Title: Interview with Velma Michison (March 20, 1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007042/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Velma Michison (March 20, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: March 20, 1973
Spatial Coverage: Lumbee County (Fla.)
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00007042
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 52

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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

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
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For all other permissions and requests, contact the
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Lum 52A
Lew Barton
Interviewing V. Michison
March, 20, 1973
typist- aml

B: ... 1973. I'm Lew Barton interviewing for the Doris Duke Foundation's American

Indian Oral History Program under the auspices of the University of Florida.

Today I'm in, I'm here in Pembroke, North Carolina and I am in the pow-7ow...

M: Drive-in.

B: ... drive-in. It's a restaurant, isn't it? And with me is, uh, a lady who

works here. What is your name, would you tell us your ....?

M: My name is Velma Michison.

B: Uh, what was your name before you married?

M: Lowry, daughter of B.W. Lowry.

B: Do you mind telling us how old yu are?

M: I am sixty years old.

B: Sixty years old. Um, and you are of, you're the daughter of Mr. and Mrs.

um, Billy Lowry?

M: That's right.

B: He lived to be ....

M: ... one hundred years old and a hundred and seventeen days.

B: Uh huh. That's certainly wonderful. Not many people are that fortunate. Uh, I've

been wanting to interview you for a long time because, uh, for many reasons but

one reason is that you and, uh, your family have close ties with Old Maini(on the

Pembroke State University campus. I understand that, uh, the land on which it

stands was, uh, uh, received from your father, is that right?

M: That's right. My daddy donated that land to build a Indian High School

on it.

B: Uh huh. He gave the land without...

M: And that's why we gave the land freely.

LUM 52A 2

B: ... without fee.

M: That's right. He did not receive any pay for that land.

B: Uh huh. Uh we'll get on with more of that in a minute. Uh, I want you to tell

me, if you will, about your immediate family, their names, have you got any


M: I have one adopted son, Charles Junior Michison.

B: Uh huh.

M: And I have four sisters, four brothers.

B: Uh huh. Uh, what was your husband's, what's your husbands name?

M: Charles Michison.

B: Charles Michison. Where's he from?

M: He's from PCL t Cl I Kentucky.

B: Uh huh. And you are a native of...

M: ... of Pem, of Pembroke.

B: ... and a Lumbee Indian.

Ms I'm a Lumbee Indian.

B: Well, so anxI and proud to be one.

M: I am too.

B: Uh, tell us something about, uh, Old Main and the circumstances surrounding, uh,

the donation of this land if you can in your own words?

M: Well, I know that my daddy donated the land for the building.

B: Uh huh.

M: So, uh, the building was, uh, built there for the Indians. We had box suppers

to raise money for the benefit of the building. We had picked cotton so cotton

ga, we gave the cotton freely for the.building for the building of Old Maine.

We went out, people give chickens, they give hogs, they give bushels of corn.

B: Uh huh.

M: I helped shell many a bushel of corn around at the farmers to on Old MainL..

LUM 52A 3

B: Right.

M: ... and they would sell it.

B: Uh huh.

M; And then this gathering' cotton that people had... the farmers... they gave that

to, uh, go in and it was all gined into bales and sold...

B: Uh huh.

M: And then we continued having box suppers out there raising money to buy different

things. We had to sit in that building even without shades to the windows.

B: Uh huh.

M: ... cause we didn't have the money but we done everyway we could to raise

money for that Old Main#,

B: Well let me explain a little something here in case our listeners or our

readers don't understand what a, ... our box supper works. Uh, one member

in the family is gonna moo... ladies in the family will bring a box. Does she

have to pay for this, for the food herself?

M: Yes. We bought the food ourselves.

B; And then take it....

M: Then we would take and pay for it and decorated the boxes...

B: Right.

M: ...in different colors and we cooked our food we put in the boxes. We

cooked pie and cake that we carried out there. The last box supper that

I went to and take the box my box sold for fifteen dollars.

B: Uh huh. The boxes were auctioned off.

M: Yeah, they was auctioned off and people would buy 'em for the money that was goine

into the donation of Ole, 6f Old MainW

B: Uh- huh.

LUM 52A 4

M: And we'd sell pies, like, like a coconut pie would sell maybe for five dollars

and that's the way we raised money.

B: Uh huh. Well, I know you're expecting a question like this so I might as

well get ov, get it over with; how did you feel yesterday when you heard that Old

Main* had gone down ... gone up in smoke.

M: Well, I cannot explain how I was hurt. I broke down in tears and went hollering

because I felt like I had lost the most important thing in Pembroke. I'd rather

have seen my home went in blaze than to seen Old Main-because I have insurance.

I could not built me a home bein' happy but I'm not happy about Old Main. It will

never look like Old Maidi anymore.

B: Uh huh.

M: And it was hurtful to know and to stand and see it burnt down like it was.

B: I had an opportunity yesterday to talk to In... United States Indian Claims

Commissioner, Brantley Blue and he said, uh, uh, you know I was pretty well in

the same shape you said... you descred yourself as being in. He said that

uh, after thinking it over, he said, Lew, I don't think we have to worry,

they've really done us a favor and played into our hands, whoever did it.

because we were gonna have to tear out all that wood anyway an4dgo that would

have cost money .it's done now and the bricks can't be hurt Uh, have you

heard any reports on the bricks, what kind of condition they're in?

