Tribute to my Indian friends

I recently had the privilege of visiting with my friends, the Indians of Robeson County. While there, both Tuscarora and the Lumbee treated me with kindness and respect and for this I say thank you my brothers and sisters. I shall always see your smiles and hear your voices where ever I may be.

I would like to thank Chief Leon Locklear of the Tuscarora for the tremendous welcome and powwow and I thank Lumbee Chairman Harvey Godwin for the hospitality he shared with me. I met many of his fine staff and thank them all for their assistance, especially Mr. James Locklear. I believe Harvey to be a fine leader who is capable of leading the Lumbee people if they choose to help him. Remember my friends, great leaders require the trust and support of their people to succeed.

To Ashton Locklear, I wish you well and please know as you travel to Brazil that you are not going on your journey alone, for you carry the good intentions of your people with you. We ask no more than you do your best. If you do that my Ashton, you will have succeeded. Please know that while you represent the United States of America, you also represent every Native American in North America. Brazil shall also be proud of your heritage. Travel light and may The Great Spirit watch over you my young friend.

To “Big Daddy” Strickland and his lovely daughters, I shall never forget the many meals your hands prepared for me and my people during our visit in Robeson County in 1972. Both the food and hospitality were delicious.

In my memories, I shall always carry the snapshot of the many motorcycle riders, both the Redrum M.C. riders as well as the independent souls upon the steel horses, escorting The Longest Walk 5 marchers into your homeland. You are my brothers and sisters and know how that in spirit I ride with you.

A special thanks to my friend, JoJo Brooks Shifflett, for giving me her book, “A Lumbee Gershom.” I found within its pages not just words but memories. Memories of forgotten days and traditions of the Indians of Robeson County. I encourage every educator of Indians in Robeson and surrounding counties to read it and consider its value as a tool in teaching younger generations their history. Some of her words reminded me of my days as an American Indian Movement warrior fighting to the secure the civil rRights of the Indians in Robeson County back in the 1970s.

Please know this warrior did not fight that battle alone. I marched sided by side with your forgotten leaders of the past. Such men as Keever Locklear, Henry Brooks, Ben Chavis, Lawrence Maynor. Howard Brooks and Carnell Locklear fought that battle with me.

They stood beside me not only in Robeson County but in Washington, D.C.. They were and are your warriors and must not be forgotten. There were not only men marching in the front lines but we cannot forget the greatness of the women who both marched and were with us in the trenches. Their actions earned them a place of respect within the heart of AIM. They shall be remembered forever. It is my hope these people secured a proper place of respect in your hearts as well.

Finally, please allow me to clarify any negative ideas that may have been said about Carnell Locklear and Keever Locklear and their part in the Trail of Broken treaties and alleged financial gain. During the occupation of the BIA Building in 1972, The Trail of Broken Treaties Team consisted of three leaders of caravans — Russ Means represented Seattle and had 22 cars in his caravan, I had 15 cars in my San Francisco caravan and Bill Sargeant represented Los Angeles and had 18 cars in his caravan.

I kept receipts of all expenses and it was fairly easy to determine the refunds due to each leader for gas and food expenses. Money ($66,000) was given to the National Congress of the American Indians to distribute to each respective leader to assist them in getting their caravans back home.

Please know the caravans from Robeson, North Carolina, under the leadership of Carnell Locklear and Keever Locklear, received no money whatsoever or any other form of financial gain as a result of participating in the Trail of Broken Treaties. I asked Carnell Locklear and Keever Locklear how much money they would need to cover their expenses back home. Carnell said, “We didn’t come for money Dennis, we came to support the Trails of Broken Treaties. We will pay for the trip ourselves.”

Again, I thank the Indians of Robeson County for hosting me and the walkers of The longest Walk 5 and I thank my ole’ warrior and friend, Carnell, for the memories.

Dennis Banks is an American Indian teacher, lecturer, activist and author who is well-known for his work with the American Indian Movement.

Dennis Banks is an American Indian teacher, lecturer, activist and author who is well-known for his work with the American Indian Movement.