Title: Interview with Lew Barton Monologue (March 1, 1974)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00008214/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Lew Barton Monologue (March 1, 1974)
Alternate Title: Monologue
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: March 1, 1974
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: UF00008214
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 169

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Full Text


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

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

This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
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LUM 169A

Lew Barton Monologue (I)
January 25, 1974
Pembroke, North Carolina

Typed by: P. F. Williams

I: This is January 25, 1974. I'm Lew Barton burning

the midnight oil in my home in Pembroke, North

Carolina. There are two reasons for this. First

of all, I'm still a little-bit excited about an

air mail letter received by me today from Cambridge,

England, informing me that I have been selected for

biographical inclusion in the 1974 edition of the

Dictionary of International Biography. The other

reason is that I have long felt that this program,

the Lumbee Indian Oral History Project, needed a

point in time, say, some ten years ago, against

which we could check the progress and/or changes

in the lifestyle of the Lumbee Indians from that

point to this. After digging through scads and

scads of old newspapers with the help of an

assistant, I finally discovered just the thing

to refresh my memory. Just the thing being a

LUM 169,A 2

story published Sunday morning, May 1, 1966, in the

Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel which had been

written by Roy Thompson. I still remember Mr. Thompson's

visit with a great deal ot warmth. The situation at

that time was this: Robeson County had twice as many

races as most counties in the United States. Whites,

blacks, Indians, and a group ot obscure origin called

the Smiling Independents, spelled s-m-i-i-i-n-g, I-

n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t-s. I just adore that name, by

the way, which seems to say, "Well, by gosh, we

don't have to have any truck with either of you people."

Roy Thompson's article, headed, "Robesonians compromise,

get along," put the situation this way, "Robeson

County's four racial groups are in a leaky boat

together and wishing that outsiders like the Ku Klux

Klan would stop making waves. That's right, four.

Whites and Indians have made all the headlines recently,

but there are also Negroes and a difficult-to-classify

group known locally as the Smiling Independents.'" At

this particular time the Ku Klux Klan, which had been

defeated in the so-called Battle of Hayes' Field on

LUM 169A 3

the frigid night of January 18, 1958, were trying to

stage a comeback in Robeson County. But now their

methods had changed dramatically. Instead ot coming

now with threats and intimidation efforts, they were

actually attempting to recruit Lumbee Indians into

the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan. But nobody in Robeson

County trusted them and nobody wanted them. It was

said that there were less than half a dozen KKK's

in the whole county of Robeson. Back to Roy Thompson;

"White people are actually a racial minority, but

they run the county. The Indians, Negros, and

Smiling Independents outnumber the whites collectively

but they don't do anything else collectively. Robeson,

with twice as many races as most Southern counties,

has the makings of twice as many racial problems, but

things haven't worked out that way. The people of

Robeson have a system of getting along. It's an

intricate maze of ancient habits, gentlemen's agree-

ments, unwritten laws, and under-the-table political

alliances. It doesn't entirely satisfy anyone in the

county and would shock C ,0 R ar 1the Klan and the

people in Washington, but it has worked. Now, tor

LUM 169A 4

the second time in eight years, the Ku Klux Klan is

making waves in Robeson. In 1958, after burning a few

crosses in Lumbee yards and administering a few middle-

of-the-night threatening to Indians, the Klan tried

to have a rally here. The Lumbees, tiring rifles into

the air and making the night hideous with their war

cries, chased the Klan right out ot the county. This

year, the Klan announced a comeback and the Indians

began to stockpile semi-automatic weapons, dynamite

and hand grenades. The proposed rally was stopped

by a temporary injunction, but the Klan lawyer went

into court recently and had the injunction removed.

Now the state proposes to go into court asking for

a permanent injunction. The KLan says it will contest

the move. The Indians continue their stockpiling.

Most or the Klan action comes from outside the county.

Robeson has some whites who would fit in just tine

anywhere in Mississippi or Alabama. They are deter-

mined to keep the county's non-whites in line. That's

why they don't want the Ku Klux Klan rocking the boat.

They don't think the Klan can improve things, and just

talk ot a cross-burning in the county has made a great

LUM 169A 5

many things worse. The Negroes and Smiling Independents

haven't become involved in the Klan-Lumbee hassle but

they're hoping it will somehow blow over before Robeson

blows up. The Indians' position on the Klan is a

matter of record. The thing that rankles in Robeson

is this. There aren't more than a halt-dozen Klansmen

in the county. Some say there's only one, C. A. "Cateye"

Brown, Jr., of near Maxton. Most people here, whatever

their racial designation, don't see why outsiders

should be so determined to make a mess in their county.

