Title: Interview with Brantley Blue (April 12, 1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007053/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Brantley Blue (April 12, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: April 12, 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: UF00007053
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 63

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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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Barton interview w/
Brantley lue

B: Today is April 19, 1973, I am Lew Barton recording for the Doris Duke Oral

History Program under the auspcies of the University of Florida. I'm in

my home in Pembroke, North Carolina, and with me is United States Indian:

Claims Commissioner, Branley Blue who has favored us with an interview.

Mr. Blue, you are very kind to be with us, and we appreciate you giving us

this opportunity to talk with you.about some of the interesting things in your


BB: Well,Lew, it's good to be here for several reasons : I'm glad to back

down to my hometown for a few days. It's also good to be here at this particu-

period in our history because it's a very exciting period it seems. I was

talking' to somebody the other day while I was in Washington who lives in

Pembroke, they said what's happening in Washington? And I said, it's a

dull city compared to Pembroke That's where the action is, I'm anxious to

go down there. So I'm down and uh, I'm havin' a very enjoyable visit. And

B: That's great.

BB: And it's a pleasure to be interviewed by you with respect to the Doris Duke

Foundation. I'm pleased to know that there is some group in America who's

anxious to get a little-bit of our history down, particularly orally, so

that something may be retained in the future, even carrying the voices of

some of those who now live.

B: Right. Well, you were instrumental in getting this program here to us too,

were you not, Commissioner?

BB: Yes, I ran into a professor at the University of Florida in Washington and

we got to know each other and he inquired as to whether or not I thought



there would be those interested in this area, in'recording oral history,

and I immediately thought of you and several others and gave him names

and addresses and I'm pleased to know that the movement is underway. You've

told me of some of the persons whom you've interviewed and I'm confident

that you've enjoyed it and that it has been enriching to .. to you as

well as to those that you've interviewed.

B: Well, I certainly thank you for considering me and others in this connection.

If it's alright with you, since this is an interview which is very important

to the program and to all of us, I would like to have Mrs. Taylor come in.

She's also an interviewer so between the both of us maybe we can ask you

some pertinent and significant questions and maybe this will help in the

interview. Is this alright?

BB: Very fine. We'll just make it a three-way conversation.

B: Right.

BB: Sometimes it's more easy to talk to two persons than it is one.

B: Right. Well, I certainly appreciate your seeing us in this connection.

We've been thinking about things like we're seeing manifested for many years,

as you were saying just a little while ago, and that you have certainly been

instrumental in this.

BB: Well, I don't know how instrumental I've been. My work concerns itself pri-

marily with matters that occurred oh, 'round hundred, hundred and fifty

years ago, 'bout a hundred year span. Well, from the time the first treaty

was made until the last onewhich covered a considerable period of time.

But we'll get into that a little bit later.

B: Well, suppose we talk a little bit about your personal biography. Would

you tell us about your ... something about yourself?

BB: I was born here in Pembroke, North Carolina in the Indian community, as an

Indian. Though I don't look the most Indian of all here. We're what we


are. You know the definition is very difficult.

B: Yes, um, huh.

BB: The best I ever came upon was that you're what the community says you are.

You're ... you're what you're treated as being, ...

B: That's good.

BB: And you're what you have lived your life as being. And it's hard to improve

on that definition. But I was born and reared here in Pembroke; attended

... back then of course you know we had all Indian schools, all white schools

and all black schools, and I attended the Indian ... Pembroke Grammar School,

Pembroke High School. Graduated in '42. Then went to Baltimore to work for

a year. Back then we didn't have but eleven grades in high school so I

graduated at the age of sixteen, went to Baltimore to work for a year, then

returned to1 broke and attended Pembroke State College it was at the time

for half a year.

B: Um, huh.

BB: That was during World War II. Then I went into the Navy for a few years,

and upon completing my tour in the Navy, completed my one year college here

in Pembroke, after which I went to Lebanon, Tennessee, Cumberland University,

finished my pre-legal work and my three years law work there in law school.

After graduated from Law school in Lebanon, I took the Tennessee Bar Asso-

ciation. Obtained my law license, then went to Kingsport, Temnessee- some

200 miles east of Nashville, a place where I had never been. I went there

by reputation listening to law students talk from through out the state;

Kingsport, Tennesee app.'ared to be a growing young man's town. So I went

theee sight unseen, after my mother borrowed $300 for me here in Pembroke

at a bank due in 90 days. So I left here to go to a strange I place in

Tennessee to establish a law practice. Which ... knowing what I know now, I

would nver dare attempt anything like that. There's nothing like youth

and i optimism!



B: Right! That's ... that's very valuable.

BB: So I practiced law there for twenty years, during' which time I was city

judge for four years, and was active in various civic and church activities.

Then in 1969 President Nixon appointed me as the first Indian to the Indian

Claims Commission in Washington where I have been serving since that date.

B: How about your wife and your children? Could you tell us about them? Who

was your wife before you married?

BB: I married a girl from Kingsport, Tennessee. Her name was Dorothy Milam.

We have two daughters, Janet, aged 20 who is married and lives in Jackson-

ville, North Carolina presently, and Patti, aged 14, who of course resides

with us in Fairfax, Virginia, and is a senior in junior high--her last

year in junior high. And she of course is in the public school system there

in Fairfax, Virginia.

B: Um, huh. I seem to call ... or I do recall that you and I were awarded,

Jiven awards by the PSU Alumni Association. Was this in 1969?

BB: That was just a few days before my appointment. It was in April of 1969,

I believed I received the Outstanding Alumnus Award for that year and you re-

ceived ...

B: Distinguished Citizen Award.

BB: ... the Distinguished Citizen's Award. Fine. And I felt I was in real high

cotton that night ...

B: Oh, so did I.

BB: ... on the same platform with you.

B: Oh, that's flattery! I seem to recall some anecdotes; you like to talk

about your mother, whom you kid quite a bit, and she is such a ...an unusual

person. Uh, how does she feel about you becoming a lawyer?

