ROBESON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTW) — The Lumbee Tribal Council is eyeing updates to the historic Maxton Pond, which is considered a source of pride for many in the tribe.

“Maxton Pond has been something near and dear to our hearts for a long time,” Wendy Moore, a member of the Lumbee Tribal Council, said.

Moore said she and countless others grew up hearing the stories from 1958, when the Ku Klux Klan held a rally near Maxton Pond, then called Hayes Pond.

“In the ’50s, when the KKK came in to ‘show us savages what they could do,’” Moore said, “The Natives surrounded the rally. There was only one light, and Mr. Neil Lowry took his rifle and immediately shot that light out.”

She said the locals effectively shut down the rally. James Cole, the Klan’s Grand Wizard, was convicted for inciting a riot. The altercation is known as the Battle of Hayes Pond.

“My people rose up and fought for what they believed in,” she said.

The area has since fallen into disarray. Hurricane Florence destroyed the pond’s dam in 2018 and invasive species moved in.

The pond is now littered with garbage, but for the last four years, volunteers have dedicated their time to cleaning it up.

Moore hopes to construct a recreation area at Maxton Pond. Concepts for the construction were created with the help of Rebecca Asser, a North Carolina State University graduate student.

“I’m so grateful, and this has been so amazing to work with people who care about this place so much and to learn from them,” Asser said.

Asser said there is still a long way to go before the pond begins to look like the renderings she created. Once it is completed, though, Moore hopes it will provide a space to connect with nature and history.

“There is such a need for sacred space,” Moore said. “Even in her worst state, I can find solace here, where I might not be able to get it anywhere else.”