PEMBROKE — The chairman of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina says that plans by the Lumbee Tribal Council to establish a “Tribally Designated Housing Entity” violates the tribe’s constitution.
“In 2001, the tribal membership, after years of dissatisfaction with private non-profits administering tribal programs and services, voted and adopted the Lumbee Constitution that mandates how tribal programs and services are delivered,” Paul Brooks said in a statement that was sent to The Robesonian on Friday. “I am appalled that this Tribal Council would take this unconstitutional action in a power grab with total disregard for our tribal constitution adopted by over 9,000 tribal members.”
At a special meeting on Thursday, 15 of the 20 council members present voted in favor of hiring attorney Brian L. Pierson, an expert on Indian housing issues, to provide information to the council concerning the process of establishing the entity that would allow an independent board — rather than the tribal government — to receive federal housing money and oversee administration of the tribe’s housing programs. Currently, the financial management and administration of housing programs is the responsibility of the tribal chairman and executive branch of the tribal government.
Funding for the attorney’s services would come from federal funds, according to the resolution passed by the council Thursday.
“As your tribal chairman, I am committed to the membership to defend their voice and vote against this act of treason, with total disregard for our history, customs, and rule of law through interpretation and court ruling by our Supreme Court,” Brooks said.
Those council members voting against the resolution hiring the consultant were Terry Campbell, Larry Campbell, Terry Hunt, Lesaundri Hunt and Helen Locklear. Steve Sampson was not at the meeting.
Councilwoman Louise Mitchell said the action taken Thursday was just for “planning.” She said that after the consultant presented all the information about how the entity can be structured, it would be up to council members if they want to establish a housing entity, and if so how it should be structured.
Speaker Pearlean Revels said that the action was not in retaliation for Brooks’ re-election on Nov. 13 as chairman. Brooks and the council have been at odds for months on several issues, including housing.