How does a group of people who have American Indian ancestry but no records of treaties, reservations, Native language, or peculiarly "Indian" customs come to be accepted—socially and legally—as Indians? Originally published in 1980, The Lumbee Problem traces the political and legal history of the Lumbee Indians of Robeson County, North Carolina, arguing that Lumbee political activities have been powerfully affected by the interplay between their own and others' conceptions of who they are. The book offers insights into the workings of racial ideology and practice in both the past and the present South—and particularly into the nature of Indianness as it is widely experienced among nonreservation Southeastern Indians. Race and ethnicity, as concepts and as elements guiding action, are seen to be at the heart of the matter. By exploring these issues and their implications as they are worked out in the United States, Blu brings much-needed clarity to the question of how such concepts are—or should be—applied across real and perceived cultural borders.
Karen I. Blu is an associate professor of anthropology at New York University.
"The work is authoritative, theoretically provocative, and accessibly written, and should stand as a definitive source on the Lumbee for some time, as well as a useful contribution to the understanding of the South."—Choice
"A welcome and valiant effort to elaborate on a quasi-comprehensive basis the history and contemporary status of this indigenous group. . . . It ranks high on the small list of works dealing with an Eastern tribe minus a treaty relationship with the federal government."—Ethnohistory