Title: Interview with Ray Elk (July 10, 1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007100/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Ray Elk (July 10, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: July 10, 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: UF00007100
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 113A

Table of Contents
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
Full Text


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

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

This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limts the amount of material that may be

For all other permissions and requests, contact the
the University of Florida



Interviewee: Ray Elk

Interviewer: Dexter Brooks

Date: July 10, 1973

B: Ray H. Elk of Pembroke. Today's date is 10 July 1973. Mr.
Elk, when were you born?

E: September 10, 1921.

B: And where were you born?

E: Pineridge Agency, South Dakota.

B: So you are originally from Pineridge. You are of Indian

E: Yes, I am an Oglala Sioux.

B: What I am interested in primarily, is the aspects of your
life after you became acquainted with the Lumbee. The first
question will be, when did you first hear of the town of
Pembroke, under what circumstances?

E: I was stationed near Pembroke, in Maxton, going to the Army
air base. I was told about these people here and I became
acquainted with them in the little town of Maxton.

B: This was during what year, now?

E: Back in 1942. During World War II.

B: You were in the air force.

E: Yes.

B: You say you were told that there was a group of. .

E: Indians in the area, yes.

B: How did you first establish contact with them?

E: Well, I came to the little town of Maxton one day and met a
man named Cummings and he took me home and then he took me

B: How did you meet this man Cummings?

E: I met him on the street.

B: How did you make the initial contact? Did you seek this
person out?

E: No. I was in a little place where they sold sandwiches.
When I came out and was standing around, he was there also.


He asked me if I was Indian. He said he was, too. We got
to talking and he asked me where I was going. I said I just
got off base and I had heard about Pembroke, so that is
where I was going. He invited me to his home. Of course it
was a little while afterward that I came to Pembroke. That
is when I first came in contact with any of the Indians in
the area.

B: You say that you went out to the Cumming's house?

E: Yes.

B: What was your impression? What was his occupation?

E: He was a farmer and a brick mason. He had a nice home;
seemed to be pretty well off.

B: You say that he had a nice home. Was that in relation to
the white people in this general area, or was that in
relation to the Indians of South Dakota?

E: Well, in relation to the general area.

B: You say this particular person lived in Maxton and later you
came to Pembroke?

E: Yes, I came to Pembroke one weekend and I was talking to a
person and he told me--my father went to Carlyle Institute
in Pennsylvania--this guy told me he was there, too.

B: Who was this?

E: That was Eldon Bell's father. Do you know Eldon Bell?

B: No, I do not.

E: You know James Bell?

B: I know a James Thurmond Bell.

E: No, it is not him. James Bell is working at the college as
a janitor. His father used to have a little store in

B: This particular guy went to Carlyle?

E: Yes.

B: Do you know of any other people from this area who attended

E: Yes, Sonny Oxendine.


B: Sonny Oxendine did also. I was under an impression that
school was for BIA Indians.

E: But, they said they were there.

B: After you heard of Pembroke, did you visit the area here

E: After that, I came back and forth and accumulated quite a
number of friends and I would come and visit them and stay
with them. When I lived here again--I went overseas and
then returned and was stationed in the area--so I started
coming back.

B: You went overseas for how many years?

E: I went over there for close to two years.

B: When you returned, where were you stationed?

E: I was stationed at Myrtle Beach.

B: So, when you made your visits into the area, was this by

E: I was coming by myself.

B: What were your first general impressions?

E: The people are friendly, they were real nice to me. I also,
at the time, got engaged and married.

B: On the first trip?

E: No, the second time.

B: How did you meet your wife?

E: I was introduced to her through a friend of mine, a Dees.
He was in the service, too. We sort of knocked around
together at the time and he introduced me to her. We
started seeing one another and the following year we got

B: What sort of dating went on at this particular time among
the people? I mean, when you took a girl out, where did you

E: Well, funny part about it, at the time, was you had to go to
church. You would go to church on Sunday and pick them up
from there and go with them. But I would go to her home.
She was living with her mother and I had no problem, I was


accepted. Almost as a member of the family, even before we
got married.

B: After you were married, did she continue to live with her

E: Yes. She stayed here and I went back overseas.

B: How long was this trip?

E: This trip lasted about a year. After I came back I stayed
in the service about three months. Then, I was stationed in
Miami Beach, Florida. She came down and stayed with me
then; we had one child at the time. So, finally I got out
and went up to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and worked for United
Steel for about six months.

