PEMBROKE — The Lumbee Tribal Council on Thursday approved amendments to the tribe’s budget, doing so after a lot of back and forth among members.
The amendments reflect an influx of new money.
The 18 members present approved the amended budget on a vote of 14 to 2 with two recusals. Council Speaker Anita Hammonds Blanks and Al Locklear cast the no votes. The two council members who recused themselves are contractors who could bid for certain tribal contracts.
Council member Sharon Hunt questioned the amount of money set aside for the State of the Tribe Address.
“Why is $5,000 on here?” she asked.
Blanks said that the money was requested by the tribe’s administration to promote attendance.
“Is there presents handed out for attendance?” Locklear asked.
Council member LaKishia Sweat said each council district holds a community day event during which attendees are fed. There always has been a dinner during the State of the Address event.
Locklear asked why a tractor that will be used to maintain the Lumbee Cultural Center grounds and garden was bought for $38,000 before the amended budget was approved.
He was told the tractor was bought two weeks ago using money from a $100,000 grant the tribe already has received. Council member Ann Taylor asked why the tractor has a radio and air conditioning.
She was told the 60 horsepower Kubota has an enclosed cab and the package the tractor came with included a radio and air conditioning. The council members also were told the gardening and grounds-keeping implements, such as a tiller and mower, have not been bought.
Locklear questioned why 50 1,200-square-foot homes are being built at $187,000 apiece. He said it would be impossible to sell the homes at that price.
“These are rental homes,” council member Barbara Lowery said.
Finance Committee Chairwoman Janie Oxendine McFarland said the price includes construction items such as building driveways.
“I think we’re setting us up for a failure on these homes,” Locklear said.
The council members extended Tribal Administrator Freda Porter’s contract. It now will end when Tribal Chairman Harvey Godwin Jr.’s term ends on Jan. 10, 2019. If Godwin is re-elected chairman, he must present Porter to the council for consideration of a new contract.
The council members also approved a resolution to protect and preserve an outside area at the Cultural Center in which tribal elders perform traditional religious and cultural ceremonies. The unanimous vote came after six tribal members spoke in support of the proposed resolution and the importance of culture, tradition and the ceremonial area.
Lynn Bruce spoke about a ceremony that involves the Sacred Fire. He spoke of how the fire is built for each ceremony using ashes from the first Sacred Fire, so the fire never truly dies.
“The circle you’re here talking about, the Sacred Fire, is known throughout the United States,” he said.
The council paid tribute to Kernice Locklear, a former councilman. Chairman Godwin and Speaker Blanks led a ceremony during which a proclamation honoring the recently deceased Locklear was presented to his widow, Dorothy Locklear.
“This is an honor for me,” Godwin said.
The proclamation praised Kernice Locklear for being a champion of the Lumbee people and for his many works on behalf of the tribe and its members.
“Thank you for what you have done for my family,” Dorothy Locklear said through her tears. “He loved getting out and working for the Lumbee people. He loved the Lumbee people.”
Certificates were presented to the students from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and their instructors who successfully petitioned the state to have an historical marker erected commemorating the 1958 Battle of Hayes Pond, when the Lumbee people drove the Klu Klux Klan out of Maxton. The marker will be placed at N.C. 130 and Hayes Pond Road, a half mile from the battle site.
Receiving the certificates were students Chapell Brock, Angel Garcia, William Graves, Chris Hunt, Sonya L. Hunt, Brandy N. Jacobs, Kathryn Sonner, Justin Tamburrino, and Horace Sewell El and professors Jamie Martinez and Scott Billingsley.
Robin Gary Cummings, UNCP chancellor, praised the students and instructors for their effort.
“UNCP is working to get more and more involved in the community and the region,” Cummings said.
Cummings urged tribal members to help the university in its outreach programs.
“Get involved,” Cummings said. “UNCP is your university.”
In other business, the council members;
— Heard Pamela DeRensis ask that a day care center for people suffering from dementia be established. She presented information on possible funding sources.
— Heard Jonathan Jacobs ask the council’s help in finding backers for two scholarships he wants to establish for going to UNCP. Jacobs said he his putting up $150 of his own money and wants to find people who will contribute enough money to make each scholarship worth $300. One scholarship would be need-based and the other would be need-based for students who enroll in American Indian Studies.
— Heard a plea from Tuscarora tribe member Sarah Francois to help stop the cultural conflict between the two tribes and promote mutual respect.
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1975 or via email at [email protected]