For many Pembroke locals, tattoos are a testament.
Randy Legerson, 20, has two. Both of his tattoos are significant because they relate to his Native ethnicity.
Legerson is both Creek and Lumbee. His two tattoos were designed to pay homage to his town, culture and ancestry, which are dear to his heart. He got them both when he was 18.
On his lower right arm, is a deer whose head is surrounded by sunshine and clouds.
Deer were often hunted by the Creek tribe for food. Their hide was used for clothing and their antlers were made into weapons or building tools.
The Creek tribe always gave thanks to the spirit of the deer they killed. The relationship between the deer and the spear was one of necessity and survival.
The Great Spirit understood their need, so permission for the hunt was granted and praise for the kill was received.
Legerson goes deer hunting with his friends during the winter and has a deer head mounted on his wall at home.
On his upper left arm, Legerson’s second tattoo is the Lumbee tribe symbol with a single flame in the middle of the border that separates each of the four colors: white, red, yellow and black.
To Legerson, this symbolizes the spirit of the Lumbee people that will always burn with pride and hope forever.
“Growing up in Pembroke, my ma, paw, and grandmama told me and my siblings that the spirits of our ancestors was in the land. They told us that they did what they could to make sure that their kids had a sense of who they was,” Legerson said.
Always maintaining a sense of identity was a priority in his childhood and he instills the same values in his children.
Legerson’s father told him that tattoos were a common practice among many Native Americans.
Reasons for tattoos would vary from tribes distinguishing themselves from other tribes or even ceremonial reasons. This motivated him to get them even more.
“The spirit of my people will never die out,” Legerson said.
“After all that happened, you’d think we’d be holding our heads down, but no. That’s how I know that we have a Creator who’s watching over us, that allowed us to persevere till this day,” Legerson said.
Legerson wants more tattoos, but has not decided what else to get that will compliment his first two.