There are a few books I consider foundation book for the library of anyone who is researching mixed families of color in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The book “Waccamaw Legacy, Contemporary Indians Fight for Survival” by Patricial Barker Lerch is assuredly one of them. This book in on the Fundamental Research List. I will be reviewing each of these resources, in turn.
Waccamaw Legacy provides an excellent tutorial of the history of this area, being the Lumber/PeeDee River Basin, in terms of politics and culture, and the clash of the two, without interjected anger or any personal agenda found in some books covering this region and people. Patricia Lerch, a professor of anthropology, the author, was hired by the Waccamaw in 1981 to perform the research necessary to file for tribal recognition under the Bureau of Indian Affairs Federal Acknowledgment Program. Unfortunately, this did not occur, but Patricia has recorded this information, and more, for us in this book.
The information herein does not apply only to the Waccamaw. The same social, political, cultural and legal environment applied to the other Native people and people of color in the Lumber and PeeDee River Basin in both North and South Carolina, although the legalities varied between the two states and how the laws were applied varied by county and political whim.
The Waccamaw differentiate themselves from the Lumbee. The Waccamaw believe that their ancestors “have always lived here” as opposed to the Lumbee who migrated from other regions. The old Waccamaw claimed the tribe is Siouian.
Patricia spends a great deal of time acquainting us with the history of the people of the region where the Waccamaw are found. The Waccamaw settlement is found in both Columbus and Bladen Counties of NC.
The events surrounding the schools in North Carolina beginning in 1885 affected the Native families in Columbus County as much as it did the people who would become Lumbee in Robeson County. The difference was that the state provided funding for separate Indian Schools in Robeson Co., but declined, several times, to do so for the Native families in Columbus County. Several lawsuits were filed relative to his topic. This process and these lawsuits serve to document a great deal about the people involved.
Patricia walks us through this difficult time and into the later 1900s, where we put all of the pieces from earlier generations together to obtain a better understanding of both the internal and external forces at work that would, together, form the later history of the Waccamaw people.
This book should be mandatory reading for anyone who is beginning research on families of color.
Note: The books I review I have purchased and I receive no compensation or “perks” of any type from the author or publisher. These reviews are solely for educational purposes and to help researchers establish a reliable educational baseline.