PEMBROKE — Scribes from the Lumbee Tribe will discuss their work Thursday at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
JoJo Brooks Shifflett, Patricia Lowry Chavis and Joan C. Blackwell are the featured authors for this year’s Lumbee Book Talk. The free event is part of the tribe’s 48th annual homecoming celebration.
Shifflett is the author of “A Lumbee Gershom,” a new short story collection that evolved from a 2009 essay she wrote for the National Museum of the American Indian.
Raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Shifflett learned about the tribe’s customs and rituals while spending summers at her grandparents’ home in Pembroke. She would later serve as a majority staff attorney for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
In a recent interview with The Robesonian, Shifflett said she wrote the book “to teach younger Lumbees about their traditions and their history.”
“I wanted to teach through storytelling,” she said. “I hope it doesn’t come across as academic. I hope it comes across as storytelling.”
Chavis is the author of “Just Killing Time,” a 2013 novel inspired by her experience as the South Central Region director for the North Carolina Division of Prisons. The Pembroke native began her career as a programs supervisor in 1974, and in 1990 became the first female American Indian prison superintendent to supervise an all-male correctional facility.
Joan Blackwell, a multimedia artist from Pembroke, is the author of “Iconography Descriptions: Lumbee Tribe Historical Murals Exemplifying the Past, Present and Future.” The book serves as a companion guide to a mural she painted in 2015.
Scattered across the three-panel mural are historic landmarks like the New Bethel Indian School, a Sampson County facility opened by the Coharie Tribe in 1911, and Lumbee icons like Henry Berry Lowry, a storied freedom fighter and distant relative of Blackwell.
The Lumbee Book Talk will run from 2 to 5 p.m. at the university’s book store. For information, email Mary Jacobs at [email protected] or call 910-775-4262.