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Title: Oral History Interview with Ruth Dial Woods, June 12, 1992. Interview L-0078. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Woods, Ruth Dial, interviewee
Interview conducted by Coe, Anne Mitchell Moore, Laura
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 160 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-10-08, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Ruth Dial Woods, June 12, 1992. Interview L-0078. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series L. University of North Carolina. Southern Oral History Program Collection (L-0078)
Author: Anne Mitchell Coe
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Ruth Dial Woods, June 12, 1992. Interview L-0078. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series L. University of North Carolina. Southern Oral History Program Collection (L-0078)
Author: Ruth Dial Woods
Description: 191 Mb
Description: 21 p.
Note: Interview conducted on June 12, 1992, by Anne Mitchell Coe and Laura Moore; recorded in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Unknown.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series L. University of North Carolina, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Ruth Dial Woods, June 12, 1992.
Interview L-0078. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Woods, Ruth Dial, interviewee


Interview Participants

    RUTH DIAL WOODS, interviewee
    ANNE MITCHELL COE, interviewer
    LAURA MOORE, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
The following is an interview with Ruth Dial Woods, a member of the UNC Board of Governors. It is taking place on Friday, June 12, 1992 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The interviewers are Anne Mitchell Coe and Laura Moore and we'll be talking with Dr. Woods about her life and her relationship with the University as well as other activism that she's been involved in.
LAURA MOORE:
Well, if you'll begin, then, Dr. Woods, by telling us about the beginning.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Well, the earliest recollections I have as a child is on my grandmother's farm. My mother and father were both educators and I was reared by my grandmother while they taught during the week. And then on Friday evenings I remember walking across the fields of grass and waiting for Friday afternoon to come and I always took time to lie down in the grass fields and look up and watch the clouds move. I guess, the reason why that's so vivid to me is because there's been so many days in my life that I had to stop and question "Am I a dreamer or is it real or what is it?" and I guess from early on I must have been a dreamer and looked and saw that things should move and there was things to be understood and things to be explored and things to be discovered. As part of that natural growing up and that natural curiosity I guess I grew from there into exploring several different things throughout my life, but certainly I was grounded in my early childhood by my grandmother at whose apron strings I learned the difference between right and wrong and followed her to the farm to milk the cow. I never quite got the skills to go into a chicken coup and take the eggs from the chickens. I wasn't quite brave enough for that, but I remember the cold winters and falls when we killed hogs and she made lye soap and told me stories by the fireplace, and she was an uneducated woman and yet each Saturday evening she took her bath out of what was then called the foot tub and she read her Bible and got ready for her Sunday school. And, of course, while I took the back of an old calendar and scratched with a pencil that was trimmed with a kitchen knife. And while she was doing her chores, if I were not involved, I remember the Morton salt box cradle that she had carved out for me and the corn shuck dolls and the scraps from her quilting table as the toys that I played with. And time came that I could then move to live with my mother and father full time and follow them to school and I began first of all at a preschool sponsored by the Plymouth Brethren and held in a church called the Gospel Hall.
LAURA MOORE:
Where was that?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
It was a preschool sponsored by the Plymouth Brethren was the denomination and the name of the church was Gospel Hall. I don't think we called it kindergarten, but that was my first schooling and from there I went to elementary school and of course all the classes were all Indian at the church and they were all Indian at the school. Because of the preschool experience at the church, I quickly moved from kindergarten through first grade, from first grade into third grade, and from third grade to fifth grade, and went through the sixth grade and moved from the sixth grade to the eighth grade. So, for some reason, I must have been a problem child that they were very anxious to get rid of.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
So you skipped several grades.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
I skipped grades. As soon as I finished the eighth grade, my mother decided that it was time for her to work on a Master's so I followed her to East Tennessee State College in Tennessee because at the time Indians were not allowed to pursue advanced degrees at state supported institutions in the state of North Carolina. Since I was in high school, I studied at the training school which, during that period of time, we had training schools on the campuses of colleges and universities. So I studied at the training school the summer that she was at East Tennessee.

Page 2
LAURA MOORE:
What year was that?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
I would have to count back. That had to be sometime in the late forties because I finished high school in '52 so it would have been '48, '49, thereabout. And, after the first summer in Tennessee, she then transferred to Appalachian State Teacher's College at that time and I also attended the training school at Appalachian. The most vivid experience I have of that time is that we were I through some time of vocational aptitude program. In discussing the results with me, the counselor told me that whatever I did in life I would do well working with my hands. I equated that to picking cotton and working in tobacco and I guess that was the first motivator that I had because I was determined that I would do something in life other than working with my hands. So, I attended Appalachian training school for two summers. Subsequently, I graduated from high school in three years. An unfortunate experience there is that I was refused the opportunity to be the class valedictorian because my mother taught in the high school and the excuse that they used, although my GPA was higher than the young man selected for valedictorian, they said because he had attended school years that he should receive valedictorian. So therefore I was denied either valedictorian or salutatorian of my high school graduating class.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Was this at Appalachian, the training school there?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
No, my transfer credits went from Appalachian to Pembroke High School but, you see, I only attended Pembroke High School three years because I had three summers of study. So I was accepted to Catawba College in the Fall of 1952 and I fell hopelessly in love with a young man who was going to go to the divinity school at Wake Forest and we plotted our lives that he should go to Wake Forest and I should go to Meredith so at the last moment I chose to go to Meredith because I would be closer to Wake Forest. Well, as it happened, that didn't work out, but I stayed at Meredith for three years at which time I decided that I had found the love of my life and I dropped out of school and relocated first of all to Maryland and spent a summer with my aunt where I worked with the United States Commissioner with the state of Maryland as a secretary. My soon-to-be husband was in Detroit, Michigan as all good Indians from Robeson County during that period of time migrated either to Baltimore or to Detroit, Michigan so I left Maryland in the Fall and married in September and lived in Detroit, Michigan until 1958.
LAURA MOORE:
You graduated in the Fall of which year?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
I didn't graduate from Meredith. I had three years and I left and went to Detroit. While I was in Detroit I worked first as a commercial biller. I worked with temporary services, temporary office services. And I finally worked with Ford Motor Company in the industrial engineering division of Ford Motor Company first in Highland Park where I lived and then followed the division out to Dibbert.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Was your husband working for Ford?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
My husband also worked for Ford Motor Company. In 1958 in July we had an automobile accident. [interruption] After an automobile accident in which my husband was severely injured, I went back to Detroit and worked until January of '59. He remained in North Carolina in the Veteran's Administration Hospital. So in January or February I returned to North Carolina and started teaching, a profession that I had hoped that I would never do because I just was not interested in teaching, was not interested in education, but at that particular point in time it was a matter of necessity. From 1958 until 1961, I worked in the public schools in Robeson County, first as a teacher of English, then as a school educational media specialist, and then in '61 I returned to Meredith to finish my fourth year, received my degree in June of '62 and I returned to teaching until 1965 when I decided that I had fulfilled my mission in education and it was time for me to explore what was taking place in the world.

