The Croatan Indians
of Sampson County, North Carolina
Their Origin and Racial Status A Plea for Separate Schools
GEO. E. BUTLER
CLINTON, NORTH CAROLINA
THE SEEMAN PRINTERY DURHAM, N. C. 1916
As you probably know from your schoolbooks, the Roanoke colony disappeared during a difficult winter, leaving behind the word Croatoan carved into a tree. When other Englishmen found it there, they recognized "Croatoan" as the homeland of some friendly Indians. Since there was no distress symbol carved on the tree, they assumed the Roanoke colony went to the Croatans for help. After that, English historians never mention them again. However, English historians did mention a group of North Carolina Indians who spoke English fluently, practiced Christianity, and called themselves the Croatan Indians. There were also twenty or thirty English surnames in the Croatan tribe that existed in the original Roanoke colony. This could be a coincidence, but many Indians have passed down the story of the Croatoans adopting the Roanoake survivors.
What is well known is that the descendants of the Croatoan tribe, the modern day Lumbee, began to appear some 50 years after the disappearance of the colony. Observers described these people as having European features and speaking English. The Lumbee have remained in North Carolina, even populating the same region as their Croatoan ancestors. They were accepted by both the United States and the state of North Carolina as an officially mixed tribe. Unfortunately, this has resulted in the U.S. government not recognizing them as an Indian nation. However, the state of North Carolina does recognize the Lumbee as the true descendants of Croatoan. It would not be that much of leap to conclude that the people of Croatoan were true to their word and accepted the embattled colonists into their nation. Though the disappearance of the Roanoke colony is still considered a mystery, it has been accepted that the colonists came to live among the people of Croatoan.