Robeson's people ot color have made progress in recent

years. They've had a free ride on the coattails of the

civil rights movement. The county's whites have made

some compromises without any coercion from Negro action

groups. Robeson's Negroes haven't joined anything

and don't intend to in the foreseeable future. The

Indians, according to Lew Barton, Lumbee poet and

historian, have too much pride to crash down anybody's

doors. The Smiling Independents have taken things as

they came, having no other choice." Some of the racial

laws have come down without being broken down. Twelve

years earlier, the Supreme Court had handed down the

no school discrimination ruling. Mr. Thompson writes

LUM 169A 6

"Robeson County had its people pretty well pigeon-

holed." But although there were tour races in

Robeson County, each of which had la legal standing,

there were only rest rooms for three races in

Lumberton, the county's capital, and anyone who

didn't quality as a white, a black, or an Indian

might be just out of luck. Roy Thompson described

the situation this way. "The courthouse in Lumberton

had separate rest rooms tor whites, Indians, and

Negroes. Smiling Independents used the Indians'

rest rooms after waiting outside for a while to

be reasonably sure that the coast was clear. The

county had farm agents and home demonstration agents

for whites, Indians, and Negroes. The Smiling

Independents got advice wherever they could find it.

The schools were separate,even for the Smiling Indepen-

dents. They couldn't get into the white schools. A

few were allowed to attend Indian schools, but they

had to get the stamp of approval from the Lumbee's

blood committee' first. The ones who couldn't get

in the Indian schools wouldn't go to Negro schools,

so the .county had to have four school systems.

LUM 169A 7

There were cafes and restaurants for whites, Indians,

and Negroes. The Smiling-Independents mostly ate at

home. One theater in the county reportedly had four

entrances. Rather than argue about it in the streets

and in court, Robeson's whites have let some of the

old walls crumble. And the Indians, Negroes and

Smiling Independents have accepted these free-will

offerings, kept their seats in Robeson's boat, and

let the white folks steer. Sometimes they've gotten

something real in the way of progress. Sometimes

they've had to be content to have the right to do

something without exercising the right." Things

about Roy Thompson's article as viewed today is his

concluding paragraph which is almost prophetic. He

writes: "One of these days the white politicians of

Robeson who have had the Lumbees in their pocket for

years are going to find that the pocket has a hole in

it." As it turned out, the pocket did have a hole in

it. In the last gubernatorial election in North Carolina,
Governor Jim(Holshouzer kicked off his political cam-

paign right here in Pembroke, North Carolina. His

words to the Indians and to the blacks of this area

LUM 169A 8

were almost identical with those used by Mr. Thompson.

He told Robeson's non-whites that the Democrats had

had them in their hip-pocket for so long they were

taking them for granted. And he said this, "If you

people will switch political parties just one time,

you will have both the Democrats and the Republicans

coming to you instead of you going to them and asking

you what you would have them to do." This, too,

proved to be prophetic. When we started conducting

our campaign to save Old Main, oldest building on

the Pembroke State University campus and the only

remaining building that had any semblance of Indian-

ness, both Republicans and Democrats slowly came in

and lent their support. With Mrs. Janie Maynor

Locklear as executive secretary of the Save Old Main

movement, and with as little real organization as

possible for the movement, we solicited and received

support from the house next door all the way to the

White House. Almost the total American Indian press

supported us, and eventually the Democratic Party

wrote the salvation of Old Main into its very platform.

Today Pembroke State University, or at least Dr.(Rondus)

LUM 169A 9

and others on the University staff are making efforts

to bring about better relations between Pembroke State

University and the Indian community. The situation

at Pembroke State University has become this. Pembroke

State College for Indians, which became Pembrole State

University)eventually became a white institution in

a sea of Indians. This brought about some complications

especially when Old Main was condemned and an effort

was being made, it seemed, to destroy the last semblance

of Indianness on the Pembroke State University campus.

Other dramatic changes have taken place in Robeson

County since Roy Thompson wrote his article in 1966.

