Title: Interview with W. J. Strickland (December 30, 1972)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007036/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with W. J. Strickland (December 30, 1972)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: December 30, 1972
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: UF00007036
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 44

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Full Text


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and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

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Interview with 9J. Strickland
Interviewer: Lew Barton
Typist: Sally A. White

B: This is Dec. 30, 1972. I am Lew Barton, recording for the Doris Duke American

Indian Oral History Program, under the auspices of the University of Florida's

History Department. I am in my home, in Pembroke, North Carolina, and with me,

today, is Mr. W.R. Strickland....

S: (whispers) W.J.

B: I'm sorry. Mr. W. J. Strickland. And, uh, he has kindly consented to present

himself here for an interview. And, uh, I'm not going to tell you anything about

him. We're going to talk back and forth and I'm going to try to find out some

things about this very interesting interviewee. Mr. Strickland, what does W.J.

stand for?

S: Well, Lew, that's ironic, that you ask me that, because I don't really have a

name, and it's puzzling to alot of people. Uh, my name is only initials, just


B: Uh-huh. Well, that's certainly distinctive. Uh, could you tell us something

about your family?

S: Yes, Lew, be very glad to. I'm the oldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Willard Strickland,

uh, the proud parents of 11 children.

B: (interjects) That's great. Uh, what are you now doing with yourself? I know

you've been engaged in many different interesting activities. And, you're

certainly a public figure among the Lumbee Indians, here. And, uh, you've been

one of our leaders, one of our highly esteemed leaders, for a long time. We

certainly appreciate that, and, uh, could we just start and find out some of the

things that you've uh, been connected with? And, maybe we need to go back and

hear a little something about your education, beginning with the earlier




S: Yes, Lew, my early education was, uh, here in Pembroke, Pembroke Grade School,

from grades 1 through 8. At that time, uh, my parents decided to, that we should

seek a bigger farm, as the number of the kids in the household had expanded, and

we needed a broader base for support, because, you know, at that time, our only

income was farming, and this is how we made our livelihood. So, we moved out to the,

up into that time, we lived in Pembroke proper. Then, we moved out into the

community known as the Philadelphia's community, where we, uh, my father took on

a two house farm, there, that time. That meant that I changed schools to Prospect,

uh, from grades, completed grade 8 thru 12 at Prospect High School. And, being

the third highest student in the class historian, and there was only about like

2 tenths of a point separating the top three students. I qualified for a schol-

arship, which enabled me to attend Pembroke State College, at that time, which is

now Pembroke State University. Upon entering Pembroke State, uh, College, uh, I

endeavored to better acquaint myself with higher education, because I had dreams

and aspirations. Wasn't completely satisfied with what was going on, about our

people. I completed four years of college work at Pembroke State University. Uh,

I engaged myself in activities on campus. I was very active in all student affairs.

Uh, I didn't graduate with any kind of distinct honors, because I had to work my

way through school. And, uh, got married in my senior year. Became a family man,

as they say.

B: Right, and what, who did you marry?

S: I married the former Barbara Chavis, of, granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Denny Chavis

of Route 4, L5^vbC40fl< North Carolina. We are now the proud parents of 3

wonderful, very loving children, / IC Fc > fCC 7.and 1/2, Carmelia

SI((\l who is 5 and 1/2, and Caleb Hiram, who is 4 and 1/2.

B: Um-hmm. That's a nice family.



S: Yes, Lew, it's, uh, been wonderful to have two boys and one girl, and we sort of

called it quits for the time being.

B: How old are you, now?

S: Well, I just turned 30.

B: (Laughs) Oh, golly, uh, you've done alot of things, in a short while, you've come

a long way.

S: Well, I certainly have, and one of the things that I attribute to, upon completion

of, uh, my B. S. Degree, we had an industry to locate in .'i County, known at

that time as B. F. Goodrich Footwear Company. And they were looking for young men

to take on staff, and, to train them, to be, uh, management type people. So, I was

hired as, uh, Junior TimeoStudy Engineer, with B. F. Goodrich.

B: Uh-huh. What year was this?

S: This was in 1966.

B: Uh-huh.

S: About that same time, a young man asked me to join, uh, the Pembroke Jaycees.

B: Uh-huh.

S: Which was a relatively new organization. The first, uh, all Indian civic org-

anization, young men's civic organization, in the county, at that time. It was

really a major innovation breakthrough for us. And, this is what I really attri-

bute my start, Lew, as to becoming involved in this civic affairs, of the community,

which later, led me to be an advocate for the Lumbee Indians of Robinson County.

B: We're certainly glad it happened. (Laughs)

S: Yeah. Because, at that time, it gave me an outlet, to become involved in some

issues, which were of concern to me, but I didn't have a channel through which to

express my opinion. I immediately, after six months into the organization, was, uh,

they made me president. And, I served out an unexpired term of the former pres-

ident. And then, was elected unopposed, to serve a full term. In the meantime,


I'm still continuing in my job capacity at B. F. Goodrich, getting a, and getting

a introduction to an interesting type situation, which we never had before, on any

kind of broad scale. B. F. Goodrich was very innovative in that, their quotas, if

we want to say quotas, was that employment was to be 60% Indian, 20% white, and 20%

Negro, and, you know that's quite a switch....

B: (Interjects) That certainly is. Was there some reason for this? It's very inter-


S: Yes, Lew, there was because, um, they knew that the, that the, American Indians,

here, in Robison.County, had been given high recommendations as workers. But, yet,

when they looked around on the rolls of the other industries, they didn't find a

representation. And they knew that the Indians had always been left out.

