Timeline of Lumbee history

The following is a timeline of the history of the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina, and some of their hypothesized ancestors.

18th century


John Herbert, Commissioner of Indian Trade for the Wineau Factory publishes a map in 1725 and identifies enclaves of Cheraw, Pee Dee, Waccamaw, and Scavano Indians who continue to live on their traditional lands along the Pee Dee River at what is now the border of North Carolina and South Carolina, and near its tributary Drowning Creek in Robeson County, North Carolina.


The Cheraw disappear from the historical record. While some historians believe that they are absorbed by the Catawba, others contend that they amalgamate with other remnant Southeastern Siouan Piedmont groups in the largely uncharted region of present-day Robeson, Scotland, Moore, Hoke, and Cumberland counties. To the south, with the acceleration of the slave trade and decline of the deerskin trade, the influence of the powerful Catawba confederacy begins to wane. By the end of the 19th century, the Catawba will have been reduced to inhabiting a one square-mile reservation in South Carolina.


The southern Tuscarora living on the Bertie County reservation in North Carolina were said to number about 300 men. According to an estimate made two years later this indicates that there were probably about 600 women and children living there as well at this time.(http://www.carolana.com/native_americans_tuscarora.html).


North Carolina Governor Matthew Rowan proclaims Drowning Creek (now Lumbee, or Lumber River) a "frontier to the Indians", and states that there are "no Indians in the county."


By this period the population of the Tuscarora Bertie county reservation had dropped by two thirds, there were now said to be only 100 men and 200 women and children.

Colonial records describe a "mix'd crew" of some fifty families living on Drowning Creek without official patent to the land. A surveyor is shot.


Bertie County Tuscarora chieftain James Blount writes:

"We the Tuskarora Indians Petition Your Excely. and Council to Grant a Pattent,or Some Better Title for Our Land for the White folks tells this is good fornothing and they Come and Settle Without leave Sale our Timber and Drive Stocksof all sorts: We hope Care will be Taken to protect us in Quiet Possession of Ourland and from the White People Abusing us James Blountfor the Tuscarora Nation"


James Blount was last mentioned as being a Chieftain on the Tuscarora Reservation in Bertie County NC in 1766, according to the "Bladen County deeds Book 20 Page 424, and "The Tuscaroras" vol 2, by F.Roy Johnson (taken from the "LRDA" Settlement Pattern Study):

On May 4, 1769, a James Blount -- probably the prominent land speculator -- was issued a land grant of 500 acres (2 km²) on Flowers Swamp in what would later become Robeson County North Carolina.


John Brooks, an ancestral Lumbee, serves in Revolutionary War.


United States Census lists common Lumbee surnames, including Locklear, Oxendine, Chavis, Jacobs, Lowery, Hammonds, Brooks, Brayboy, Cumbo, Revels, Carter, Dial, Deese, and Kersey, without racial designation as "All other free persons." Indians were not enumerated in North Carolina in the census.

19th century


Thomas "Big Tom" Locklear and Silas Strickland, two Lumbee ancestors, fight during War of 1812.


Against the backdrop of Indian removal, North Carolina disenfranchises "Free People of Color" by passing laws that prevent them from voting as well as owning and using firearms.


On November 28, 36 White Robeson County citizens petition the General Assembly of North Carolina complaining that:

"The County of Robeson is cursed with a free-colored population that migrated originally from the districts round about the Roanoke and Neuse rivers…." (Sider's "Living Indian Histories" page 173")


Court dockets for Robeson County are replete with suits filed by Robeson County Indians who contest the ban on owning and using firearms.


The North Carolina Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of North Carolina's ban on firearms with the conviction of Noel Locklear in the "State v. Locklear" for the illegal possession of firearms.


Well into the Civil War, North Carolina begins to forcibly conscript young Indian men from Robeson County through the auspices of the Robeson County's Home Guard. After the murder of his father and brother, Henry Berry Lowrie organizes a gang to fight the Confederate Home Guard.


The reprisals of Henry Berry Lowrie and his band of banditti against those elites Lowrie War in Robeson County, North Carolina. The Lowrie gang, led by Henry Berry Lowrie, engages in many robberies and murders, fighting against both the Confederate Home Guard and the Ku Klux Klan.

The exploits of the gang made many take notice of their people and it is because of them that the first accounts as to the Robeson County Indians true origins would come about.


George A Townsend's "The Swamp Outlaws," is published in which he states that the Lowries are of mixed Tuscarora Indian blood. Townsend also states in reference to Pop Oxendine that "Like the rest, he had the Tuscarora Indian blood in him" as well.


Circa 1875 General Jno C. Gorman (who was at one time in charge of capturing the Lowrie gang) writes in his memoirs in reference to his tour of duty in Robeson County:

"A century ago, a few members of the Tuscarora tribe of Indians lived upon the banks of the Roanoke river in Halifax County, N.C. and obtained a livelihood by hunting and fishing, but the encrouchments of the planters finally forced them to leave. They removed to Robeson County, and settled on the sandy patches of land situated amongst the slashes and swamps of the PeeDee and Lumber rivers, near the border line between the States of North and South Carolina……." (State archives “Gorman Papers”, and with the Gorman family, Durham N.C. circa 1917)

That same year Mary Normant's "The Lowrie History, as acted in part by Henry Berry Lowrie" (1st published in 1875, in Wilmington N.C.; third edition 1909 with Appendix) states that James Lowrie's (the grandfather of all the Lowries in Robeson) wife Sarah Kersey (nicknamed Sally Kersey.) was a half-breed Tuscarora Indian woman. Normant went on to state that this was "not current rumor, but a true statement as given by James Lowrie himself" she listed 8 witnesses who could attest to this before stating "and last, though not least, by the late John Gilchrist, Esq., long a practicing lawyer at the Lumberton Bar, whose father bought out James Lowrie in 1791, at the close of the Revolutionary War." Normant also went on to specifically address both a Locklear and Cumbo woman as being half breed Tuscaroras as well.


