Chapter 10. Struggling for voice in a Black and White world: The Lumbee Indians' segregated educational experience in North Carolina.

Record Number: 
DIAL002
Citation: 

Dial, Heather Kimberly. "Chapter 10. Struggling for voice in a Black and White world: The Lumbee Indians' segregated educational experience in North Carolina." Transformations in schooling: Historical and comparative perspectives. Ed. Kim Tolley. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Pages 225-250.  Key source

Annotation: 

This valuable, perceptive essay, based on Dial's 2005 dissertation (which can be downloaded from North Carolina State University Library's catalog), addresses both the history and the causes of segregated education for Lumbee Indians. The main focus is on public schooling, but Dial also discusses higher education. Because this essay is a "synthesis of secondary literature" (p. 225), the essay is documented by 176 notes. Some of the notes provide additional information and discussion of points made in the essay; most document sources for the concepts and information (although without page numbers).

Especially valuable is Dial's emphasis on placing Lumbee segregated education within broader contexts. For readers who are mainly interested in the Lumbee, Dial provides an important service by pointing them to sources that document and explain the links between the Lumbee experience and Native American history, Southern history, colonialism, racism, and many other relevant concepts. Dial has done so within the easy-to-use, accessible format of an essay followed by notes. For readers whose main focus is broader than the Lumbee, Dial explains that her essay broadens the scope of the study of state-supported segregated education, which previously had addressed only African American and Hispanic populations.

The following are the main topics discussed and documented in Dial's essay:
• Theories of Lumbee origin; geographical area of Lumbee settlement; labels given the Lumbee by the North Carolina government; and Lumbee cultural characteristics;
• History of Lumbee resistance to racial discrimination institutionalized by the North Carolina Constitution of 1835;
• Definitions of Indianness, referring to R. D. Fogelson; the dominant European American culture's enforcement of the concepts of race and blood quantum; and definitions within Lumbee culture (with illustrations referring to Lumbee source documents and the Lumbee Petition);
• A carefully documented historical overview of Lumbee segregated schools;
• A brief review, for comparison, of segregated schools for tribes with federal recognition; and
• A brief discussion of Lumbee experiences of segregation in obtaining access to higher education.

Dial usefully applies the concept of internalized racism to her account of Lumbee segregated education. She defines it as follows: "(A nondominant population's attempt to come to terms with racism by oppressing a similar group—excluding, delegitimizing, and demeaning it, distancing , and 'othering'it—is known as internalized racism)" (p. 232). [This definition is not a complete one, but it works well for Dial's purposes in this essay. For a fuller definition, see Camara Phyllis Jones's article, "Levels of racism: A theoretical framework and a gardener's tale," American Journal of Public Health 90.8 (August 2000): 1212-1215, available for download as a PDF file).

The Lumbee used internalized racism as one method of resisting their relegation to a lower caste by North Carolina laws (such as anti-miscegenation laws, disfranchisement, and a state-provided public school system that did not include schools for Indians but also did not allow them to attend schools for Whites). [The Lumbee also resisted this relegation to a lower caste by " . . . assertion of Indian heritage, and by embracing segregation" (p. 232).] Dial explains that the Lumbee exhibited internalized racism in regard to education by oppressing Blacks. The Lumbee pushed for state statutes in 1899 and 1911 that forbade Black children from attending schools that had been established for Lumbees; and in 1921 they succeeded in obtaining state legislation establishing a committee to screen students for admission to Lumbee schools. The committee screened out Black students and ". . . individuals of black mixed heritage, such as the group known as the Smilings" (p. 234).

Dial acknowledges that this oppression of Blacks worked to the advantage of Whites, who had long sought to ". . . cause disharmony among these lower castes because of the danger of these populations uniting and working together to challenge white supremacy" (p. 232). She is states firmly, however, that this internalized racism "developed in the face of oppression" (p. 233) and served the Lumbee goal of "assert[ing] their Indian identity" and "distinguish[ing] themselves from blacks" (p. 232). She reinforces this point in her dissertation: "This discussion of internalized racism is not an attempt to vilify the Lumbee, rather it is to reveal the sickness of a system of racial hierarchy wherein a non-dominant population actively participates in the oppression of another non-dominant population" (p. 39).

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