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Old 03-08-2005, 05:01 PM   #1
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Kelvin Sampson, Lumbee

Two articles about University of Oklahoma Basketball coach Kelvin Sampson, appeared in THE OKLAHOMAN on 3/7/05. The headings on these articles were: North Carolina town is the foundation for Sampson's success and Kelvin followed in father's footsteps at Pembroke State (both written by Jenni Carlson,The Oklahoman).

___


Here are some quotes from the article:



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

About Kelvin Sampson


Sampson belongs to the Lumbee Nation, an American Indian tribe that calls Pembroke home. It defines his past and influences his present.

"Pembroke is my foundation," Sampson said. "Everything that I've become is because of those people."

The Lumbees created in him a powerful sense of pride, a belief born out of decades of success intertwined with struggle. The federal government refuses to recognize the tribe, and yet the tribe has accomplished much even though it has been granted little. . .

. . . His Sooners shared the Big 12 regular-season title and enter the conference tournament later this week as the No. 1 seed. They are expected to have a similarly lofty seeding when the NCAA announces its tournament field Sunday. . . . Sampson has signed but two McDonald's All-Americans in his 11 seasons at OU. Still, he on the verge of guiding the Sooners into the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time. . .

And while the Sooner Nation is cheering OU's success, the Lumbee Nation is celebrating, too.

"We're all proud of Kelvin," said Jimmy Goins, chairman of the Lumbee Tribe. "The thing that's really great about Kelvin is not simply his success in life. It's that he has not give up his connection to his family and to his people.

"He's not afraid of where he came from."

In Sampson, Pembroke draws pride, and in it, this Sampson draws his strength.

Cotton tufts left behind on the shriveled stalks dot the fields that stretch along the two-lane highway. As the road goes east out of Lumberton away from the fast-food joints and chain hotels lining Interstate 95, the cotton fields and towering pines eventually give way to Pembroke.

Population: 2,399.

Stoplights: four.

In many ways -- the downtown shops and the friendly folks -- this town the size of Wynnewood is like thousands of hamlets in America. Yet, you only have to flip through the phonebook to see that Pembroke is entirely unique. Almost everyone has one of half a dozen last names. Brayboy. Brooks. Locklear. Lowry. Oxendine. Sampson.

"In Robeson County," Wanda Locklear said, "everybody's related."

The public information officer for the Lumbee Tribe was only half joking. Folks refer to each other as "Cuz" all the time. Chances are good, after all, that there is a relationship somewhere along the line. A grandparent. An uncle. A kinship of some kind.

According to the 2000 census, Pembroke is 81.7 percent American Indian, and Indians in Pembroke are Lumbees.

The percentage of Lumbees in town was even higher when Sampson was growing up.

"We lived in a little fantasy world," said Marilyn Locklear, one of Sampson's high school classmates. "All of us were Indians."

Lumbees oversaw the schools, teaching the classes and coaching the teams. They governed the town, filled the churches and owned the businesses, including Sampson's grandfather who ran a grocery store downtown.

That autonomy, though, did not make them immune to racism. Travel outside of Pembroke, and the Lumbees became second-class citizens as minorities in the South during the 1960s. . .

. . .The Lumbees raised their own, schooled their own, empowered their own. They did it as a survival mechanism, hoping to strengthen every generation, steeling them for the struggle, preparing them for life.


Kelvin Sampson never stopped playing sports, going from quarterback of the football team to point guard on the basketball team to power hitter for the baseball team. Even when he decided to stay in town and go to college at Pembroke State, he still played basketball and baseball.

"The best sport for him probably was baseball," his father said. "He was a real good hitter. He was a good outfielder, too."

Sampson even went to a tryout for the New York Mets.

"But he didn't love baseball," Mr. Ned said. "He loved basketball."

Sampson said, "I couldn't get enough of the game."

Sampson would do just about anything, though, to go to practice. . .

Like old stories and beloved traditions, the Lumbees hand down the struggle for federal recognition. Almost 600 tribes are recognized by the federal government, a distinction that brings funding for health care, housing, education and other services. The Lumbees first requested federal recognition in 1888.

They are requesting it still.

"We've been the red-headed step-child for 117 years," Wanda Locklear said.

Petitions have been submitted. Lawmakers have been lobbied. Efforts have been on-going.

The Lumbees came close to receiving federal recognition in the 1980s. Legislation passed the House of Representatives but did not make it out of committee in the Senate, stymied by longtime North Carolina senator and noted segregationist Jesse Helms.

Most believe the tribe's size is the main hurdle to federal recognition. With more than 56,000 members, the Lumbees are the ninth-largest tribe in America. Adding them to the federal roll would require funds from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a financial pie that is already sliced thin.

Yet the Lumbees want a piece of what they believe they deserve.

"It's about being seated at your rightful place at the table," said Stanley Knick, director of the Native American Resource Center at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. "If you know it's your rightful place, then naturally you want to sit there."

The fight is about more than paying for health care or bringing in new businesses. Even though there is a strong sense of self among the Lumbees, every denial by the federal government is like another downpour on an already rain-soaked hillside.

The Lumbees have been worn slick.