B: Now, this was a, the Goodrich Footwear Plant.

S: That's right.

B: And this is the most interesting single industry, or one of the most, which would

you say, in Robison County?

S: Well, it is the most, in my opinion.

B: Uh-huh. I remember that, just this year, that we had a crisis when this business

changed hands.

S: Right.

B: And people were very, very concerned, from here to Washington, trying to keep this

plant in operation, because this is one of the depressed areas, and this is so

important to so many of our people....uh..

S: Very true.

B: ...of all three races, and, uh,....

S: Well, another significant point that I'd like to make is the fact that, uh, when B.

F. Goodrich came in, and they brought on this number of Indians as factory workers,

they also, in turn, had a program of promotion in upgrade of the Indians, whereby



uh, you didn't have to work ten or fifteen years before you'd get a chance to move

up to be a foreman. Let's use that as an example. Because we now have Indians in

top positions of management, and this precedence set by the B. F. Goodrich, in turn

caused the other industries in the area to take a look at themselves. And to begin

really, promotion on merit, and not just strictly because you were white. And that,

by being Indian, you weren't qualified. B. F. Goodrich eliminated this myth and,

um, it was really a great benefit to our people, in alot of ways, in my opinion.

B: Well, now, you worked with the personnel department for some time, didn't you?

S: Well, yes, I worked as the, I was the Junior Time-Study Manager, as I've already

stated. Then, I came up, and I went right on up to Senior Time-Study Engineer, and

then I was promoted up to Assistant Personnel Manager. Um, and I served in that

capacity for 3 years, also.

B: Well, that's great. That gave you a chance to, uh, come into contact with, with the

most promising, uh, talent, working talent among our people, and also brought you

into contact with other, people in other groups, didn't it?

S: Well, yes, it certainly did. It gave me a golden opportunity to truly assess our

people, our needs, our wants, and our problems.

B: Um-hmm. Also their ability?

S: Their abilities. There's no question about the ability of the Lumbee Indian, in my

opinion. They have thegreatest ability of any people, that I know. All they need

is an opportunity, a fair opportunity. One that's not biased and prejudiced. I say

we've got people capable of serving in cabinet levels under the President. I say

we've got people that can be President of the United States. It's just a matter of


B: Uh-huh. Well, this certainly is great, and if anybody is in a position to know

about, uh, what our people are capable of doing in this direction, it's you. And,

uh, also, you're being connected with, uh, organizations and working with all the



leaders of our people, is certainly a...your information is well-rounded. That

makes this a very important interview. Uh, I don't want to inhibit what you are

saying. I would like for you to talk and tell us anything would like in you own


S: Well, since 1966, Lew, it's been, it's been a very, very rewarding experience to

me. Umm, because with the, joining the Jaycees, uh, it really got me involved. I

became a member of the Pembroke Housing Authority, which has always been active in

the Jaycees. I was a member of the Rob ison County School-study Commission, uh,

for one year, and, uh, you know the problem we have there, on the double voting.

B: Right.

S: And, also, the, uh, five city administrative units, and the one county administrative

unit, and consequently, that give me an exposure to the, to the real problems that

we have, um, in trying to educate our people, in dealing with the process that

always deals us out. Um, one of the most significant endeavors that I was engaged

in, by virtue of being in the Jaycees, I made the contacts throughout the state,

of North Carolina, with other young men, who were white. 'Cause I'd always been taught

that, we were inferior, and that whitewas superior. But by being a member of this

organization, I found that I could compete with doctors and lawyers, equally and as

soundly as they could be. And so, this immediately washed away all my inhibitions,

that I had up to that point. I think it maybe was a stepping stone to seek higher

goals. Consequently, as a result of this, we became very active in the area, in the

county, here, in organizing more Indian Jaycee chapters. We now have 10 Indian

Jaycee chapters in Robison County.

B: That's really great.

S: And this really provides for young men to become involved in the problems that face



our community; voter education, education problems, political problems, economic.

problems that exist, uh, and the answer to your, to your dream, and to my dream,

__ __Ito the reign of power of the Lumbee Indian on the political front,

on the economic front, and on the educational front, is going to be attributed to

those young men. Because they, in turn, know organization procedures, and they can

help deal with the problems and they don't get frustrated. And they work, ded-

icated, day by day, and not on a hot and cold issue, that runs anywhere from 3 to

6 months, on any kind of previous activity that's been undertaken, to eliminate the

problems of the Lumbee Indians.

B: Uh-huh. That certainly is interesting, and we certainly have our share of problems.

S: Well, yes, we certainly do. But, uh, there's an old saying that I met the enemy on

the battlefield and he was I.

B: (Laughs) That's correct, but......

S: (interjects) He.....we are our biggest enemy.

B: Right. I'm afraid so.

S:; We....if we ever conquer ourselves, as people, then we can deal with the white man,

and we can deal with the Black man, on any issue, on any problem, on any solution.

And this is going to be the precedent. One of my most sincere goals, is to cross

community lines, with community leaders, and then to cross state lines with these

same people. And open up the lines of communication from the local community to the

state's capitol, to our nation's capitol, and this can be done.

B: Uh, we certainly have made some progress already, and we're just beginning, aren't


S: That is very true, very true. In the.past twelve months, we have seen some un-

precedentedevents take place. It's not been quite a year since there was this Old

Main issue got started. And from the Old Main issue, we went into the problem of



the Chairman of the Robinson County Board of Elections, which really cast a shadow

on the political system, the Democrat party in Robinson County, which had always

suppressed us for a hundred years. And, with the advent of the recent general ele-

ction, uh, preceding that was the primaries, where we were able to see 2 Indian

candidates be successful in their bid for office. All these have been significant,

important events in the history of the Lumbee Indian. And on top of that, we've

been able to bring suit on this double-voting issue. And these little issues are

adding '__Y___ and enthusiasm to our people.

