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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 14, 2001 - Issue 40


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Lumbees Celebrate Heritage


 by Venita Jenkins Staff Writer Fayetteville Online-July 8, 2001


Staff photo by Johnny Horne

PEMBROKE, NC -- It took James Hite nearly 50 years to attend his first Lumbee Homecoming.

He left the event Saturday afternoon planning to return next year.

Hite and thousands of other Lumbee Indians gathered in Pembroke for the tribeís annual homecoming. Organizers estimated more than 30,000 people attended this yearís event, which concluded Saturday.

Hite, who is from Richmond, Va., left Robeson County when he was a boy. He had heard stories about homecoming, but had never previously attended the event.

"I wanted to see it for myself," said Hite, who is 53. "Itís like going back to your roots."

The Lumbee Homecoming parade was the highlight of Saturday's activities. Crowds four to five people deep lined Pembroke's Main Street for the parade.

Beauty queens and tribal leaders waved to family and friends and tossed candy to anxious children. More than 100 floats participated in the parade.

Spectators made their way to Old Main on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke afterward to observer a powwow and to sample local food.

Robert Maynor, who is 29, has been attending homecoming since he was a child.

Maynor, who lives in Fort Polk, La., said the event gives people the opportunity to see old friends and family members who may no longer live in Robeson County.

"I like the fact that I am coming back to an Indian populated area," he said.

One of the most important things about homecoming is the emphasis on American Indian culture, said Teresa Bullard of Red Springs.

"It allows us an opportunity to let people know about the Lumbee Indians, and expose our children to their heritage," she said.

The tribe, with more than 45,000 members, is the largest Indian tribe east of the Mississippi. Most of them live in and around Robeson County.

Representatives of the Tribal Council of the Lumbee Nation used the event to talk to fellow tribal members.

"Weíve been communicating with folks who may not live here," said Tribal Chairman Milton Hunt. "Itís important to have input about issues that concern them and what direction they feel the Tribal Council should and ought to go."

The Lumbee Regional Development Association sponsors the week-long celebration. Leroy Freeman, chairman of the association, said he was pleased with the turnout.

"This is the best one ever," Freeman said. "Next year will be even better."

Maps by Travel


Lumbee Tribe-Official Site
Our presence has been documented by historical accounts and oral traditions. We have continued to exist as a tribe despite conditions that threatened to destroy the fabric of our Indian community

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