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The River Spirit [archive]

This article has been archived from Ken King's site ( Sadly, Mr. King has passed away and his website is no longer maintained, but we have reprinted his story here for educational purposes. Contents are the sole property of the author. Please visit our Article Archive Index for further information. If you are the author of another article you would like us to add to our archives, please contact us.

The River Spirit...

"Breaker! Breaker! Did you see that?--there as we crossed the Bridge? There was a girl out in the middle of the Lumber River. I saw her." Time and again, someone has seen the RIVER SPIRIT. And it is a Lost Lumbee Legend that may be lost forever now. I learned of such stories from an elderly Lumbee lady who has since passed. And, while no one pays attention, I will venture that Legend today. It is the


Many lost legends may never be known about the chosen tribe of the Crow (God). Perhaps, this is one. Braveheart was a handsome young Lumbee Warrior. One day he was by the Lumber River in North Carolina. The Tuscarora Tribe were strong then. They had a great success in Carolina and even the Iroquois cared once the Tuscarora join up with them. But, the Tuscarora wished to be alone. And on that day, A young Tuscarora girl was bathing in the Lumber River near what is now called "Boardman." Her name was "Early Sun." And Braveheart saw her, that she was "fair" and he thought, "What a lovely Lumbee maiden." She heard him on the banks as he moved along and she thought, "This will be my Warrior." And he was. They were both in the River together that first day they met and there they became eternal mates. She would henceforth be his and his a "alone" for the Lumbee believed in "Monogamous relationships" and denied others.

And on that day as they lay by the Riverbanks in the pure White Sands there, Braveheart and Early Sun saw a black Crow appear. And suddenly, the Crow flew to the left to umble skies above and then disappeared. A White God appeared and they quickly gathered their things and left together. A Storm was soon to come. And Braveheart took Early Sun miles away. The Storm was full of winds, lightning, and hail. The Crow had spared them just in time. And Braveheart would "follow the Crow for all of his days."

It came to pass that Early Sun would have a child, a son. On the day she did, Braveheart could not be by her side. He had to be at a conflict with a group of the Cherokee. Its sad, Braveheart was killed. Early Sun had gained the glory of a son and the loss her mate on the same day. Her heart was trully broken and she broke an arrow (which was a Lumbee symbol for a broken heart then). Only in her dreams of Braveheart could she share his love.

One day, some white settlers appeared. They raped many Lumbee girls and slew many men and children. She lost her firstborne to the attack and was also raped by three white men. She was in tears and made her way to the river near what is the town of Boardman today. There, she cried out to the heavens, lying there by the banks for many many days. She refused to eat even berries. Then one day, Early Sun saw the crow again. The Crow flew to the Left of heaven, which meant she was to leave this world. Early Sun wanted to die. She wanted to end the pain as exemplified by the broken arrow. She refused to leave.

Soon, she saw him. It was trully Braveheart again! Chills ran all over her to see the one she loved. He embraced her beneath the morning Sun. They went to the middle of the river where Early Sun drowned. This would be such a sad tale but after Early Sun drowned, now and then, she could be seen as a spirit in the Lumber River. Even truck drivers today crossing that river along the highway have told of the "River Spirit," sighting a young indain maiden in the midst of the river, especially on foggy mornings when cool winds blow.

There she is, waiting for her love, waiting for Braveheart still. Times come and times go but Early Sun waits, love endures. But, now and then, someone sees her. Now and then, someone tells of seeing the spirit of Early Sun again.Except for the words of an elderly Lumbee lady now passed, this Legend would be lost. The Lumbee loved the crow, the same God of Isaac and Abraham. The Lumbee lived in harmony with this World, God, and nature. But, stop there one foggy morning, look closely, maybe you will see her, Early Sun, the "River Spirit", and think about the love she knew and lost.

This Legend now lost is dedicated to the Lumbee people and the special love they have for God. It is dedicated to Bruce Swett, Dale and Roxanne Maynor, to Maggie Mercer, and to Mary Sanderson, Acting Director of the Tuscaroro Tribe in Pembroke, North Carolina. I also dedicate it to the University Of North Carolina at Pembroke, and to Dr. Thomas Ross and Dr. James Ebert. God bless you all. May the Lumbee survive. May God grant Congress the wisdom to grant tribal status to the Lumbee. May the Lumbee legends be remembered and loved. May God bless America Again.

Ken King, November, 2000

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