Native Americans in the Carolina Borderlands, A Critical Ethnography by Michael Spivey

I’ve read a lot of books on the topic of Native people.  When I say a lot, I mean hundreds, if not thousands.  Some are reference books.  Some are histories or record stories.  And then, there is the cream of the crop.

I will, from time to time, discuss a book here.  Native Americans in the Carolina Borderlands, A Critical Ethnography by Michael Spivey is an exceptional book.  For genealogists looking for surnames, this isn’t that type of book, although there are certainly some surnames imbedded in the chapters.

This book is about the culture and the lives of historical Indians in what I’ve been calling the Lumbee/PeeDee River basin.  Today’s tribes have names, and in some places have reservations, but historically, a lot of blending occurred and the lines between tribes, between neighborhoods and between different peoples was often blurred.  That is certainly the case in this borderlands region.

In this book, Michael focuses on the PeeDee Tribe’s home area in Marlboro, Dillon and Marion Counties, in South Carolina.  These are adjacent the North Carolina border and face Robeson, Columbus and Scotland Counties in North Carolina which you might recognize as the primary region of the Lumbee.  There was obviously no toll gate at the border to keep people on their own side of that political state line.

Michael Spivey was raised in this part of SC, and as an adult came back to document the plight of the current generations, their struggle for recognition as a Native group of people and as a tribe, and to unearth as much as possible about their history, as a group and as families (genealogy). 

Regardless of which “tribe” in this region you are interested in, this book discusses the cultural and social issues that have affected all people “of color” and those who were of “mixed blood,” both today and in the past.

In essence, Michael takes us along with him on his journey of discovery and awakening.  This book is well worth the read.  It is included on the Fundamental Research List.

Please note that these reviews are entirely indepenent.  I do not receive any compensation, the book is not free (purchased online) and the authors are not aware that their book is being reviewed.

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About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
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