B: What kind of a job did you have?

E: The part that I worked in made steel drums; I ran the
stamping machine.

B: Your wife was with you then?

E: Yes. Then I came back down here and started at Pembroke
State College.

B: On the G. I. Bill?

E: Yes.

B: Where did you live while you were attending school?

E: I lived between here and Lumberton.

B: You rented a farmhouse?

E: Yes.

B: What was your major at college?

E: I majored in elementary education with a minor in art.

B: What years were you in college?

E: That was around 1946.

B: How would you describe Pembroke State College at that time?

E: It was very small.

B: How many students?


E: Well, I would say there were over one hundred, about 130-140

B: Were any of the teachers Indian, at this time?

E: There were a few.

B: Do you recall any?

E: I recall James Arnold Jacobs and Clifton Oxendine.

B: Had either of these two individuals received their
bachelor's of science from Pembroke?

E: I do not know their background. I know one went to
Illinois, so he said. The other was at Duke.

B: Yes, Mr. Jacobs' degree was in math, his master's.

E: I do not know where he got his bachelor's degree.

B: So, at the time the student body at Pembroke was all Indian?

E: All Indian.

B: You say you minored in art, was this from boyhood
experiences on the reservation?

E: Yes. I did a lot of work when I was in high school. Of
course, they were doing a lot of it here, so, it was sort of
repetitive for me. But, I really liked it.

B: Do you still dabble in art?

E: Yes. I sometimes teach a little arts and crafts where I am
working now.

B: Were most of the people at Pembroke at this time majoring in
some type of education?

E: Yes. Teacher's education mostly.

B: Did they offer anything other than teacher education?

E: They were offering some type of agriculture courses at that

B: They had a two year program in agriculture, I believe. I
think they still have it. They have a transfer agreement
with North Carolina State. So, at the time the college was
concentrating on two areas--one, agriculture, because this
area is normally farming country; two, Pembroke has


traditionally supplied teachers for the Indian school

E: Right.

B: Approximately how many people graduated?

E: At that time, with me, there were twenty-some. I graduated
along with Linda Martin and Gloria Jones.

B: Did most of these people remain in the area?

E: Gloria went to New York and Linda is in Alabama.

B: Did as many as half remain in Robeson?

E: I would say about half.

B: What were some of the activities going on at Pembroke at
that time?

E: What type of activities?

B: Say, did they have a Veteran's Club?

E: Yes, they had a Veteran's Club. They did not have too many
social activities, like they do now.

B: No dances?

E: No.

B: Why was that?

E: I do not know. That was one of the funniest things I ever
ran across. I thought most colleges had dances at that

B: Was chapel compulsory?

E: Yes. At that time they had chapel programs and we had to be

B: So, the administration was pretty straight-laced.

E: Yes, they were.

B: That is something that has always impressed me about
Pembroke, even though it is state supported, there has
always been a tradition there.


E: Yes, there were a lot of religious organizations, and they
were pretty active at that time. They gave parties, you
know, where you sat down and drank punch and played a few

B: Did Pembroke, at that time, participate in any kind of
athletic conference?

E: They did, but it was no real organized conference. They
played some teams here and there. Of course, one year they
had a football team and we went all the way to Alabama to

B: You were able to have a football team?

E: Yes. We had a football team; and this college was Jackson
State in Alabama.

B: Did you play football?

E: Yes.

B: What position?

E: I was an end.

B: Then you played football in high school?

E: Yes, I played in high school.

B: Same position?

E: No, in high school I played half back; in the backfield, you
know. But, when I came here, they put me on an end

B: You had good hands?

E: Yes.

B: You were fairly fast?

E: Yes, they really tromped on us down there in Alabama.

B: Do you recall what school you played?

E: Jackson State. It was a big college, as far as Pembroke is
concerned. It was a fairly big college. They had a huge

B: So, if you had 130 total students in the college and a
football with a minimum of...


E: Right.

B: Practically every male.

E: On campus, yes. Every male on campus was on that football
team. They had that football team one year and that was it.
I guess the following year they did not have enough players.
They played a lot of these junior colleges.

B: Was football resumed after you finished?

E: I just recall that one year when we had that football team.
I believe that is the year that the Sampsons came back from
somewhere. Of course the coach retired; remember him, J. T.
Sampson? He is now dead.

B: I cannot place him.

E: Both he and his wife taught at the college.

