The Lumbee Tribe has 55,000 members which makes it the largest American Indian tribe east of the Mississippi River and the ninth largest tribe in the United States. The tribal center is in Pembroke, North Carolina, and most Lumbee Indians live in the counties of Robeson, Hoke, Cumberland and Scotland. Their Cheraw and related Siouan-speaking ancestors have lived in the area since the 1700s.
The Lumbee tribe was recognized by the state of North Carolina in 1885. In 1887, the state established the Croatan Normal Indian School, which is today the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
The U.S. government recognized the Lumbee as an Indian people in May 1956 but precluded them from applying through the Bureau of Indian Affairs process to become a federally recognized tribe. Lumbee leaders have made numerous attempts for full federal recognition since then but been defeated so far. Here is the tribe’s complete timeline of Lumbee history.