M: Well they all.., yes, I did. They, uh, checked and they said those
bricks in that building, that you could no go out now and buy the bricks as good

as the ones that 'a standing in Old Main(.
B: Uh huh. I talked to Walter Pinchb/ck, I interviewed him several days ago and

he told me that, I believe he said it was more than a foot thick, the walls...

M: 'tis.

LUM 52A 5

B: ... so it was well built although originally it cost only seventy-five thousand

dollars which seems a small sumn comparison with what they cost today but when

this building was buil in 1923 a dollar was a dollar.
4 4
M: That's right. It looked like a dollar would buy it back then.

B: Right.

M: You have to take fifteen and twenty now to buy it. Yes, Old Maine was,

that was, I.. I'd call it my second home. I was born and raised right there

in front of the administration building Main All that was my

daddy's land and that's where we was born and raised except two of the

children that were, wasn't born and raised down there.

B: How many of you children were there in your father's and mother's family? How

many brothers and sisters...?

M: They was, they ;as ten of us except one, he died when he was three months old.

B: Uh huh. Well, uh, Sam Oxendine is the chief, Fire Chief in Pembroke and of

course we had about ten units helping with the fire...

M: Yes.

B: ... and, uh, the chairman of the Board of Trustees at P.S.U., Harry S. Locklear,

has been quoted as saying to Sam@let it burn, it needs to go down. Um, how do
you feel about a comment like that?

M: Well I don't think it was nice and I don-it feel like that he respected his

neighborhood and he did not respect t-he college that he went to.
B: Uh huh.

M: He don't have any respects for his neighborhood...... and for the ra... and for

the historic building that we wanted to make out of it, he sure don't Lave

no respects for the des... uh, his, uh, descendants of his race.

LUM 52A 6

That's the way I look at it. He don't respect his race.

B: Right.

M: I respect my race and I don't care what race that building wou, would 'a been

built for, I'd still have feelings for 'em. And that's the last building that

we Indians could look to to remind of anything. And I saw more tears shedded

Sunday for that building than any funeral I've ever been to in my life.

B: Yeah.

M: And I can't forget how the governor Tas art when he walked there in the thing.

B: And the governor, vernor, uh, Jim Holjhauser heard about it in Raleigh and

drove over on a CaL immediately, didn't he?

M: Yes he did and he make a speech then and there and he was hurt. And he knows

it was definite set afire.

B: I have, uh, it's been recorded that Chancellor Amish E. Jones did not remain there

to greet the governor.

M: He did not, he did not show hisself, but none of those officials showed up to greet


B: Do you think that might be because Jim Holahauser is the first Republican governor

in this century or he is a Republican gc0 Democrats or do you think....
M: Well...

B: it was the feeling toward Old Main.

M: It's the feelings towards Old Main. They knew how, that Mr. Hol/hauser thought.

Went ot Washington, went to uh, and Raleigh and had people writing' letters to save

Old Main.

B: Uh huh.

M: They know how he felt about Old Main, and they knew that they would get their

feelings hurt if they came there when he came to make a speech and they didn't

want to face him because they knew the kind of man he was, they know the feelings

he had and knows that he's honest man.

LUM 52A 7

B: Right.

M: And 'cause he said he was with us one hundred percent on that building and he would

back us on it. And I feel like that he is done his part.

B: Right.

M: And I do wish they would 'a been hundreds and hundreds of Democrat there, Sunday

night and have found out just what a republican governor is doing for North

Carolina and it's time that the Democrats in.his state wake up.

B: Right. Did you hear, did you hear his speech by the way?

M: Yes I did. I was standing within two feet of him.

B: Did you hear him say that he was offering five thousand dollars reward?

M: Five thousand, he said five thousand dollars reward had been put up.

B: ... um, for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person

or persons responsible for burning the building.

M: That's right.

B: Well, with this kind of reward and already there's talk of upping that, uh,...

M: Yeah, he's upped it now.

B: ...somebody else,... somebody else contributing to it. With this kind of money

riding on informatiordo you think we'll probably find out.

M: I, uh, I believe we will. I think we'll, somebody will come in unle hey get a

better offer to not tell. But it's like I told 'em yesterday, I believe if

the, the detectives would get in here and the F.B.I. men and call somebody on the

lie detectors testers, they'd find out.

B: Of course I suppose none of us know but do you have any idea who might have done

a thing like that?

M: No I don't have any ideas but I mean of who done it but I have a K \I2CS

of a few that was into it, they had to be connected into it, theway it worked out.

B: Uh huh.

LUM 52A 8

M: Because when I went there Sunday there wasn't no windows broken out, there wasn't
4U. e4
no doors open for all this liquid LItrto go in there to set the building on


B: Uh huh.

M: It had to be connections made with someone that knew the building, had the keys

and stuff to get the stuff in there.

B, Uh huh.

M. And after the fire Sunday morning I went back They didn't have nobody

there watching the building. I went all around the building I came back in front

and I stood around and I didn't see any smoke what so ever. No blaze. I got in

my cdt and in two minutes I was back here.