BB: Well, when I decided that I would go to law school, and it was my decision,
a little
because I had spent "m/ time in the service and had built up some GI Bill



0 l benefits and I didn't want to see them wasted. So I decided to

go to law school some place. And I told her that I wanted to become a

lawyer and her reaction was immediate, and ...and ... and quite like my

mother. She said, Well, you're signing your death warrantin effect to

hell! And I askedher why? She said, Well, you know what the ---, what

the Bible says, 'bout Woe bein' to the doctors and the lawyers!!! And I

tried to explain to her that in my opinion, according' to my conception,

lawyers back in those Biblical times referred to the Pharisees, the religious

experts, ... the Ten Commandments, and the Jewish religious law was their law

and experts in the Jewish Mosaic law were the lawyers who were in effect

what we today would call religious experts, so the condemnation was upon

the preachers of the day! Not the lawyers of this day! Quite a distinction.

B: I seem to recall that your mother has always been a ... a Democrat, and

you're not a Democrat are you?

BB: Well, I was one by heritage I guess to the extent that you can have a poli-

tical party by heritage. Everybody around here back in those days were

Democrats except for a few, and ... and maybe the postmaster during' a Re-

publican administration, but those few stood out and, and became objects of

amazement, and sometime es scorn and disbelief. It's been a heavily one-

party structured county for a long, long time.

B: Yes, I ...

BB: And I guess, well, I know the young people start off assuming and identifying

themselves with whatever church, whatever political party that their parents

are affiliated with, and of course we all did that. I considered myself a
Democrat until many years later, after having lived/considerable life of my

own. I made a judgment as to which political party I wished to permanently.

associate with and I did the same with respect to my religious affiliation.

I think that every person ought to do that. To me there's no reason, there's


Lum 63A

no logic, there's no intelligence in saying my great-grandfather was a

Democrat or Republican before me, so 1 was my grandfather, so was my father,

and by God, so am I!! If that's their only claim for their political affili-

ation or religious affiliation, if they aren't things that have been thought

out and determined 4 in an individual's own mind, then to me that individual's

thoughts, proclamations are not too worthy of following.

B: As a person who has known you for a long time, I know how persuasive you

are. 'Course lawyers are supposed to be persuasive, but I think you have

a little edge on even some of our brightest lawyers and uh, you seem to have

done quite ...

T: He is the brightest.

B: I ...I have to agree with you. His mother seems to have been persuaded by

this power of his,'cause I remember last year, just last year., she changed

her political affiliation. I went down to the station with her and uh, 'course

they had some forms there. You had to swear that you knew what you.were doing

or something to this effect;anyhow there was a note to be taken, but I said

I think this lady has some religious scruples about swearing and 'course they

knew who she was, and they said,"Well, she ... all she has to do is sign

her name. We'll take her word."

BB: Well, Momma was a ... more than seventy years old when she did that and finally

she became her own woman, so far as politics were concerned, and she ... she

... she registered out of a personal belief rather than because of parental


B: Right.

BB: And those are things that are occurring in Robson County which may be some-

what symbolic of changes that re occurring, and I strongly belief that in-

dividuals should take such actions regardless of age and use independent

i judgment about such matters and we see more and more of it and it's very,


LUM 634

very heartening to see our elders making these type judgments.

B: Yes, indeed. I remember that at one time nobody had hope of a change.

I did a little complaining in the papers. I guess I've written more editors,

letters to more editors than just about anybody that I know, and I guess

people sort of said, "There goes Lew Barton with Lew Barton's lamentations

again." I think the reason that I was tolerated at one time was because

everybody knew I stood alone and you and I have always hoped and dreamed

for the time when people would be awakened to the need of rectifying some of

these grievous matters.

BB: I think there was a long period of time when ouf people seemed to feel that

there was very little hope of real progress, that the only way to get ahead

was to work with fear and trepidations within the system, and without rock-

ing the boat, without thinking their thoughts, but being aware of the thoughts

of the superiors and in effect parroting those thoughts and if anything to the

contrary were attempted, that it would immediately mean your livelihood,

your sense of security, your well-being, and to a very great degree, that was

very, very true. And uh, you were one who, who weas among the first to

come out first, perhaps the first to come out publically in the news media as

the,'the. first among us really, in the news media, as a news man, as a

columnist, as a free-lancer, instilling pride in the Indian community,

instilling pride of Indian-ness rather than it's being something that we

should steer clear of or try to pass for white if we could in order to be

treated gently and reasonably, and it took a long time to accomplish that
but I've always felt that if we could get a goodly portion taking/independent

step, then there would be too many birds flying for ,... for the hunters

to get 'em all.

B: Uh, huh.

BB: And I think we have more birds flying today than ever before.-and there will


before and more because we're not as restricted and cramped up as we were

thirty years ago when the only activity or endeavor that the average Indian

could engage in in Rob/son County was either in the teaching profession or the

farming vocation.

B: Right.

BB : There have been other areas that have opened themselves up economically

in the county, much due to industry that has come into the area, uh, much

due to the servicing aspects of life: Kilvinator refrigerators had to be

serviced, people own more modern appliances, all that has ... requires

service. So the service field has opened up. Many fields have opened

up that were in effect closed completely thirty years ago. And to the extent

these fields continue to open up and se get competent, able, qualified

Indians serving in these various capacities, then it will be to that extent

that we will become a freer and a freer people economically, politically

and socially.

B: Well, that's great. Do you think poeple still fear expressing themselves?

Now we'noticed that in interviewing, I'm sure Mrs. Taylor's had this ex-

perience as I have, that some people are reluctant even to participate

in a program of this kind. Do you, think this is because they are afraid

of retaliation from their employees or something like that?

BB: I think that's a baisc instinct in ... the human being, and I'm sure

that, to the extent that I'm still knowledgable about the Indian community,

in Robison County, and to the extent that I converse with Indian leaders

and others in the county which is quite extensive,I'm convinced that there

is still a ... a substantial feeling like that. But I'm extremelly pleased

by the knowledge that it isn't nearly as rampant as it used to be. It's, it's

less prevelant now.

