When we think of Baltimore, we often conjure images of historic neighborhoods and vibrant culture. However, there's a lesser-known story that threads through the fabric of this diverse and dynamic city – the history of the Lumbee Native Americans. Baltimore is home to this community who have played a role in shaping the city's diverse cultural landscape.
The Lumbee people–the largest group of Native American people living in Baltimore–are also known as the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. They are the largest state-recognized tribe in North Carolina and while they are recognized as a Native American tribe by that state, they are not acknowledged by the federal government. They are also officially unrecognized as a tribe in the state of Maryland, which many of the Lumbee call home.
The Lumbee connection to Baltimore stems from their migration here which can be traced back to the mid-20th century when they–like many other communities–sought economic opportunities in urban centers. Many Lumbee families settled in neighborhoods such as Upper Fells Point and Washington Hill. For a time, there were so many Lumbee and other Native Americans in Baltimore that they affectionately called the area, "The Reservation”.
Preservation of Culture and Identity
The Lumbee people have been steadfast in preserving their cultural heritage in Baltimore. They have maintained their unique traditions, including storytelling, music, dance, and art. These cultural practices help to keep their identity alive and share their heritage with others in the city.
One of the most prominent examples of cultural preservation is the Lumbee Homecoming, an annual event celebrated in Baltimore. This gathering brings together Lumbee people from various states, creating a sense of community and connection with their roots.
The Lumbee Native Americans in Baltimore are essential to the city's multicultural identity. Their history, culture, and contributions serve as a reminder of the diversity that enriches Baltimore and the United States as a whole. As we celebrate their heritage and contributions, we should also acknowledge the challenges they face and support their efforts to preserve their unique identity in the vibrant city of Baltimore. Through resilience and cultural richness, the Lumbee people remind us of the power of diversity and the importance of honoring our shared heritage.
You can learn more about the Lumbee at https://www.baltimoreamericanindiancenter.org/