LUMBERTON — Members of the Lumbee Tribal Council listened quietly Thursday as two tribal members voiced opposing positions as to whether the 21-member council should be reduced to nine members.
Welford Clark, a former member of the council, urged council members to refrain from taking steps to reduce the council to nine represents while restructuring the current 14 voting districts into only nine.
“There is nothing broken in the tribal government,” he told the council. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
Clark argued that fewer than 21 members on the council would leave many of the smaller Lumbee communities without representation. He also emphasized the need for there to be a large number of tribal leaders to represent the Lumbee when issues arise between federally recognized and unrecognized tribes.
“We need all of the representation we can get,” he said.
Eric Locklear, who call himself a community activist, is pushing for a referendum seeking the creation of nine districts and a council of nine members. He told council members that they should “do the right thing” and take immediate action to pave the way for a special election to be held as soon as possible.
Locklear contends that the council and individual council members are illegally administering the government and acting in violation of the tribe’s constitution.
“Let’s allow our people to return to the one-man, one-vote system that is written into the constitution,” he said.
Under the tribe’s constitution, the council could request the Board of Elections to move ahead with a referendum and give tribal members the chance to vote on the issue. The other path to a referendum is for more than 2,000 tribal members to sign petitions.
The council members made no comments or took any action following the remarks of the two speakers.
During the meeting, held at the First Nation Community Center, two new members were sworn in to fill seats on the Lumbee Supreme Court. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Gary Locklear.
The two new justices are Tina Dicke and Von Locklear.
Dicke has served on the tribe’s administrative court for four years, currently serving as the court’s chief judge. A resident of Hope Mills, she has been employed with Legal Aid in Fayetteville for 20 years.
Locklear, a resident of Prospect, is a Lumberton attorney.
In other business, council members on Thursday:
— Adopted an ordinance granting housing rehabilitation preference to elders 62 and older. The policy will be implemented in accordance with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations, council members said.
— Recognized Mia Baxley, a Purnell Swett High School student, for being accepted into the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. Baxley will enter the school as a junior this fall.
Councilwoman Audrey Hunt said that Baxley was one of 300 students accepted to attend the school out of a total 1,400 applicants.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.