Page 3
And then I became involved in community action programs. First of all, in manpower development, rural manpower development, experimental and demonstrational programs with the U.S. Department of Labor. I also did some work with communications and with another Labor Department funded project called New Careers which was placing disadvantaged and particularly women and minorities in nontraditional careers and social service agencies and public agencies and organizations. I also attained a divorce sometime during that period. For about seven years I was in community action work. I also worked about six months up in Craven County. In the interim I was working with other charter members of the Lumbee Regional Development Association which is an Indian organization, now so designated as a tribal agency to meet the social, economic, political, and educational needs of the Lumbee Indians of Robeson County. In between close-outs and start-ups of different programs and projects I worked at the tribal agency in program planning and development and then, finally, I decided it was time to go back to the public schools. So, I started teaching again in 1972, I think, and also remarried and thought that I had settled down and grown up. But I got the itch again and it was time to do something else.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Why did you decide to go back into teaching?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
To settle down. To remarry and to get my life back together and settle down. I went back to teaching and after about from '72 until '77 the call came again to go to the central office relative to federal grants management and I went there as a temporary consultant and I've been there sixteen years now.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
And what, exactly, is your role there? What did you do?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Well, let me talk about that. In 1977, as I said, I went as a temporary consultant planning to take the '77-'78 year off because of the illness of my mother. She passed away in July, so I stayed at the central office and I was Director of Indian Education which is a federally funded project for supplemental and extended educational opportunities for Indian students in public schools. I guess it must have been about another six years later I decided that I'd had enough of that and it was time to do something else, so I stayed there, assumed additional duties for chapter one, which is another federal compensatory education program, and became an assistant superintendent. After about four years, I said, "Well, I'm still not grown yet." It was time then to go back to school so I did my doctoral work at South Carolina State College, now South Carolina State University as of February of this year, which was a Saturday program and a summer program which enabled me to continue my responsibilities as an administrator as well as to pursue my doctorate. I completed that in the Spring of '89. Saying, "Well, what next?" and "Have I really gotten it all together?" I proceeded then to say "Well, I'll rest and start picking and choosing some things that I want to do." But, I got involved with my work and got involved with my children and after about two years it was time to take on something else.
So, last Fall I enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Curriculum and Instruction at Chapel Hill and did fifteen hours last year, '91-'92. I'm at a crossroads now, really, trying to decide if I want to pursue that or if I'm grown enough to write my book. I realize that there's many things out there that I haven't explored. There's many things that I haven't done and I want to make sure that when I write the book, which will be entitled Growing Up Red, I want to make sure that I'm mature enough, experienced enough, and seasoned enough not to let a lot of biases from deprivation and discrimination both as a woman and as an Indian prevent me from being very objective, from sharing not only with others but particularly to my grandchildren and the children of my grandchildren the story of what life was like before their

Page 4
generation and the mantle of responsibility that they will be expected to carry on to the next generation. [interruption]
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
I wanted to talk about what it was like growing upߞnot just historical fiction, but a challenge, I guess, to the future generations to remember that there were folks that lived in different times and different places with different struggles, but to give them, I hope, a sense of responsibility. In Iroquois Indian culture and tradition it said that a woman is responsible for perpetuation of the culture for five generations and, as I talk with young peopleߞand of course that was a matriarchal cultureߞthey should stop and remember the traditions even now about family get-togethers and annual family meetings and they should realize that the purpose of those meetings for bringing the great grandmothers and the great grandfathers and the grandmothers and the grandfathers and the mothers and the fathers and the young people has a purpose, that they establish that sense of responsibility. I also like to quote Mary McLeod Bethune that said that service is the price that you pay for the space that you occupy and its been a very guiding force because I don't think there's any greater challenge than being involved in something that you can grow, that you can develop and that you can learn from and at the same time extend part of yourself and what it is you do that touches other people, whether you see it right now or whether it's long term. And I used to wonder when my grandmother kept saying that the Bible said that you were promised only four score or three score and ten and I got real upset when she was talking about how she didn't have much time left. And now I realize that sixty or seventy years is a short span of time to see change if you're really interested in seeing change. So I've reached the point where I cannot, never would be, never will be, and cannot be all things to all people, so the best thing I can do is put my message in writing and leave it and hope that someone will pick it up and say, "Well, you know, I do have a responsibility to make life better for my children and my grandchildren and for the children and the grandchildren that follow all of us." And I think that's not only true of Indians, but I think it's a sense of responsibility that I think all of us in more recent generations have lost. And some of us have never had the opportunity to really experience the rewards and the challenges of that kind of mantle of responsibility. And please note that I call it "mantle of responsibility" and not "mantle of leadership," because I perceive it as being a responsibility, as opposed to a, quote, leadership role, end quote. So, what created all these changes and all these things? I like to think of myself as we say about the turtle. You know, they say turtles are hard-shelled and stick their necks out and take risk and I collect turtles and I sort of keep them around me to remind me that you have to continue being hard-shelled and you have to continue taking risk if you are, indeed, committed to making a difference. I first got involved, and I call that my years of becoming, in the sixties and the civil rights movement. It was there, because of many mentors and because some folks took me by the hand and thought that I had the potential to grow and to develop and to serve and to be of purpose, not only to the movement to people and to my own people. With their nurturing and their support and their guidance I think I sort of said that "Well, maybe this is my niche."
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
So you see those years as a transitional point in your life.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
I see those years a developmental thing where you start growing outside of yourself and I usually refer to it as my years of becoming, finding me, and becoming me, and setting my own goals and my own value system and my own philosophy and my own beliefs. From there, after we finished looking at the world in rose colored glasses and we didn't change all the world, I then found my niche in the women's movement, Equal Rights Amendment, women's groups, women's affairs. And then after I saw that we were not going to get full equity and we were not going to get comparable pay and we didn't win that battle any

Page 5
more than we won the civil rights battle, I guess I said "Well, it's time to quit throwing bricks at city hall and find out how it goes on inside the system." So, in 1985, with chips on my shoulders about the University system and the closing of doors to Indians and to blacks, with a chip on my shoulder about the desegregation effort and the dissent decree that provided for white presence in black institutions and black presence in white institutions and totally ignored the existence or the humanity of North Carolina's Indian population, I took it upon myself to seek appointment to the University Board of Governors and became, I understand, although it was not accurately recorded in Dr. King's first book about the Board of Governors, the first woman at-large appointee to the University Board of Governors. Now, whether that was by accident or what I don't know. Anyway, it too has been a learning experience and has provided me an opportunity now to grow up again in preparation for my book and that I now have had exposure and involvement in education all the way from preschool because my programs in school districts piloted the first three and four year-old preschool program in the state. So, all the way from preschool into higher education in terms of not only administration of education but also the policy-making from the public schools as well as higher education. It's been a political experience in terms of seeing how policies are made and how committees function and how educational decisions are made by both educators and non-educators.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Do you think we could go back a little bit and talk a little more about, particularly, the '60s when you were saying this is the period of becoming? Sort of specifically, what happened during that period that was so important to you and move up through the things that you were active in the women's movement just to see a little more specifically how this developed?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Well, let's see if I can go back that far. I remember when I got married in 1955 coming out of Robeson County, Indians did not work in offices. You had two choices. You worked on the farm or you became a teacher and I didn't want either one. I didn't want to become a teacher, didn't want to work on a farm. So, I made my first application for employment in Detroit. Well, let me tell you this story that I'm not too proud to tell. When I went to Detroit to get married, we had to go down and get a marriage license and, since I had not traveled and had not been outside of Robeson County that much, although I had been at Meredith for three years back in '50, '51, '52ߞMeredith was quite different than it is today.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
The Women's College?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Yes. It was sort of confined with a lot of rules and regulations and so, although I was in Raleigh, I didn't get that much exposure either. You have to remember I went to high school when I was fifteen, so it was probably one of the best things in the world that happened. I filled out applications for employment. . . No, I was talking about the marriage license. So my husband-to-be and I went down to file for a marriage license and I put "white" on my application for marriage license which is the only time in my life that I never put down my race as Indian but I was afraid that if we put "Indian" that Michigan would not allow us to get married in Michigan. I didn't know, because, you see, North Carolina at the time, he was not white, he was also Indian.
LAURA MOORE:
He was a Lumbee also?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Right, but North Carolina at the time did not allow Indians to marry outside their own race. If you wanted to get married and marry someone other than Indian you had to go outside the state of North Carolina to get married. So, not knowing about any of this, I said "Well maybe Michigan didn't let Indians get married." And maybe that's the reason I ended up with a divorce, because I lied on my marriage certificate. But, I'm not real proud of

