To the Editor,
The heart and soul of a people are found in how those people treat their old and their young.
Since 2006, the Lumbee Tribal Administration has paid for our tribal elders to participate in statewide activities, events, celebrations, and competitions. In all of these, our Lumbee elders have been outstanding and even award-winning ambassadors.
Recently,under the direction of Paul Brooks and Tony Hunt, the administration told our 40-member Lumbee Tribal Elders’ Choir that the tribe would no longer pay for Lumbee elders to be in the North Carolina Senior Games or any preliminary events. LTA has refused to even continue buying T-shirts for our elders.
Also since 2006, LTA has funded 20 tribal youth to participate in an annual pilgrimage to a Lumbee Cemetery located in Claxton, Ga. This event allows local Lumbee youth to visit the graves of their relatives at a site bearing a historical marker dedicated to Lumbee people. During the annual visit, tribal youth learn history, celebrate Christian and native ceremonies and realize their proud Lumbee legacy.
Under the Brooks/Hunt LTA, these graves will not be annually cleaned and will fall into decay. Under the Brooks/Hunt LTA, our elders will no longer be recognized statewide for creativity, talent, intelligence, charisma and character. Lumbee elders will be represented by a crown cleaning tables in a restaurant.
I remind the Lumbee people that the Brooks/Hunt LTA recently acquired the North Carolina Indian Culture Center. If our elders and our youth are not being allowed to survive and thrive under the LTA, what do you really think is gonna happen to this place called a culture center?
Under the Brooks/Hunt LTA, federal funding for elder programs has been intentionally lost as a result of mismanagement and irresponsible behavior. While LTA lost funding for elder programs, they increased the Elders Department to five employees, including adding some LTA relatives.
The identity of the Lumbee is carried in our elders and handed down to our youth. Acts of evil men and women are destroying that birthright today. Lumbee people, listen and learn today or you will not see tomorrow.
Eric R. Locklear