B: Uh, how...just where is this suit....and, wha...you're in the process of litigation

here, just how far along are you?

S: Well, the...the suit has been, uh, been filed with the Civil Liberties Union. And

we've got a couple of things support on that issue. The other one is that we'd

like to eradicate this problem through our elected representatives in the general

assembly, in the upcoming session, we've been working on the general assembly.

However, we've have an ace up our sleeves, as they say, with the bringing of the

law suit, o the Civil Liberties Union, which has agreed to work in our behalf at

no cost.

B: That's ers Well, this is really an unfair thing, and Ibelieve an unconsti-

tutional thing.

S: Very true.

B: I understand that the attorney general of this state, Robert Morgan takes a different

legal view on it. Don't you.....

S: Well, yes, uh, Lew, we have to be aware, also, that, uh, up until this past election,

Lumbee Indians had been very divided, and very split. And so, when the attorney

general calls to the power structure in Lumberton, that he wants to get an opinion,

about as to what he should do, quite, a rcFify, he is advised to the contrary of



the interest of the Lumbee Indians. Now, when we show in force, our voice, our

decision politically, because he is political, and all the decisions he makes

are political. Certainly they ehoa been the confines of the law, to a

degree, plus or minus, that yet, we can never get away from that basic fact that

he is a political, uh, man and he gets his information from the people that are

in power in Lumberton. If you can tell me, if anybody else can tell me, what they've

ever done for Lumbee Indians, I'd just like to know about it.

B: (Laughs) All right. Uh, you mentioned something about the Robkson County Board

of Election, and what happened over there, I believe, until that time, when the

changes began to take place, out of 39 registrars, there were only 2 Indians.

S: That is correct. What happened was.....
B: ..but there's never been an Indian on the Robfbson County Board of Election before.

S: Never before in the history of our people, has this happened. And, quite naturally,

the pressure was put to bear on the Democrat party, to...because of the uniqueness

of the population in the county; a third Black, a third white, and a third Indian,

that we should have 3 members, uh, to serve on the county Board of Election, and

one member should be white, one member should be Black and one member should be


B: Uh-huh.

S: Well, as the turn of events took place, this was done, and that the 3 different

races were represented, and that 2 of these were Democrat and one Republican. As

it so happened, the Indian is Republican, and the Black is Democrat, and the white

is Democrat. But, because minorities are minorities, they tend to stick together.

B: Uh-huh.

S: And the Black nominated the Indian to be the Chairman. And the white seconded the

nomination. And so, this became,...he became the Chairman of the Robison County

Board of Elections. Well, ironically, as soon as this happened, the word seeped



out the door that a Republican was the chairman.

B: Well, do you think they did this without realizing that he was a Republican?

S: I think they, I think they did it in the, in the best interest of progress. How-

ever, as soon as the power structure, outside, found out that this had happened,

they realized the consequences of this, and they weren't ready to give up their

little playhouse, as the saying goes. And so, they sent word back in to adjourn

the meeting. And then they had a little caucus, and pointed out to the Black man

and also to the white man, that, uh, the consequences of turning over the Rob4ason

County Board of Elections to a RepublicanS you just didn't, that was just an un-

heard of situation. You just don't do that kind of thing. Well, as a result of

this, they reconvened, and tried to undo what they had just done. Well, that just

"really ...... Pk fr, /^

B: S, because that they did,-t1-d. U f-r7 -r-elim.

S: Well, they tried to, to, uh, take Mr. John Robert Jones, out, as Chairman of the

Robtson County Board of Elections. And this certainly made headlines. Uh, and

then it became a tug of war, between the Republicans and the Democrats. But, the

most significant thing about this, to the Indian people, was that they were first,

the first time that they were able to visibly see the Democrat Party in action, as

trying to cut off an Indian, who was in a role of leadership in Robason County.

And this stayed current for some ten days, in the newspaper with some front page

coverage with one item or another, but finally, the issue was resolved by Alex

Or0 ?0 who is the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections. And

he ruled that the first action was the official action. Therefore, it was

official and valid.

B: In other words, if John Robert Jones, who had been elected, and unelected in the

same hour, we speak of unelected in quotes, uh, was the official Chairman of the



Robison County Board of Elections.

S: That is correct. And, in this position, he endeavored to change the system that

had suppressed us, by naming Indianzregistrars, in precincts, and also naming

Black registrars, in precincts. And, uhm, precinct officials, judges, to help

in this election process, so that fairness and justice could finally be implemented.

He played a very significant role and one that I don't think is really surfaced at

this point, as to the significance, true significance, of what that meant.

B: Yes, yes, he is a great leader, I, uh, I can see lots of different forces working

together, Mr. Strickland, you know, to bring all this about, like a chain reaction.

Here is..here are social actions, uh, taking place, but before those social actions

began, and we had been of a static condition for so many years, uh, what do you think

sort of, started the ball to rolling and, uh, really started people thinking and

acting, uh, you know, for the betterment of the Indians, including the Indians,


S: Well I, I truly think that, uhm, one of the most significant points, in my mind, is

that, uh, the president's message of July, 1971, of July of 1970, President Nixon

outlined a message to congress that the American.....uh, to, uh, to make available

self-determination for the American Indian. This created a national awareness for

the American Indian. And this down to us4 here on the local scene, because

of the advent of our activity in the local area, and my activity with the Lumbee

Regional Development Associat4/ ,Uh, I was very close to the situation, and, uh,

with the Lumbee Regional Development Associat4) we brought into our community, for

the first time, an all Indian program, with an all Indian staff, with an all Indian

Board of Directors, to help eliminate the problems of the Lumbee Indians, themselves.

