The legacy of Indian removal

Record Number: 
PERD002
Citation: 

 Perdue, Theda. “The legacy of Indian removal.” Journal of Southern history 78. 1 (February 2012): 3–36.

Annotation: 

 Although this essay contains only brief mentions of the Lumbee, it is an excellent source for those who wish to understand Lumbee history within the broader context of Indian removal, race relations in the South, southern tribes' efforts to obtain justice, and–more broadly–the “outside the box” behavior of Indians in Southern history.

In her specific mentions of the Lumbee, Perdue discusses the following:

Tribal origins: After 1831, when North Carolina obtained what remained of the Tuscarora Reservation, the Tuscaroras who had not migrated to New York and were still living in North Carolina became landless. They moved south, intermarried with the Cheraws and other Indians, and became the Lumbee Tribe (p. 6 and note 11).

Higher education: The president of the University of North Carolina (System) decreed, in 1940, that Cherokees would be admitted to white–only colleges in the System, but “Croatan [Lumbee] Indians are restricted because most of them are part Negro.” Perdue notes that this sentence is crossed out in the draft  memo (p. 10 and note 27).

Lumbee historical pageants: Unlike pageants dealing with Cherokee history, Strike at the Wind! and others dealing with Lumbee history failed financially (pp. 25–26 and notes 84–86).

Perdue's conclusion urges readers and historians to make room for Southern Indians in a more authentic way. She states:

“Perhaps Indians get left out of the story because they complicate the narrative of Southern history. Their existence belies a Southern racial binary in ways that are often uncomfortable. . . .  Many Indians . . .  supported segregation—as long as it made room for them is Indians–and used it to legally establish their identity as Indian. Most native people did not join the civil rights movement, although they benefited from it. . . .  Do these deviations from the standard narrative of Southern history mean that Indians can be removed thoughtlessly from Southern history? . . .  Indians provide us with an opportunity to examine different experiences and perspectives in the history of the South, ones that do not follow the standard narrative but instead promise both to challenge and enrich it” (p. 36).

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Indian removal