcerned. They pass them a little welfare check,and its a

nice way of having them on the welfare roles and they're isolated

from society.

I: Would you say reservations is a form of segregation?

S: A form of segregation, that's what it is. Its a clearcut case of

segregation. Now it has been said that the people on reservations,

indians on reservations don't want to leave. They say they take

some off and they get.. they, .r in storms trying to get back.

Well, that's like a bird when he's kept in a cage from a bird till

he's grown and then you turn him out he'll come, leave the door

open he'll come back in it. He's in a new world and to me its just

a prison. Once they were forced off, get out in there and start

earning their own living and working and get acquainted with society,

then the problem would be settled.

I: Do you think they will ever be able to get into the mainstream of

American society that way?

S: Not unless the government shows more interest than they have shown

in the past and tsy are showing today. The government shows that

they consider them no more than prisoners.

I: You're speaking of course of their? o(a(ih

S: That's right.

LUM 6A Page 28

I: Well, how about our people who leave here and go to Baltimore,

Maryland and to other industrial parts of the country. Do you

think they go because they want to go or to find better opportunity
for a job.

S: Better opportunities where 'the race is not as badly discriminated
/?o< Esef
elsewhere as it is here in Wi4bersn County. They can't get as

good a job here by being an indian as they could if they leave here

and go to Baltimore and elsewhere.

I: Do you think those who go away eventually plan to come back?

S: I have several nephews and several neices who have been up in

Baltimore for fifteen to twenty years and their plans are to

come back home to settle down to live.

I: In other words, they consider es stay in Baltimore temporary?

S: Temporarily, to make a living to raise their families because they

can make a better living up there with higher wages than they can

make here. They can get a hold of a job up there that they wouldn't

be allowed to hold here.

I: I believe I recall reading some statistics compiled by the Wilberen

County Church Center which states that the average income of the
obeSooJ year
white family in Wt-beyeen County is some $4,500 per'and that of the

a...that of the black man is about $1,500,. $1,600 and that of the

indian is about $1,500 per year. I believe, now I better not trust

my memory too far, I wish I had the sheet to check by, but do you

think this sounds about right?

S: That's about right according to the statistics. I have a sheet,

but I don't know just, now where it...I think its over at my store.

LUM 6A Page 29

Its/got the figures on it and I think that's pretty close to it,

but anyway the .indian income is below a..the black in ib.rs


I: About how many teachers would you say we have in all. I'm talking

about the Lumbee Indians, about how many teachers are there among

our people?

S: Well, in the year '69 and 70 there were 410.

I: Were they all in service in WiZhsrso or was that Witboron and

near by?

S: Well, it was WiBe-lan, Hoke and Scotland, adjoining counties.

I: I see, and do you think we've added to that number?

S: We certainly have because we've had quite a few graduates since

then that's gone into the teaching profession.
Per, 6V kE
I: In the past few months, in the past six months, Bejhai k State
PrFm Ibroi4
University which was formerly Penbreek State College for Indians

has been under some pretty severe criticism. Are you acquainted with


S: I am.

I: Have you any idea as to what the enrollment is there according to

race today?

S: Well, I...there's slightly over two thousand.

I: In all?

S: In all,and there's around three hundred right approximately three

hundred indians and approximately fifty to sixty black.

LUM 6A Page 30

I: Um hum a..do you think..what do you think PSU could do or should

do toward getting more indian and black students in the university?

Do you think they should have an active recruiting service?

S: I think so. They've had one for other races but never have I heard

of one recruiting service for indians.

I: Are there any advantages that they especially offer to indians to

induce them to a..to attend college today?

S: All the inducement that I see there is the inducement to encourage

them to go elsewhere. For instance, in your athletic set-up, in

the basketball, baseball, the indian doesn't get a show in there

regardless of talent.

I: Now how about Old Mains' why do you think the PSU administration

a..was so determined to destroy Old Main? They voted to destroy

Old Main in an intensive campaign to save the building which became

nation wide was conducted.and finally they gave in and decided

to..not to destroy the building a...wonder what the reasons behind

this were to destroy it in the first place?

S: Well, I think, in my talking with individuals and my own thinking a..
its hard once you make a mistake an individual to..in secret..its

hard to make an open confession.(laugh) and I think they went about it

behind closed doors and didn't let it be known that that's what they

were going to do until they were ready to start tearing it down.and

had we known it two or three years in advance why the protest would have

begun then, but a..they made the mistake by keeping it concealed, I think,

and then after the protest came then they was not fair enough to admit to

the public we made a grave mistake and we're willing to recall or a..

LUM 6A Page 31

call it back. They wanted to go on with it even though they was

aware that they had made a mistake.