It was really a very significant event, also, in our history.

B: Right. And, uh, we have a number of things working together, now, that didn't seem



to work together, they seemed to be isolated in the past. You know....?

S: Well, that's, that's very true. Lumbee Regional Development Associat4dO)at this

point, is the only organization that has ever survived the forces of power, in

Lumberton, for any length of time. It got funded in 1970, March of 1970, for the

first program, and now we're getting ready to enter into 1973.

B: Right.

S: And, uh, this program is going strong amidst all the problems, it's not rosy, but

it is progress, and when you have progress, you have progress.

B: Right. Well, it has growing pains, I'm sure.

S: Sure.

B: But, uh, it's certainly done, alot, and the thing, I don't know whether you agree

with me, but, uh, it seems to me that this is the organization that brought about

a very significant thing. And this was, uh, uh, we have many organizations, but

they have been divided, and they have not worked together.

S: Very true.

B: And, LRDA, it seems to me, uh, has been able, in some way, to coordinate these

various efforts, and, and to bring them together, sort of, and to unite their

strength, and to direct it, to some extent. Maybe not as much as LRDA would like

to do, but they certainly have come a long way, it seems to me, in this direction.

Do you think this is significant?

S: I think it's truly significant in the fact that, people from different communities,

as you know, we have 14 predominantly Indian communities in Robison county, and

our Board of Directors is from all SeCftr.S of the community, from the different

communities. And this, one of the first issues we resolved, is that we were going

to work together for the benefit of all Indians. And, this has been the stepping

stone to holding together the organization, in the initial stages of development.



Because people made up their minds that they were going to be in this for the

people, and not in a program because it was going to be something to their glory.

B: Uh-huh. Well, uh, I wanted to ask you something else, which has been of great

interest to writers, since time immemorial, I suppose, and that is, uh, the origin

of our people. We are a different people. I think every community is unique in

it's own way. Uh, but there has been alot of, uh, comment as to our origin and

our connection to the Lost Colony, and that sort of thing. Do you have any comments

on that? I seem to recall that you did an article in your capacity at Goodrich,

in one of the magazines. I seem to remember an article which appeared, uh, sev-

eral years ago, and did you write that, or were you connected....?

S: Well, it was an article, Lew, that was written about the American Indians, and, uh,

course, I supplied the information which came from you, by the way, for this art-

icle. I...I am of the personal opinion, of the theory, of the Lost Colony. I'm

very proud to be a Lumbee Indian.

B: Right.

S: Uh, I advocate this to the highest...uh, and to any, uh part of this nation upon

which I visit. And, you know, it's a very interesting story that we tell.

B: Right.

S: But, by virtue of the fact of being an east coast Indian, we are the forgotten

American Indians.

B: Right.

S: And, uh, consequently, we have been the ones who have suffered, uh, true assimilation,

and termination. Because of the non-treaties, uh, that were not given to us as

American Indians.

B: Right.

S: Uh, we have truly survived a very, very long and enduring plight of, uh, sufferage.

And, uh, therefore, I really, truly believe in the theory, of the Lost Colony. I'm



very, very proud to tell that story.

B: Well, it's certainly a story which is, uh, not only local interest, but of national

interest and significance. And, uh, do you think that this part of our story has

helped us in any way?

S: I certainly do. And I think, I think really, the true recognition is in the future,

for the lumbee Indian, because we're just beginning to be placed on the map, once

and for all, not just because we're Lumbee Indians of North Carolina, but because

of the fact that, uh, up and down the east coast, Indians have really never been

recognized by anyone.

B: Right.

S: They were just, sort of, called people, and that was about the extent of it.

B: And, uh, in ____book, Almost White uh, I believe it was dated 1960,

uh, he tells, of uh, some 200 groups of Indian survivors, and each one of these

groups seems to have a different story. Well, I know they do have a different

story. Each has his own story. But, he speaks to us...of us, as being the most

fortunate of all these 200 groups of Indian survivors. Uh, do you have any thoughts

along those lines?

S: Well, I think in terms of. relatively speaking, I would agree that we are fortunate.

In the sense of the word, fortunate and unfortunate, because as I have traveled,

up and down the east coast, and across the continent, and I've talked with and

visited other Indian tribes. And I've compared our situation to their situation,

and on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say we compare, uh, they compare, midlevel, which

would be about 5 to our 10. Um, we do have more Indian schoolteachers, than any

other Indian tribe in this nation. Uh, and I attribute that to, uh, our education,

here at Pembroke State, uh, University, which began as an all Indian school, many,

many years ago. Of course, you're very well familiar with that story, and I won't

be redundant.



B: Well, ii, by way of supporting what you just said, I guess you're aware of the study

at the, what we call the Peck study, because it was conducted by John, Dr. John

Gregory Peck, at North Carolina State University, for the office of education, the

U. S. Office of Education. I believe that was, uh, oh, several years ago. I know

I helped with the, but the date, year escapes me. And they compared our schools,

this is before the integration act of 196--, uh,....

S: The (V14V1 Decision of 1954?

B: No, I'm talking about our, uh, integration plan when it went into effect.

S: Oh. (Coughs.)

