Another family whose name is a giveaway for their
African heritage is that of Locklear - yes, the same
one that Heather, the blond bombshell of the
TV series, "Melrose Place," claims as her own.
Although as Anglo-Saxon sounding as you can make
it, the name is, in fact, an Indian one and in the
language of the Tuscarora tribes means "hold fast."
Indeed, it would appear that Ms. Locklear's family,
at least on her father's side, once belonged to a
segment of the population which in academic
terminology is referred to as a Tri-Racial Isolate
(a Community of individuals whose Ancestry is a
Mixture of European, Indian and Black and who
intermarried only with those people who were also
of said admixture - i.e. who practiced 'endogamy').
For much of our history the particular group with
which her surname is so definitively identified
has enigmatically been designated as "Lumbee".
Numbering nearly forty thousand today and
centering in Robeson Co., North Carolina, the
Lumbees are the largest of these Tri-Racial groups.
The official ideology of its members today,
however, is that they are 100 percent Indian.
A similar group known as
the Melungeons originated
in Tennesee while the Brass Ankle, Red Bone and
Turk populations all developed in the Carolinas.
Virginia Easley Demarce, a specialist in this area
of research points out, that one of the major
contentions of Tri-Racial Americans is that they
were more likely Bi-racial or Indian and White.
As she point out, "The reason why Tri-Racial
ancestry has been downplayed is clear.
Throughout most of American history the legal, social,
educational, and economic disadvantages of being
African-American were so great that it was preferable
for a person to be considered almost anything else."
Few of these groups have a tribal identification
that can be traced back to the colonial period.
Over the years, through acculturation and assimilation,
they have lost whatever Indian languages and
traditions they might have descended from.
Many have worked very hard to attain legal recognition
as Indian tribes over the last few years but some are
still not recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The Indian adoption during the colonial period of
English surnames such as Blunt, Tucker, Revels and
Harris only adds
to the difficulty of tracing Indian forbears.
Thanks, however, to the contribution of an anthropologist
with some linguistic expertise, the Locklears can
point to their own name as one instance of the
Lumbee group's Native American origins.
Researched and Written by Mario de Valdes y Cocom
http://www.pbs. org/wgbh/ pages/frontline/ shows/secret/ famous/locklear. html