A fight for recognition

“When you have people challenging you every day about who you are, you have to know your stuff.”

Growing up in Durham, UNC student Gavin Bell understood what it meant to be a Lumbee Indian—even though his teachers and friends often didn’t. He knew his family roots ran deep in Robeson County. His mother and father told stories about growing up in Pembroke, the tribal seat of the state-recognized Lumbee Indian Tribe of North Carolina.

For Bell, being a Lumbee Indian continues to be an emotional tug of war between disparate worlds as he struggles to assert his identity within a neglected minority even as he tries to find his way in the bigger world. Once he was accepted at Carolina, Bell joined the Carolina Indian Circle, and for the first time, became part of a Native American group in school.

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