I: I see a..do you have any suggestions as to what PSU could do to

improve its....well, let me ask you this..do you think that the

university today has proper rapport with the indian community in

which it was stationed? You know, its surrounded by indians but

does it have proper a...a...relations...does it have?.is there

an attitude between the indian community and PSU working in

those directions?

S: Well, a..I would say that they are not showing the interest toward

the indian students that they should. Now it may be that they just

take it for granted that the indian automatically should be interested

without any encouragement on their part. Now I say it could be that

they're looking at it or it could be some outside influence.

I: Well, its a matter of record, Mr. Oxendine, that the PSU administration

is opposed to the Lumbee Club, the Lumbee student organization on

campus, and they say they'd be opposed to any racial organization.

Do you think that a..they ought to be proud of this or that they ought

to tolerate this organization or ought they encourage it or discourage


S: I think they ought to encourage it. Had it not have been for the

Lumbees, what would PSU be? Would there be any PSU existing today

had it not have been for them? I think that's a precious jewel.- A

"M shouldn't be throwed in the garbage or the waste.

I: Well, judging from what has happened at other universities and colleges

we know that they..there's a tendency to save any old building and to

LUM 6A Page 32

consider it precious but here is the first college building to

confer degrees on indians in the United States in all history. .

do you think this gives.it great value?

S: I think it does a..

I: For others as well as our own group?

S: Yes, I think so. Let me relate this little happening. I was

talking to a student that asked me about Old Main and was

criticizing the protest against a...destroying it and asked me

what I thought of itand he was a student from California attending

the university.,nd I came out of my billfold with my certificate,

and I told him that is my most treasured possession asd I had it

in my billfold, that as a result of Old Main I received this. Had

it not have been for Old Main I wouldn't have had it, for the reason

I wasn't allowed to attend any other college of higher learning

because I was an indian. Had it not have been for Old Main

I wouldn't have got any education above hig chool.and I asked him,

I said,"Are you a student over there?" He said he was. I said,

"Where are you from?" He said, "From California." I asked him

if he was at tbrlk because he couldn't attend the university in

California. He said, "no". I said, "Well, Old Main never has meant

anything to you)and it don't now,and when you're finished there and

gone it won't and I feel that you students there now from New York,

New Jersey, Pennsylvania and elsewhere are coming there because its

the cheapest college in the nation. If you speak, you ought to speak

up for the preservation of Old Main rather than the destruction of it

because it hasn't meant anything and won't ever mean anything to you,

LUM 6A Page 33

that building, but I went there because it was the only place I

could go, had it not have been for that one I wouldn't and as a

result I have twenty-five years teaching to my credit."

I: And so that was kind of a life saver for us wasn't it?

S: That's right. Then a week later I ran up with this student again)

and he stopped me and he said, "You know, I thought about what you

told me and, he says, now I'm for the preservation of Old Main."

S: Its the same student.

I: Same student. ~r_/ A/AJs ,ifv _l At.do you think our people will

eventually get better consideration at PSU now that its become

a part of the consolidated University of North Carolina? Do you

think this is a plus for us? Do you think things are going to be


S: Well, I think if the faculty and the president and all show as

much concern for the indian students as they are showing for the

other races, I think it will be.

I: Well, a..do you have any comments you'd like to add to this? I

guess you're getting a little bit tired because I really have

(laugh) I really have been a..

S: Well, I'm a little a...critical of the Board of Trustees at PSU.

I think that the Board of Trustees at PSU should have at least

a college degree,and I find several down there, one in particular
5 y..-:,, 5? ct g'* ^ -.-
who didn't finish elementary school,anrd he'S a -tueee appointed

by Governor Bob Scott and several others who doesn't have a college

degree,so I think that's so misfitted.

LUM 6A Page 34

I: Do you think the man who lacks adequate education a..are you

saying that he doesn't have the capacity to make educational

judgements unless he himself is educated?

S: That's right. Can't make any decision in the light of education

unless he's educated himself.

I: I wonder why they appoint people like this? Is it purely

political or..?
I /
S: Well, I think its a political a..thing. I believe its political.

I: Do you think there's any hope for this changing?

S: I think its since we've....Old Main has been spared I think now

that they'll be some of these..protests made against some of these

issues that a...against the indian over there.

I: We know that throughout the nation the indians have been regarded

as a silent people and that they are speaking out now. Do you

see a change in this trend? Do you see that the nation is

becoming willing to listen to your problems and to mine more and

more or let's say more than they did when we were children?

S: Well, I would say since integration came into effect in '54, I

think the government officials are all seeing that we're having

to go under this integration and give everybody a chance and

I think they're beginning to listen a little more and more,.nd I

think also that we have five indians in law school, one who is

just finished a..once we get some lawyers in our group I think

that will be a big asset to us.

