RALEIGH – For more than 100 years, the Burnt Swamp Association has responded to the religious needs of the American Indian community in southeastern North Carolina. The service to that community is being recognized with a N.C. Highway Historical Marker, to be dedicated on Saturday, June 27, at 10 a.m. on NC Highway 72 at State Road 1003, also known as Chicken Road, in Pembroke. It is the latest addition to more than 1,500 markers statewide; 48 relate to American Indian history in North Carolina.
Burnt Swamp Baptist Church was founded on Oct. 2, 1877, by 20 Lumbee Indians, with encouragement from two local white churches. The Lumbee community had held impromptu church services for about two decades. After four years and continued growth, two additional churches were formed. On Jan. 22, 1881, elders of the three churches adopted a resolution forming the Burnt Swamp Missionary Baptist Association of Mixed Race. After years of struggling to gain acceptance and several name changes, the Burnt Swamp Missionary Baptist Association was admitted to the Baptist State Convention in 1929.
The association was instrumental in efforts to establish American Indian schools in Robeson and surrounding counties. Members helped to organize the Croatan Normal School in 1887. A source of pride to the area’s American Indian community, the school was the forerunner of UNC-Pembroke. Today the association includes Indian churches in nine counties in North and South Carolina as well as in Baltimore, Md., representing 69 churches and a mission. Members are associated with the Haliwa-Saponi, Lumbee, Pee Dee Coharie, Waccamaw-Siouan, and Tuscarora tribes.
For additional information on the marker dedication, call Rev. Michael Cummings, (910) 521-9850. For information on the Highway Historical Marker program, call Michael Hill, (919) 807-7290. The Highway Marker program within the Office of Archives and History is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency dedicated to the promotion and protection of North Carolina’s arts, history and culture. Now podcasting 24/7 with information about the Department of Cultural Resources, all available at www.ncculture.com