A local newspaper known simply as the Lumbee has

folded, but some of the things we attempted to do

through that newspaper have been done. That newspaper

has been replaced today by the Carolina Indian Voice

edited by my son, Bruce Barton. My daughter, Connie

Brayboy, is associate editor. During the last national

political campaign, we had a delegate to go to Washington

from among the Lumbee Indians for the first time in the

history of our people. John Robert Jones was the delegate

for the Republicans. Professor Adolph Dial of Pembroke

LUM 169A 10

State University was the delegate for the Democrats.

Brantley Blue, a Lumbee Indian lawyer who was refused

permission to practice law in the state of North

Carolina, nevertheless went to the state of Tennessee

and set up a successful law practice quite some years

ago. He was the first Lumbee Indian to become a

lawyer. In the state of Tennessee, He also became

a judge. When President Nixon was elected to office,

he appointed Brantley Blue as one of the five United

States Indian Claims Commissioners. He is the first

and only American Indian ever to serve on the Indian

Claims Commission. Brantley Blue has kept in close

contact with his people in Robeson County during his

service on the Indian Claims Commission and took part

in the Save Old Main movement. We also have another

Lumbee Indian in a pretty high office, in the Bureau

of Indian Affairs itself. This is Thomas Oxendine,

Jr., a flying ace and a test pilot during and after

World War Two. Oxendine is head of the Office of

Communications for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

LUM 169A 11

Through some shrewd political manuevering and sheer

luck, John Robert Jones was elected as chairman of

the Robeson County Board of Elections. Just a few

minutes after he was elected, news leaked out that

he was not a Democrat but a Republican. The democrats

went immediately into action and within the hour

they had diselected Mr. Jones. -For a while a squabble

followed, but finally the state head of elections

ruled that the first election was really the legitimate

one, and so Mr. Jones was returned to his seat. It was

a very dramatic fight and caused quite a bit of excite-

ment here in the county. About two years ago the Civil

Rights Commission itself came to Robeson County for

the first time in its history, andiit turned up some

things. Some of the people who were invited to come

were conveniently not present, but the commission

turned up many facts anyway. I told that body of

citizens at the time, "I charge that the reason that

these people are not here today to answer to the

United States Civil Rights Commission is that they

have no defense for their actions, and their absence

LUM 169A 12

speaks for itself." I'm glad I said that. After

my book The Most Ironic Story in American History

was published in 1967, I was called into the office

of Senator Hector MacLaine who is also the president

of the Southern National Bank and the son of the

only governor produced by this county, the late

Governor Angus Wilton MacLaine. Senator MacLaine

and I talked over plans for a pageant, an outdoor

Indian pageant to be staged in Robeson County.

With other interested citizens, we formed the

Robeson County Historical Association. We made

several trips to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to

talk with one of America's foremost playwrights,

Paul Green. We discussed the possibilities of a

drama in detail. It was decided that Randy Umberger,

an associate of Paul Green, should write the script.

He did so, a script called, "Strike at the Wind."

The script has undergone many revisions, but centers

around the person of Henry Barry Lowry, a Lumbee

Indian guerilla warrior of Reconstruction days and

of Civil War days. Plans to present that pageant,

LUM 169A 13

it seems, have fizzled out. With the stir-up of

so many other things, naturally some jealousy arose

among our people and we developed some domestic

problems of our own. People began to say that we

ought to produce our own pageant without the help

of anybody else, but of curse, this is financially

impossible according to our studies. To produce

such a pageant would require the cooperation of

all races in Robeson County, and perhaps this is

a blessing in disguise. As one of the historical

consultants for the Lumbee Indian Oral History

Program, sponsored by the University of Florida's

History Department, Dr. Samuel L. Proctor, director,

I have tried to summarize some of the important

events which have taken place since 1966, when

things looked very bleak and dark for the Lumbee

Indians, indeed. One of the results of the changes

that have come among our people is the agitation

to change our name from the Lumbee Indians of North

Carolina, which is the official legal designation

at present, based on state and federal law, to the

LUM 169A 14

Tuscarora Indians. This is largely a fight between

middle-class Indians and those who are largely

unlettered. This movement was really begun in 1970,

when the so-called Robeson County Integration Plan

was accepted by the United States Office of Education,

Welfare and Health. I, along with a group known as

the Concerned Indian Parents Organization of which

Mr. Luther C. Oxendine was president, objected to

that plan on the grounds that it was not really an

integration plan. What it really did was close the

lines, the old segregated lines for the school districts,

after some of the white rural communities had been

annexed to the so-called city units. In Robeson

County we have six school districts. The Robeson

County Unit is the unit, of course, which is predominantly

Indian even today, and there is currently a movement

to get abolished the practice of double-voting in

Robeson County. The Indians see this as a device

used by politicians to keep them in line..........