Page 6
having done that, but I'm saying those are the kinds of things you do when you don't know what you're dealing with.
LAURA MOORE:
What was your first husband's name?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Roberts. James R. Roberts. So, I wanted the folks at Ford Motor Company to know that I was Indian because things had happened in Robeson County that if folks went in and got employed and folks didn't know they were Indian, once they found out they were Indian they fired them. So, I knew that I was a long way from home and that I needed to work so I kept saying, "Well, you know I'm Indian." And I got very upset because I didn't get the kind of reaction from folks that I was supposed to get. You know, it was like "So what else is new?" You know, and I kept pressing this thing about "But I'm Indian and Indians don't do this and Indians don't do that." And they look at me like "So what?" You know. "Big deal." But here is my limited exposure, experience, and education about cultural pluralism and the different ethnic groups that live in cities. That knowledge came ten, fifteen years down the road.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
So you were coming from a more segregated society and expecting this to be a big deal.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Right, expected it. And finally I said, "Well if it doesn't matter to them you drop it." Because pretty soon you realize that you're overplaying the record. So I guess it was sort of like some of the veterans say, that we went off and fought the war and came back and we were over there giving our lives and folks aren't giving us any respect or opening any doors for us. So I'd made it off the reservation and found out, hey, you know, people are okay. There is a better life. There is a better way. Yet, would never have been happy to have stayed in Detroit because there was always that thing about going back home to help my people. Going back home to show them the way, you know.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Were there other Lumbees in the area? So that was a place of migration there?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Right.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Were they doing the same kinds of work that you were?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Most of them worked in the manufacturing industries, General Motors, Ford Motor, because that was the only place they could do anything other than on the farm and teaching and everyone didn't want to become a teacher. So, because of the automobile accident I ended up back in North Carolina and then, I guess, having seen the bright lights of the city and then going back home seeing, from a different perspective, how really deprived folks were, then when civil rights came along that was my opportunity to right all the wrongs in the world, to be a woman Don Quixote. So, I don't know that I contributed that much to increased access, increased opportunities, diminished discrimination, except that it gave me an opportunity to become involved with a philosophy that was compatible to my own personal philosophy about the value and worth of human dignity of all people and to be accepted not because I was an Indian but because I was an Indian plus Ruth.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Were these civil rights activities mostly involving Indians?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
No, we were multiracial. I remember when the custodial and service workers in Durham were marching for higher wages, I was six months pregnant wanting to march and they wouldn't let me march and I cried.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Were you involved in leadership roles in these things?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
No, not really. It was just that wherever you were needed you got up and went. It was a time of hope. It was a time of hope, I think. Blacks, whites, poor whites, Indians, anyone who really had a mutual mission of equality, what it provided to us was hope. I regret to say that I don't sense that hope out there now at all.

Page 7
LAURA MOORE:
Were there specific deprivations or discriminations regarding Indians that you noticed more when you came back from Michigan that you were particularly concerned about when you were involved in the civil rights movement?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
I didn't have to go to Michigan to notice them. As I told you, I came up in all Indian schools. I came through the era when we had the separate restrooms for whites, blacks, and Indians in all the stores in Lumberton, when you had separate seating arrangements in the movie theaters for whites, blacks, and Indians, when you had the separate water fountains.
LAURA MOORE:
How would that work?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Oh you just had three of everything with a sign to it.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
How would a theater be arranged? What would it look like?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Downstairs you would seat all the white customers. Upstairs you would have one section for blacks and one section for Indians. I guess I came back having seen that you can walk around freely and that there are other opportunities and advantages and when I came back and saw that people were still subjected to this kind of humiliation and indignity, I became more radical about trying to encourage and challenge the system and to become more vocal. I guess it was just a natural that the civil rights became my way to really put those things into motion and into action. As I said, when that started leveling off and we realized we hadn't saved the world, then it was time to move to something else and then there was the women's movement and, of course, after the women's movement we had the Decade of the Indian which was the 70's to the 80's and then the 80's to the 90's has been the Decade of the Hispanic and I've reached the point now that when I write that book I'll be able to do a lot of talking about political appeasement and about the level of commitment - that there is no commitment. It's only response to whatever is politically feasible at the moment in order to govern, to control, and to subject.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Does that relate to you saying that you don't see the same hope that you did in the sixties now?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Definitely. There was no intent ever to empower all people in this country or to work toward shared power or to even try to support shared power. It's real interesting how this country looks to Japan and talks about what happens in Japan, but the reason Japan has now surpassed the United States is because Japan builds upon its culture into all of its decisions whether it be education, whether it be the family, whether it be the work place, and that has been researched and written by a fellow by the name of Oucci who writes about how you consider the culture of the family and that work is related to family and folks bring their values of family into the work place and because it's that mutual culture and collaboration and that sharing which transcends from the regular culture. You see, this country is not interested in looking at any culture except the supreme closed culture that's not even a western civilization culture. It is a culture of control and power and greed, the same kind of greed that brought European immigrants here to seek their freedom and now it's a greed and a power that we will control and we will do anything that we have to in order to begin to control.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
So then, when you look back on the civil rights movement and on the women's movement and all of these things, do you feel that it was a wasted effort? How do you view those now that you're the other side of them?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Certainly not a wasted effort because it made me who I am today and it gave me the opportunity and the experiences to make the statements with conviction that I just made because I've been there and I've been around long enough to go through these different movements and to be in different places at different times and at different levels. I do not think