B: Perhaps there will come a time when freedom of speech will reign in the Lumbee

River Valley. We certainly pray ad hope so. And we certainly hope that



all the facets of democracy will open up to us as to all other peoples.

Uh, could you.tell us about some of the claims that you've worked with or

that you've known about since you've been with the United STates Indian

Claims Commission. I believe you said you've been with them for four years


BB: Yes. Just about four years. The Indian Claims Commission was established by

the United States Congress in the year 1946. i, theoretically, to afford

a forum for all Indian tribes and groups who ad grievances against the

United States Government which would handle those grievances. And of course

there were many grievances unresolved, unsatisfied. Prior to that time if

a tribe felt that its lands were either taken by the United States Government
or taken
without the benefit of treaty,Kby a treaty cession, but felt that com-

pensation was inadequate or that fraud was committed, they would have to

seek and obtain a special act of Congress in order to ... to have a court

of law review the event.

B: Um, huh.

BB: Which was a little bit difficult for ... because we had somewhere near 300

tribes and in order to ave a grievance aired, to get a special act of Con-

gress passed. for that particular grievance was a ocnstant source of friction

and the like. So Congress passed the Indians Claims Commission Act that said

all Indians tribes and groups who have a grievance that they want looked

into, they have five years in which to file the f grievance before the Indians

Claims Commission. They will look into the grievance and try to right the

wrongs if they exist. So those claims were filed; and more than 600 such

claims were filed in all, involving 90% of the land base of the continental

limits of the United States. In effect all of the land base of the country

except the extreme eastern portion which was taken from the Indians f during'

the move westward prior to our becoming a constitutionally-formed nation



as we today. And of course land that was occupied, or lands that the

Indians were removed from prior to that time, cannot and could not be

filed against the United States Government because it could not be held legally

responsible for those things that occurred prior to our forming ourselves

into a nation.

B: Um, huh. Well, some of those cases are certainly interesting. I remember

that a story appeared in Reader's Digest several years ago relative to the

state of Florida and the State of California and it was said at that time

that 80% of California and 80% of Florida legally belonged to the Indians.

Was this an actual case?

BB: Yes, those cases were filed. The only reason that I can see for the 80%

proposition is that of course the Indians occupied all of Florida at a

... at one time, and all of California at one time, the only reason that I

can see for 80% figure would be if a portion, if 20% of Florida were taken

prior to our becoming a, a nation.

B: Um, huh.

BB: And uh, which probably occurred. And there were treaties or such involving

the 80% which the. Seminoles filed before our commission and the same in Cali-

fornia. Uh, but the Seminole case was tried and determined by the Commis-

sion; the California case was pending before the Commisison; evidence had been

received, but an agreement was reached between the United States Government

and the lawyers representing the various Indian groups in California and ...

on a particular figure. The agreement was presented to our Commission and

we approved the agreed figure between the Indians of California and the

United States Government.

B: For a time alot of the difficulties in settling these claims--the fact that

the Indians feel that the land was given them by the Great Spirit or Mother

Earth belonged to people; and ... I recall that in our case here we owned our



lands in common when we were discovered by the first permanent white set-

tlers. Uh, nobody owned individual land, but it was all owned common.

This was a fact of our history and this is a universal fact among Indians

just about isn't it?

BB: Yes, the primary Indian religion uh, worships or has a very high spiritual

feeling for the earth, that is referred to as Mother Earth. The earth gives

life.Today, this is in April of '73, I've been home for three or four days

and it has ben wet for several weeks. It is now dry enough for planting

and just about every person I run into owns a piece of land; they're getting

out their garden; they're ...they're they're using the benefits that flow for,

from Mother Earth for their sustanence, and they're planting the seeds so

that they'll have something to eat within the next few weeks which the earth

produces and gives life to. Theseseeds will receive life and the Indian

concept is that Mother Earth gives life andkthen it receives back the results

of life once that sets in. Mother Earth gives, and Mother Earth receives

and we can't leave the earth unless we go out in outer space.and crash out

there. So the concept of owning the giver to the Indian is incomprehensible.

And a piece of papAer doesn't solve that intellectual problem. And neither

does it solve it for me if you looked at it from the Indian perspective.

Because when a man dies whatever paper he L)S signed or anything else it

becomes immediately without value. Indians regard the earth as something to

be occupied, possessed in order to receive sustenance, not for ownership.

And they've never understood and many today still don't understand the concept

of ownership and title to, to, to Mother Earth.

B: Well, that's certainly is interesting, and it's certainly reasonable. Uh, that

nobody really owns the land bpt it .j.that it is given temporarily by the:Great

Spirit to all of us to be used and enjoyed to sustain us.

BB: Yes, Indians never did as a family or as a person set aside a plot of laa ground



and say"this is mine." They jointly occupied it, they jointly:worked it,

they jointly reaped the benefits and they shared its bounty or its hazards.

It was a joint group venture.

B: Uh, huh. I want to ask you something about Old Main which is inevitable I

suppose. Would you like to talk abut Old Main for a little while?

BB: Old Main is the ...I, I think that in ... in the last couple of years it has

been the springboard from which much has occurred. It is the only building

or was prior to its fire destruction a few weeks ago, the*. only building existing

in ... in this country that ever housed a full year college curriculum for

Indians only. Of course the Indian-only aspect of it ceased to exist about

1950, or '51 immediately before the Brown decision by the Supreme Court. But

prior to that time no ... no one could attend Pembroke State without being

Indian. And Indians were not under the North Carolina law permitted to

attend any other ... higher public institution in the state of North Carolina.

Educational discrimination was quite rigidly imposed by the force of law.

