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The Lumbee Indians of North Carolina

lumbee indian

Cheraw community was first observed on Drowning Creek (Lumber River) in present day Robeson County, North Carolina, in 1724. Almost 300 years later, the Lumbees continue to live along the Lumber River. The Lumbees have been recognized by the state of North Carolina as a tribe since 1885. With this recognition, the state provided educational assistance and other services.

In 1887, the state established an All American Indian training school for the Lumbee. This institution grew into a college, which today has an enrollment of approximately 3,000 and is known as the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. It is one of the sixteen institutions that make up the University of North Carolina system.

Chronological And Legislative History of the Lumbee

Pre 1700's - 1799

  • Pre 1700 to 1703 Cheraws are documented as living on or near the Dan River in two settlements near the state border of southwest Virginia.
  • 1703-1737 Cheraws are documented as living on the Pee Dee River, SC.
  • 1711-1712 Cheraws participated in alliance of tribes engaged in intertribal warfare against Tuscarora in war in northeastern NC. Tuscaroras were defeated mostly by Indian allies of European colonists. Thousands of Tuscaroras were killed or enslaved.
  • lumbee woman
  • 1715 Cheraws participated in Cofitachiqui Indian alliance in Yamasee War, which was targeted against traders and colonist around Charleston, SC. Cofitachiquo alliance was defeated by alliance of European colonists and their Indian allies.
  • 1725 Herbert Map was completed that shows the Wacoma (Waccamaw) tribe on Drowning Creek (Lumbee River), NC.
  • 1753 NC Governor Rowan issued a Proclamation identifying Drowning Creek as a frontier to Indians.
  • 1771 Information on Cheraws on Drowning Creek was reported in Charleston, SC Newspaper.
  • 1790 Locklears, Chavises, Oxendines, Hammonds, Brooks, Cumbos, Revels, Carters, and Kerseys (people with predominant Lumbee surnames) are listed on the 1790 Census of Robeson County as "All other free persons".

1800 to 1899

  • 1835 NC State Constitution was amended to disenfranchise Indians along with Blacks; Indians lose important citizenship rights.
  • henry berry lowrie
  • 1864-1874 Henry Berry Lowrie, legendary Lumbee outlaw/folk hero, led guerilla war against violent and oppressive Confederate officials, and later, US Military officials.
  • 1868 Following the Civil War, the NC State Constitution was amended to enfranchise Indians along with Blacks (Indians get back important citizenship rights).
  • 1885 NC General Assembly recognized the Indians of Robeson County as Croatan and established a separate school system for Indians.
  • 1887 Indian leaders and NC General Assembly established a Croatan Indian Normal School, which eventually grew to becomes the University of NC at Pembroke.
  • 1888 Leaders of the Croatan (Lumbee) petitioned the US government for federal recognition and educational aid.
  • 1890 NC Supreme Court ruled that Croatan School Committees have authority to determine who tribal members are for purposes of enrolling in Croatan Schools.
  • 1895 Croatans (Lumbees) again petitioned Congress for an appropriation of the Normal School for the Croatan Indians of Robeson County.
  • 1895 NC General Assembly passed a resolution urging its US Congressional delegation to support the Croatan (Lumbee) Indians.
  • 1899 Congressman John D. Bellamy introduced a bill in US Congress to provide educational assistance to the Croatan (Lumbee) Indians.