B: What about other sports?

E: They had basketball and baseball, and most of the teams they
played were from junior colleges.

B: Did most of the students attending Pembroke, at that time,
live in dormitories?

E: They had one little building there for the boys, where the
science building used to be. I would say about less than
twenty boys were housed in there. The girls had a wooden
building which was quite larger.

B: Were there any Indians from outside Robeson county other
than yourself that attended?

E: There were a couple of them. I forgot one name, but there
was another, Scott, a navaho from New Mexico.

B: How did he happen to come here?

E: He said he read about it in a library, about different
Indian schools.

B: It is true, Pembroke was the only Indian college in the
country at the time.

E: There was an Indian junior college in existence at that

B: Oh yes, Haskell.


E: No, not Haskell, it was Bacone [Bacone College, Bacone,

B: Was that in Oklahoma?

E: Yes, in Muskogee. You see, Haskell is a junior college now,
but at that time it was a high school.

B: Trade school?

E: Yes, trade school.

B: If an Indian wanted to go to college, did the BIA [Bureau of
Indian Affairs] encourage them to go to Bacone?

E: There were quite a few, but I would not say all of them.
There were some from our tribe, but not too many. There
just were not that many college students at that particular
time from our tribe. Of course there was a trickle; a few
going to college here and there. But there was a standing
scholarship available for Indians from home. I do not know
whether that came through the tribe or the BIA.

B: Were there any colleges that you know of, at this time,
actively recruiting Indian students?

E: No. Now, at Haskell there are a lot of Indian boys and
girls going to the University of Kansas, because it is right
next door to Haskell. A lot of these students would get a
grant from the government to live at Haskell and attend the
University of Kansas.

B: So, back in Pembroke most of the students were from Robeson?

E: Yes.

B: Were there any Indians from other counties of North

E: Yes, I believe there were some from Sampson County.

B: Any from Halifax?

E: No, not at that time.

B: What size town was Pembroke at this particular time, the

E: I would say there were around 800, maybe even less.

B: What kind of businesses were there?


E: Well, most of the businesses I noticed were little grocery
stores and they had one little theater.

B: There was a movie?

E: Yes, there was a movie theater. In fact, I used to go up
there and help with the projector.

B: Who owned this?

E: Cliff Sampson owned the theater and this guy who runs heavy
machinery, what is his name? He owns the laundromat over

B: William Price?

E: William Price and I used to run the projector for him.

B: William Price was a college student?

E: Yes. What else did they have? They used to have a little
eating place.

B: Roger's Drugs?

E: Yes.

B: Was the sale of beer legal in Robeson county?

E: Yes, at that time. In fact that is where they sold beer, in
that little restaurant.

B: I mean, places in downtown Pembroke sold beer?

E: That was the only place.

B: Where Roger's Drugstore used to be?

E: Yes, where it is now.

B: So, this was a bar and restaurant?

E: Yes.

B: Were there any taverns in the area?

E: Yes, between here and Lumberton. There used to be a tavern
right near that bridge.

B: Which bridge?

E: You know, the old bridge going toward Lumberton.


B: Right as you cross 74?

E: Right. You go right on the hill and there used to be a
little filling station and tavern there.

B: What about toward Harper's Ferry, were there any there?

E: No, there were none there, that I know of, unless it was in

B: Rebel's Tavern?

E: Yes, Rebel's Tavern, that is right. I forgot about that;
they sold beer.

B: How did most people in the area view drinking of beer at
this time? Apparently they were pretty straight-laced at
the university. Was this true of people in general?

E: Yes, they were. But there were a few that drank beer. I
notice some of the people that I used to meet at Rebel's

B: Some of the people that you met there?

E: Now they are straight-laced and they used to be a pretty
good customer.

B: Did most of your friends in college drink?

E: Quite a number of them did. They used to keep it in that
little boy's dorm.

B: At that time, could a college student enter one of these
drinking establishments?

E: Yes.

B: Without fear of reprisal?

E: I do not know really if without fear of reprisal or not, but
they were there. Of course I was there with them.

B: Did you say you were married and you had one child?

E: Yes.

B: Where did you do your shopping?

E: I used to do my grocery shopping with John L. Locklear
Grocery down here. I did it for years and years.


B: Downtown?

E: Yes, downtown where Curt's Hardware is. He used to have a
grocery store there.

B: Right.