And that being true, this Indian higher learning institution sprang up and

it finally evolved into a four-year college. The building still stood;

'bout fifty years old now it is, and the powers that be at Pembroke State

University and the educational powers of the state of North Carolina saw
fit to remove and replace Old Main as we call her with/more building for other

purposes and there was an effort made by Indians in Robion County to pre-

serve Old Main, to restore her, and to keep it as a landmark because of the

heritage involved and that was a long-fought battle finally won. So far

as everybody could ascertain by those who sought to preserve her and that did

much to rally our people and to instill a sense of pride in our history. It

was the only remaining building on campus at Pembroke State University that

was Indian-oriented to any extent that ... that could relate to a group of



people who had a building that they could really have pride in like that.

And they were most reluctant to see it torn down.

B: Mrs. Taylor's been doing some interviewing on campus recently, I wonder if

she'd give us the enrollment figures, I mean percentages. I believe you

mentioned those earlier. Would you mind tellin' us what the enrollment

figures are at Pembroke State University now?

iT: I think Mr. ... Commissioner Blue probably knows these, but uh, I was

speaking' with the Director of Admissions, Mr. Jason Lowry, as you knby.

He was giving me the figures, he said it's about 80% white, 7% black, and

maybe 13% would be of Indian ... not necessarily all Lumbee; we have some

Creek, some Cherokee, some ...as identified with the Tuscarora movement.

In fact we have some Tuscaro$ra on campus; some of which I've interviewed,

some students. And I wonder how you view these, these group of people?

It's a small movement in number but how do you see them from your po ition

where you stand?

BB: Well, I find it to be very interesting. The nucleus frmm what I can ascer-

tain, the nucleus of the Tuscarofra movement comes from a particular section

of the county and primarily from a particular group of Robsotn County

Indians that have more or less throughout my lifetime considered themselves

closer:.allied with each other than with the outside area, be that outside

area occupied predominately by white,black or Indian. And they have chosen

to become known as TuscaroAra. I don't understand the accent on blood tests

because there's no blood test that can denote Cherokee, Tuscaro a, Creek,

black,-ae, white, green. or yellow. I don't understand the blood test re-

liance. I'm convinced that when the Vt came down here with an expert on

that it was just a sham. And I give no credence to that. But for

whatever purposes historically I don't question, but that oral history, that's

what re're dealing with. I think perhaps the oral history of that particular



segment of the Indian populace in Robson County has Tuscaro -a sources

I'm not that familiar with the particular oral history of that par-

ticular segment of people in the county, but in my opinion the name and ...
I 'I
and the word Lumbee is scorned by these particular persons. I guess there

may e what two, three hundred of them though.

B: Something like that.

BB: There's some 35,000 Indians in Rob/son County. And the act by the North

Carolina legislation, by the United States Congress, denoting the fact that

all Indians in Rob4son and adjoining counties shall be known as "Lumbee"

simply sought to give a ...gave an identity to all persons of Indian descent

in this area so that instead of just simply saying that Indians, that there

would be some more descriptive word which is "Lumbee." I see no problem in a

in an individual saying "I'm Lumbee;" that means in effect that you are an

Indian from this area of the United STates. In addition to that that person
could say, "I'm Cherokee," "I'm Creek," "I'm Tuscaroora," whatever. t

,f LI identity that individual or group of individuals desired in ad-

dition to the overall umbrella of Lumbee would ... would be perfectly ...

I don't know of anyone who complains about those things, but _O_ this

groups then to say"well, we hate the name Lumbee, we urge everyone to be-

come Tuscaro#ra," that ... that's their problem and I'm not too ... I'm just

not sold on it a'tall.

T: I had this analogy g ven ... given to me on yesterday or sometime this week,

and I'd like for you to comment on it. They compared it with the Black

Power, saying that we are now in a Red Power movement. As Martin Luther

King did, he went through legal channels, he was more of a passive type

of person. Many people that 0 followed him or, you know, it was this way

too. But he also had the Black Panthere there to kinda give this threat

of force if it was necessary. Now some Lumbees have said that the Tuscaroora



is in a sense an analogy to the Black Panthers. That we have to agree they

$ are perhaps more militant, but ... and Martin Luther King perhaps would

be compared to our Carnell Locklear, or Cornell, with the Eastern Indians'

aims. Now he calls on the Tuscaro#ras perhaps to give this sense of
threat or force. Is this necessary or is this just something that someone

hsa made analogy of out of someone's imagination or how do you see it?

BB: I think it may be a true analogy. Through our old history there's an old
saying that the squeaky wheel on a wagon gets oiled first, you know. Uh, it

may be a true analogy but for someone to sit down and program that kind of a

thing, I don't think that has happened. I ... looking from way off with

a perspective of the whole picture that might be the way the ... the puzzle

might be, being placed together, but I think that every person has to live

with his own concepts. I just don't believe that the .... I just don't believe

in force. I just don't believe that the that the ends justify the means

in all instances a't'all. I believe that the true power in, in our system

of government is the pwer of the vote, far more powerful than the threat of

force. And I would much prefer leaders of the Indian people of whatever

group being concerned with making the strength known at the ballot box. Now

that will threaten a politician more effectively, more meaningful and more

constructively than the threat of a burned something, or physical harm. That

tends to perhaps raise the ... strengthen the backbone; if, if if somebody

threatens me physically I tend to react not in a cringing fashion, but if

somebody threatens me if I were a politician at the ballot box then I would

tend to react, well now what can I do about this? If I'm not doing the right

thing, what can I do? What should my attitude be with respect to this question

that so many people are disagreeing with me about? If they're disagreeing

with me, am I right?

T: 'Scuse me Commissioner, let us cut the reel.

CC./J> OF 0r-D &> N-



B: This is side 2 of the interview with Commissioner Blue of.Washington,

D. C., also from our own area. tod were saying when we interrupted by the

end of the tape, Commissioner, that staying within the legal realm and

operating at the ballot box instead of demonstrations and militancy and this

sort of thing is preferable to the others.

BB: Well, I didn't rule out demonstrations, and I don't rule out militancy. I

rule out force, and the threat of force.

B: I see.

