LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.


Knowing the location of a community, city, state or nation is important. More important, however, is understanding of the personality of the location. Robeson County, home of the Lumbee Tribe, is more than a North Carolina county that borders South Carolina. The labyrinth of underground waterways comes together to create an area of swamps that has affected the lives of those who inhabit the county. Thomas Ross in his book American Indians In North Carolina: Geographic Interpretations notes, “The swamps and streams, and the abundance in former times of artesian wells, provided a very good supply of water for the Indians…. Although the soil of the homeland is not naturally fertile, it can and has been made productive by the farmers. At one point in recent history, land in Robeson County yielded enough agricultural products to place in the top 10 agricultural producing counties in North Carolina.”

Learning Outcomes

After completing this activity the student should be able:

  • to increase his/her awareness of the Lumbee community.
  • to explain the relative location of Robeson County.
  • to cite aspects of place that describe Robeson County.

Teacher Planning

Time required for lesson:

Two 45-minute periods



  1. Talk with students in a group setting about the community in which they live. Lead the discussion to draw on students’ awareness of buildings, streets, parks, or features unique to the community.
  2. Allow students to work in groups to draw the major streets or roads that make up their community.
  3. Using the drawings, student groups will construct the community using cereal boxes (individual and family size), construction paper, and markers. To add to the model, students should include traffic lights, street signs, trees, flowers, grass.
  4. Students should talk about the process involved in making a community. The teacher should help them to understand that a community is more than grass and buildings. This will introduce the geography theme of “place.” Provide students with a working definition of the theme of place. Discuss with the class how place describes their community.
  5. The teacher should read aloud to students the first three paragraphs in the Introduction of The Only Land I Know by Adolph Dial and David Eliades.
  6. Based on Dial’s description, students should respond through original song lyrics, literature or art to the mood of the river. These should be shared with classmates. The sharing should focus on the reason the particular response medium was used and what idea the student was trying to capture.
  7. The teacher should read aloud to students the beginning of Nowhere Else on Earth by Josephine Humphreys. Page two of the book has Rhoda’s explanation of the geography of her community.
  8. The teacher should lead the class in a discussion of the value of rivers to early settlements as well as the land features of south central North Carolina.
  9. As a class, use a political map of North Carolina to locate Robeson County. Contiguous counties should be located also. A physical map of the state will help students see the various land features of this area.
  10. Use the nineteenth century “Culture, Hearth, and Lumbee Indian Communities” map to survey the number of creeks and swamps of Robeson County. The map can be found in Thomas Ross’s American Indians In North Carolina: Geographic Interpretations (p. 105). Allow students to brainstorm ways the swamps and creeks affect way of life throughout Robeson County history.
  11. Students should compare the map on p. 105 with the one on pp. 119-20 to see the areas where most Robeson County Lumbee live today. What impact do the swamps and rivers have on population location?
  12. With a NC state road map, students should estimate the distance between Lumberton and Pembroke using the map’s scale. Next, students should use the cumulative miles to find a more accurate distance. Using Lumberton as a starting point each time, students should use cumulative miles to find the distance between Maxton, Prospect, Rennart, and Rowland, areas of concentrated Lumbee residence.
  13. Plan a road trip from Pembroke to Roanoke Island, one of possible origins of the Lumbee. Students should map out the directions, assess the distance, calculate gas mileage, and plan for historic stops. If this step is used, students should receive a rubric prior to beginning this short-term project.


  • response to Dial’s Introduction
  • map skills
    • comparison of Maps pp. 119-120
    • distance between towns
  • Appropriate examples of rubrics can be found at Rubistar.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 3

        • 3.G.1 Understand the earth’s patterns by using the 5 themes of geography: (location, place, human-environment interaction, movement and regions). 3.G.1.1 Find absolute and relative locations of places within the local community and region. 3.G.1.2 Compare...
      • Grade 4

        • 4.C.1 Understand the impact of various cultural groups on North Carolina. 4.C.1.1 Explain how the settlement of people from various cultures affected the development of regions in North Carolina (languages, foods and traditions). 4.C.1.2 Explain how the artistic...
        • 4.G.1 Understand how human, environmental and technological factors affect the growth and development of North Carolina. 4.G.1.1 Summarize changes that have occurred in North Carolina since statehood (population growth, transportation, communication and land...
      • Grade 8

        • 8.G.1 Understand the geographic factors that influenced North Carolina and the United States. 8.G.1.1 Explain how location and place have presented opportunities and challenges for the movement of people, goods, and ideas in North Carolina and the United States....

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 4

  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections with text through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.01: Respond to fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama using interpretive, critical, and evaluative processes by:
      • analyzing the impact of authors' word choice and context.
      • examining the reasons for characters' actions.
      • identifying and examining characters' motives.
      • considering a situation or problem from different characters' points of view.
      • analyzing differences among genres.
      • making inferences and drawing conclusions about characters, events and themes.
    • Objective 3.03: Consider the ways language and visuals bring characters to life, enhance plot development, and produce a response.

Grade 8

  • Goal 1: The learner will use language to express individual perspectives through analysis of personal, social, cultural, and historical issues.
    • Objective 1.02: Analyze expressive materials that are read, heard, and viewed by:
      • monitoring comprehension for understanding of what is read, heard, and/or viewed.
      • reviewing the characteristics of expressive works.
      • determining the importance of literary effects on the reader/viewer/listener.
      • making connections between works, self and related topics.
      • drawing inferences.
      • generating a learning log or journal.
      • maintaining an annotated list of works that are read or viewed, including personal reactions.
      • taking an active role in and/or leading formal/informal book/media talks.
    • Objective 1.03: Interact in group activities and/or seminars in which the student:
      • shares personal reactions to questions raised.
      • gives reasons and cites examples from text in support of expressed opinions.
      • clarifies, illustrates, or expands on a response when asked to do so, and asks classmates for similar expansion.
  • Goal 4: The learner will continue to refine critical thinking skills and create criteria to evaluate print and non-print materials.
    • Objective 4.02: Analyze and develop (with limited assistance) and apply appropriate criteria to evaluate the quality of the communication by:
      • using knowledge of language structure and literary or media techniques.
      • drawing conclusions based on evidence, reasons, or relevant information.
      • considering the implications, consequences, or impact of those conclusions.

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 4

  • Goal 2: The learner will examine the importance of the role of ethnic groups and examine the multiple roles they have played in the development of North Carolina.
    • Objective 2.01: Locate and describe American Indians in North Carolina, past and present.

Grade 8

  • Goal 1: The learner will analyze important geographic, political, economic, and social aspects of life in the region prior to the Revolutionary Period.
    • Objective 1.01: Assess the impact of geography on the settlement and developing economy of the Carolina colony.
    • Objective 1.02: Identify and describe American Indians who inhabited the regions that became Carolina and assess their impact on the colony.
  • Goal 5: The learner will evaluate the impact of political, economic, social, and technological changes on life in North Carolina from 1870 to 1930.
    • Objective 5.03: Describe the social, economic, and political impact of migration on North Carolina.