PEMBROKE — Members of the Lumbee Tribal Council were told Thursday that the tribe’s future lies in the hands of its young people.
“We have our future in our hands,” said Ernie Barton, the director of the Pembroke Boys and Girls Club since October. “It’s like moving clay.”
Barton and Joan Young, the tribe’s director of Youth Services, made a brief presentation to the council during the its regular monthly meeting.. They told council members that club programs and activities — cultural, academic, recreational, and even dietary — are having a positive impact on the tribe’s young people. Currently, the tribe’s four Boys and Girls clubs serve about 400 children, they said.
Barton, a former professional wrestler who recently returned to Robeson County, cited several statistics that encouraged him to want to work with the young people. Those statistics included that from 3 to 7 p.m. juvenile crime escalates throughout the world, and that since 2008 Robeson County has been first in the state of North Carolina for juvenile arrests.
“Warriors serve their people,” Barton said. “It’s time for me to serve my people.”
Young said told the council about recent grants, including a $10,000 Smart Girls grant from Unilever that can be used for any club need and an $80,000 grant from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice that pays for four mentors that work with 20 children at each of the four clubs.
Barton said that a program that provides club members a fully nutritional meal each day is a great addition to club offerings.
“I’ve found that the kids have more energy and are better focused,” he said.
In other business, the council on Thursday:
* Heard from Councilman Larry Townsend, chairman of the council’s Constitution and Ordinance Committee, that six ordinances passed late last year and considered to violate a Lumber Supreme Court ruling have been sent back to council committees to be “tweaked.” The revamped ordinances will be brought back to the full council for consideration at a later date, Townsend said.
“I don’t know what the committees will do with these bills. It’s a matter of getting the right verbiage and context,” Townsend said. “These bills will come back to the full council. These bills are definitely not dead.”
* Heard a report from Larece Hunt, one of the tribe’s representatives on the N.C. Commission of Indian Affairs, concerning general business being conducted by the state commission. During his report, Hunt commended tribal officials for moving forward and purchasing from the state the N.C. Indian Cultural Center property located near Maxton.
“That was a good move,” Hunt said. “It is going to take some time (for the center) to become what it used to be … . Keep up with it.”