B: But, they, what I'm trying to, uh, remind you of, is, uh,their statement, q9 the

conclusion of this study, this official government study, uh, which says that the

Lumbee Indian Schools were superior to those of any, any Indian schools in the

United States. And those schools generally are, as you know, uh, operated by the

federal government. Whereas, our system, uh, where we had auto...., some sort of

autonomy, uh, we had state support of our schools, and so on, and, Uh, do you see

any significant difference in, maybe I'm putting you on the spotA I don't mean to,

in state supported and federally supported schools?

S: Well, very true, yes, I do see alot of difference. And that difference is, as the

Indian people in themselves, uh, having a voice in- what effects them. For instance,

in the federal schools, Indians have no voice in the curriculum, in the educational

process,uhk, that affects their children. Whereas, in our situation, in the state

supported schools, we did have this limited, uh, jurisdiction of autonomy, in that

we had our school committees, and uh, normally, we had all Indian school teachers.

And we had, uh, an Indian principal over our schools. And this did not exist, uh,

in your federallywrecognized, Bureau of Indian Affairs situation, simply because of

the isolation and the, uh, lack of qualified Indian teachers, and if they did exist,

uh, then the white superintendent wouldn't hire them, because then he would be in



there educatingQ the Indians that, uh, would present problems for him later on, and

consequently this, he didn't want.

B: Do you think this created sort of a vicious cycle, you know, uh, if you don't have

something, and you don't have anything to start with, you don't have anything

to build on, or to build with. But we had jurisdiction over our schools by virtue

of the law which established those schools, in 1865. And this law stated that they

should have schools of their own, with teachers and principals selected by them.

And this law remained in effect, until, uh, the integration situation came into

being, and ten it was disregarded, and there was a takeover, it seemed to me, a

political takeover of our schools, which was pinpointed in 1964, when the Robalson
County Board of Education, refused to seat a EEZ. as principal of Pembroke High

School. And instead, instituted a man of their own choice, who was a man with an

M.A. Degree. Uh, it seemed, do you see any, uh, significance, I'm trying to keep

the story, I'm thinking of the story as a whole. Do you see this as a significant


S: A significant action on the part of the Rob son County Board of Education?

B: Yes, and our control of Indian schools. Our participation in the, uh, in the

control of Indian schools.

S: Of course, uh, we have to realize that in the event that this YS4. had been, uh,

appointed as principle, uh, of this all Indian school, he would have been a

catalyst for us, to not only have been the advocate for education, but also been

an advocate for the political process, and the economic process, of which we

really never had a voice in. And therefore, the powers to be, this superstructure,

thecourthouse gang, couldn't allow this to happen. Because, if that would happen,

then you'd have Indians wanting to be in county government, you'd have Indians

wanting to be in city government. And, certainly, you know that, uh, we're all

well aware, that there was this certain inhibition among our people, even though



we were educated,. that we didn't venture out into the realm of the white man's

world, in the control of the politics, in the control of the banks, the savings

and loans, the eC e state, all money making propositions. We never really

had a voice at that time, and we didn't really have an advocate leader to, uh,
to lead us into those areas, and consequently, this is why the tnt..never got

the job, at Pembroke High School, at that time.

B: Uh, it was a very upsetting situation. I do know how dedicated this man was.

And I believe that this is the thing that brought about his untimely death,

because he worried about it, he was completely dedicated. Uh, he died of a

cerebral hemorrhage. Uh, my own personal opinion is that he died for this cause.

I'd inject this sort of as a footnote because I think it's very human, an inter-

esting footnote.

S: Very, very, very true, Lew, I couldn't agree more. Uh, however, I'd like to say

that if we could go back in time, I'd truly love to work with a leader such as
a)3 -4eeut) a
Dr. 4indine, today.

B: And we're talking about Dr. Herbert G. OxAndine; the late Dr. Herbeft G. Ofrs.-G

S: That is correct. Because, even as active as I am now, I feel that I could be so

much more effective, if I had someone to look up to, such as he. Who was really

an advocate for our people, who believed in taking the bull by the horns. And, uh,

because this is what is happening today, in Robison County, among the Lumbees,

We.:are having leaders to stand up and speak up for our people. And it's going to

bring about the unity on the political front, on the economic front. We now have

the Lumbee Bank, which is the first all-Indian bank in the United States of

America. It's gonna play a tremendous role, advocate role, in getting our voice

into the economy-making decisions, that affect 40 thousand Indians in Robason

County. We're going to eliminate this, uh, school system, and have a one county


system, for all the citizens of Robison County. This is going to be another
significant, significant break And if I could, I'd just like to back up to two

points, and include it here, while I'm thinking about it. With LRDA, we init-

iated the first Lumbee Homecoming of 1970.

B: Right.

S: Which was made into an annual event. This all came about as a result of the

organization of Lumbee Regional Development Associates. I served as chairman of

that, for 1970 and 1971, and I remember very well, in the planning stages in

1970, I was told that it couldn't be done. I was told that it would not be

possible to do. But yet we pulled it off. And the same people that said it

couldn't be done, came up later and said, we did it, didn't we? (Barton chuckles.)

B: That's about the way people respond, isn't it?
S: And the...the other point that I'd like to make is that, going back to the Roblfson

County Board of Elections, the fight over the chairmanship. One personal example

that I can relate to, is my mother and father's situation. My parents have never

really been politically involved. Uh, during my childhood, and I'm sure that

preceding my childhood they were never really politically involved because, they

had been taught that politics was dirty. And that, their voice, their vote really

didn't make any difference.