1900 to present

  • 1900 Congressman Bellamy spoke before the US House Committee on Indian Affairs and reported on origins, history, and needs of the Croatan (Lumbee).
  • 1900 US Government completed special Census of Indian population of Robeson County and adjoining counties as part of Census Survey.
  • 1909 NC General Assembly appropriated $3,000 to the Croatan Indian of Robeson County for educational aid.
  • 1910 US Government completed special Census of Indian population of Robeson and adjoining counties as part of Census survey.
  • 1911 NC General Assembly changed name of tribe to "Indians of Robeson County" (Lumbee).
  • 1913 US Congress held a hearing on status and concerns of "Indians of Robeson County" (Lumbee)
  • 1914 Delegation of Lumbee returned to Congress seeking support for their educational system.
  • 1919 O.M. McPherson, Special Indian agent with the US Bureau of Indian Affairs, visits Robeson County to study Lumbee.
  • 1921 NC General Assembly appropriated $75,000 to the Indian Normal School.
  • 1933 Bill introduced in Congress to recognize Indians of Robeson County as "Cheraw".
  • 1934 Lumbee leaders joined the National Congress of American Indians.
  • 1935 Bureau of Indian Affairs sent Special Indian agent to Robeson County to study conditions of the tribe and recommend purchase of land for the tribe.
  • 1935 1936 - Researchers with the Bureau of Indian Affairs of the US Department of the Interior came to Robeson County to conduct studies among the Lumbee.
  • 1952 Lumbee leaders held community referendum to get approval of tribal members to change name of tribe to "Lumbee Tribe"
  • 1953 NC General Assembly changed name of Indians of Robeson County to "Lumbee".
  • 1956 US Congress passed the Lumbee Act which provides federal recognition of the tribe as "Lumbee", but denied federal Indian services to members of the Lumbee tribe.
  • officer on duty during lumbee confrontation
  • 1958 After the Klan threatened Lumbee tribal members, Lumbee Indians used force of arms to route Ku Klux Klan in confrontation near Maxton, NC. The Lumbee tribe received national and international news media attention for its defense of its community against outside "hate groups."
  • 1968 Lumbee Regional Development Association (LRDA) organized to improve quality of life for Indian people in Robeson, Hoke, and Scotland counties.
  • 1971 Present - LRDA received federal funds to provide services to low-income Indian people of Robeson and adjoining counties.
  • 1971 - Present Leaders of LRDA joined and represented the Lumbee tribe in the National Congress of American Indians, the oldest, largest, and most respected Indian organization in the United States.
  • 1972 - 1976 Lumbee groups worked to preserve predominantly Indian schools and preserve and restore "Old Main" an historic landmark building which is very important to Lumbee history and culture, located on the UNCP campus.
  • 1974 Bill introduced in US Congress to amend Lumbee Act of 1956 to provide full federal recognition to Lumbee Tribe.
  • 1979 LRDA began efforts to develop petition through Federal Acknowledgement Process of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, for administrative recognition of the Lumbee tribe.
  • 1980 - 2001 LRDA prepared, updated, and maintains a list of all enrolled members of the Lumbee tribe. (There are over 43,000 members to date.)
  • 1984 Referendum approved by vote of the Lumbee Tribal members authorized the Board of Directors of LRDA to act for the Lumbee Tribe on federal recognition until a Lumbee Tribal Council is formed and elected by Lumbee Tribal Enrolled members.
  • 1987 LRDA and Lumbee River Legal Services submitted petition for federal recognition of Lumbee tribe to Bureau of Indian Affairs. This document was a product of the most extensive research into the history and genealogy of the Lumbee and their ancestors to date.
  • 1988 Bill introduced in US Senate and House of Representatives for recognition of the Lumbee.
  • 1988 The Lumbee Recognition Act advanced in Senate, but died in House of Representatives.
  • 1989 Leaders of LRDA obtained resolution from National Congress of American Indians supporting efforts for federal recognition.
  • 1989 The Solicitor for the Department of the Interior ruled that the 1956 Lumbee Act denied the federal relationship to Lumbee, the Lumbee are not eligible for the Federal Acknowledgement Process of the BIA.
  • 1991 Bill introduced in US Congress for recognition of the Lumbee Tribe. Bill passed in House of Representatives, but died in Senate.
  • 1993 Lumbee Recognition Bill passed in the US House of Representatives.
  • 1993 LRDA organized Lumbee Tribal Constitution Development Project to help prepare a draft of a Lumbee tribal constitution and explore options for tribal government.
  • 1994 Lumbee Recognition Bill received strong bipartisan support in the US Senate, endorsed by Senator Daniel Inouye (D) and Senator Lauch Faircloth (R).
  • 1994 Glen Maynor was elected Sheriff of Robeson County, the first Lumbee in this very important position. Joanne Locklear was elected Clerk of Court of Robeson County, the first Lumbee to hold this very important position.
  • 1998 April Whittemore crowned first ever Lumbee Miss Indian World
  • 2000 Lorna McNeil crowned Miss North Carolina, first American Indian woman to hold this position.
  • 2001 Lumbee elect first Lumbee Tribal Council. For more information about the Tribal Council, please visit their web page at


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