"If you say, 'I'm an Irish woman,' and everyone else says, 'Well, you might not really be Irish,' it's hard to believe that ultimately that might not have some impact on you," Knick said. "If suddenly you got a letter from Dublin that said, 'Bonafide Irish' ... that might make you feel good."

Even without government assistance, the Lumbees have built a strong community. They started the college, established businesses, even opened the first Indian-owned bank in the United States.

And the community goes beyond structures and establishments. Every summer, the tribe holds a week-long celebration called Lumbee Homecoming. More than 30,000 Lumbees are expected this year.

The struggle for federal recognition has caused the tribe to band tightly together.

"I think over the years ... they actually thought that denial would eventually beat us down," Marilyn Locklear said of the federal government, "and actually, it made a lot of people stronger. We're here. We're not going anywhere."

Kelvin Sampson, then, comes from a people who have been successful but have never gotten the attention they felt they deserved.

Three days had passed, but Jimmy Goins was still buzzing about the victory. Oklahoma had defeated Kansas earlier in the week, and as the Lumbee Tribal chairman sat at his desk, he couldn't help smiling.

"Kelvin's the perfect example of a kid not having a silver spoon in their mouth," Goins said. "How a small country kid could get an opportunity ... "

He shook his head.

"We've just never had nobody in the Lumbee Tribe be a Division I coach of the year," he said of the honor given Sampson in 1995, then again in 2002. "For somebody to be recognized as the best in the United States, that's pretty good." . . .

. . . The Lumbees have had success stories. Gene Locklear played for several years in the Major Leagues, even brought Cincinnati teammate Pete Rose to Pembroke once for a parade. Dwight Lowery earned all-conference honors at North Carolina, then was a back-up with the Detroit Tigers when they won the World Series in 1984.

Still, there is something different about Pembroke's love affair with Sampson.

"It's like he's a big celebrity," his mother, Eva, said. "That's just our son doing what he's doing, but a lot of people do admire him for doing that."

Miss Eva, as she's known, makes sure to have the basketball office send some photos of her son and extra pocket schedules. She keeps them at the house for folks who are always stopping by and asking for one.

And when Sampson comes home as he does at least once a year, the Sampsons' house on Hickory Street becomes like Grand Central Station. . .

. . ."Having a president come from your town ... it's kind of like that here," said Sandy Waterkotte, vice chancellor for advancement at UNC-Pembroke. "It's not, 'I'm from Pembroke.' It's, 'I'm from Pembroke. That's where Kelvin Sampson was born and raised.'

"He is the local hero."

Knick: "It's the local-boy-makes-good story."

Wanda Locklear: "He's our celebrity."

Marilyn Locklear: "I'm his No. 1 fan."

A few years ago, a package arrived on Marilyn Locklear's desk with an Oklahoma postmark. Inside was a copy of Sampson's book, "The OU Basketball Story," which is still for sale at the campus bookstore at UNC-Pembroke.

Sampson had autographed Locklear's copy and scrawled a short message.

"Dreams do come true."

__

Read the whole article on NEWSOK.COM (sports 2005-03-07)
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Old 03-09-2005, 01:42 AM   #2
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cool article

kelvin is a great role model for our young indian kids and i'm PROUD to know him!!

anytime i see him on tv or read an article about him i feel soooo proud to be lumbee. he's such a great representation of our people and what we're all about
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Old 03-09-2005, 08:00 AM   #3
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Those were GREAT articles! My aunt from OK had emailed them to me and I printed them out for all my family!
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Old 03-09-2005, 09:27 AM   #4
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I too am proud of this person. I agree that he is a wonderful role model. We need more role models and heros like Kelvin Sampson.

In addition to what was printed, Kelvin is a former NCAA Coach of the Year and American Indian of the Year (honored at the American Indian Exposition in OK).
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Old 03-09-2005, 11:15 AM   #5
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Go Sooners!! Coach Sampson is an excellent role model for all of us.
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Old 03-09-2005, 11:37 AM   #6
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good to see a lumbee be succesful and give the credit to his people. A lot of people forget who they are when they make it i am glad he still remembers
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Old 03-09-2005, 11:13 PM   #7
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WhoMe - thanks so much for posting this...I love reading positive information about our people - and Coach Sampson is a shining example of Lumbee pride....

Thanks again for posting, bro.....
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Old 03-10-2005, 08:43 AM   #8
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Coach Sampson is a real cool individual and a positive role model. Plus, he really instills sportsmanship and hard work. He walks what he speaks.
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Old 03-10-2005, 12:47 PM   #9
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Its So great to read such stories and know that there are other Native people out there so willing to share and represent.Not only does he educate young Native people but young white people as well, setting that example. We need so much more of those kind of people that truly believe that our people have such great things to offer. Not only does he talk the talk but he walks the walk and to him i am grateful that he stands up for what he believes while relying on his teachings from his own heritage.
Thankyou WhoMe for sharing that article with us, such an inspiration he is.
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Old 03-25-2005, 11:33 PM   #10
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I wished Kelvin had went futher in the tournament this year. Oh well, next year awaits.
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Old 03-31-2005, 03:11 PM   #11
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Kelvin Sampson is a great motivational speaker for the Indian youth of today. I heard him speak at OU during a Native American JR/SR visitation day. I am very proud of him and hope there will be many more Indian role models in the future. GO BOOMER SOONERS!!!
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