Side 2

....explaining about the significance of the Robtson County Board of Elections

fight, is that, for the first time in my life, my mother and father took an

active voice and participation in the primaries. Uh, the general primaries in

the dtate of North Carolina. My father stayed at the polls all day, and talked

with all the friends U%1 they came in to vote. My mother served as a judge at

the precinct....Philadelphias precinct. And I never saw two more enthusiastic

people in my whole life. And it was all because of...they were able to see for



the first time, the white man playing with the Indian, by trying to take John

Robert Jones, who was an Indian, out of the position of leadership for the Indian

people. And from, as a result of this, my two parents are current on all situations

on the political front, and they are very active, for the first time. And it's

just been a tremendous experience for me to know that this has happened.

B: I was, uh, I was, uh, thinking about several things. You know, you've touched

on some of the greatest events in our history, within recent.years, and indeed,

in years which aren't recent. Uh, what do you think is the most single significant

accomplishment of the Lumbee Indians, or, can you pull out one?

S: Well, that's a tough one, Lew. It really, it really is. Um, what I see is a,

relatively speaking, is a series of events in the past, in the past 12 months.

Because I think the timing was really of a great essence in this case. Number

one, that the emphasis had been placed on the plight of the American Indian by

the President. Uh, with the formation of the Lumbee Regional Development

Associates, we also brought about the North Carolina Commission on Indian Affairs,

on which I served as a member of the SCi committee. Uh, all these factors

add up to a healthy environment for the implementation of the events that took

place in our community, here, that benefitted our people. Uh, namely the,

probably, the, I'd have to say, if-there was one important recent significant,

uh, event, was the campaign to save Old Main. I, I just really think that this

campaign was of tremendous value, in the history of our people.

B: Well, I..I'm certainly in agreement, and, uh, I know you played a very significant

role in this. And when we started out together and agreed to forget all our

personal differences, if we had any, just forget them and let Old Main be our

goal2 det Old Main be our queens.t looked very sad and very dim, didn't it?

S: It certainly did. And the Old, personally speaking, to save Old Main is really

what was the straw that broke the camel's back. Uh, is when I became thoroughly



disenchanted with the RobhAson County Democratic Party. Up to that time, I'd.

been fairly active in the organization, but because we were trying to save this

building, I asked the chairman of the Robghson County, uh, Democrat Party, that

time, who is known as William Earl Briggs. Who is a member of the Board of Trustees

at Pembroke State University, at the same time, to call a meeting of the exe-

cutive committee to give us an audience, to make a plea, um, so that they could

carry a message to the government, in our behalf. And this young man, uh, this

man stalled for three days. And, then finally, because of no answer, which was

the answer(he wasn't going to call the meeting I became thoroughly angry and

frustrated, with the political system, in Rob ison County. From that day

forward, I said that I wouldn't have anything to do with the Party. It wouldn't

listen to my opinion. So, therefore, I became very interested in the opponent,

at that time, which is the Republican Party. I attended their meetings. I liked

what they had to say. And, then looking back over the history of our people

for a hundred years, and then taking a look at political history, it just makes

good common sense, that a two party system breeds competition.

B: Right.

S: And that if we were gonna ever have a change, in Robokson, it would be brought

about by the political process, and not through the Democrat Party, but through

a two-party-system.

B: Right.
S: And it was so with....this is why I place so much emphasis on, uh, the Save Old

Main Campaign, because it really brought to light the real, uh, the real political

process that has held our people down, because we didn't get any help at all from

the Democrat Party. We got it all from the Nixon Administration and the Republican

Party. The first man to come out in favor of saving Old Main was Governor Jim

-4ooc-AO (see C



B: Right. And it's interesting, as you know, uh, he began his campaign, here, at

one of the .....

S: 1971.

B: 1971, at..Annual Lumbee Homecoming.

S: July, 1971....

B: And he ended it here because he knew that was significant.

S: Right.

B: And do you remember what he was trying to tell minorities in Robinson County, at

that time, because these were very memorial words, and they are words which we

heeded, you know, They made some..they made so much sense. Uh, here is this, uh,

calm, dignified, well, he.....looking man, he just doesn't look the part of a

governor. He looks the part of your neighbor, next door and he talks in the same

things. Uh, but here he was, on the platform, uh, as I recall. And I know you

remember this, uh, because you were a part of it. And here he was on this plat-

form, with this very formidable politician of many years standing, a United States

Congressman, Eldon B.J.Leon, and when he spoke out, uh, and gave his reasons, to

the minorities in Robftson County, uh, this seasoned politician was stricken

speechless, it seemed. He had no response. Do you recall how stunned he was by

-those quiet, simple words spoken by this man, by this quiet unassuming man. You

know, JiI-zol Heoser is such, God, I'm glad I can call him a friend. (Laughs)

He is so dynamic, in such a quiet way. And what he says, you cannot escape it.

You have to think about it. Uh, ean you recall those words, or anything about....

S: It's the best of my knowledge, his message, essentially was, in the upcoming

primary, of 1972, he was going to be running for governor. And that there was 40

thousand Indians, here in Robeson County. And that he wanted them to give him

a chance to be their governor, and if they would give him a chance, to be their



governor, that he would see that there was some real changes made, uh, for the

problems that exist among the people. And he said, 'Democrats have had you for

a hundred years.' He says, 'you just go with me once,' he says, if we don't do

it, you can always go back.' He said, just give us four years, out of those, out

of those hundred that you give the Democrats, and we'll make a difference.' He

says, 'you just give me a chance, and we'll prove that we'll make the difference.'

That's just about as well as I can remember it, to that effect. It may not have

been the same words.
rect /
B: (Coughs) Well, it certainly was a great speech, and as I member it, you know.

He said that the Democrates have had you in their power so long, they feel that

they....and in their pocket for so long, they are taking you for granted.