Page 8
that I speak with bias, with some of the same pangs intact of the discrimination from the child into an adult and some of the same discrimination that exist now, but exposed enough to structures and policy-making, and government to know how government functions and why it functions as it does which is certainly not for the good of the people.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Could you talk a little more about your interest in women's issues? Did that come out of your involvement in the civil rights movement sort of logically? I know a lot of women felt that they'd awakened to discrimination against women while they were in the civil rights movement. How did you feel that you became a person that was interested in feminism?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
You have to realize that people join movements just as they join clubs and organizations for different reasons. I guess you have to go back and examine my psyche which you couldn't examine if I didn't care to share it with you. You have to grow up in an isolated culture that on the one hand is supporting you and nurturing you to feel good about yourself, to strive to achieve, to excel, to accept responsibility, to meet the expectations that are held for you and then, on the other hand, interact with another culture that says that you don't look Indian, you don't act Indian and always having to justify that you're Indian but you're not federally recognized, that you've never had a treaty with the federal government. You go through all these explanations of having to justify your very being, your very birth right. That creates a big void of self-confidence, a big void that allows you to develop an ethnic pride to which you have a birth right. So you grow up wanting to belong, wanting to be accepted, wanting to be a part, and yet there's always some kind of hurdle you have to overcome. If it isn't justifying why you're Indian or having to explain that you are Indian or if it isn't trying to excel so that you can access some opportunity, just a whole series of hurdles. So, the civil rights movement, that supportive climate, that nurturing climate of "We are about the business of humanity." became that place for me to find that acceptance, that sense of belonging, that sense of freedom. As I said, toward the end of the civil rights movement in the last few years, as you know, we started moving toward separatism. We dealt with black separatism. The interestingߞquote interestingߞphenomenon about the American Indian is that the American Indians would not get involved with the civil rights movement because they believed in separatism and until black separatism evolved the Indians would not support the concept of civil rights. But then that's a deeper psyche you'd have to deal with because another friend says "He who questions the identity of another is insecure within his or her own identity." So I'll leave that and let it rest where it falls. This black friend of mine, I remember we were in Washington at some meeting. I don't remember which one now. We had worked together eight or nine years and they called a black caucus and, of course, I just proceeded to go walking into the black caucus and he looked at me and he says, "Ruth," he says, "you can't go in here." I said "Why?" He says "It's a black caucus. I'm sorry. You can't go in here." And I guess that's what sort of shocked me into reality, to take off my rose-colored glasses and turn the tint down a little and look at things a little bit differently. It did not impair our relationship because we are thirty years down the road now and still maintain a very close relationship, but it got to the point where he had to say, "Ruth, I love you. I love you like a sister, but I am about the business of black people." and when you've been on the battle line with people for seven, eight, ten years and you realize that that's what happens. So, I tried my best to accept separatism as a means to an end, but that's contradictory when you believe in pluralism and then also foster separatism. So I found that conflict. So, you see, when the women's movement came along, we were not into ethnicity. We were into a common goal. We broke it down and I really do think that the women's movement contributed more to those who chose to understand

Page 9
cultural diversity because women went about the business of "What is the mission? What is the goal?" And you knew we were black and white and red and brown and Asian and we didn't get bogged down into ethnicity. It was "We are women. These are problems and issues that effect women." We never did that in the civil rights movement. We dealt with race, you know, the white against the black, squeeze the Indians where we could. We never talked about Asian Americans, never talked about Hispanic Americans, never talked about Alaskans and native Eskimos and Hawaiians or anything. So, I think the women's movement, although I don't think it was an outgrowth of civil rights, I think its time was right. I can sit back forty years now and tell you that there's no hope, but you see at that time it was just another vehicle.
Here's something to continue being me. I can relate to it. I can find acceptance here. So, I think, after that when it came time to settle down perhaps I'd reached the point where I have to quit seeking escape. I really got too involved because I was somewhere every weekend. I had children. My parents had passed away and I realized that I was running from the reality of the death of my parents who died within twelve months of each other. I had small children and I didn't have parents to take care of my children like I had during the civil rights movement and I think I said "It's time that you've got to realize that you can't run elsewhere to escape. It's time to take a stand and to start saying 'This is what ought to be' and doing something about it where you are." So that's where I've been for the past twenty years is doing what I could where I could when I could, taking on the system when I could, still working with the community, still do not perceive myself as a leader, but I feel a very very heavy sense of responsibility because I've been fortunate to garner and earn the respect of a lot of people both old and young and I take my responsibility to my family very seriously because my first marriage was destroyed and I refuse to destroy a second one, so my family is sort of first priority and after that comes those issues and those fights that I want to stick my neck out and put up my hard shell and do about.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Did your parents have an active role?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
I think I had two excellent role models. My mother was my mother, but was the best of an educator.
LAURA MOORE:
Could you give us your parents' names? I'm sorry to interrupt.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Ruby Carter was my mother and all children were her children and her profession was very important to her. She saw teaching as the love of her life and commitment to profession was modeled for me. My father was a school principal, a teacher and school principal. He, too, was student-oriented, child-centered and perhaps I felt that. . .I guess a psychologist might tell you that that's the reason I never thought I wanted to be a teacher because I felt that they gave too much to others and not enough to me and I was an only child for sixteen years and cried when my brother came along. So, I guess I didn't want anything that required that much of me, probably. I was probably a very spoiled selfish young girl who really didn't want anything that would demand that much of me.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
So they really devoted a lot of time to their careers.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Right, but they were not risk takers. You know, they were concerned but they came in a different time when folks did things to you when you got too far out of line. See, my father came from a tenant farming situation. My mother came from a land owning situation, but at the same time

Page 10
they came through a time when "You don't do this." Many is the time that my mother, when I was complaining about how I might have been treated in a store or what I didn't like about something, "Just go ahead and you do your job." or "You be the best of what you can be. Just ignore it, chalk it up to ignorance, and go on." Sort of the old religious thing of turn the other cheek. She was able to take a lot of that but, you know, I was just not willing to take it after a certain point. I remember walking into a department store sometime while I was in college and she had finished her master's and it was in nearby Laurenburg. She was buying a gift for someone and I said "Could we have a box?" and the clerk says "We don't have any boxes." And I said to my mother, "Well why don't you just leave it and we'll go somewhere else where we can get a box?" My momma says "No, that's alright. We'll get it." I says "No. Leave it." because it happened to be a season that you knew darn well they had boxes in the store but because my mother was Indian or because we were Indian they weren't going to give her a box. And that hurts when you see your mother have to put up with that kind of stuff. I guess those are the kinds of things that I experienced that I worked hard to see that my children wouldn't have to experience. It's still there. The only thing I can do is try to be an example to my children and my eight month old grandson that there are ways to cope, that you just don't accept what is. You're not going to tear down city hall by throwing bricks. I taught them all about that, too. But at the same time, you win these battles by excellence, by confidence, by demanding and commanding respect for who you are and what you are, and by exemplary performance. Folks don't have to like what you look like. They don't have to care what kind of car you drive or what kind of house you live in or what kind of clothes you wear, but if you perform and command and demand respect, then they have to accept you for that whether they like it or not.
LAURA MOORE:
How many children do you have?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Well, I have four and my husband has three so together we have seven. He has five grandchildren and I have one.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Do they live in Robeson County also?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
No. My daughter decided to leave the reservation and marry a non-Indian and she's in Charleston, South Carolina. They presented me with my first grandson last October on Columbus Day which is unforgivable for any Indian woman. [Laughter] And the mother-in-law says, "Well, we'll never forget this day, will we? We should name him Columbus."
LAURA MOORE:
But they didn't. They didn't name him Columbus.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
No. And then I have another daughter who is twenty-five and she's single and not married and lives in Pembroke. I have a son who is eighteen and just graduated as an honor student at Fork Union Military Academy and will be enrolling in North Carolina State in the fall. I have a fourteen year old son who has been at Fork Union for three years and will be returning there in the fall and that's it.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
So you have quite a few people to be handing down this.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Yeah. My husband is a thirty year veteran in education. He is a school principal and in his first term as an elected county commissioner in Robeson County.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
And what is his name?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Noah.
LAURA MOORE:
I guess I was wondering if you could talk specifically about some of the organizations you were involved in the women's movement? We have a sort of long list of things that you were involved with.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Oh my goodness. Let me see if I can remember. My first women's meeting was on the campus of Duke University and I have no idea who