B: I do it on a logical basis. To the extent that we have advanced from the cave

man days it has been the extent to which we've tended as a civilization to

rule out force in determining the, ... manner of living, and the way of

living in communities. If, if we resort to force then, br4wn becomes ...

we become a nation of brawn rather than a nation of brains. And, and in

all civilization anytime they speak publically, if they're responsible, they

frown upon force. Even nations that make war.

B: Right.

BB: Their public prodomations are "We don't want war;" "We don't believe in

war." Well, if ... why does everyone say that if there's a more reasonable,

if force is more reasonable? Now to justify one group using force you must

then justify that other groups equally have the right to use force.

B: Right.

BB: And if you resort to force in solving your problems why then make a distinction

between men and animals? Why / that we are the superior something that God

made? Because He gave us a soul, He gave us a mind, He gave us intelligence--

that places us in a position to have dominion over the fish, the animal, the

fowl and the like. If we just resort to force. And I don't know of any

group around here that publically proclaims the use of force. Not a

groups that I know of. Because it doesn't cut the water. It doesn't soften,



it doesn't make sense to the extent that it is publically proclaimed.

And we ought to publically proclaim that which is force, if force is best,

it ought to be publically proclaimed. If it is not best it should not be

publically proclaimed, and it is not publically proclaimed.

B: Um, huh.

BB: We would be going backward, backward, backward, anytime we admit that ... force

should be ... that might makes right. This just makes me sick. You

can't believe it, you can't advocate it. Mankind cannot progress if his

pledge is "might makes right." It's got to be the opposite; right makes


B: Right.

BB: And that's where the ballot box comes in. This is our system of persuasion

through selectivity. We're a political ...when I say politicians I don't

mean that with disfavor, because we're a political system.

B: Right.

BB: We need politicians, but we need politicians who are responsible to the

needs of the people, the desires of the people, the reasonable demands of

the people. We don't need politicians to yield to force or the threat of

force. That keeps him from being the man that he ought to be, and
that's what makes the back bow /... if force is threatened. It can never

be condoned.

B: You're saying ...

BB: Not to me it can't be condoned.

B: You're saying that force generatesCgunter-force.

BB: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, there's no other way, there's no other result.

BB: I want to ask you one question about the legality of the name "Lumbee."

This is the law of the land, is it not?

BB: Yes.



B: This is true on a national scale and the state scale?

BB: Yes, this group of people is known all over the country, and in a favorable

way by the, the word "Lumbee." And it was initat&d by Indian. I, I don't

get the ... it's my understanding of the history of the word "Lumbee",

that Indians in Rob/son County initiated the word "umbee" and presented

to the legislative powers the request of the name "Lumbee" both on a state

level and on a Federal level, and I don't understand it being said that

that's a name given to us by the white man. Of course it was given to

us by the state legislature and by the United States Congress at the re-

quest of the Indians in this area following a public vote which was over-

whelmingly for the word "Lumbee". And it's distracting to me that the very

group that says "Lumbee" is a word given by the wite man that group is

seeking recognition for the word "Tuscarofra" and only the white structure

can give 'em the name "TuscaroFra" and make it legally--it just doesn't

cut fate.

B: Right.

T: Commissioner Blue, how many Lumbees would you estimate that we have in

government positions today in Washington?
BB: Well, you say in government positions --we have/considerable number as

secretaries; we have considerable numbers in... in various agencies that

are government-related. I don't know that anybody knows the exact number.

We have Indian ... we have Lumbees throughout the Washington area in, in

business, in industry in the educational field; we have principals of

schools, we have fine educators in the entire Washington area; the longer

I live up there I run up on twenty and thirty groups of highly able,

capable Indians from down here living in that area that I didn't know

lived. Every few weeks I run into other so-called clan, and, and they,

they live in the finest of homes and they're some in some of the bigger


cities who don't live in very fine homes. They, they kinda live in the

... in the ghetto. They're those who haven't really had the opportunity.

But you have in my opinion more in the area who live very successful

lives in all walks of life than you have who live under those under con-

ditions that I mentioned also.

B: That's certainly interesting.

T: But it seems to live in this more, more abundant life, if I can say that,

you have te leave the area and I believe you spoke something about that ....

BB: Oh, that used to be. That's what my father said on his dathbed some

thirty years ago. Um, he called his older, he had nine children, and

called his older ones around and in effect said if you want to ever amount

to anything, you must leave Rob/son COunty. And that was very true back

then, I think. It was a very practical suggestion because the only two

avenues that were really open for the Indian populace was teaching and

farming. And the teaching field as you know, Lew, was quite crowded. It

always has been quite crowded here in this section of the country because

that was about the only way that a that an Indian could progress and

assert himself and participate vocationally or professionally in this com-

munity. And things have changed drastically, however, since that time.

Many field have opened as I mentioned earlier and, and achievements can

be attained here without having to leave our ... the cream of the crop no

longer is going much is remaining. And all who go, I don't want to get

... you to get me wrong, everybody who leaves here is not the cream of the

crop. Everybody who stays here is not the cream of the crop. I think to

tf-extent that we have such as "cream of the crop" stuff, I think that it's

getting more balanced now than before. They're not leaving in droves,

they're not staying in droves, they're being scattered all over the coun-

try, ht yet they have those home ties. That, that's where the feeling of

Indianness I think comes in very, very strong. There is this communal



feeling even though it ceased to exist here long, long, many, many years

ago so far as owning land in common. But yet the communal feeling among

the Indians in this area is very strong, and uh, the lack of a particular

tribal identity and the like doesn't destroy the Indian feeling, the to-

getherness, the identity and the pride of it all has been on the increase,

not on the wane.

B: Well, do you think it's true almost all the Indians who leave for economic

reasons eventually return to Rob son Cdunty and to the Indian communityO?

BB: No, I don't think they return and take up residence. Um, but there, ...

they have ... they regard home as one place and that's Robison County.

When the say "home" they mean Robson County. I'm going' home--that's where

they mean. But I don't think that the majority of them return here to

reside, do you?