B: Uh huh.

M: And time I got out and walked back around the trunk of my car to go to get the

money, I heard an explosion. A big explosion.

B: Uh huh.

M: And then the time I went and picked the money up in the house, took me about a minute

to do that, came back out, it was just rolling in smoke from one end of the building

to the other.

B: Uh huh.

M: And it wasn't set in just one place. It was fixed to where it would just go in

a blaze from one end to the other.

B: Uh huh. I think Sam Oxendine told me it had been set in at least ten places.

Ms Ten places. And well it had, it had to be set all well on because it went on at

one time.

B: Uh huh. Didn't they extinguish it at one time or when it first caught?

M: Yes.

B: Uh, when, do you remember what time that wa... what time it first caught?

LUM 52A 9

M: Well, its... I AV LVY7' the fire trucks when it woke me

up it was about five twenty, the sunset... it cought at five but it was five

twenty when the sirens ri... woke me up.

B: Uh huh. And they, evidentally they extinquished it, they put out.....

M: They put it completely out and that's when they seen it was saturated with

kerosene and oil.

B: Uh huh.

M;... and why didn't they call the FBI men in on it, why didn't they throw protection

around that building?

B: Well then how much later was it when it went up, when it ...

M: That building went up in blaze at ten past one.

B: At ten past one.

M: Ten past one.

B: Do you think somebody had, just about had to go back and set it?

M: They had to because there wasn't no smoke. There wasn't a bit of smoke _-_ _V

coming out of the vents or them broken glasses when I was there, I looked.

B: Uh huh.

M: And it was impossible that that, in ten minutes that that building could 'a

been in fire like it was if it hadn't been set completely across the building it

would have taken it five hours to got in the shape it was in there in four minutes.

B: I wonder where the campus police is f ______?

M: Yeah, I'd like to know that too because they, they said they was out watching

it at the back. I said did you see me, I didn't see you and there weren't none of

'em seen me and I walked in around there.

B: I know that you've been active in the save old Main program, uh, in the effort ot

save the building and I know how much it means to you. Uh, do you recall that

when we finally pressured the state officials into uh, saving the building that

LUM 52A 10

the P.S.U. administration, uh, Dr. Amish E. Jones, specifically, who is the

chancellor, requested or demanded that the custody of this building remain

to the title of Pembroke State University, which made him the custodian of it.

M: Yes.

B: Do you think therefore he is-responsible?

M: Well I can't see who else would be responsible but him.

B: Uh, he was approached on this subject yesterday and he, he admitted that he was

responsible, that he did request that... building be placed in his custody but he

said I'm not more responible for that building than for any other. I'm responsible

for all of 'em on campus. And of course he said that, uh, he said he was against

the -b Ul p. )lAwpr4 the building destroyed originally but, uh

now it was a different thing.

M: Well, I mean, how do we know, you know, I know, we have a lot of people wanting

this building destroyed. Becasue after it was saved, approved and saved, I got

a phone call from a man and he told me that, he said he, he guessed that I was

very happy and rejoicing and I said why. He said well you know Old Main,
I, (\ ) ) (C )7
is saved. I said yes. I says I thank God for that. He said, well, he says
( ) i) )J )
you saved it because he says you know it can go down in ashes and he hung up.

B: Was that before the fire started.

M: That was, that was last year in 1972.

B: Last year. Uh huh.

M: And then, uh, that was in the, uh, through the week and that Sunday night I got

three phone calls here that said because of bld Main had been saved today they

would destroy the pow-wow.

B: Uh huh.

M: And we, we the workers here, we got three calls that night.

B: Uh huh

LUM 52A 11

M: Threatening to, uh, ( and said they was going to blow up the pow-wow

B: Uh huh. Is, uh, does anyone object to the Indian name pow-wow that you know of?

M: No, not that I know of.

B; Uh huh. I recall seeing a letter to the editor, you know, uh, about an Indian

name or something like that at one time. Um, some people don't want us to use

the Indian terms or this sort of thing or being Indian or act Indian. They want

us to forget about it.

M: Well to me Indian is the full blooded Americans. I'm proud of my race just like

the Irishmens or anybody that's proud of their race and so is the colored people.

B: Right.

M: And I'm proud of my race and I hold my race up and I'm proud of that name out their


B: Right, I am too.

M: Because it goes, it's a, this is a Indian community and all, and I feel like

that that's the only one around here that carries the Indian name, pow-wow, the

rest of 'em is not Indian names.

B: Uh huh.

M:_ And I think it's something to be proud of.

B: Closest think to it I guess is like some, something like Little Chief or, uh,

stories like this. Uh, what do you think we ought to do about, uh, getting

the building renovated? Uh, I think do you think we're gonna have more

support now than we had before?

M: We're gonna have more than would have, would have had because I feel like now

we have people's in sympathy with us and all like that and there's people all over

the United States that's heard of what happened Sunday.

B: Right.

M: :And I do wish the person that did it just knew how the, the nation is feeling

LUM 52A 12

towards them about it.

B: Right.

M: ... and they would hang their face in shame.

B: Uh, we know we have the support of the American Indian Movement, uh, nationally.

