LEGAL HISTORY BETWEEN LUMBEE INDIANS
AND THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
(Document received from: Brantley Blue 1971)
From the earliest times up to the year 1835, Robeson County Indians, although an identifiable Indian group, enjoyed all of the rights and privileges of citizenship as our white neighbors.
NORTH CAROLINA CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT – 1835
In the year 1835 the Constitution of North Carolina was amended and the Robeson County (Lumbee) Indians were deprived of the rights to vote and all other rights and privileges of citizenship.
Mr. Brantley noted: “This classed them as ‘free people of color’. They could not go to White schools, refused to go to Negro schools, and there were no Indian schools for 50 years.”
NORTH CAROLINA ACT OF JULY 11, 1854
The State Legislature enacted a law that Lumbees could not marry outside their race. To do so constituted a criminal offense.
NORTH CAROLINA ADOPTION OF 1868 CONSTTUTION AND RECONSTRUCTION ACTS
By the adoption of the 1868 North Carolina Constitution and passage of Reconstruction Acts the rights of citizenship were restored to Robeson County Indians. These privileges, however, did not include the right to attend White schools, as had previously been our right. There were no Indian schools. The Indian refused to attend schools for Blacks.
ACTS OF 1885
In 1885, the North Carolina Legislature passed an act relating to the Robeson County Indians, consisting of two purposes. First: Providing that the Indians of
Robeson County and their descendants shall hereafter “be designated and known as the Croatan Indians.” Second: The act provided for the establishment of a separate school system for Indians in Robeson County.
Thus, after 50 years of no public education the State provided Robeson County Indians with a separate and woefully unequal public school system. We were stigmatized by social and educational isolation.
The above educational isolation of a separate Indian
AN ACT OF 1911 – NAME CHANGE
Section 1. “That Chapter 51 of the Public Laws of North Carolina, Session of 1885, be and the same is hereby amended, by striking out the words ‘Croatan Indians’ wherever the same occurs in said chapter and inserting in lieu thereof the words ‘Indians of Robeson County.’”
1913, PUBLIC LAWS OF NORTH CAROLINA, SESSION 1913, CHAPTER 123, NAME CHANGE
Section 4. That the Indians residing in Robeson and adjoining counties who have heretofore been known as “Croatan Indians” or “Indians of Robeson County,” together with their descendants, shall hereafter be kinown and designated as “Cherokee Indians of Robeson County.”
1953, SESSION LAWS OF NORTH CAROLINA ..PAGE 747..CHAPTER 874, S.B. 114 – NAME CHANGE
The General Assembly of North Carolina do enact:
Section 1. The Indians now residing in Robeson and adjoining counties of North Carolina, originally found by the first white settlers on the Lumbee River in Robeson County, and claiming joint descent from remnants of early American Colonists and certain tribes of Indians originally inhabiting the coastal regions of North Carolina, shall, from and after the ratification of Act, be known and designated as Lumbee Indians of North Carolina and shall continue to enjoy all rights, privileges and immunities enjoyed by them as citizens of the State as now provided by law, and shall continue to be subject to all the obligations and duties of citizens under the law.
The 1953 Act has been the last act passed by the Legislature of the State of North Carolina, involving the “Lumbee Indians”……including name changes.