B: .No, I wouldn't think so,but they always invariably, almost invariably

regard this as home.

BB: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Very stroily so.

T: I want to reinforce for the benifit of our readers and listeners that you

are a lawyer, and so I want to ask you for some, you might say,blanket-

coverage legal advice, for our people, I'm speaking' of Lumbee or all, ...

my definition of ndian" is as an attitude, as an attitude of Indian-ness.

'Course it doesn't tell as many things, but you're familiar with the Doris

Duke Program and what it is trying to do and I have encountered people

who feel so intimidated so fearful of speaking' ... even tellin' their

story, their own personal story of how they came 4A rough some, maybe

political machine or something Could this ever be held against them or used

against them job-side in any position, or how do you see that? What would

you say to these people that feel that way?

BB: Well, that would depend entirely upon their superiors and they know their



better than I. The, the feeling of pleasing your superior,or feeling

the need to please your superior, and and, and feeling the risk

of non-self expression because it may displease a superior and result

in a discharge of a, of a job is not restricted to the I- RObison County

Indians. It's true in Washington, it's true wherever you go. But I

think that much of it occurs because of the uncertainty and insecurity

of the individual involved rather than a ... a ... I think perhaps most

of it ... more of it is imagined than is real. Some people tend to go out

of their way not to displease their superior because there is a risk. Others

... at the same time I see this happen. Others become very outspoken,

but reasonable. Uh, and to an extent it gives them added security because

they have spoken out and they feel stronger and it makes abetter, stronger

man or woman out of them because they do insist upon this something

that is within each and every one of us whether it's controlled and dampened

or not to be a free agent--to freely express your thinking and to be per-

suasive and ... there are those who exist that feel as you do but my mother

had a particular word for those type people that I shan't put on tape.

But it was most descriptive!

T: We wish you would! I didn't .... I want to establish it's not that I feel

that way; I say I've encountered people who feel this way.

BB: Oh, yes. No doubt.

T: In simply refusing interviews.

BB: I say that this is true all over but I think perhaps it's more true here

because there has been economic oppression, there has been political op-

pression, there has ... these oppressions have occurred here; they still

exist to te extent they have not been disgorged. They will continue to

exist and it is stronger here ... than in other places perhaps. But I

can understand it, and at the same time I can't understand it! It



constitutes an enigma for me. And there's no way that ... these are

things that each person has to figure out in his or her own mind and heart

and soul.

T: At first it would appear as apathy; as a ... as a person coming from the out-

side; but thenpu understand that it's not. You learn that it's .. this

...it's really just fear.

BB: There is a real reason for fearing in many instances. And each person has

to make ... like I say they know their superiors better than any ... any-

one else and I, I, ... I think that each such person ought to try to make

certain : does my superior really feel that way?

T: Um, huh.

B: It's been said that"freedom is never free." Do you think this is applica-

ble here?

BB: You have to achieve it. Each generattion has to win freedom all over

again. It's not somethingyou can set up ona closet e shelf and expect to

remain there til i you return. It has to be wonAand rewon by every genera-


B: And kept.

BB: And guarded very closely.

B: The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

BB: Eternal vigilance alone is the price you i, pay.

T: I want to ask you ...

BB: I think Thomas Jefferson said that if I'm not mistaken.

T: Possibly, I should know that hut from an educational standpoint tell us

what you're job is all about. The Com--, the Indian.... you're the Com-

missioner .... give us your title and so that students or whomever, ...

what ... what is this EF kl I about ... the Indians Claims Commission?



BB: Well, it's a judicial body; it's an independent, judicial body in effect.

The commissioners are appointed by the President, approved by the United

States Senate and serve for the life of the commission. That gives a

sense of indepency because we don't serve at the pleasure of the President

or the Senate or anybody else. We serve for the life of the commission.

And uh, the Indian tribe for instance that has a claim with respect to to

nine million ... let me, retrace what I was about to say because one

of the tapes went out. As an illustration: an Indian tribe that in 1870, for

instance ceded to the government nine million acres of landwhich was not

uncommon. The government paid fifty cents an acre for the nine million

acres. Some years later the Indian Claims commission was formed. That

Indian tribe or its descendants come before the Commission with a claim

4 saying our land was really worth more than fifty cents an acre. We knew

that if we didn't cede the nine million acres for fifty cents an acre,

that we would be arbitrarily removed from the land anyhow. We acceded to the

government price because we had no other alternative. We should have in

all fairness and in.all justice been paid more per acre because of the mar-

ket value of the land was worth more. We consider that. The Indian

tribe brings with it expert's,, anthropology experts, experts in history,

mineral experts; whatever is necessary to prove the real value to the ex-

tent it can be proven of the land at the day it was taken. Out of nine

million acres a portion of the nine million acres might best have been fitted

for timber land so they need experts to show what the timberland was worth,

what the mineral rights were worth, what the grazing portion of the nine

million acres was worth; if that was that's portion's highest and best

use. So we listen to all sorts of such expert testimony and the government

brings in its witnesses who are equally expert, giving the governments

version of what these lands were worth with respect to their highest and best

and finest use. And of course the experts differ. We have to decide between


the experts and make a judgment as to what the land was in fact worth

as we view it from the evidence as of the date it was taken from the Indian
either -/ cession or by force or whatnot. And then we if we feel that

the price that was paid the Indian tribal group was unconciousable, was

unfair then we can say it was in fact worth such and such. And give

a judgment against the government for that difference. Now ... so the

purpose of the commission is to right the wrongs to the extent poss-ble

of the past. Not current matters.

B: Uh, huh.

BB: No claim that came into existence after 1946 can be filed before the com-

mission. So current problems, current matters are not within our judicial

domain. Those matters are within the Bureau of Indian Affairs which is
separate and aprt.from the Indian Claims Commission. Those matters are
matters of concern to the United States Congress and governmental agencies

that are presently administering the needs of the people which do not

fall in our jurisdiction.