We know we have the support of the Cnngress of American Indians and, uh, a

number of other practically the Indian rights organizations. And we know that
Old Main was public ized in the Indian world throughout the country as well

as, uh, in other parts of the population. Do you think we're going to have

uh, offers from, uh, other Indian tribes to come in and help'in any way

we want?

M: Yes, I do.

B: We've certainly won a lot of, uh, respect for Old Main, It's the only

meaningful old thing on campus. It's uh, it's very hurtful, painful

to even think about the building burning. Uh...

M: Yeah, I don't know, if they wanted to get revenge why didn't they set one of the

other buildings afire and destroy that and leave Old Main 'cause the other

buildings could 'a been 1Ui L back and it wouldn't 'a hurt. But they can

never, Old Main will never, the thoughts of it will never die.

B: Right.

M: It will live on and on. That's something that will never die.

B: Well out at Pate's about a mile. Pate's is about a mile from Old Main, isn't it?

M: Yes it is.

B:: Out at Pate's, soon after, uh, Old Main burned, the store up there which belonged

to the R. W. Livermore family, which is presently owned by R. H. Livermore, uh,

do you think there's any connection between the two fires?

M: No, no. There's not no connection between those two fires.

B: Uh huh.

LUM 52A 13

M: It was in def, definitely two different groups.

B: Yeah. Well I just wonder )because they went off so &joe together. Of course, uh,

many people, uh, had great respect for Mr. R. W. Livermore and of course, uh,

I guess that many of our people, um, respect his son, R. H. Livermore also or at

least, uh, some of them do. And the Mary H. Livermore library is named for her.

Uh, it's about the only building on campus that has, was named for a white

person, isn't it?

M: Yes.

B: I was, uh, I was wondering, do you think it's possible for us to get enough

support to have some building or some kind of memorial to Mr. Hamilton McMillan

the one who established, you know, who passed the legislation to, to establish

that University.

M: Oh, I think, I think so because j1 O t n-. 7 4V i s willing to get

in there zad support it all they can. Because, I mean I think now like if they

needed some support somewhere else we would do our part like we're doin' everything

we can to support Wounded Knee.

B: Right.

M: Because they need support out there and they, they need help and we're doin' all

we can here for 'em. And I feel like that for other things in other states that

if we were asked and they needed our support we would do it.

B:. Uh huh. Our people have been a very progressive people and, uh, of course Old

Main was a symbol of that progress which center around education, don't you think?

M: Yes.

B: It's come to symbolize Indian advancement, not only here-in Rob son County but

throughout America. Uh, what do you envision for the future? Now it's been said

that there is a lack of rapport between the Indian community and the institutions

originally chartered by Indians at Pembroke State University. Uh, do you think

LUM 52A 14

this is in fact true thatthereisn't as much contact as there should be between .....

M: No they are not. There not half the contact that they should be made.

B: Uh huh. Uh, do you think this could be improved in any way?

M: It, it could be improved.

B: Uh, would it have to be done from both sides?

M: That'it will, from both side... mostly from one side.

B: Uh huh. Do you think, uh, living here and working here, this near to the

university, uh, do you think the university is doing as much for Indians here

as other universities and colleges are doing for Indians in other parts ....

M: They're doing about S here of what other universities are doing. One, about

one-fourth. c -

B: Uh, I recall a ltter to the ejor ofFhe Robjsonian which was published /
( U, ) V11 -
during the whole ave Old Main campaign and it said that, uh, Pembroke State
University is a white institution in a sea of Indians and it's building up

dikes to keep the water out. Do you agree with that statement? ...or is that

pretty far out, ha, ha, ha,

M: Well I guess I can't without a change in that university I just don't know what

is gonna happen. Without a change it will not be a mixed university it will be

a all white university because the Indians is been so disquisted, discouraged

about going to that university college and so is the colored people because I

have talked to 'em. Then now you take there have been a lot of 'em from New

York down here, different states, will not come back here the way things are

out there. Now the last semester there was lots of Indians quit to go

elsewhere because of the treatment out there in that university. And we cannot

go on with it his is an Indian community It started off as a Indian college

and we cannot sit here and tolerate with that stuff. If they're gonna segregate

let 'em segregate right.

LUM 52A 15

B: Uh, well it's supposed to be fully integrated, uh, but of course we have only

some fifty to sixty black people and, uh, about two hundred ninety Indians at

most according to, uh, estimates. Do you think this is a fair estimate?

M: No, it's not fair.

B: Do you think, uh, 4vA-there might be more or less students, Indian students?

M: They're gonna be less Indian students going to that college because they're getting'

more dis...they, they was more graduated from senior high in '72 than there

are in that college from all the schools and it's because of the way that they

are treated out there.

B: Uh huh. Uh, do you think, uh, do you think Indian students withdraw themselves

from other people, other eth... ethnic groups or are they, ethnic groups withdraw

from the Indians or visa versa or both.

M: I don't know.

B: Well, it certainly is an interesting question and I'm sure we haven't heard the

last of Old Main.

M: No we haven't had, heard the last and I don't thi will ben ftA i/ft

a lot more years to come fore you'll hear the last of it.

B: Uh huh.