Page 11
pulled that organization together. Might have been ERA United, to tell you the truth. I was involved with the North Carolina Women's Political Caucus, ERA United, North Carolina Business and Professional Women's Organization, the prestigious women's...the little elite group of women. I shouldn't say that. They weren't elitist, they were just real leaders. North Carolina Women's Forum is the one I was trying to think of. Don't put anything on there about the elite group. And of course I got involved with the Methodist Church and then became involved for about four or five years with the Native American Women's Caucus of the United Methodist Church. Women's Equity Action League. And I guess my first elected position was when I fought for deleting the appointments to the North Carolina State Commission of Indian Affairs. I was instrumental in lobbying for the legislation for the creation of that commission and it ended up with appointees to the commission so it took me about four or five years to work with Governor Jim Hunt and Governor Jim Holshauser to get that to become and elected process by people from the different Indian communities as opposed to the commission electing their members. I got involved, of course, with the state International Women's Year committee and as a result became a state delegate to the International Women's Year and then was appointed by President Carter as a member of the continuing committee.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
What were your responsibilities in that position?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
We all got to go to Washington, go to the White House and meet the President. [Laughter] The continuing committee did, and sort of network and kept a newsletter going on, but the I.W.Y. conference in Texas was a big experience. It was just like a big political convention with the state delegations and the voting and all. I was pregnant at the time, eight months. I always got pregnant when something big was going on. [Laughter]
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Important times.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Yeah, and they didn't want me to fly but I wouldn't have missed the I.W.Y. for anything in the world. We had met and caucused and we knew exactly what we were going to vote for. We were going to be pro-state on the whole platform. That was the first time that I got to hear Congressman Barbara...who was the black Congresswoman who retired from Congress and is teaching at Texas A & M now? Oh my goodness. Oh I was just spellbound. Barbara what? What was her last name? [Interviewer's note: Barbara Jordan] Anyway, she was a black Congresswoman and she spoke at I.W.Y. I walked off the floor. I could get by with it because I was pregnant. But I walked off the floor to smoke a cigarette twice in order to be true to the state delegation and I could not bring myself to vote on abortion, pro-abortion, and I could not bring myself to vote for proߞwhat are we calling it nowߞsexual orientation.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
So you just walked so you wouldn't have to...
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
I was grounded too much in Southern Baptist Belt mentality.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
But you're in the Methodist Church now. Did you grow up Methodist or Baptist?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Grew up Baptist.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
How did you become a Methodist?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Methodists accept divorcees. Baptists don't. Not the Southern Baptists anyway. Now, my father's family were Methodists and when they moved into Pembroke they were Methodist and when I went back from Michigan my father was attending that church and so I started attending it and then when I divorced and remarried, the church was still there in a supporting role. Basically, I was brought up a good brimfire Southern Baptist.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Which Methodist Church are you in?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
They might not want to claim me now anyway.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
The Southern Baptists wouldn't? [Laughter] Do you feel the Methodist Church is more in line with your concerns and social action?

Page 12
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
I'm still Baptist at heart.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
You think you're still Baptist at heart.
LAURA MOORE:
Why do you say that?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Well, I guess there's some things I'm pretty opinionated about that they were as a young girl. I just think the Methodists are a little bit more flexible. There's nothing wrong with being radical, except that I expect my church to be one thing and let me go out and be the radical. [Laughter] I support women, but I don't support women in the pulpit. Now you know that's Baptist coming out. That's not Methodist.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
So you'd say that the Methodist Church, would you say that it's a little bit more liberal than the churches that you were used to, that your heart grew up in?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Yeah.
LAURA MOORE:
Which congregation are involved in?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Don't get me wrong. I don't have any problems with a good Catholic service from time to time, so if you don't believe in what I believe in...
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
You're kind of ecumenical.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
See, I sent my girls to Catholic school because I did not want them in all Indian schools. I did not want them to wait until they were thirty-six to learn that life out there demanded that you respect all people and that you compete with them and you learn to get along with them. So my girls were in Catholic school and my boys were educated in Catholic school prior to going to military school, so I'm sitting on pins and needles. I've had my eighteen year old sheltered all his life and I read a letter he wrote to a girl the other day saying "I am looking forward to college. I have waited six years for this freedom." But, you know, he's been in a multinational community at Fork Union and I guess I'm having to break that umbilical cord and say that I've given him everything that I think he needs in order to make it. If he chooses not to, then that's him, but I am confident that the exposure... I hear my kids talk about "There's this guy from Israel." or "There's this guy from Sweden." or "John, he's from so-and-so." When I came to Chapel Hill way back when one summer after I taught for a year about '61 or '62, I did some library work here, a couple of education courses, and if I had gone to Chapel Hill directly out of high school, I wouldn't have lasted a week. I'm sure when some of these kids see me on campus now that I'm sitting there like this, like a dumb jerk, not because I want to but because I learn a lot by observing people, but I haven't learned not to leave my mouth hanging open. And I'm sure they look at me and say "Well what is Granny doing here?" [Laughter]
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
So you chose not to send your children to the Robeson County Public Schools which you work for?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Well, I sent them to Catholic schools in the early days. See, the girls are a whole decade ahead of the boys, but the purpose there was so that they would learn to compete with non-Indian people from day one. I chose to send the boys to Catholic school because I was busy working, it had worked for my girls, and that's what I wanted for my boys. I own land in Robeson County, I've never been hauled into court for not paying my taxes, and I feel like I am contributing to the public education fund in Robeson County, and as long as I am not depriving anybody in Robeson County of an education, what I choose for mine should be my personal choice. If I'm willing to make the sacrifices in order to do that, then it really shouldn't matter to anybody.
LAURA MOORE:
So, are those schools still somewhat segregated?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
The schools where we live are 98% Indian.
LAURA MOORE:
And what's the other 2%?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Black and white.
LAURA MOORE:
In the particular district that you live in.