....Side Two of the summary on Lumbee Indian progress

since 1966. It seems obvious from the statistics

LUM 169A 15

on the county's population among the four races

that a coalition between whites and Indians would

absolutely rule Robeson. Similarly, a coalition

between Indians and blacks could rule Robeson,

or a coalition between whites and blacks could

rule Robeson. Naturally, this situation is cause

for fear among all its races, and so a lot of

jealousy exists. Sometimes people go to great

extremes to try to head off any such coalition,

but within recent years, black people and Indians

have been largely successful because they have

placed in Raleigh a black man. Dr. Joey Johnson

has been elected twice to the General Assembly of

North Carolina through such a coalition. Politicians

are keenly aware of this danger. Their only hope

of success, it seems, is to go from one group to

the other whispering mean and ugly things that

the other group supposedly has said and try to

destroy any harmony existing between the races.

I once wrote a poem picturing this type of individual,

who goes from one group to the other and tries to

LUM 169A 16

destroy any semblance of harmony between the two racial

groups. I call it lago. As you will recall, lago

was Shakespeare's master villain and he appears, of

course, in Othello. But I call this type of individual

or this type of politician who goes from one group to

the other whispering mean and ugly things the lago

type. Here is the poem which appeared Way Out in

Carolina, a collection of original poetry by yours

truly in 1961.

Oh, Iago,
Man's supreme foe,
Form without a soul.
How can I know, like Othello's
Thou canst not steal my control?
Vile lagos
Where the wind blows
Where exists bare souls of men
There do they go seeding Hell's woe.
They compel sheer saints to sin.
On our culture like a vulture
Thou hast easy prey.
Who can spot thee?
Who can blot thee from the world of men today?
Stealthy villain,
Penicillin stamps out germs of death
But no antitoxin drives out thy diseased and
putrid breath.
False lagos
Innuendoes, hints and lies may choose.
So to shame me and inflame me
My own soul in Hell I lose.

Lew Barton, 1961. What do our people want? What is

their hope? What is their dream? I think their dream

LUM 169A 17

is pretty much like that of any other community. They

want participatory citizenship, and they're doing quite

well at it. Because after all, we the people" includes

all the races. And this country can be no better than

its collective people. I tried to say this in a poem

called, "How big is America?"

How big is America?
Not in square miles, but I'm asking
How tall does she stand?
How broad is America?
She reconciles the most varied groups ever spanned.
How deep is America?
Where beats her heart, her pulses, her passion for
Friend, you are America.
Let her there start her conscience, her weakness,
her might.
The heart of America beats in your breast.
She can feel only what you can feel.
She's yours to be plundered, exalted, or blessed.
Her future is yours to reveal.
At once you're her savior, her best friend and
And her destiny shaped by your hand
Can plummet to Rades, frustrated and cursed O
:c9G'0-\A as the fair promised land.
How small is America?
Small as you are.
Or as good.
Or as bad.
Or as great.
Yes, you are America.
You are her star,
Where you will her:and manage her fate.

Lew Barton, 1961. It seems obvious from much of the

LUM 169A 18

foregoing that the Lumbee Indians of North Carolina

are an oppressed people, but that they are slowly

coming out from under such oppression. But just how

do people react under conditions like this? The

reaction of some oppressed people is the bottle.

Some become so frustrated that they resort to some

form of violence. Others simply bury themselves in

music or some other constructive activity, like Larry

Warriax who is playing right here and singing, "Hey


[SONG: "Hey Joe"]

The music on this interview was pre-recorded. Yours

truly Lew Barton on the rhythm. Buddy's doing the

lead. Listen to that boy go!


This composition by Buddy Warriax is called simply

"Hot Guitar."


That was Buddy Warriax and yours truly Lew Barton

LUM 169A 19

doing an old Jimmie Rogers number called "The Matchbox

Blues"--"Sitting here wondering if a matchbox will hold

my clothes; Don't have so many clothes butI have so

far to go." Larry Warriax is the nineteen-year-old

son of Mr. and Mrs. Tracy Warriax. Buddy Warriax is

the seventeen-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Tracy

Warriax of Pembroke. Mrs. Warriax comes from Washington,

D.C. This is the end.


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