M: Because this is something that's gonna remain of what has happened and is gonna

grow stronger. In place of people unitin' together they're doin' things to

pull apart.

B: Well, that's very sad, isn't it?

M; It is. It's terrible to know that we're livin' in that stage.

B: Uh huh.

M: But whenever I see and know how the groups was against Old Main standing' and then

to see it go down in ashes Sunday, I could see that it was growing' stronger and

stronger of the Indians against Old Main.

B: I wonder why people hate Old Main and want to see Old Main destroyed.

LUM 52A 16

M: Well the main reason why that was the last building, first college that the Indians

ever had. It was the last thing that was on that, on that campus of remembrance

of Indians and they wanted it destroyed.

B: And do you think somebody might like to stamp out the Indians out there?

M: Yes they would, they'd like to stamp 'em completely out.

B: Uh, uh, that's, that's sad too, isn't it?

M: It is sad.

B: Uh, what do you think, uh, we should do from here? What should the save Old

Main movement do from here? Get busy and make plans to renovate the building?

M: Yes, that's the way the governor talked Sunday night. That's what he 5t /Ac.

was gonna start doin' yesterday morning and he was gonna put me in down here to

check it to see how far it was damaged and to see what could be done. And I feel

like the burning of it Sunday will get it done quicker because he don't like

the disgrace of the looks of the building' standing there. I don't either and I

feel like the governor is gonna back us one hundred percent and he's, because

he's too concerned over that building -r-' ; UCroiL0-Q

and that's why I feel like we'll get it fixed up quicker now, by it going down.

B: Right. I think we're very fortunate, don't you, that we've got the governor of

this state as a friend? He began his campaign here and he ended his campaign

here and he has great affection for this, for the Indian community and, uh, we're

very fortunate to have him, are we not?

M: Yes we are. We've got a wonderful governor and we are fortunate to have such

a wonderful man as we have sitting in Raleigh as governor.

B: What is your impression of him as a, as to appearance? Uh, doesn't he look like,

isn't he youngish cooking and boyish cooking?

M: Yes he is...

B: He S a very young guy.

M: He does and he seem to be a very religious man. I have met him and talked with

LUM 52A 17

him and he seems to be very religious.

B: Uh huh.

M: And he seems to be concerned of his state. And he told me at the din... Republican

dinner we had at the stables, he said this is the largest group I have had out at

any of my gatherings.

B: Well I think I remember that last night and I taped it and it was something. You

know we had Indian dances all the way down, ha, ha, ha, Indian war chants, uh, and

everybody stood up.and, uh, cheered and, uh, it was very impressive. I guess, uh,

I guess no political campaign in North Carolina ever ended with a more colorful.....

M: No. And he was so pleased that night, it looked like. he was the happiest man

when he walked and seen the group and seen howmany had turned out for that

gathering that night. And I was so pleased too to see him happy and V-

like that. I would have hated to, uh, had that dinner and seen him walk in

and bein' discouraged of the crowd, but he was happy about the crowd that turned

out. He certainly enjoyed it. He's enjoyed every time he has been to Pembroke.

B: Uh huh.

M: That man seemed like he -___ just enjoyed coming' down here. And I don't

feel like that like Sunday, if it had been ajmocratic governor sitting' up there

and he would 'a been called, he wouldn't 'a come.

B; Yes, they've all or most of 'em have slighted us or just made a token gesture

towards us....

M: ... have slighted us.

B: Uh, our former governor, Governor Scott, the only thing that I remember that he

did for the Indian people in this area was to issue a proclamation setting aside

July fourth as Lumbee Homecoming Day.

Me Yeah. That's about all he did do. I never have seen if he's been down here

I don't know it. I never have seen him down here but I can say that I met

LUM 52A 18

Jim seven times and to think that he's been in office no longer than he has as

governor and has done and made his appearance down here. I think it's wonderful.

B: Do you...

M- ...and...

B: ... go ahead honey.

M: ... and I'm thankful for us to have the re...gov...the, uh, republican governor

in there and I do hope the people of North Carolina that their eyes will come

open and see and know the governor that they have and will back that man. He

needs our support.

B: Right.

M: And I say let's everybody in the state of North Carolina back that man.

B: Well, we're very fortunate that he is in office and, uh, we have, uh, in support

of Old Main we've had support all the way from the White House to the house

next door, you might say.

M: That's right.

B: Various groups and individuals, uh, it's a little ironic I think that a campaign

like this has to have its way throughout the United States before it's ever

effective right here at home. Uh, do you think, uh, the administration is

arrogant, stuck up or they don't have,... want anything to do with common

people, ordinary, everyday people?

M: No they don't. They don't want nothing to do with the poor people because

they don't seem to want to tolerate the... they don't think it's got to where

now they don't think they should try to help the poor.

B: Uh huh.

U: Excuse me, m'am. _Ifn yth ae ....... ......

B: Um, tell us some more about attitudes toward Old, uh, toward Pembroke State

University and towards the Indians.

LUM 52A 19

M: Well now they have a ni... a nice professor out there and he is for the right, they

get rid of him like Mr. (C- out there. Now they fired him because he told

'em and tried to show 'em the good things that they could do towards the Indians

out there to encourage 'em and things to help the Indians. Well, they didn't go

for that, they fired him. They just called him on the phone and told him he wasn't

wanted any longer. They didn't like the way that he wanted to help the Indians.