B: Commissioner, last year I recall that you were asked to do an intro-

duction to a reprint of all the Indian treaties made and I'm sure that was

quite an honor that you were chosen out of all the others to do this. But

/ could you tell us something about the number of treaties?

BB: Well, there are over 300 treaties that were entered between the United

States government and various Indian tribes and groups. And then there

were agreements that were entered and of course executive orders that

issued by the President# whichh set forth rights of Indian tribes, par-

ticualr tribes or groups depending upon what the problem wa () you i had

... you had a vast number of agreements or treaties and then you had all

the.statutes that Congress has passed relating to various Indian tribes.



Now for instance when we give a judgment now for a particular Indian

tribe based on historical grievances which are the ones that fall be-

fore our commission, that judgment is looked at by the Bureau of Indian

Affairs and the Department of Interior they determine what Indians are on

the rolls of that tribe: who are entitled to be on the rolls of that

tribe in order to determine who will participate in that particular

award. Then that plan is presented to the ... and how it irill be dis-

tributed; whether or not the tribe will receive the full award and di-

vide it among those enrolled as a member of the tribe or whether a por-

tion of it will be issued or distributed per capital to the Indian members

on the tribal roll of that particular tribe or whether a portion of it

will be retained by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the use and bene-

fit of the tribe collectively. And Congress has to make the final de-

cision as to the distribution of the award. After we send to Congress

our amount ... the amount of the award that we made then Congrees appropriates

the money to pay it and adopts and approves a plan for distribution to

the Indian tribe.

B: There's one thing that's always troubled me about this. Of course it's

good that we have this much adjustment but the matter of ... and you have

to ... certainly have to operate within the law ... but what bothers me is

that whatever acts established the Indian Claims Commission and their pro-

cedure and so forth seem to have ignored the matter of interest because

the interest on all this land over the years would.certainly amount to a

great deal!

BB: Certainly would, Lew, and it's ... even though the effort of the Congress

was to attempt to finally bring about justice between the Indians the

United STates government the act did not go far enough in my opinion be-

cause we are required to give an award based upon the market value of the

land as it existed at that time. So say a hundred years ago the market



of property was a little bit of nothing compared to what it is today.

In the meantime the Indian tribe is been without the proper amount of pay

for the land and without the land itself and they get no interest for

that period of time because the United STates Supreme Court ruled years

ago hat interest against the government cannot be awarded by any court in

the land without the consent of the United STates government. And there is

no act which provides for us to award interest so therefore we cannot

award interest. Inflation has mounted and is still mounting since the

day fat the lands were taken and this still a big gap between true com-

pensation and what the Indians are receiving today. Many people say why

make a difference in Indians and other persons in this country. Well, in

treaty after treaty when the government would have ceded to the government

millions of acres of land by this particular Indian tribe. they would put

"you do this and we will give you the facilities to compete in life; we.

will train you and provide you. We will train you with the knowledge;

we ill give you the facilities; we will give you the tools with which you

can compete with all Americans;"put you on an equal standing in effect

in return for the land and, and the government has never done that. The

treaties have yet to be kept. President Nixon in his 1970 address, special

Indian message to the United States Congress said in no uncertain terms,

that of allthe groups in America that Indians are the most socially, eco-

nomically and educationally deprived of all groups of persons in this

land. And it's still somewhat startling that the first Americans are the

deprived Americans today. So that ... I, I think that the government has

much to do before they can say we've done all that we ever promised to do

for the Indians. They, they, they really haven't scratched the surface yet.

T: Do you see ... there has been a desire expressed here for a person to go

to college and to major in Indian Studies, to get a major in this field.



I'm told that there's not a university or college anywhere where a person

could even get a PhB. in this field although in the Black Studies move-

ment and this kind of thing, they do have degrees.

BB: I think you're perhaps right.

T: Do you see ...or envision ...

BB: But I don't think it'll be long before ... because many colleges and univer-

sities are more knowledgeable about the true plight of the Indians. You

see after ... the move westward the government would get all the pro-

ductive land really that the Indians owned. And then say, in return for this

section of land, we will now by treaty set aside this particular land for

you to use as your reservation and almost inevitably that land was de-

sert--unproductive. But the Indians would be herded upon that land, whether

they wanted to go and remain or not. Out of sight out of mind and they

remained there until very recent years America has rediscovered the In-

dians on these reservations. And, and many colleges and universities,

higher institutions of learning ... they're very concerned about that his-

tory; they're very concerned about the present conditions and they're making

it a point to deal in Indian studies, Indian history; to make college stu-

dents university students more aware of the true situation and I don't

think t'll be long before they start issuing doctorate degrees in Indian


T: Do you envision that perhaps this could be funded from .. some or some help

from the government?

BB: The government or universities could do it themselves. Private foundations,

there several sources. But like everybody else all these sources are

pretty well strained today, economically. _It's ... we're living in that

periodbf time.

B: Do you think that the Lumbee Indians are ... talking' about the Robfson



County Indians, when I say "Lumbee" I mean all those covered by the acts

relating to the Lumbee Indians of North Carolina. Uh, do you think

we're more fortunate insome ways than reservations Indians?

BB: No question about it. Absolutely no question about it. There's more

productivity here. And uh, we have had better schooling generally than

the average Indian on a reservation, we're more advanced, more diversified

and better off.

B: We're freer anyhow.

BB: Yes, weC ...participate in, in the political struture of the county more

and nre and more.

T: Someone has made the observation that the Lumbee Indians are very politi-

cally minded. What do you think accounts for this and what would be your

comment on this as compared to other groups or ?

BB: Well, the Lumbee Indians don't have a reservation. Now the reservation

Indians are very politically -minded in dealing with the Bureau of

Indian Affairs because that's where the power is, that's where the source

of relief comes from for them: the BIA. So they're very politically-

minded with respect to the Federal Government and the Bureau of Indian

Affairs. We have never here been on a reservation so we don't have this

relationship with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Our relationship comes

from the state and the county. So we're politically-minded because that's

the aurce of relief that we may achieve for our schools and other well-

being. Just like any other American looks to the county school board,

looks to le county commissioners, looks to the town mayor and aldermen

or whatever it is; the people look to the source and that's where they use

their politics. That's why we're more politically-minded when it comes

to state and local government than are reservation Indians.

