The Robeson County, North Carolina American Indian Regional DNA Project via Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) by Robert B. Noles in conjunction with the existing results of extensive genealogical and historical research was originally established in 2005 to help determine and/or prove whether a DNA tested participant is a descendant of a known American Indian ancestor. Genealogical and historical research has been conducted and published by numerous Robeson County, North Carolina Indian researchers, including Lewis Randolph "Lew" Barton, Adolph L. Dial & David K. Eliades, David Ball, E. Lawrence Lee, Theda Perdue & Christopher Arris Oakley, Michael Spivey, Scott Dawson, Orlando M. McPherson, Hamilton McMillan, Dr. Olivia Schwartz, Jane (Blanks) Barnhill, Morris F. Britt and many others. This project is intended to build on previous research using genetic genealogy testing and tools.
Genetic genealogy testing is a powerful new tool now readily available to genealogists. The FTDNA genetic genealogy tests can verify a person's direct paternal ancestry (Y-DNA), direct maternal ancestry (mtDNA), and their every person ancestor for a limited number of generations (atDNA - Family Finder) in a quick, inexpensive and easy way. These tests, when you or a close relative is a suitable candidate to be tested, can save time and money, prevent mistakes and provide invaluable data for genealogists that cannot be otherwise obtained via original genealogical or historical records that are no longer available, destroyed, or that never existed in the first place.
This DNA Project's focus concerns the Native American Indian population of the Robeson County Region, including most of southeastern North Carolina (including Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Hoke, and Scotland Counties as well as Robeson County and northeastern South Carolina (including Dillon, Marlboro and Sumter counties). Numerous Indian tribes and independent Indians (not associated with an organized tribe) populated this region starting as early as 400 to 500 years ago.
The Lumbee Tribe (so named in 1952 based on their Lumber River location) is the major Indian tribe in the region. The 60,000+ current members of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina reside primarily in Robeson, Hoke and Scotland counties. The Lumbee Tribe is the largest tribe in North Carolina, the largest tribe east of the Mississippi River and the ninth largest in the nation (ranked by population estimates). The Lumbee take their name from the Lumber River which winds its way through Robeson County.
The Lumbee Tribe in Robeson County was initially generally known as the Hatteras or Croatan (or Croatoan) Indians; in 1911 the State of North Carolina officially, via legislation, changed the tribe name to "The Indians of Robeson County." A few years later the North Carolina legislature mistakenly refereed to the Robeson County Indians as Cherokee. This was unfortunate in that the Robeson County Indians are NOT associated with either the Eastern Band of Cherokees (located in Western North Carolina) nor the Western Band of Cherokees located in Oklahoma (relocated there as a result of the "Trail of Tears.") This 'mistake' has resulted in many descendants of the Robeson County Indians to believe they are Cherokee, based on family stories and traditions, when they are most likely not Cherokee descendants.
The Lumbee Tribe is but one of the many American Indian Tribes that has inhabited the southeast North Carolina and northeast South Carolina region over the past 500 years. Some of the members of the other smaller tribes have been absorbed by the Lumbee Tribe while others have retained their independent identity. Accordingly, this project is intended to include anyone with American Indian ancestry from this region, regardless of the Tribe or the independent nature of their Indian ancestors.
Many prominent researchers have determined that the Lumbees have origins that include a number of the Indian tribes originally located along the North Carolina Atlantic coast before 1700 and that these coastal Indians, particularly the so called Croatoan Indians from Hatteras, absorbed the survivors of Sir Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony. Thus the use of many English surnames among tribe members.
This Robeson County Project was not established for nor associated with any specific tribe, and participation includes people researching their heritage associated with any of the following tribes or groups: Catawba, Cheraws, Chowanoc, Coharie, Croatoan, Indians of Robeson County, Lumbee, PeeDee, Tuscarora , Waccamaw, etc. The Robeson County area and this project cover a melting-pot of Indian cultures and tribal people.
This DNA project is available to people who have obtained a Y-Chromosome test (direct paternal line), a mitochondrial DNA test (direct maternal line) and/or an atDNA test (Family Finder) with FTDNA.
The primary objective of this project is to establish the genetic profile(s) for the various American Indians in the region, regardless of tribe affiliation, if any. In addition, the results of this project will assist family historians trace their American Indian ancestry and identify their genetic cousins among the other members and their Indian ancestors.
The Lumbee Tribe was once known as the Cheraws and they were originally from the Danville, Virginia area prior to 1703 (see "The Only Land I Know: A History of the Lumbee Indians", by Adolph L. Dial and David K. Eliades). In 1703 they left Danville and settled in what became known as the Cheraws District of South Carolina (present day Chesterfield Co., South Carolina). Later in the middle 1700s, the Cheraws located in the Robeson Co., North Carolina area. In 1885, the North Carolina General Assembly recognized the Indians of Robeson County by the name of Croatoan. In 1911, the North Carolina General Assembly changed the name of the tribe to "Indians of Robeson County" and then in 1913 changed the tribe name again to "Cherokee Indians of Robeson County." In 1952, the tribe voted to adopt the name Lumbee, and in 1956 the U.S. Congress officially recognized the tribe name change to Lumbee, but Congress did NOT provide the tribe with full federal recognition and all the associated rights provided via such recognition.
In one form or another, the U.S. Congress has deliberated on the status of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina for more than 100 years. Congress and the Department of the Interior have repeatedly examined the tribe's identity and history and have consistently found the tribe to be an Indian community dating back to the time of first white contact. However, the Lumbee Tribe remains in a state of limbo, due to the lack of full federal recognition. The tribe continues its efforts to obtain full federal recognition from Congress. You can view information concerning Lumbee Tribe history, the federal recognition issue, tribe membership information, etc. via the Lumbee Tribe Official Web site (www.lumbeetribe.com).
The Lumbees are a people in which the Indian strain is very strong, yet, they so thoroughly adopted the white man's lifestyle several centuries ago, no official reservation or Federal Recognition, that they can no longer point to any significant Indian culture. They are a proud people who have their own central community of Pembroke, North Carolina, who own land and excel as farmers, established their own churches, schools and businesses.
They have never been placed on reservations, nor have they been wards of either the state or the federal government. They are a people who have fought, and are still willing to fight for their rights.
Hopefully, this DNA Project will reinforce the Native American Indian nature of the Indians of the Robeson County Region by identifying large numbers of descendants scattered throughout the U.S., who heretofore only knew of Indian ancestry via vague family stories.
Please note that this Project is not intended to establish individuals for tribe membership or Native American Indian benefits provided by the Federal government or any State government. Tribe membership is determined by a tribe based on their criteria and documented genealogies tied to former tribe members generally dating back to the early 1800s. In some cases, a genetic test may help support a person's documented paper trail genealogy, or lead one to obtain proper documentation.