And he told me, he said and told me that there was a lot that .uld be done out

there to he the Indian people in that university but he saiayou're not gonna

get it donk-ecause he said they don't want todo it and they're not gonna do it.

So when he -j' them and they had meetings there /.^f^^/and he brought things

up, they fired him and after the man had done and they done told him he had his

job back out there and they learnt this, learnt that, they went ahead and fired

him. And I, I don't see how they could have fired the man.

B: How about Professor Ackley, did, uh, didn't something like this happen to him?

M: The same thing happened to him.

B: Uh...

M: .... because he is for what is right. See, he is not prejudiced, he was, he believes

in everybody getting' a fair education.

B: Uh huh.

M: And he'll tell, he'll tell you just how the Indians was treated.

B: Uh, didn't he write some letters to the editor of the paper...

M: Yes he did.

B: ... about helping the Indians.

M: He did. And you see he lost his job and they got by with it, fired him.

B: Uh huh. Can you think of any more who might have been fired?

M: Well I can't, of their names right now but I remember those two because they lost

their jobs la... in '72 out there.

LUM 52A 20

B: I've talked to a few of the students from, uh, Pembroke State University and they

seem reluctant to talk and professors seem reluctant to talk. Do you think they're

afraid to talk?

M: Yes, they are afraid because they have, I've heard 'em. I'have heard 'em say that

they're afraid to talk because they're afraid if they say something up or (i'ArL&C

have the board in there to bring things out that they will not make their grades.

I have heard that out of their mouths.

B: Uh huh.

M: ... and I don't think it's right that students has to go in a university in fear

and put up and tolerate with things that's not right in there, afraid to bring

the truth out that they will not make their grades.

B: Well, uh, then you don't feel that freedom of speech is practiced on campus?

M: No, not at the Pembroke State University.

B: Uh huh.

M: They do not have the freedom of speech out there, not the Indians. The Indians

don't have any.

B: A few years ago, uh, just about two or three years ago, uh, a reporter from the

Charlotte Observer came over here and he wrote some articles accusing, uh, somebody

at the university of taking some tapes that he had. Uh, did you hear about

that incident?

M: NO, I did not.

B: Uh huh. Well, uh, .....

M: We have one professor at that university I do think that he should be taken out

of there because he do not like the Indians. He tells 'em that they got to...

how they got to wear their hair and this and that and there's one out there, she

was elected queen.

B: Uh huh.

LUM 52A 21

M: ... and he's done and told her he would see that she didn't get her teacher's

certificate. One Indian girl out there, he didn't like the way her hair

parted. He told her that she had to buy a wig. Her mother bought her a wig

sent her in Monday with the wig on had with the dress and had it so he didn't

like the wig on and told her to go home and get that hair cut and take that wig
C )I /t
off. Well, her mother did and I said why did you do that. And she said I knew
0 )i i
I couldn't come back to class. I said if you would 'a let it been known

you could 'a come back to class. I said you had no business doin' what he
) C()
told you to. I said he's out there to teach you not to tell you anything about
)) }
your hair.

B: Uh huh. Uh, is this professor, uh, you don't want to mention his name, do you?

Me Well, I don't much care about ,y. ".N' /his name.

/Ls far as I know, all I know is his name is Dr. urry. don't know

his first name.

B: Uh huh.

M: And as far as anything here I don't care to know his name. Because I've

heard enough about him. And I've had students that sit with tears in their

eyes and tell how they're scared to go in his class 'just the Indian

the white students is scared to go in his class.

B: Uh....

M4 ... and why have a professor in a university like that and he think he's a big

a big dog out there anyways. Even the professors, some of 'em are scared of him.

B: Uh huh. Well with, uh, your eating establishment this close to campus you have

many students who come in and eat every day don't you?

M: Yes.

B: Uh huh. And sometimes you hear 'em make remarks?

Mi Yes. Uh, last year, though, I mean, before the road was closed out here, I heard

LUM 52A 22

a lot remarks made in here and that's what upset me in 1972 was the remarks that

I heard in here out of those students.

B: Uh huh. Did the students seem to favor the preservation of Old Main or, generally

speaking, or do you think they wanted to see it down.

M: No, they came to me to get signs...

B: Uh huh.

M: ... to save Old Main.

B: They tried to help.

M: They've done everything they could to save Old Main. They was in favor of Old

Main being saved.

B: Uh huh.

M: And I had one students, he's in service now, he was on radio askin' to save Old


B: Uh huh.

Ms They was very concerned in seeing Old Main saved.

B: Well, if there's any place where you might hear complaints about what's going on

at P.S.U., it would be someplace like this, wouldn't it?

M: Yes. Any place where they casually meet. There's three or four places, eating

places here that they meet in and that's where you'll hear it.

B: Yeah.

M: Um, I mean that's where, you have to get the groups together.

B: Uh huh.

Ms And I have heard 'em in a paint supply ;stand and talking' about things. I mean

anywhere you hear it, them are college students.

B: Uh huh.

