Malinda Maynor Lowery is a historian and documentary film producer who is a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. She is an Associate Professor of History at UNC-Chapel Hill and Director of the Center for the Study of the American South. Her interests include Native American history, Southern history, historical geography, foodways, music, race and ethnicity, identity, and community-engaged research, including documentary film and oral history.
Her second book, The Lumbee Indians: An American Struggle, was released by UNC Press in September 2018. She received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities' Public Scholars Program to complete the book. The book is a survey of Lumbee history from the eighteenth century to the present, written for a general audience. Her first book, Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation, received the 2011 Labriola American Indian Center National Book Award, presented by Arizona State University, and Best 2010 First Book from the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.
She has produced four documentary films about Native American issues, including the award-winning "In the Light of Reverence," which aired on PBS in 2001 to over 3 million people. Two previous films, "Real Indian" and "Sounds of Faith," examine Lumbee identity and culture, She is co-producer of a documentary film about domestic violence called "Private Violence." She is also co-producer of "A Chef's Life" on PBS.
Areas of Expertise (9)
Native American History
Social and Political History
Race and Ethnicity
Winner, Peabody Award (professional)
For “A Chef’s Life,” April 2014
Winner, Hettleman Award (professional)
For Artistic and Scholarly Achievement, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, September, 2012.
2011 Labriola American Indian Center National Book Award, (professional)
Awarded for the book, "Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation" (UNC Press, 2010). Presented by Arizona State University,
Best 2010 First Book from the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (professional)
Awarded for the book, "Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation" (UNC Press, 2010).
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: M.A. 2002/ Ph.D. 2005, History 2005
Stanford University: M.A., Documentary Film and Video 1997
Harvard University: A.B., History and Literature 1995
Media Appearances (8)
“What Makes Someone Native American?”
Washington Post Magazine print
Focus On: Confederate Monuments
WUNC "The State of Things"
with host Frank Stasio
Hurricane Matthew Hits a North Carolina Tribe Particularly Hard
The Wall Street Journal print
Severe flooding in swampy, southeastern North Carolina took a particularly hard toll on the Lumbee, a Native American tribe.
Lumbee legend lives on at UNCP
The Robesonian online
On the panel was Malinda Maynor-Lowery, a historian from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Jamie Martinez, a UNCP historian; Kenneth Clark, an Indian Education cultural enrichment specialist; Jefferson Currie II, a folklorist with the North Carolina Folklife Institute; and Bruce Barton, author and former editor of the Carolina Indian Voice...
D.G. Martin: Memories on the fault lines of race
The News & Observer online
Several years ago, at the request of then UNC-Pembroke Chancellor Joseph Oxendine, I worked for about six months in Pembroke, the unofficial capital of the Lumbee people. Some Lumbees have red hair and blue eyes, and others have very dark skin. These differences cause no problem for Lumbees. UNC-Chapel Hill history professor Malinda Maynor Lowery in her book, “Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation,” lovingly and authoritatively explains that the identity of the Lumbee is defined primarily, not by the percentage of Indian blood, but by kinship, mutual recognition, and strong and longstanding connections to the land...
With a new bill, North Carolina’s Lumbee Tribe continues to push for federal recognition
The Stanly News and Press online
“One of the things about colonialism is it always puts the natives on the defensive. It’s a position of having to justify ourselves and prove our identity in a way that other natives — well, other Americans are almost never asked to do,” said Malinda Maynor Lowery, an associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a member of the Lumbee Tribe. “They act like there’s a pie that needs to be divided up among all the native nations of the country who have a relationship to the (Bureau of Indian Affairs) and, the fact is, there is no pie.”...
Malinda Maynor Lowery: No ‘honor’ at all
The News & Observer print
In his Aug. 26 column “ Rename Redskins after N.C. Lumbee,” Bloomberg’s Stephen L. Carter suggested the NFL and its Washington franchise could solve a growing image problem by swapping their current ugly, hateful mascot for the name of my tribe, the Lumbee – a real, proud and accomplished Native American people. Carter quotes my book at length to justify why the Lumbees are deserving of this “honor.” But he misses the point. Switching one generic American Indian mascot for a more specific one only perpetuates racism. ...
Recent essays and articlesby Malinda Maynor Lowery
“A Nation of Nations,” October 8, 2018 (online), blog post for University of North Carolina Press. “We Are the Original Southerners,” May 22, 2018 (online), May 24, 2018 (p. A31, in print) editorial in the New York Times. “Silent Sam is Not Sacred; The Blood on Him Is,” May 9, 2018 (online), May 10, 2018 (in print) editorial in the Raleigh News and Observer. “Ambush,” Scalawag Magazine 12 (Spring 2018), 18-24.
As We Cooked, As We Lived: Lumbee FoodwaysSouthern Cultures
2015 In the 1990s I made a short documentary film about Lumbee Indian gospel music, a topic that addressed one of the perennial questions about Lumbees: how can we be “real Indians” while looking, acting, and talking so much like other southerners? The best scenes were ...
"You look like a pied man": Murder in Montgomery County, GeorgiaThe Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
2015 In July 1893, three Croatan Indians from North Carolina (now known as Lumbee Indians) murdered a white man in the small town of Ailey, in Montgomery County, Georgia. The man, Alex Peterson, belonged to a prominent local family—locals named the town after his ...
Telling Our Own Stories: Lumbee History and the Federal Acknowledgment ProcessThe American Indian Quarterly
2009 Being part of and writing about the Lumbee community means that history always emerges into the present, offering both opportunities and challenges for my scholarship and my sense of belonging. I was born in Robeson County, North Carolina, a place that Lumbees refer to ...
Indians, Southerners, and Americans: Race, Tribe, and Nation during "Jim Crow"Native South
2009 After the Civil War, Southerners of all races struggled to resolve questions of citizenship, opportunity, political autonomy, and freedom in a drastically changed economic environment. The story of Southern African Americans in this period is well known, while ...
The Long Road to Brown, The Long Road BeyondSouthern Cultures
2008 North Carolinians have always shaped their schools to reflect and reinforce prevailing attitudes about race. Even today, fifty-four years after the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, no single factor explains more about the dynamics of our schools. This three-part documentary traces the issue of race and schools from the 1860s to the present. Voices of North Carolina parents, educators, students, and public leaders bring this history to life...