E: Now he used to credit me due to the fact that I was on the
GI bill and I got my check once a month.

B: So, you could buy all of your necessities in Pembroke?

E: Yes.

B: You never had any reason to go to any other town?

E: Any other town. Not till later. My wife would go to
Lumberton or some place, if they did not have it in

B: Did you ever encounter any discrimination directed against
yourself, because you were an Indian?

E: Yes, in Lumberton, but not in Pembroke.

B: What sort?

E: I have been refused to be served in restaurants, barber
shops and so on. Funny thing is, you know, I used to stay
in that motel and they never said anything. Do you know
where that used to be?

B: No. That was when you were in the service?

E: Yes, when I was in the service. Of course I was in uniform,
you know. I came from Myrtle Beach late and decided to see
if they would give me a room.

B: Was discrimination practiced against the Indians in South
Dakota at this time?

E: Not in the general area. There was only one thing that they
never discriminated against was liquor.

B: Yes.

E: As far as going into restaurants and different places like
that, some Indians were backward, a little ashamed to go
into places. So, they just did not go. But I noticed right
around Rushville and Gordon, in that area, there was a
little discrimination against Indians. But, yet, they would


love to take a lot of their business. A lot of people would
go there and shop.

B: So, when you came to this area you were not expecting to be
discriminated against?

E: Well, I do not know. Some of the officers at Laurinburg and
Maxton told us that there was discrimination against
Indians. They told us just what to expect. They said do
not expect to go down there and be received with open arms.

B: After you finished college, what happened?

E: Well, I finished college and was offered a position in
Kansas City. Not exactly in the educational field, but the
welfare department. So, I went out there and worked for the
city of Kansas City for a year.

B: How did you communicate with them? How did they know of you
or did you contact them?

E: One of the instructors up here was from around that area at
that time and he knew the director of the welfare department
out there. Somewhere along that time they met and one day
he asked me if I would be interested. That was even before
I graduated.

B: So, you went?

E: So, I went and we set up a little program in that area.
Just some activity for the deprived children.

B: This was an all white city?

E: Yes, an all white city. Well, at that particular time, I
worked with the whites. There was a white and Negro group
at the time. See, I worked back in the camp, right in the
Kansas City area. These kids would come out to this camp;
we ran this camp and they stayed there a week or two and
then all year long. They had a colored camp and a white

B: You stayed with this job how long?

E: One year.

B: Then?

E: I got with the Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA].

B: As a teacher?


E: I went out to Crow-Cree Reservation and I stayed out there
four years. Then I went to Montana and stayed a year.

B: When did you leave your job in Kansas City?

E: Well, they asked me. The Aberdeen [South Dakota] area
office contacted me one day and my director came and told me
I had a phone call and that they were asking me to come.

B: They were looking for Indian teacher?

E: Yes. Someone had told them I was available--that I was there
and would be interested. I immediately took the job and
moved to South Dakota.

B: How long did you work with the Bureau?

E: Five years.

B: Why did you decide to quit?

E: Well, my wife did not like it.

B: After you left the BIA, what was your next position?

E: I came back here to Pembroke and I worked for several years
with the Eastern Carolina group up around Clinton. I taught
there for three years. During the summer I worked with the
"Lost Colony" in Roanoke.

B: You were an actor?

E: Yes, I worked as an Indian. I met this guy from Maryland.
(there are a lot of people from Maryland coming along there)
and he had some Indians from here working for him in
Baltimore, Maryland in his department. He asked if I would
be interested. I took him up on it and I have been up there
for fourteen years, now.

B: What is your job?

E: Working with juveniles in institutions. He had already had
several Lumbee Indians from Robeson County working for him.
He just bragged on them, how well they were doing.

B: He liked them?

E: Yes. He came down here and recruited them.

B: So, you went to Baltimore and you have been there ever


E: Yes. But the man is dead now. He is gone. But they have a
new superintendent. I have been there ever since.

B: So, you have been in Baltimore for fourteen years. Do you
know if there are many people in the Indian community there?

E: Yes, I know some. Of course they keep coming in and out.
The ones that I used to know are not there anymore. Then
this new bunch that is up there, some that are still there
that I know and have been there for years.

B: Then a lot of people moved to Baltimore from Robeson and
stayed so many years?

E: Yes. Some of them came back. I know some of them there
that have returned and have been back for some time. Then
there are a few that I know are still up there that have
been up there ever since I have been up there.

B: Do most of them return?