M: And it wasn't just the local students, it was the, mostly the students from up


LUM 52A 23

B: Uh huh. Uh, you're a brother to Reverend Walter Lowry...

M: Yes I am.

B: And also Mr. Woodrow...

M: Woodrow Lowry. William Henry Lowry, he's a lieutenant at /prison camp.

B: Uh huh. Well, your family is very prominent in, in this county.

M: Yes, we are proud of our county. We're proud of our community. We're proud of

our university. Proud of Old Main. Old MAin feels like we children's second


B: Uh huh.

M: (4gCAA L.- just like I tell 'em, we children went out there and handed

them people many a brick when they was building Old Main.
B: Right. Somebody suggested at one time during the fave Old Main campaign

that they tear the building down and save the bricks. How would you feel if

somebody offered you a brick as a souvenir?

M: Well, if they would tear it down, I'd just ask for a ton of the bricks and one of

the (- out there in front. I would like to put it in my front yard.

B: Uh huh. Uh, well, if they didn't offer you any more than a brick would you

feel like sailing the brick back?

M: Yes I would. I'd feel like throwing it back at 'em if I couldn't get but one

brick out cf it 'cause there wasn't that many concerned of saving Old Main

to get all of 'em bricks and I feel like it would be a lot of brick for one

person that was concerned of saving Old Main.

B: Uh, do you think the tension is pretty high right now?

M: Yes it is. It S and I would hate them right now to find out who

did that.

B: Uh huh.

M: ... the way the tension is about Old Main.

B; Uh huh. The people who went on record as, uh, favoring the destruction of

LUM 52A 24

Old Main. Do you feel that this is gonna make them more popular or more unpopular?

M: You mean to save Old Main?

B: Uh, the ones who went on record as wanting the building destroyed.

M: Well, I don't think they're gonna be popular.

B: You think they're gonna lose....

M: They're gonna lose.

B: ') of the people.

M: They're gonna lose.

B: Uh huh. Well, it is a sad situation, it's very complicated. I don't know who

did it but....

M: Yeah, well 4 Lt anything else could have happened in Pembroke that would

have been would have hurt any worse than what happened Sunday. To see Old Main

standij' see Old Main. I know that all, you've never go to a funeral

and see those many people standing shedding tears.

B: Yeah. It was very sad. I think there were about ten fire departments that

helped, uh, from the various parts of the count..., uh, from the county. And, uh,

and, uh, well I, it's just a day I'll never forget

MN No, I'll never forget it and then every time I go town, I mean, I'll be

reminded of it.

B: Uh...

M: And I do hope when we start on Old Main that we'll have the nation's t7 I /)

I hope everybody will help ... on Old Main. We want to show 'em what we can

do with that building and to the community.

B: We can4 it can be restored.

M: It can because Mr. Pinchback went in there yesterday morning and he said there

was three rooms that go, could go in right yesterday and have gla.tered. And he

said the walls is not hurt in there, the outside walls.

B: Uh huh.

LUM 52A 25

M: ... is what I was talking' to him about. And he said those three classrooms was

not damaged whatsoever.

B: Uh huh.

M: I said well, maybe they'll eventually slip back and finish

burnin' it up. I hope they can't get in there. But I'm gonna try, I went there

- three times yesterday heckin' on the fire. Everytime I went it ....

B: Page two, side two of tle interview with Mrs. Michison. Uh, Mrs. Michison, what

were you saying when our tape ran out on the other side?

M: I said that I had first cousins in about every state in the United States that

went there to high school and went there to college and I felt like they

was in too for Old Main. And I know how they was hurt about Old Main

and I guess, I feel like they asked for prayers Sunday night in their churches

because they told me that this went all over the United States Sunday afternoon.

It was (/r ce and put on the television and on radio of Old Main bein' on


B: Uh huh.

M: And I feel like they went up lots of prayers Euiday night because

they realize and know how we were hurt.

B: Uh huh.

M: ... and I guess maybe the nation knows how we're sitting' here hurt about Old


B: Okay. Well is there, are there further comments that you'd like to make before

we, I guess I've been imposing on your time.

M: Well, I just do hope that things will draw the people closer together and we'll

work closer together, unite together and get this prejudice out of 'em. 'Cause

I don't, I wasn't raised up with prejudice and I don't believe in prejudice and

I went away for twenty-five years in Detroit, Michigan and I did not live in

LUM 52A 26

S__ but I moved back here. For four years I have lived in it and it was

just... liv... like coming' into a wasp nest because there too much prejudice

through here.

B: Right

M: ... and it seem like it's worse now than it was when I left here twenty-five

years ago. And I don't understand a place where people united together

and getting' along together, if they're gonna have mixed schools, we just as well

try to get along together.

B: Right.

M: And if anyone dislikes the Indians, have no use for Indians, why would they come

to Pembroke knowing it's aIlndian community and want to teach in the University.

B: Uh huh. 0 9

M: ... and live here because then their lives, they got to live with it.

Now I went to Michigan up there and I knew why... I, I went up there to

work and I tried to live and get along with everybody and I got a lots of, lots

of friends up there because there's no prejudice up there and they try to treat

everybody alike. And / d everybody a human being and why not us try to

get along as human beings.

