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Lumbee Indians

John Hammons - my great, great, great, great-grandfather was Lumbee Native American from Robeson County, NC. He was married at least two times, unfortunately, neither of his wives' names are known for sure. It is pure speculation that his second wife's name was Christian Stratford or Norfleet. We know her first name, as she is named in John's Last Will of Testament probated in Robeson County, NC.

What is known, through wonderful notes passed down through generations is this: John and Christian/Christine's son Norfleet Hammons and his wife Dorcas Israel (daughter of Lemuel Israel), Dorcas' brothers George and Newit Israel walked from Robeson County, NC to Sumter County, GA and presented themselves as Primitive Baptists.

I know the last sentence in the above paragraph will irritate some people to the point that you will feel compelled to write me and "set me straight"; however, the Israel family was Jewish and the Hammons either Jewish or Lumbee - or a combination of.

Norfleet sold his lands in Robeson County, NC just before it became illegal for Indians to own land in the state. He took his family to a new part of the world and they assumed white identities, leaving behind all customs and traditions.

When I first discovered this, I was quite angry they had turned their backs on their/my heritage. Through studying history and learning more about the climate in which they were living, I grew to understand they did what they thought was necessary for me - their descendant - to prosper. While I wish I had grown up celebrating my Jewish and Native heritage, I do understand they assumed there was no other way for survival.

After learning of my Lumbee ties, I drove to the Lumbee offices in Robeson County, NC to learn more. I was mistaken for a local woman and learned that she too is a descendant of John Hammons. You may be confused by my photos on this website as I am not the stereotyped portrayed Native - I have strawberry blond hair, light eyes and skin. Most of the Lumbees had fair hair and skin when "discovered".

In 1914, the Secretary of the Interior was sent by the U.S. Senate to investigate the tribal rights of the Indians of Robeson County. The findings included statements like, "There is a tradition among these people at the present time that their ancestors were Sir Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony, amalgamated with some tribe of Indians. This tradition is supported by their looks, their complexion, color of skin, hair and eyes, by their manners, customs and habits, and by the fact that while they are, in part, of undoubted Indian origin, they have no Indian names and no Indian language." His further search revealed that there were 95 different surnames which came from the original 117 settlers of The Lost Colony. He was able to account for 41 of those direct surnames among the Lumbee, and still more that had been altered in some manner. The Secretary's investigation validated that the Lumbee were, indeed, descendants of The Lost Colony.

There really is no proof if The Lost Colony theory is true - or not. In fact, there is compelling proof that it is not fact - and the author Hamilton McMillan mistook Roanoke Island with Roanoke River. The real question is.... will we ever know for sure? Please visit the Official Lumbee Tribe website for more information.

To read multitudes of theories: Origins of the Tribe

More importantly, read about the 100 year quest of the Lumbee People to gain Federal recognition: 100 Year Quest

The Spike - the newsletter for all things Native. From Powwows to legitimate venders of Indian merchandise. Your first stop to learning about Native Americans. The Dartmouth graduate publisher is Jimmy Boy Dial, a Lumbee and a great friend of mine.

Hammons notes - various notes pertaining to Native American Hammons

"Hear me people: We now have to deal with another race---small and feeble when our fathers first met them, but now great and overbearing. Strangely enough they have a mind to till the soil and the love of possessions is a disease with them. These people have made many rules which the rich may break but the poor may not. They take their tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich and those who rule."
---Chief Sitting Bull, speaking at the Powder River Conference, 1877


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