E: Well, quite a number of them returned, that I know of.
There may still be some up there that have moved out of the
area where they lived to other places.

B: When most Indians go to Baltimore, do they generally live in
the geographical area?

E: They used to.

B: That was true at one time?

E: Yes, they used to live all in one area and they used to meet
and be together.

B: What do you mean, meet?

E: Well, I mean they meet in bars and different places. That
is when I used to go down there. I still do it now, because
I know quite a number of people. You, sit around and talk.

B: What year was this?

E: Oh, this would be maybe seven or eight years ago.

B: That would have been the middle sixties.

E: Yes, somewhere in that area, or even the first part of the
sixties. When I first went up there was in the fifties.

B: During the first part of the fifties, the Indian population
in Baltimore was pretty well localized?


E: Localized in one area, right there on Baltimore Street.

B: And they had their own bars?

E: Yes, that they patronized.

B: In the early sixties did the Indians have any churches?

E: There was one little church that I know of, sort of a
makeshift affair. Someone told me that they acquired a
church up there now that is quite large. I do not know, I
have never been there, except to pass through.

B: But you seem to feel now that the Indian population is sort
of dispersed?

E: They are sort of dispersed. Some of the guys that I know of
are living over in the county around Essex. Some of the
real old guys that I am still in contact with. They had
moved out of that area, then.

B: What do you attribute this to?

E: Well, I do not know. One of them told me that he moved out
due to the fact that there was so much crime going around
there, you know. The Negroes are moving in and he just
could not take it, so he just moved. He had a place down in
Essex there and he died over there in that area.

B: Do you think because Indians are coming from rural
background and Baltimore is a very large city, that
initially there was some kind of a transition period.

E: Yes, I imagine so. I know of instances from home where they
sent them on relocation in Los Angeles or Chicago. They
have a tendency to get together in an area so they can be
together. In fact the city of Chicago sort of wanted them
to do that. They set up a central Indian center where they
can all get together and have parties and maybe a little
adult education program and arts and crafts.

B: So, Indians moving to Baltimore were moved initially into
this neighborhood on East Baltimore. Then, maybe two things
would occur--one, they would move on to other areas in
Baltimore, if they became accustomed to city life.

E: Maybe so.

B: Or would they return to North Carolina?

E: Some of them would return.


B: Do people you know in the East Baltimore area? What sort of
jobs do they have?

E: Well, that is the difference. The ones that were in the
East Baltimore area are in labor. Most of them were
laborers, painters, welders. Some of them even worked in
the shipyards.

B: Right.

E: In that area. But the ones that were out in the outlying
areas were the professionals; the teachers and so forth.

B: In the years you worked in Baltimore did you have frequent
contacts with people in Baltimore and the people in Robeson

E: Yes.

B: What are some of the major social changes you saw in

E: Well, integration of the schools, for one thing. And it
looks like there is going to be a social change, as far as
the Indian and white is concerned. Because nothing ever
existed, at one time, you would never see them together.
Now you see them together all of the time. You see them in
restaurants and at different social activities. That never
used to happen. In fact, at one time we never used to go
down to the recreation center in Lumberton.

B: The Armory?

E: Yes. That used to be strictly off limits to the Indians.
So, we never used to go there, but now they go down there
and everywhere else.

B: Do you feel this has been positive?

E: In Robeson County?

B: Yes.

E: I guess it has improved quite a bit, as far as I know.
Because a lot of the young people are going to college, not
only at Pembroke, but they are going different places.

B: Right. Now, more of the the Indian youth are venturing out
from the area to go to college?

E: That is right.


B: Where at one time they would...

E: This Pembroke was the only real good place for them. It was
the only place they could go, you might say.

B: I know the year I finished high school in Pembroke was 1961.
I was the only member of our class to leave the area and go
to college. At that time it was quite a rarity.

E: Yes.

B: For anybody to leave the area. But now, do you think it is
due to improvement of schools, a lot of students do this?

E: Yes, I think so. It may be coming in contact with at least
some of these people while it may not be so. Now, I do not
know because I was reading an article in the paper. In
fact, I saved the paper for you. It was about the Lumbee
Indian students in Baltimore. How they had the tendency to
drop out so often. It gave the reasons for it, such as
coming from a rural area and being unable to cope with the
different problems. They could not cope with some of the
different courses of study they had in their schools. In
other words, they were not prepared for it. But that is not
all true, because there are some that are going to high
school and finishing high school in Baltimore.

