The Lumbee River
Fund is "Telling Our Own Stories"
Lumbee schoolteacher LaRuth Sampson Alway had never been in a canoe
on the Lumber River until last March.
"This is so
beautiful!" she exclaimed. "It's inspiring to spend time on
the river that gave us our people's life and name."
Mrs. Alway was on
a canoe trip sponsored by the Lumbee River Fund, a new history preservation
effort that supports a project to have Indian people tell their own
version of history.
The Lumbee River
Fund is a collaboration between UNC Pembroke, Robeson County's Indian
Education Resource Center, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke
University and a diverse group of artists, writers and community members
who are committed to preserving the history of Indians in and around
What do canoes and history have to do with each other?
is our home, where we come from," says Waltz Maynor, another retired
teacher and a member of the Lumbee River Fund's advisory committee.
"Our community is full of stories. Many Indian families have ancestors
and elders who participated in important events, and we all have everyday
stories that teach important lessons. Some of those stories took place
on this river, and the people that made the events happen all spent
time on the river. We're celebrating the past by being here."
"So much of
what our people have got is passing, if we don't do it, no one will
know about it," says Mrs. Della Locklear of Robeson County's Prospect
Mrs. Locklear wants
the stories and the history of her Lumbee Indian community to be protected,
and she sees that the generations are coming together to do it. She
says, "It's a new day for our young people, and it's bringing our
The Lumbee River
Fund is a resource for Sampson, Locklear and all Indians from the Robeson
County area to tell history as they remember it. The Fund's mission
is to collect those stories and preserve them for future generations.
project we come together and recognize how not everybody remembers the
past the same way, but that all the perspectives are important to honor,"
said Dr. Linda Oxendine, an advisory committee member and chair of American
Indian Studies at UNC Pembroke.
The advisory committee
has met monthly for the last year to discuss the Fund's purpose and
goals. Josephine Humphreys, the author of "Nowhere Else on Earth,"
a novel that re-creates the life of Rhoda Strong and the Civil War era
of Henry Berry Lowrie, created the Fund with a donation to UNC Pembroke.
Ms. Humphreys is
interested in giving back to the Lumbee community that gave her so much
as she researched this book.
in this community have taught me so much. I hope this gift helps keep
their brilliant past alive," she said.
Malinda Maynor, a Lumbee graduate student in history at UNC Chapel Hill
and a documentary filmmaker, is the Fund's coordinator.
just have scholars tell us who we are and what's important, the advisory
committee believes that Indians in and around Robeson County should
be the ones to tell about our own history," she said. "Our
community already possesses the interest and knowledge to do this work;
we just need resources to make it happen. The Lumbee River Fund hopes
to provide some of those resources to Indian people who are interested
in preserving the past."
The Fund's ultimate
goal is to preserve the record of Southeastern North Carolina Indian
history-photos, artifacts, documents, audio tapes, maps, books and articles-and
promote a coherent, consistent, and accessible collection of materials
to be stored in Pembroke. UNCP's Native American Resource Center and
the Indian Education Resource Center, already important repositories
of Lumbee historical documents and artifacts, have taken lead roles
in shaping the collection and the Fund's goals.
The Lumbee River Fund kicks off its first major project, "Telling
Our Own Stories," at this year's Lumbee Homecoming celebration.
Own Stories" is a photography and oral history project that documents
Indian history from their perspective. Ms. Maynor hopes that the project
will not just be centered around the Pembroke and the university communities.
"So many Lumbee families have old photographs and memories, we
want to reproduce those photos for the families and for the collection,
so that no one has to give away their originals. At the same time, we'll
do oral history interviews, preserving the memories in both words and
An information table
for the Fund will be set up at the UNCP powwow on July 7th, where community
members can learn about the Fund's activities. At this event and throughout
our operation, we hope to reach families from Prospect, Union Chapel,
Saddletree, Fairgrove, Shannon, Hopewell-every Indian community.
Beginning Fall 2001,
the Fund will sponsor community meetings to determine who is interested
and what kinds of documents each community holds. Then, oral history
and photography training sessions will be held for volunteers who want
skills in preserving their own family history.
In the end, the
material that the volunteers collect will contribute to the archive
and a photography and oral history exhibit.
promotes collaboration," says Bruce Barton, curator of the Indian
Education Resource Center, "and not just collaboration between
Indians and non-Indians, but between the different Indian communities
and our different stories."
the Lumbee River Fund may be directed to Malinda Maynor at 910.521.9513.
Contributions to the fund may be made through the UNCP Office for Advancement,
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