PEMBROKE — Lumbee Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks on Wednesday presented the annual State of the Tribe address, a presentation in which he revealed his vision for the future of the Lumbee people.
“We are continuing to push forward toward our goal of self-determination,..We take what we have, multiply it and put our people to work,” he said. “… I pledge to continue working with this government to reach our goals and meet the needs of our people.”
Brooks presented his 15-minute vision for the tribe before a crowd of about 150 tribal members who gathered for the event at the Pembroke Boys & Girls Club. The Lumbee Tribe’s constitution requires that the chairman present to tribal members his annual State of the Tribe address the first week of July.
Brooks recognized the importance of the Lumbee Homecoming, calling it an “exciting time of year in the land of the Lumbee.”
“The Lumbee Homecoming resonates in everyone’s heart,” he said. “This is my people. This is my home. This is my culture… Homecoming brings us all together.”
Brooks proceeded to briefly describe projects and programs currently being administered by the tribal government.
The recent purchase of the former N.C. Indian Cultural Center from the state is offering “endless possibilities” to tribal members, Brooks said. He said that plans are to revitalize the property that houses the amphitheater that was used to present the outdoor drama ”Strike at the Wind,” as well as include a golf course, pool, picnic area and lake.
The chairman emphasized commitment by the tribal government to the tribe’s elders and economic development. He said there will soon be a new 50-unit elderly housing complex located not far from the tribal government offices on N.C. 711. Economic development projects, he added, will bring work for a significant number of tribal members.
Economic projects specifically mentioned included StarBurst, a renewable energy cluster project that could create as many as 400 jobs, and the tribe’s move toward 8A certification that will make it easier for the tribe to acquire federal contracts and create hundreds of jobs.
Brooks said that the tribe will continue this year to assist tribal members who qualify for home rehab assistance, mortgage assistance, home replacements, and other housing and financial services. Homes will continue to be built in the four tribe-owned subdivisions, he said.
In addition to housing-related programs, Brooks said in his address that there will continue to be programs to deal with other needs of tribal members. There are programs, he said, that address domestic violence, vocational rehabilitation, and health issues such as cancer and obesity.
Programs for tribal youth and veterans are also high on the tribal government’s list of priorities, according to Brooks.
This year, the tribe will have a total budget of $22.5 million to use for providing all of the its housing and non-housing programs. Of this total, about $19.6 million is federal housing money that can be used only for housing and housing-related programs and services.
Overall, the chairman’s remarks went over well with those who heard the annual address.
“I think his vision probably is on target,” said Lesaundri Hunt, speaker of the Lumbee Tribal Council. “I am sure there are some other things they (administrators) can pursue that he is not able to mention at this time.”
Larry Townsend, a member of the Tribal Council, also gave the chairman high marks for his presentation.
“I support his vision,” Townsend said. “… He set out a good road map.”