WASHINGTON, D.C. — History will be made Friday when for the first time members of the Lumbee Tribe will be marching in a presidential inauguration parade representing their tribal nation.
“This is historic,” Lumbee Tribe Chairman Harvey Godwin Jr. said Wednesday. “As far as we know, this is the first time that the Lumbee Tribe has been represented in an inauguration parade.”
The Lumbee are participating in the parade and other weekend events of the Presidential Inauguration at the request of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. The Lumbee are one of just two Native Nations invited to participate in Donald Trump’s inaugural events slated for this weekend.
In addition to the parade, the three-member Lumbee Tribe Culture Team of John Oxendine, Kaya Littleturtle and Reggie Brewer will attend the Native Nations Inaugural Ball at the National Museum of the American Indian, a fundraising event being held to support the National Native American Veterans Memorial. They also will attend the National Prayer Service on Saturday at Washington National Cathedral.
The three Lumbees, who teach culture at the tribe’s Boys and Girls clubs and represent the tribe at pow wows and other events, will be marching in the parade alongside Navajo Codetalkers. Godwin said the trio will be carrying the tribe’s banner and official tribal staff. The staff, he said, was recently made by Brewer.
Godwin said the tribe was contacted about a week and a half ago by an “American Indian adviser to Trump’s campaign” and invited to participate in the president-elect’s inauguration events. The cost of the tribe’s participation is being paid by the Inaugural Committee, he said.
Godwin said the tribe’s participation in the inaugural events is an excellent opportunity for the Lumbee Tribe to showcase the tribe’s culture and make people worldwide aware of the tribe’s existence. He said the opportunity comes at an important time in tribal history, just about a month after the Office of the Solicitor rendered an opinion that reinterprets the Lumbee Act of 1956, allowing a path to federal recognition through the Department of the Interior, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
“In my opinion, this chance to participate in the inaugural is good for the Lumbee Tribe,” said Godwin. “It will help us to be recognized globally.”
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.