B: Do you think these are the kids of the Indians in Baltimore
that have moved away?

E: I think so.

B: And that really the people who continue to live in East
Baltimore are people who have not been able to adjust to
city life.

E: That is true, too. I believe that would be an effect.

B: They, of course, come from a rural background and their
education is quite limited.

E: Yes.

B: So, it seems that a ticket out of East Baltimore would have
been a skilled trade.

E: Yes, that is what some of the programs they are now having
is trying to do. They are trying to get them to go to a
trade school.

B: Are there any organizations trying or working with the
Indians who remained?


E: Now, there is someone. I do not know whether it is the
mayor's program or not. But, some program has setup this
Indian center and keeps it going. I do not know what types
of programs they are having. That is where Earl is. I
noticed a few times they have had a few of them on TV. But,
I do not know whether they have adult education programs
going on now or not. They are trying to get one going. I
know they do have a little arts and crafts programs.

B: Have you visited this?

E: I have never been there, yet.

B: What do you think, as far as the Lumbees, about the loss of
all the Indian traditions for a period of time? What do you
think of the idea of these adopting some of the tribal
traditions of maybe Sioux people?

E: Well, I believe right now we have a problem. Some of our
older people are teaching the younger ones how to speak the
language. Even in our elementary schools, they have Indian
people that are teaching our Indian people how to speak
Sioux properly.

B: Do you feel this is positive?

E: I believe that it is a good thing. It used to be a standing
language. Everybody just understood Sioux as they came up.
Even some of the white people that lived in the area. Sioux
was predominantly spoken at the time. But now it is the
other way around. One of the things is that some of these
kids are going to boarding school and they are not at home
where they are surrounded by the language. They go to the
mission school or even the boarding school here at Pine
Ridge. Nothing is spoken there, except a few of the Sioux
speak to one another in the language. English is
predominant. Somewhere along the line Sioux were converted
to English.

B: But you feel that the teaching of the Indian culture is a
positive step?

E: Yes, some of it is good. Now, there are a lot of things
that the Indian people used to accept and go with which was
good; then lost along the way. Somewhere it has been

B: Can you give us some examples?

E: Well, like being courteous to older people. Being helpful
to older people. They have a standing respect for older
people because they are older. Now, they just disregard


them and put them in old people's home. They have one in
Pine Ridge. As soon as they get disabled, they slam them in
there and get their social security check or welfare check
or whatever.

B: You are speaking about South Dakota. As far as Robeson,
have you seen this as a trait among people here?

E: No. These people are pretty close-knit. In other words
they might talk about one another and knock each other on
the head.

B: As far as treating older people, how do you view that here?

E: They treat them pretty good. They are a lot better than at
home. Now, I know of a few that have been placed in what
you call a cancer institute. But, it was due to medical
reasons. That was a last resort.

B: I believe they were terminal cancer cases.

E: Yes, that was the last resort.

B: How do you feel about what is called Pan-Indianism? Do
Indians regardless of tribal groups in cities anyway have a
tendency to attract each other?

E: Yes.

B: For example, in Chicago there is one area where Indians of
all tribes are.

E: Yes. There are a lot of different tribes in the Chicago
area, from the southwest, the Lakes Indians from around
Wisconsin and from Iowa.

B: Were there many Indians other than Lumbee in Baltimore?

E: There are a few. Just a little sprinkling of other tribes
in the Baltimore area. Mostly the ones that come there
every year for just a short time and leave. They get a
contract with that bridge; they paint that bridge.

B: Steelworkers?

E: Yes. They come in there and when they build a building they
come in there and set it up and leave.

B: What reservation?

E: They are from New York.


B: These are Mohawks?

E: Yes. I know quite a number of them; they come down once in
awhile. When they come they mingle with the Lumbee.

B: Do they come to this section of town?

E: Yes. They used to come and hang around East Baltimore.

B: You say that they have a contract, a fixed contract where
they do this in a certain period of time?

E: In a certain period of time they have to paint the bridge.

B: I did not know that. When you retire, do you plan on making
your home here in Robeson County?

E: Yes.

B: What are some of the advantages you see in Robeson?

E: Well, I will tell you what. I have been away from home so
long that I just do not think I could fit back in there just
like I used to, when I was a boy. But, I like it around
here because I like the people; I like the location. In
fact, I love it around here. My wife is from here, and most
of my friends are from here, now.