Page 13
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Right. 98%.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Could you talk a little bit about what your role is, what your job is, with the Robeson County Public Schools?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
I'm one of four associate superintendents who reports directly to the superintendent. My responsibilities are fully for grants management for federal programs. I administer three major programs. We have the largest funded Indian education project in the country which creates a political spill-out from time to time. It's roughly 1.3 million. It was up to 1.4 million last year. We have roughly 10,500 Indian students certified in the school district; certified, again, according to government criteria. There are more Indian students, but you have to fill out this nice little form that says that you're Indian, have somebody sign it, stick a number on it, and draw it in blood that "I am Indian." I have a five and a half million dollar Chapter One program which is to provide supplementary remedial and support programs and services for reading and math to low income students in the school district. And then we have about a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar migrant education grant. So those are the three basic grants. There are other federal programs and funds in the school district, but I have responsibilities only for those three and have about a seven and a half million dollar budget.
LAURA MOORE:
So do you have much contact with the students themselves?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Only when I throw the pencil down and go crank up the car and go to the schools and I don't do that often enough. I have a staff of about thirty-six people, supervisors, directors, and project administrators.
LAURA MOORE:
You have your hands full with that.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
And then your husband maybe has more contact with them? You say he's a principal.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Right, he's a principal.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Of what school, now?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Magnolia. That was a K-12 school up until this year and through consolidation he has pre-k through grade eight.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
And where is that?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
It's in Lumberton.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Lumberton. Okay.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
It's a historically Indian school. I'm not real sure what his student enrollment is now, but I'm sure it's predominantly Indian. Not 98%, but I'm sure it's still predominantly Indian.
LAURA MOORE:
Are there special problems that you see the school system facing in Robeson County now that you're concerned with?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Read my book.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
I'll be waiting for your book to come out.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Maybe that's the reason I'm going to wait and write it when I grow up, when I retire, so I won't even have to be inhibited in what I say.
LAURA MOORE:
Do you think that some of the situation of Robeson County Public Schools has to do with the rural area, or it just being a mainly Indian area makes it very different than other sort of rural North Carolina areas?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
It has to do with institutional racism and all the spill-out from that.
LAURA MOORE:
So there are special disadvantages and things that are faced.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
And class. Class discrimination.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
You say that the program you administer is the largest funded Indian education program in the country, but that seems awfully ironic, and I'm sure it does to you, in light of the fact that the Lumbees are not federally recognized. Could you talk about that whole campaign?

Page 14
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Indians are state recognized. The Lumbee are state recognized and that gives them a special category. You have to remember in the 70's we were more astute and it was with the assistance of some folks that chose not to be racist who were drafting the legislation to include state recognized Indians because we're not the only state recognized Indians. But other than that, you would have no Indian tribes or groups east of the Mississippi other than the Choctaws, maybe, and the Seminoles in Florida who would be eligible for any government services. The Indian Education Project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Therefore, it is not bound to federal recognition criteria as are those education programs out of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of Interior. I don't find it ironic. It just goes to show those kinds of things that take place in government to separate and to create division and to create confusion. The only reason that we never had a treaty with the government is because, I guess, our forefathers were silly enough to sit here and reach out their hands and welcome them. We're descendants of those folks that first met the first European immigrants. We can't help it if some of our folks did not follow the Cherokee west, did not go through removal. All the Cherokees didn't take the Trail of Tears either. The interesting thing is that they never said that we were not Indian, so then you say that the government makes it into an economic issue. Back in 1712, during some of the war in the colonies, there was a general down in South Carolina that wrote a statement that says that "We must assist these Indians in cutting one another's throats lest the nation will not be saved." and it appears to me that that must have set the precedent for government treaties and relationships because even the federally recognized tribes did not have tribal rolls until the Indian Reorganization Act in the 30's. But all of a sudden if you don't have a tribal organization and tribal roll, there's just no way in heavens that you can be Indian. And you say the government set up those rolls simply so they'd be able to - what's the term they use for it - not portion out but ration out government commodities to Indians. It had nothing to do with who was Indian and who wasn't. It was just a matter of how many people you've got here, because you've got tribal rolls that have non-Indian people on them. My father's family name is on the Delaware District of Cherokee rolls, but I'm not Cherokee, would not spend any time trying to do that, because I come out of a situation where my descendancy has been to Indians of Robeson County who by legislative act are now called Lumbee. So we're going to continue this battle because that's the way the government wants it. As long as you can keep a division between federal and non-federal, state and organization, east and west, then government does not have to get very serious about the, quote, Indian problem, end quote. And it can remain an Indian problem.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
So, what is the relationship between the Indians of Robeson County and, say, the Eastern band of Cherokee Indians?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Well even the Eastern band of Cherokee won't say that we're not Indian. They just say that we ought to go through a process and if the Eastern band of Cherokee had to go through that process they couldn't make it either because the process was developed to perpetuate only those tribes that were already in and to keep everybody else out. They would say the same thing about the Humas in Louisiana, the Pamanqueys in Virginia or anybody else and not only would the Eastern band of Cherokee say that, but there's some western tribes that say the same thing. And yet, if they had to go through the process, they couldn't jump through the hoops.
LAURA MOORE:
Because they were already in.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
And my point is this. I know who I am. I know where I was born. I know the spirit in which I was encased and if I ever become federally recognized and get a B.I.A. number stamped on my bottom, it's not going to make me any different than Ruth Woods is today or any more or any less

Page 15
Indian than I am today and I'm not worried about my identity because I know who I am and what I am. And they can't take that away from me by federal recognition or without it.
LAURA MOORE:
But do you think the Lumbees should continue to agitate for federal recognition?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
I think we ought to file a federal government law suit. I think we ought to go into the courts with it.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Where does it stand now?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
I think we've been kind enough for a hundred years and I think it's time now to just sue the federal government and take all this money that we spent on federal recognition and put it in law suits if nothing more than to document the ineffectiveness and the inefficiency and the unwillingness of the federal government to face up to its responsibilities. You see, early on in the 1800s the letters that came to the Indians in Robeson County were "We have other Indians who are not as civilized that need our scarce resources." So we're penalized because we greeted and befriended settlers and tried to help ourselves. We were penalized. If we'd been savages, I don't know. But that's exactly what they said, "We have other folks less civilized."
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
So where does the whole recognition thing stand now, just legally?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Well, there's some hope and some optimism about Congressional recognition which has been done before. There is a precedent for it, but there is just this adamant thing that nobody wants the Lumbees federally recognized. What it creates for our children is what I call a crisis of identity. I am neither white. I am neither black. I am not Indian. What am I? Who am I? So you see, my message is that you can't take the person's identity away from them. That's yours. Nobody can stamp approval on it and nobody can take it away. You've got to realize that you are what you think you are and what you believe you are and that's what's important. As long as you know it, it doesn't matter a tinker's damn if anybody else knows it or believes it or not.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Does any of this feeling on the part of Lumbee youth relate to the take-over at the Robesonian that occurred a couple years ago when Hatcher and Jacobs went in and held the hostages? Is that related to that at all or is that a separate issue?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Thoreau says that each of us listen to a different drummer and I think all people have their own drum and they have to do what they think they have to do in order to make a contribution. Timmy was in a dance group that our project sponsored several years ago and you always wonder. When you're in education, you're actually molding kids' lives. You're playing God with kids' lives. Eddie I did not know, but I think that Timmy and Eddie, while they had to pay the price for what they did, made a significant contribution to the Indian community in Robeson County. There will be many who will not agree with that, but I think they did.
LAURA MOORE:
In what ways?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
They brought some issues to the forefront. They brought a constituency within the community together to recognize that folks were not committed to doing anything about the problem. It brought an increased recognition of what drug and drug trafficking is doing to the community and how some folks are being dealt with and other folks are not. Not in terms of race, but dealers versus users, peddlers, that kind of thing. I think it brought a different climate of acceptance of authority. I really do. I do not think that the community is as accepting of authority as it was in the past. It questions it. I'm not saying that it is ready to become a Los Angeles. That' not what I'm saying. But there's questioning. There's concern and there's folks committed to action.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
That's interesting.