B: Well it,.. I'm sure you're not prejudiced. If you were, you wouldn't have married

uh, you know, in the Caucasian race. Uh, that shows that you aren't prejudiced

and, uh, I'm like you I think we should do all we can to er... to erase
prejudice, things like this but hopefully without violence.

Mr That's right. I don't believe in violence. No, I'm not race prejudiced. If I

would have been race prejudiced I would have never left here and went to Michigan

because I know that I wan't goin' up there-in a Indian community.

B: Uh huh.

M: I went up there and I went in a white communtiy and I didn't go up there with my

nose, uh, stuck up either. I went up there and got along with everybody and I

LUM 52A 27

was treated wonderful and I told everybody up there that I was a Indian, Lumbee


B: Uh huh.

M: ... and T could not have asked for any better friends than I left in the state

of Michigan.

B: Well, that's great.

M: And I left hundreds of 'em up there and they... I mean and they think there's

nothing in the world was any better in the church work in me. They put, it

seemed like they put me out front there and treated me just like I was a queen

there. And I was, I appreciate the way that they treated me in Michigan, there.

B: I've heard it said that prejudice toward the Lumbee Indian ends just as he crosses

the county line.

M: It does. Just as you cross the Rob on County line it ends.

B: Uh huh.

M: You can go over into Scotland County and other counties and you'll see a


B: Uh huh. Why do you think we have, uh, this prejudice here at home? Do you think

it's because of fear or just life or what?

M: Well the only reason that I know of is what prejudice AS this turmoil

here in Robison County is what happened years ago, almost a hundred years

ago with the outlaw business.

B: Henry Berry Lowry.

M: The Henry Berry Lowry outlawsA of the way they came in here and done

the Indians and then the Indians the turned on them has, is, it's been a war here

it look like between the Indians ever since.

B: Uh huh.

M: Well, in the place of it dying down it just continues burning.

LUM 52A 28

B; Of course you're speaking of the Lowry uprising which lasted from, uh, 187, 1865

or, to, 1875 abou(67) / A_ AA

M4 About in there, yes.

B: A ten year reign of terror.

M: Um hmm.

B: Uh, are you related to, uh, Henry Berry Lowry?

M: Henry Berry Lowry? That was my grandfather's brother. Held's my grand-uncle.

B: Your gran.. your grandfather's brother.

M: Um hmm. He's my great uncle.

B: Uh huh. There's a book out about him by William McKee Evans called, To Die Agan,

which was published by the, the University of Louisiana, uh, uh, last year.

Have you had a chance to read this yet?

M: No I haven't.

B: I understand it's, uh,it's a good story and it's well written and documented.

How about, uh, Robison County Historical Drama Association and their attempt

to, uh, produce an outdoor drama, uh, which will tell the story of Henry Berry

Lowry? Uh, what do you think of that?

M: Well, I wonder. They say tell the story of Henry Berry Lowry. Are they

gonna tell the story are they tellin' the story in there about how his

daddy was treated, how his mother was treated by the white people out of

Lumberton? What caused him to turn a outlaw?

B: Uh, well I haven't, uh, examined the complete sc... script but, uh, the

Cherokee drama is very realistically done, don't you think? Have you ever seen

it I vqe

M: Yes I have.

B: Uh, it really lays the truth on the line it seems.

M: It does..

B: ... from the Indians point of view.

LUM 52A 29

M: It does.

B: And it's been very successful, uh, perhaps we can do the same, uh...

M: I hope so.

B: Uh, it's bein' written by Randy Umburger who is an assistant of Paul Greene and

Paul Greene is uh, uh, one of the nation's foremost playwrites. Produced the

Lost Colony which has been running for years and years, uh, so maybe we'll

be able to attract tourists into the area, do you think so?

M: I think we will. I do, that's the reason that, uh, I was so in hopes to get

this 'ihr_ Old Main and we need a Indian museum here to attract people because

so many people say it would be nice to have. They know this is a Indian

community and Indian county and that's the way it would bring us all the

tourists in here if we had one. And anything concerning of the Indians here,

it would really draw the people.

B: Right

M: All we'd have to do is **... advertise outside of 74 and 1-95...

B: Uh huh.

M: ... and I know in travelling, I have pulled off to see... to view things like


B: Yes.

M: And because when you...when you see it advertised side of the road well you want

to go see what that is. Well, you enjoy goin', you tell other people, you have

them stop in there and I think it would be the most wonderfullest thing

we could have.

B: Uh huh. Well I certainly hope it materializes and that, uh, all this, uh,

unpleasantness won't affect the play adversely, that it will, you knosomehow

we'll be able to go ahead with the play and produce it. Uh, by the way your

brother, Reverend /6(f0 Lowry is uh, I believe he's on the board of...

LUM 52A 30

uh, Executive Board of Directors for...

M: Yes.

B: ... the VramaAssociation and other people. And I think they're people from all

three races in that. I'm, I'm one of the members too. Uh, well we certainly

look forward with ^444iC cPA -. L Well, you've been very kind to give us

this time, uh, and speaking in behalf of the Doris Duke Foundation's American

Indian Oral History Program I want to thank you because you have given us a

very interesting and informative interview.

M: Well, I've enjoyed it.

B: Thank you s much.

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