S: ...taking you for granted.

B: But if you change, just once, you'll find both parties knocking at your door. And

this was all new because we...no party sought us. I mean, they had us.

S: That's right.
/I /I
B: So, why seek us, or try to do anything for us, I mean, uh, the Democrats had us,

really, I should say. But, we didn't have enough Republicans in the county, to

make the kind of difference. But, uh, this is certainly history, and, uh, this

campaign which began here, ended here also. And, uh, as you know, that's the time

when, uh, Dennis Banks came in with his dramatic speech, and his...the Indian dances

down the aisle. I don't think there was ever a time in North Carolina history, uh,

when the political, uh, political shindig was so colorful. Do you? (Laughs)

S: No, I don't think so....I was not able to be in the area, at that time, because,

you know, I'm now working out of the area, in Washington, D.C. Um, but I did hear

about it, and our hearts were here. Commissioner rP'40+I tBlue and myself, MEM --

spent the night with him. We were both very, very close, if you can be close by



telephone, we were very close.

B: Yes. I know you were. And, uh, would you like to say something about Commissioner

Blue because he has been so intimately connected with our problems AM has taken

the leading role, even at that distance, from Washington, D.C., and he has, uh,

he has been able to help in so many ways, don't you think, I mean......?

S: I think so, Lew, and I would just add here, is that I would hope that there would

be some way possible to get him interviewed as a part of this, uh, Doris Duke

Foundation Study that's been, uh, that's being done. But, to speak of Commissioner

0mly Blue, I don't think that I really can have enough words to adequately

express my appreciation for what this man has meant, not only to me, but to all

our people. Because he's played a very, very, significant role in helping to, to

be an advocate leadership role. Because it was he who wrote the letter to the

editor, about the Old Main issue.

B: Um-hmm.

S: He is the first Indian to ever sit on the Indian Claims Commission, appointed by

President Nixon. He is a Lumbee Indian, who became a lawyer. But by the virtue

of the fact that he was Indian, he was not allowed to take the North Carolina Bar^eY)Au)

And to come back and serve his people. And, consequently, he had to practice

law in Kinge- r*, Tennessee, where he married and raised a family. But, now,

after 20 years, he is in a very, very influential position, that he can help

channel information and guidance to the leaders on the scene, such as your self,

and to myself, and others tk were here at that time, to become the true advocates

and to gain that rightful role in the decision-making process, of our people, from

the county seat to our nation's capitol.

B: Well, that's great. What he has been able to do, an I certainly agree with you,

he is such a great man in so many ways. In his heart, he's not prejudiced against



caucasions or blacks. But his heart is simply with his people. He recognizes

their plight. He understands it and he understands the process of getting some-

thing done about it. And he works night and day. I don't think there, I don't

know anybody who works longer hours, or goes to greater lengths to help in any

situation, than Brantley Blue, and he's this way toward all American Indian

I mean, this man works tirelessly, you know, their's no end to him..

S: (Coughs) That is very true. Uh, Lew, uh, I'd like..also, like to add as a

part of this interivew, that because of my involvement in Lumbee Regional Develop-

ment Associates, where I served as president of the organization. I came in

contacts of, with some people from Washington D.C., and they informed me of a

program for American Indians, where American Indians could be trained in

management, key management positions, so that when, uh, the internship was

completed, these people could move off into a lateral position, to become an

advocate for all American Indians. As a result of being invited to participate

in them...American Indian Intern Program, sponsored by the American Industrial

Development Council, uh, cosponsored by the Economic Development Administration's

Department of Commerce, I was placed as an intern with the Appalachian Regional

Commission, which is a 13 state operation. It is a presidential commission set up

by President Kennedy, but really fully implemented by President Johnson. And the

head of this commission reports directly to President Nixon on problems. This

golden opportunity in Washington D.C. gave me exposure to, uh, to, uh, to expand

my pedigree, professionally. But more important than that, it gave an exposure to

that Washington scene, to that process that exists. And I've come in contact with

numerous government officials on many occasions. And I've traveled from one point

of this continent, to the other, and talking with people. And this has also enabled



me to, to see our problems from a distance. And even though that I'm in Washing-

ton D.C., my heart is here with my people and in daily contact with my people. And

because of the, the concerns, my concerns and other people's concerns, there was

a conference held in Washington, D.C., December 7, 8, 9. It was the first

conference of eastern Indians to ever be held, in our history. It was a history-

making event. As a result of this conference, there was an organization formed

called the Coalition of Eastern Native Americans, of which I was selected as

chairman, of this organization. It's a 29 state organization. And that it en-

compasses New York to Florida, and from Michigan to Mississippi. We are the east

coast Indians, and we are going to address ourselves to the problems of people

in local communities. And I might add at this point, that we plan to use the

Lumbee Indians, as a model for all other Indians up and down the east coast that

come and visit to see what's going on, to see how they can go back and do their

own thing in their own community, because I don't think we can adequately pre-

determine what the solutions to their problems are in that community. What I

think we can help them, to help make those decisions, to eliminate those problems.

And I think that by visiting the Lumbee community, this will give them a very

good experience to go back and to be of great assistance to themselves.

B: Um. That's great. Uh, have you, uh, have you, uh, seen any new problems arise

as a result of the progress that we have made? Do you see any new problems on the

horizon that have to be dealt with, or which may or will command our attention in

the next year or so?

