The 40,000+ members of the Lumbee Tribe reside primarily in Robeson, Hoke and Scotland counties. The Lumbee Tribe is the largest tribe in North Carolina, the largest tribe east of the Mississippi River and the ninth largest in the nation. The Lumbee take their name from the Lumbee River which winds its way through Robeson County. Pembroke, North Carolina is the economic, cultural and political center of the tribe.
The ancestors of the Lumbee were mainly Cheraw and related Siouan-speaking Indians who have lived in the area of what is now Robeson County since the 1700s. The Lumbee people have been recognized by the state of North Carolina since 1885, and at the same time established a separate school system that would benefit tribal members. In 1887, the state established the Croatan Normal Indian School, which is today The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. In 1956 a bill was passed by the United States Congress wich recognized the Lumbee as Indian, but denied the tribe full status as a federally recognized Indian tribe. Federal recognition for the tribe is currently being sought through federal legislation.