Page 16
LAURA MOORE:
So it kind of galvanized people.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Yeah. And that will not go away. And hopefully it will not go away with the kids. We'll be able to continue that. Once you ever get past this thing of saying "Hey, I'm okay," then you can help people grow and develop to question, to ask without feeling inhibited or threatened or subjected to punishment or something. Forty or fifty years from now Eddie and Timmy will be heroes, but they will never be heroes in their own time.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Where are they now?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Eddie is still in prison. Timmy, I'm not sure. Timmy was out and in Charlotte and I believe he broke probation, so I don't know if he's still out or back in prison.
LAURA MOORE:
You mention the drug trafficking. Is that a serious problem that you see now?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Yes.
LAURA MOORE:
Among the youth?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Yes.
LAURA MOORE:
When did that start becoming such a problem?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Well, we moved from the bootlegging stills to alcohol by the drink in the houses to the beer spots and bootleggers to drug dealing. We don't sell that much liquor anymore because we can now go buy it in the ABC store, so we had to find something to keep the economy going. I go back to something my father taught me. He says folks want to control you. He always told me "Don't ever borrow any more money than you'll be able to pay back. Wait 'til you get the money to go buy something. Don't go in debt." Because, you see, coming up the child of a tenant farmer and coming up during the Depression he thought that he had really achieved everything when he was able to purchase his own land, to have his own farm, not to have to rent from somebody, not to have to listen to somebody else about this kind of thing and that was his value system. They always said, if they can't get to you they'll get to somebody close to you and there's always that fear that as hard as you work to keep yourself out of the clutches or out of the control, and particularly if you are raising your own children. Irregardless, when you rear children you just have to take it one day at the time and put them in the hands of the Lord and say "Help me with them because I can't handle it." And I don't mind telling you, from grades seven to nine is not my age level of children.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
I don't remember that being the most pleasant time.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Of course I'm not so sure that any age is better. I love my children, but. . . I think some of that happens of "Let's do that." and that way, again, is a way of controlling people. If they don't have your bank account, they don't control your job, they can co-opt your child and humble you to your knees.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
I was actually thinking about changing gears a little bit and asking you to talk a little bit more about how you got onto the Board of Governors here? You said you decided that's what you wanted to do. What was sort of the process?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Did I say that's what I decided to do?
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
I thought you did.
LAURA MOORE:
You said you sought the appointment.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Or would you like to correct the way I'm remembering that?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Do I really want to talk about that?
LAURA MOORE:
Well you certainly don't need to if you don't want.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
There was a meeting at my house one Sunday afternoon. Not a meeting, but I had some friends in. My husband's a staunch blood thoroughbred Democrat. I'm an opportunist. I'm a registered Democrat, but I'm an opportunist. Situational politics is the name of my game. They were talking

Page 17
about different things and what were the Indians going to get out of the Martin administration, a Republican and my Democratic husband. And I was in the kitchen doing something and I just walked in and I said, "Well, I'll tell you what I want." He said, "What do you want?" I said, "I want an appointment to the Board of Governors." I hadn't really thought about it. I hadn't really thought about it, but when folks start talking about what they can do I'm ready to challenge them and say "Let's see what you can do." And this guy says, "Well, you know, we can do that." I says, "Are you serious? What do we have to do?" He says, "Well, first of all, you've got to ask your husband if he'll bow out." And I looked and I said, "What?" Come to find out, my husband had mentioned to a couple of legislators that he might be interested.
LAURA MOORE:
I didn't know that.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
And this guy says, "Well now you know I can pull it with you but, now, your husband over there is too ingrained in the Democratic politics for me to be able to help any. So is that really what you want?" I said "Yeah, that's what I want." So the next thing I know, "When are you going to get out and get up here? Time's running out and you've got to get up here and walk the halls." and I said, "What do you mean 'walk the halls'?" I thought all we had to do was throw a resume up there and they look at it. So I had to get out and come to Raleigh on a Monday and Sidney Lockes walked around introducing me to some people and at the end of the day he says, "Can you be up here tomorrow?" I said "Ruth, you need to be up here." So I come up tomorrow, which was Tuesday. I drove back and forth to Raleigh every day for four days and on Thursday is when you went in and you were introduced by your representative or whoever was nominating you and I looked and I saw all these key women that I had been in organizations with and I said, "Sidney, I'm out of my place. No way will I be able to get a nomination." He says, "Just sit tight." And I have friends there who were seeking the nomination. You know politics gets dirty. So I got up and did my spell and I came out and I says, "I'm not going to make it. I'm not going to make it." And I had to go back the next day, when they were going to take the vote, and I remember Representative Crawford. They left the floor to go back and count the votes and I was sitting up in whatever you call it.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
The gallery?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
The gallery. And I remember Jim Crawford walking out to count and he just looked up at me like that way and I have, believe it or not, a little scribbled note on a little torn sheet of paper that Coy Privette wrote to Pete Hasty and said, "Dear Pete, The boys on the back row and I are trying to get support for your nominee." But I looked at Sidney the day I went in to speak to Coy Privette and I said, "Sidney, you aren't going to make me go in and shake hands with Coy Privette." He says, "Oh yes. Put on a big smile." I thought, "How false can you get? Here is a man that would kill you if he knew that you supported ERA." But I just walked in there and I felt like my hand must have reached out a mile with the biggest smile on my face I'm sure I've ever had. But you know, Coy Privette and I get up together. Now Coy is "Ruth, how are doing?" "Coy, how are you doing?" You know, the games people have to play.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
So despite all of your work for ERA and everything they still wanted you.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
I got the solid backing together with Betsy Cochran's help because she was the minority whip in the House at that time. I got the solid Republican vote and I got the Black Caucus vote. Then my husband drummed up some Democratic votes for me, other votes. It came out, so here I am. I don't know what I'm doing here. I don't know what I'm accomplishing here. I don't know. My term will be up July 1 of next year and I have not made up my mind whether I am going to seek reappointment or not. It may be time to go on to something else. My long range goal is to retire, write my book, and do some teaching at the university level if I live long enough.