The North Carolina General Assembly recognizes the Indians of Robeson County as "Croatan," and establishes a separate school system for the Indians. The theory of Lost Colony origins is first advanced by the Conservative Democrat, Hamilton McMillan, who represents Robeson County in the state legislature. McMillan's effort to curry favor with the Indians of Robeson County was part of a larger scheme to acrue gains for Democrats in Robeson County and regain political control in Post-Reconstruction North Carolina.

On February 12, of that same year (just two days after the tribe was recognized under the Croatan name) the following was printed in the Fayetteville Observer (the full article can be found on microfilm in their files):

"In one of his letters from Raleigh to his paper, the Asheville Citizen, Col. Jno. C. Cameron gives an interesting account of the information obtained from our friend, Mr. Hamilton McMillan, who represents Robeson county in the senate concerning his bill for separate schools for the Croatan Indians in that county-- as follows:"

in the third paragraph down it reads:

"They say that their traditions say that the people we call the Croatan Indians (though they do not recognize that name as that of a tribe, but only a village, and that they were Tuscaroras), were always friendly to the whites; and finding them destitute and despairing of ever receiving aid from England, persuaded them to leave the Island, and go to the mainland.…They gradually drifted away from their original seats, and at length settled in Robeson, about the center of the county"


The Indians of Robeson County build the Croatan Indian Normal School (now The University of North Carolina at Pembroke) with oversight from the state.


The North Carolina Supreme Court rules that Indian school committees have ultimate authority as to whether children are Indians and therefore eligible for tribal schools. The Croatan school board sets up "blood committees" to determine a child's right to attend the school based on his or her blood purity.

20th century


The North Carolina General Assembly changes the name of the tribe to "Indians of Robeson County."


The Department of Interior sent Charles F. Pierce, the Supervisor of Indian Schools, to Robeson County to conduct a study of the tribe. Pierce reported that the state and county were providing funds to educate the 1,976 school-age Indian children. He also stated in his report that "…one would readily class a large majority [of the Lumbee] as being at least three-fourths Indian".


North Carolina legislature changes the tribe's name to the "Cherokee Indians of Robeson County."


Indian Agent O. M. McPherson speculates that the Lumbee may descend in part from the Cheraw.


The Lumbee Tribe unsuccessfully petitions the Federal Government for recognition as "Siouan Indians."


A Smithsonian Institution anthropologist, John R. Swanton, studies the tribe, and speculates that based on the evidence available (which included no genealogical research or exposure to any writings older than McMillan’s official testimony to the state) the Lumbee were probably primarily descended from the Cheraw and other closely related Siouan speaking tribes. Swanton also stated that the Keyauwee had probably contributed more blood than the rest, but that the Cheraw name would be more appropriate because they have been mentioned more often throughout history.


Tribal leaders, calling themselves The "Cherokee Indians of Robeson County" join the National Congress of American Indians.


Lumbees serve in World War II.


Dropping "Cherokee," following the leadership of D.F. Lowrie the tribe votes to adopt the name "Lumbee" after the Lumbee, or Lumber River.


North Carolina changes name of tribe from "Cherokee" to "Lumbee."


The U.S. Congress [http://www.lumbeetribe.com/recognition/act.htm recognizes name change] and recognizes the Lumbee as American Indians. Specific language in the Lumbee Act, however, denies the tribe the customary Indian financial benefits.


Over five hundred armed Lumbees rout a group of protesting Ku Klux Klan members led by Wizard James W. "Catfish" Cole in a confrontation near Maxton, North Carolina. The incident receives national attention. One headline read, "Indians Rout The Klan." The event is remembered as the "Battle of Hayes Pond" and ends Klan intimidation of the Lumbee.


April 2, 1959, several Iroquois from New York, including renowned Tuscarora, Wallace “Mad Bear” Anderson, visit Robeson County to talk with leaders of the newly created “Lumbee Tribe”. Secondly, was for Mad Bear to meet Rev. D. F. Lowry, who was known to be a Tuscarora himself. Lowry was supposedly unable to be contacted. (Robesonian Article and photographs, April 2, 1959)


The first Indian-owned bank in United States, the Lumbee Bank, is established in Pembroke, North Carolina.


Henry Ward Oxendine, a Lumbee Indian, is the first Indian born in North Carolina to serve in the North Carolina House of Representatives.


The outdoor drama " [http://www.strikeatthewind.com/index.html Strike at the Wind] ", the story of Henry Berry Lowrie, opens in Pembroke, North Carolina.


The Lumbee Tribe petitions the United States Department of the Interior for federal acknowledgment. Their petition is denied due to language in the Lumbee Act of 1956.The University of North Carolina at Pembroke celebrates 100th anniversary.


Glen Maynor is elected sheriff of Robeson County, and Joanne Locklear is elected Clerk of Court for Robeson County, the first Lumbees to hold these positions. In Georgia, Lumbee John Oxendine is elected statewide as Commissioner of Insurance.

21st century


A Lumbee Tribal Government is elected and sworn into office as the Lumbee resume their campaign to achieve full federal recogntion as an Indian tribe.


Bills are introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 898) and the Senate (S.420) to extend full federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe.Lumbee Tribal Council elections are held.


A new Lumbee Tribal Government is sworn in.

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