Helping communities across the state connect their heritage arts and traditions to local development, education, and active citizenship
Hayes Alan Locklear
Robeson County, NC
A multi-talented artist, Hayes Alan Locklear has dedicated his life to tribal customs and Lumbee and Tuscarora traditions. Born in the Union Chapel community in the township of Burnt Swamp in Robeson County, the young Locklear was intrigued by his community’s traditional crafts and healing practices. “My father was sick, and his brother came and made some things out of pine straw and pine tar,” he remembers. “That sparked my interest in finding out more about my family and who they were.”
Locklear grew up in a family that instilled Lumbee pride, and values like hard work and honesty, within him. School, Locklear recalls, was always the center of Indian communities in Robeson County. In the eighth grade, Locklear began interviewing tribal elders about history, art forms, medicine, and politics. He felt it was important to retain this information. It was then that he began to delve fully into traditional Lumbee medicines and crafts. “I wanted other people to feel as proud of my people as I was,” he says.
His pride and history informs his present work as well. He is co-owner of the Squash Blossom, a gift shop and florist in downtown Pembroke. In addition to his practice of traditional medicine, he first learned traditional crafts—weaving, beading—from tribal elder Lucy Jane Oxendine when he was a boy. Locklear makes extensive use of local plants like palmetto, cattail, oak, pine needle, combining the old ways with his own flair and creativity. Though he continued his craft practice at graduate school in Santa Fe, New Mexico, his home and family eventually drew him back to Robeson County.
Locklear also designed the modern Pinecone Patchwork, a beautiful and intricate quilting pattern that has become a symbol of the Lumbee tribe. This modern design, reminiscent of the seed of the longleaf pine, was inspired by traditional quilt patterns. That now-iconic symbol illustrates Locklear’s commitment to his faith and tradition—he always leaves an imperfection in his pieces, a tradition Oxendine taught him as a sign of respect to the Creator. “I do that in all of my artwork,” he says. “I even did it with the Pinecone Patch.” Hayes Alan Locklear is humble about his contributions, but his influence on beauty and design in modern Lumbee and Tuscarora culture cannot be missed.