B: And we don't have a BIA imposed between us and the Federal Government


iUM 63A

or the state government?

BB: No, sir. No, sir. No, sir.

T: You mentioned earlier the importance of the vote. Could you comment on

the double-voting issue that we have here, that it is a problem, and what

perhaps do you se as a solution to this?

BB: I think most groups that I have seen, or persons, that I have seen an

expression from in the newspapers or over the radio or by talking to people

agree &at there has been an inequity in the double-voting situation.

To where embers of a municipality, citizens of a municipality, who have

their own school system and control their own school system should not

rightly at the same time control the county school system and partici--,

have equal participation in the county school system where they're not

even permitted to send their children if they live within the city limits

of these municipally owned school districts. Uh, I think everybody tend

to acknowledge there is an inequity there. It's a long-standing,

structural situation that isn't surrendered at the drop of a hat. I was

pleased to see the legislature make progress and to come up with a com-

promise bill that seems to at least be an improvement over what we had

and I won't go into detail about the structure on this tape. But I was

pleased to see a step of progress made, and I'm very hopeful and, and it's

being pointed out by Indian leaders that it is to be hoped that this is

not the ultimate in, in remedying the situation. That in the future it

will be more ... even more equitably administered.

T: In our bcal area here we regard September I believe the 22nd as American

Indian DAy. Many people again voiced their wish for it bein' ...American

national holiday. Do you envision this or would you support such a

thing, or how do you ... how do you feel about it?

BB: Well, I havepersonal concept of the value of declaring national holi-

days. I don't ... I don't think one out of ten persons give any thought


to whatever the occasion is when. when they ... have a national holi-

dayexcept it's a day off maybe. But beyond that I don't think that there's

much thought given the, the reason for it's historical importance and ...

T: You don't think it would improve their pride or ...?

BB: I don't think it would be constructive, not particularly, no. I ... I'm

more interested in other things bein' done than a day called Indian Day,

and I wouldn't feel any achievement in saying, "Okay, all America is off

for the day because it's Indian Day." Because all America is not sitting'

down n that day thinking about the problems of Indians and wanting to do

something about them. I don't think we ought to waste a day.

T: You 'B3ss :. ....

B: Use that day towards solving our problems.

BB: Right. Rather walk up to a man say "What have you done our people to-

day?" And not let him claim that, well, this is Indian Day and I'm not

supposed to do anything for 'em!

T: That's a pretty good answer.

B: I had a question in mind. It escaped me just now. Uh, but uh, I'll

give you this other one. That is, I want to get it in before it's ... be-

fore we get along too far. Sort of a hypothetical question. If you had it

within your power to change anything for the American Indian, one single

thing, what would you change?

7 ?You speaking' as a group, the whole collective ...?

B: The entire American Indian group. Throughout the United States. Through-

out the A #-H, c-.s) re41 .

BB: I don't know that I would changeLew. I would and this is very, very dif-

ficult question to toss at a fella that when he's never considered it

before in his life. I don't think that it would be a change. I feel that

thebLggest problem among reservation Indians is this: you have and I



think perhaps this accounts for so much, such a high suicide rate

for instance among the teenage, Indian teenagers. It's higher, at

least three times higher than it is among any other group of Americans.

You have your ... every tribe has at least two factions that I come in

contact with and they're always there. The traditionalists, who tend to
1 II
look backward, who resist change. And the what you might call modernists,

who say let's get into the mainstream, let's compete, let's change, let

us progress, let's adopt programs and let's go, go,go. And there's a

real cleavage between those two groups. It's very difficult to belong to

both factions because they're so conflicting. I feel that there's much

in the Indian heritage and Indian culture to be retained. And that can

be retained. And I think that the Rob/son County Indians have proved

that perhaps more so than the average Indian group. We still have our

identiry, our guoup identity, our affinities with each other, but yet

we tend to accept the theory that we need to compete too--economically,

socially, politically. We need to be in the mainstream, we can't under-

stand the system unless we get into the system, we can't compete with

the system unless we understand the system. We need lawyers, doctors

engineers, teachers--we need to be representative of the entire structure

so that we'll know the structure, so that we can be aware and I tend to
M\ otecrn'5+PS
go with the annQeri as opposed to the traditionalists. If we have to

do one or the other. But I see no reason that both can't --- both, both

courses can't run That we can't retain our culture, our history,

pride, our identity and at the same time be in the mainstream. And if I

could, if I had a wish that I could do, and achieve I htink htat would be

it--to let the Indian, the traditionalists Indian know that you know you

can do both. That you need not in order to retain your culture and your

heritage turn your back upon today's ... methods. We 've got to have both.



And, and that I would seek to have if I had had it in my power, but of

course no man has that in his power It's gonna take a long time for this

problem to solve itself. That's ... that's the:real problem confronting the

American Indian as I see it.

B: We seem to be always running out of tape when we 're talking to you. And

I'm glad it's like this but are you getting tired or could you talk to us

on another subject?

BB: Well, I ... I guess we've just about covered as much as anybody will sit down

and listen to, I thoroughly enjoyed it; been very challenging of course

and ... I hope I've done a credible job.

B: Well, you certainly have. Don't you agree, Mrs. Taylor?

T: I certainly do. We feel very honored and we're very appreciative to you

to have gone through the imposition of e./1 j 6 --- 4 takin' all

these other things, but we're certainly grateful to you. And for myself

and on behalf of Doris Duke Foundation and the contribution that you've

made to history, contemporary history, I want to say thank you.

BB: Thank you. Been my pleasure.

B: I want to say thank you, too.

BB: Thank you.

T: I want to shake your hand. and say congratulations and keep up the good


BB: Thank you.

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