Page 18
LAURA MOORE:
I know you said it on a lark, but why did you see that as a way that you could...
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Challenge. Challenging whether or not the folks had the entrees into the governor's board or not. They could put up or shut up. I had no idea. I had no great desire.
LAURA MOORE:
So you didn't have a burning desire to effect the course of UNC.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
No. But when I talked to you about those things I brought with me, I brought some baggage with me. I came with some baggage.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
So what have been the biggest issues that you've been concerned with since you've been on the Board?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
What else? Equity. I've been concerned about equity. I've been concerned about the dismal reports about some of the black institutions and questioning whether or not the commitment of resources have been put there adequately for the institutions to address their problems. Trying, I guess, to get folks in their decision making to recognize that there's a big wide land area east of Wake County, that the state doesn't start at Wake County and end in the Research Triangle and the Triad, that there is vast territory out there that is entirely different than the Triangle. Still the issue that has not been addressed in my estimation is the state service in terms of providing equitable assistance to Indian kids who want to go to college as they do with Minority President's grants, that has not been addressed. The University system has done nothing in those terms, because the only help that Indian students get is something that we had to go lobby the legislature for, the American Indian Student Legislative Grant which is not comparable to Minority President's Grants, you know, in terms of money. As far as I'm concerned the university system has done nothing in terms of compensation. That's not anything the university went after, that's something we went after and Senator Parnell introduced it but gave the university responsibility for administering it. I don't get bought and sold when you tell me this is what we're doing for Indians because the commitment was shown to me what was done with a consent degree, and I'd really like to see that challenged in the courts.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Could you explain again what that says and when did it . . .
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
In 1970 or 1972, that was the deseg order. It was around 1972.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
And that has been bad for Indians?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Well, it certainly hasn't helped them. Why shouldn't they be entitled? The other thing it did was that it robbed us in that classification. Pembroke State University was an Indian normal school, the first four year college for the education of Indians in the country. The first in the country, but they classified it a white institution. So now Pembroke has the largest minority student enrollment, blacks and Indians, but it has the lowest amount of money for black students because it has the large minority enrollment. But, an Indian wants to go to Fayetteville, they're not white, can't get minority presence. Wants to come to Chapel Hill, is not black, so they can't get minority presence.
LAURA MOORE:
I see. So the system is structured for black/white.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
So you count us when you want to count us and how you want to count us and however it suits your little mission.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
I see what you're saying.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
We're those others. We're not anybody. We're just somebody you number. And then you have these fools that come around and call us racial isolants or social isolants or something.
LAURA MOORE:
Do you think Pembroke State gets the short shrift in the state system?

Page 19
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
I think it did up until Dick Spangler's tenure. It definitely did. I know it did. It absolutely positively did.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
But it's improved?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
And I think Dick...
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Would you want to say a little bit again what you just said while the tape was off?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
I said that I believe that the issue of equity is my concern and that I think that it is Dick Spangler's concern. I don't think he has singled any one institution over another. I think his concern is that we have a system representing sixteen institutions and that his commitment is that each institution do the very best job that it can and that we continue to guarantee and provide access to higher education for as many of our students in North Carolina as we can. And that I did not have that sense of commitment to equity in previous administrations.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
You felt that some institutions got a lot more attention than others?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Well, they did and that's what brought about the consolidation of the system. And even after the system was consolidated you did not have an open board. Committees were very tight. Thump thump. You came up here, vote, vote, vote, boom, and you were gone. With Dick Spangler's leadership together with the commitment of the board and the more diversity on the board, we now have, I feel, an open board.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Do you feel that the UNC system is doing everything it can to hire Indian faculty?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Well, I don't know what the University system could do, number one. I do think that there is a definite need that all chancellors and all systems understand that we are far from meeting our obligation for recruitment of both students and faculty, particularly minority and particularly women, and that whatever controls, whatever initiatives, whatever alternatives we need to develop to get women into higher education and to get more minority students, minority meaning all kids not white, into higher education and into advanced training, not just to get them to college but to get them into track programs, it's going to lead them into doctoral programs and into teaching in higher education. We've got to have it. Now the plan for getting it done, I do not have the answer but I have said in committee that I think it is time for us to make our wishes known, that whatever needs to be done whether it's aggressive recruitment or whether its new incentives to attract women into non-traditional fields of study. You know, the statistics are not changing. One, two here and there is not sufficient. That tells me we are not doing what we ought to be doing and we've got too many women going on now and finishing degrees for us to have a dearth of women in higher administration. That's the second time I've said that today. [Interviewer's note: She meant that she had also said this at the Board of Governor's meeting right before the interview.]
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Have you taught on the university level before? You said that was one of your potential goals as your next stage of your life.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
No. That's the next decade.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Have you become interested in that after you've been on the UNC Board of Governors and you're seeing the inner workings of higher education?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
No, I think that's probably in my value system from where I come. You know, I guess is what you would call why I have now

Page 20
succeeded. Unless I became a state representative or governor or Congresswoman or something.
LAURA MOORE:
So other possibilities also.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Yeah.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Did we ask already where your parents taught?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
My mother taught in Robeson County. She and my dad first started in Sampson County in the Indian community there back in the 30's and they taught there one year and then they came back to Robeson County. My mother spent all of her teaching career after that in Robeson County. Thirty-nine years, I believe, until she became disabled. My father taught thirty-six years and he taught in Scotland County. Robeson and Scotland.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
What did they teach?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
My mother taught English and she was school librarian and my father just taught elementary education and was principal.
LAURA MOORE:
What was your father's name?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
A.G. Initials A period G period.
LAURA MOORE:
Carter?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
No. Dial.
LAURA MOORE:
I was wondering. This is also off the track, but to go back a little bit, I was thinking about your activities as a feminist. I was wondering if you felt like that was unusual for Indians or for Lumbees in particular or did you have a lot of support in the community for those activities?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
No no no no no no. Women aren't supposed to do those kinds of things. Women are supposed to let the man walk first and the man's supposed to make the decisions and all that kind of stuff. It's still a very traditional male oriented culture with the exception of a few that have broke the gate.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
So you were one of the few Lumbee women that would have been involved in these statewide ERA.
LAURA MOORE:
Why do you think that you got involved with them if that was sort of a hard thing?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Because I was a turtle. And it was my way of coping and seeking the acceptance, the support. It was running away from the problems at hand. That was my outlet to cope with my frustrations.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Did you say that your divorce came during this period when you were in the feminist movement? I was just going to ask if you thought that the feminism contributed to that. You don't have to go into any detail.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
No. That came at the tail end of the civil rights movement. It just came with my having probably become a feminist before I knew what a feminist was.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
What about the civil rights movement? Were there many Lumbees involved with those? Was that different?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Not that many. Here again, following the national trend. You have to understand how the power structure of Robeson County worked during that period of time and how it's always worked to keep Indians and blacks from building coalitions because majority minority populations are a threat. When you see those coalitions developing, the only way you can still control is through drug trafficking.
LAURA MOORE:
So you're seeing that as the new way of control. But in some cases have blacks and Indians in Robeson County been successful building coalitions?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Oh, definitely.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Can you think of any specific examples to demonstrate that?

Page 21
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
They've almost gained the sheriff's race. They've almost gained the sheriff's office. They're electing majority minority boards now. The county commissioners will become a majority minority board. The school board will become a majority minority board. The majority minority coalition was responsible. What was the position Julian Pierce was running for when he was killed? Was it a judgeship? Yeah, it was a judge ship?
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Was this the one in 1988 or so?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Yeah. Judgeship. That's the best way to deal with them now. See, you can't take their land away from them because they don't have it. If they control the boards that control employment, you can't take their jobs from them so then you start dealing with the drugs. Start whittling away at them that way.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
I think we're getting pretty close to the end of our time that we told you we would take up, but we just wondered, in closing, if you had anything you'd like to add, clarify, any ending parting thoughts of any kind?
LAURA MOORE:
Read the book.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
I can't really think of any because I think I've told you some of the things that I feel have guided my life and some of the things that I believe in about the commitment to the sense of responsibility and I guess that's it.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Well thank you very much for your time.
LAURA MOORE:
Thank you.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Well thank you.
END OF INTERVIEW