S: Yes, certainly, you know, we've never really been an organized group of people

and we've never had what we called one leader or two leaders, or three leaders,

that could speak for the Lumbee Indians. However, you know as well as I do, that



every flock has to have a leader, uh, of some shape, form, or fashion. Uh, I

don't really have the process by which this can happen, but I foresee the day,

in the very near future, where we will have community leaders, we'll have leaders

in each community, and then those leaders will come together to select a leader for

that group, so that when we speak, um, when that one person speaks, he speaks for

all the people because this is one of the reasons we've been forgotten so many

times, by the powers to be at the courthouse in Lumberton, at our nation's cap-

itol, or even in fact, at our nation's capitol, because on one issue, they could

get at least seven different contrary opinions. And in solving problems, this

doesn't serve as any kind of a catalyst's role. You have to be unified. You have

to have leadership in...some... This is one of the biggest problems that I foresee,

among our people.

B: So you think, uh, what do you thing about the future for our people, Mr. Strickland,

uh, uh, it looks bright, doesn't it?

S: The future is very bright. Uh, I see us as gaining significantly in voices, in

the educational process. I see us as becoming a very, very significant force in

the economics. More Indian-owned businesses, shopping centers, etc., etc. I see

us becoming unified, politically, in that, we will, in the next election, which is

two years from hence, that we will send to the House of Representatives, and also

to the North Carolina Senate, we will send our Indians to represent us.

B: Great. And this is such a contrasting picture from the one that we had, just 5

years ago, wouldn't you say?

S: Very true. Very true. We had nothing five years ago.

B: Nothing at all! Practically nothing, except our schools, and this is something that

our people have always believed in, that our salvation rested in education,

don't you think?



S: Virtually, this has been our survival. Our churches and our schools, have been

the reason we've been able to survive, the white man's vindictive to eliminate us.

B: And right now, for example, when that, uh, decision, the integration plan was

brought into effect, which I refer to as being bogus, as being as bogus as a

nine dollar bill (laughs) uh, it just wasn't that at all, it seems to me. And,

uh, our people began protests and, uh... But what we were really striving for

was not, it seems to me, it was not so much separation, as a chance to participate

in the democratic process.

S: Very true. That's a very significant point, Lew, that I'm glad you made. Uh, is

that we don't want separation, we want participation. This is one of the things

that I truly advocate. And, I, I truly believe that everyone should participate

in a process that affects their very lives, uh, on the political and economic

front, and also on the educational front.

B: Well, do you think this is why the, uh, the political laws have been so .I:c J_

(Co0ut i) to stifle us or eliminate it. Is it because of a fear, a fear that we

might be able to dominate the county if we get at) lA opportunity?

S: Very true. Very true. They don't want to admit that we're their equals. And

they know that if we're give the chance, that this will come out. They already

know it. It's a question of other people knowing it on the state level and on the

national level. The people on the local scene already know it and they've been

able to suppress it, to this point.

B: Yeah. It seems that the cat's out of the bag, now, wouldn't you say?

S: Oh, she is out and I've heard her meowing a long time. (laughs)

B: Well, this has certainly been a delightful and informative interview. I had

looked forward to it and, uh, I certainly extend to you my appreciation and the

appreciation of the University of North Carol..University of Florida's History

Department and the Doris Duke Foundation. And we certainly look forward to



getting Commissioner Blue and any other...body else that might be able to suggest

who would /rir (, i on the history of their people. Uh, we are certainly

0 {I to get them and we're trying to get some interviews. We want

this to be a very comprehensive program. We are striving very hard to make it

that. We certainly appreciate your interest and anything you can do, for the

Doris Duke Foundation. We greatly appreciate it.

S: Well, thank you, Lew. It's been, certainly, my pleasure to, uh, to participate

in this interview. I'm very honored that you asked me to, uh, be interivewed.

I don't really consider myself as \being really a great, great guy. I just try

to be somebody who tries to do just a little bit to help his people.

B: Well, we see ya, we see ya in quite a different light, but, of course, you've

always been a very modest person and you certainly have Zn __ a great

deal and, uh, anything you could say to anyone else, you know, who works in the

field and is informed us about us and about our accomplishments and anything in

that (Lr4e'5 I would certainly appreciate it. Is there anything you'd like to

add to all this? This has been so informative and interesting. I've been sitting

here just spellbound and listening to you. You know, it comes so easily because

you're so familiar with these things, you know.

S: Well, I don't think there's anything else, uh, that I'd like to add of any kind

of significant importance at this point Lew I jus look forward to the
computation of 44t K v\ d (S g. I Il LI.o
computation of b, w you interviewed, and certainly

between Commissioner Blue and myself, we will take a personal endeavor to see

that all the people that played an important prominent role, in our recent

history, and previous history. They will certainly see that you've gotten their

names, and the other people, so that they can be properly interviewed.

B: Well, we certainly would appreciate that because we are operating, as you know,

under some limitations. We don't like to complain about any personal limita-



tions., or anything like that. We don't sit around feeling sorry for ourselves,

but we, uh, anything you can do to help, we do want to put the program high on

the list of priorities and it will be just as successful as we, the Indian

people make it....

S: Right on.

B: ...like the other programs, you know.

S: Right on.

B: And you've always been so kind and so cooperative, that I appreciate you so much.

And I thank God for a young man like you, with your-dedication, with your know-

ledge and with your concern for your people. I say this, knowing that you're,

with all your concern with our problems, that you're not a prejudiced person.

And you never have been. You don't, you're not prejudiced against other people,

but you simply see the need, uh, to serve your own people, you know.

S: That is very true.

B: I hope I'm saying that well, but I know I'm not. I get a little emotional about

what I...about my friends, uh, you know, and I certainly consider you that.

S: Thank you very much, Lew.

B: Thank you very much, and a happy holiday season.

S; (laughs) Happy holiday.

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