I: Um hum. Well, we have several lawyers in training to my knowledge

LUM 6A Page 35

already and I'm certainly hoping like you, that the number

increases and we will have somebody to look after our interests.

How about the expense of hiring legal talent today, Mr. Oxendine,

for the indians or for anybody? What is the fee? I know that

you've been on jury duty and you've a..you worked rather closely

with a..legal council in the past)and I'm just wondering if you

have some knowledge of legal fees and what they cost. What

does it cost to hire a lawyer to work on a case?

S: Well, the state has a..three fees set for attorneys to go by.

One's a minimum and a maximum and then midway between,and its

all depend on the nature of the crime or the case. Now, if its

a criminal case it depends on whether that's your first time or

your second time or third time as to whether it... it willbe

the minimum,if its the first time, second time it will be in the

middle and so onand that ranges in certain cases a..from two to

five hundred dollars.

I: Uh huh. They don't a...when they...when you are able to retain a

lawyer by the hour about how much does this amount to?
/ /
S: Well, if its a firm..its...a pretty big firm..its high rated..say

it runs about $75 an hour.

I: That's pretty steep even for a group such as ours. I'm not saying

that it isn't ethical, but I'm saying it poses a problem for

a poor group of people when they have problems and they have to

hire legal talent and so forth and yet we know that this is

necessary once in a while. So, do you think that some of the

LUM 6A Page 36

government agencies should step in in a case like this and insure

justice a...some cases.unless some cases are tried they'll never

have it resolved, they'll never have our problems resolved,and the

courts are the logical places to resolve legal problems,but if you're

not able to foot the bill then the poor people will not get justice.

Justice is just too high for them to pay,and don't you think then

that state and federal government should guarantee in some way that

these cases are tried and heard that are legitimate complaints or

our legitimate grievances are heard whether we can afford the

legal fees or not?

S: I think so. I'm glad you brought that up. Now, this school

case that we have..I'd like to point this out and I'd like for

people to know and understand it. In i O County the Lumbee

Indians have more on the welfare roles than either of the other two

racesand our attorneys that we employed to fight this school

suit said it cost from ten to a hundred thousand dollars depending

on how far we had to go with it. Now the six Boards of Education,

each Board has its own...a lawyer, hired and payed a salary of our

tax money. Well, we're too poor to fight this case on to

Washington if its going to cost us a hundred thousand dollars. Yet,

its unfair for us to have to pay their six lawyers with our tax

money and then go in our pockets besides and pay our own out of

our pockets which is not an act of justice within its elf. There-

fore, they should be...the government should see that we get justice.

The Justice Department in the state and federal government should

see that we get the ample funds to fight this suit on out..that we

LUM 6A Page 37

get justice.

I: In other words, we're having to pay those lawyers..

S: Year round.

I: and they maybe trying to deprive us of our rights and yet

we're having to pay them out of our tax money and we have a..

we don't have sufficient private funds to fight the case.

S: Fight them back.

I; I see what you mean. That's a very interesting point. I'm glad

you made that.

S: They make us pay our taxes and pay their fee. Their's has got to

be paid)butAwe come up lacking in our own and which we have done

exhausted ours already. Its unfair that we have to pay their six

lawyers plus ours out of our own pockets.

I: Uh huh. Mr. Oxendine, I think our tape is running on pretty good

but you have a..this was your son who came in and spoke a while

ago, was it not?

S: Yes, sir.

I: Uh huh. Are you.a..well, I know you're proud of your children

because they a..they have all done well and a..do you think that

your success and their success together that you can account for

it all through the simple word education, better educational

opportunities and things like this?

S: That's right. Yes, sir.

I: Well, I guess this tape is just about to run out on us so a..

I want to thank you for talking with me a..its certainly been

interesting to me)and I'm quite sure it will be interesting to

LUM 6A Page 38

others and we certainly pray that these tapes will be a blessing,

and that they will further understanding among all people and a

so we'll just thank you and we'll sign off right here if it ht

with you, unless you have something you would like to add.

S: Well, I can't think of anything further that I would like to add

other than its been a pleasure to spend these few minutes in

discussing the problems we are confronted with here in 4l n

County as Lumbee Indians.

I: How do you feel about the future? Let me ask you that. Are you

optimistic about the future or are you discouraged or what?

S: I'm discouraged about the future as I see it because a..I think

with the situation -4. it is and what I've observed since its been

the post integration with the mixture of children, I can see a

difference in mine and being a teacher I can readily observe this

year over last year and I feel like that a..our educational process

is losing ground.

I: I see. Well, thank you so much, Mr. Oxendine, and this is Lew

Barton signing off on this tape. This is tape three.

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