B: How do you view the security against discrimination here?

E: Well, it is improved quite a bit as far as discrimination is
concerned. Still, you can just about go anywhere. In fact,
I do and my family does. We do not have any problems
whatsoever. We do not even feel like they do not dislike us
or anything--but money-wise, maybe. In the olden times they
could not even go into a little sleazy restaurant.

B: Right. Do you feel there is a social advantage to having a
group of Indians living in proximity? Would whites be more
apt to--let me see what I am trying to say. If a group of
Indians live in a community, could they sort of insulate
themselves from discrimination?

E: It could happen.

B: Do you think this is one reason why Indians seem to have
congregated together?

E: I believe they just have a tenancy to like to be with their
own people. Every where you go--I can go to Kansas City and
go in one area and find all the Indians living in that one
area. Most of the Indians, whether they are Kickapoo from


Horton, or Chippewas, or Sioux, or some others from Iowa,
they all live in one area. If you go to Chicago it is the
same way.

B: Eastern Indians, do you think teaching them Indian culture
that identified with the West is a positive thing?

E: I believe it is good because it makes them aware of being
Indian. Give them something to shoot for. You take people
like the Pollacks in Baltimore, they like to get together
and put on a shindig. They show their wares and put on
traditional costumes. They have a big affair. The Germans
are the same way. There is a group of Germans in Baltimore
that get together once a year and have a big pow-wow. Well
the Chinese do the same thing, they have Chinese New Year.

B: Are you registered to vote?

E: Yes.

B: In Robeson?

E: In Maryland.

B: Do you vote Democratic or Republican?

E: I am a Republican because my father is Republican.

B: In Robeson County, have you observed any political changes
in the past years?

E: Yes, I believe there have been some political changes. I
noticed the governor is Republican, is he not? I noticed
him appointing a few for different positions. Did he
appoint some for that Indian Rights Commission in Raleigh?
Is Early Maynor up there on something?

B: He appointed Hugh Oxendine, I believe.

E: Did he?

B: To the state board of education.

E: Yes, so that is good. Because the only person that I know
of...well, our politics at home, on the reservation--we are
like a little country out there.

B: Yes.

E: All the politics is within that area of the tribal council
representatives and president of the tribe. There really
has not been too many, except, Roubedoux is the only one


that I know about that has ever been appointed to the
assistant state attorney.

B: He is a state's attorney and works for?

E: The represents AIM [American Indian Movement].

B: Part-time?

E: Yes, Ben Rifle is another one, but he is being controlled by
the big money people from the East.

B: Yes, I saw his name recently. I cannot recall exactly what
it was for. As far as politics in Robeson County, have you
observed any changes in the past ten or fifteen years?

E: Well, I really have not followed politics on that level.
But, what I see is what I know of various people being put
on the board of education and other things.

B: What about as far as voter participation, do you think more
people in the area are registered to vote, now?

E: I do not know about that, because I have been away from

B: What about in conversations, can you observe any more

E: Yes, I think there is. I have been asked several times
whether I was registered to vote here and did I vote. I
said no, I cannot vote because I am not registered. I said
I am registered up in Maryland and I said I vote up there
when they have an election; even when they have a city
election, a state election, or a national election.

B: When you initially registered you registered Republican?

E: Yes.

B: Were the people here in the area aware that you were

E: I do not know whether they are or not, they never ask me.
Are the people here mostly Republican or Democrat?

B: Democrat. In fact, I remember when there was only one
Republican registered in Pembroke.

E: Is that right?

B: That was a topic of conversation. He was a barber.


E: Yes, I remember him.

B: He was known as the town Republican.

E: Are there quite a few Republicans or is it now Independent?

B: Well, here in Pembroke, I imagine there are probably 200
[Republicans]. That is compared to 2400 Democrats. I think
the voter registration totals are similar.

E: My dad used to dabble in a little politics at home. That is
the reason I know he was a Republican. That is a Republican
state. In other words, they used to have him go to Indians
who were able to vote and gain their vote. During an
election he would go around from one district to another
setting up people who were eligible to vote.

B: When you returned to the area do you plan to transfer you

E: Well, I really do not know much about politics. I am just
like the man said, "When you are in Rome, do like the Romans

B: Sounds like you are going to register Democratic?

E: Yes.

B: Probably the best thing to do in Robeson for all practical

E: Yes.


University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs