PEMBROKE — Tribal Chairman Harvey Godwin Jr. said Monday he will not sign a resolution endorsing a collaborative agreement between the Lumbee Tribe and the builders of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The resolution was approved Thursday during a called emergency meeting of the Tribal Council. The final vote was nine in favor and eight against, with four council members absent.
The resolution reads in part, “Therefore, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline … and the Lumbee Tribe of NC … agree to work jointly on protecting environmental and cultural resources impacted by pipeline construction and operation. And, to collaborate with the Tribe on its ability to provide safe, livable homeland for its members and residents; and therefore it be finally resolved that the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina’s Tribal Council accepts an agreement to work jointly in the future by meaningful Tribal consultation, as defined by the Tribe, providing job training opportunities available to its membership and detailed monitoring of the discovery and treatment and management of culturally and environmentally sensitive areas and resources along the pipeline construction route (ie graves, artifacts, streams, swamps, trees, and religious or sacred grounds) through enhanced communication and detailed working relationship between the two entities.”
Godwin cites the tribe’s Constitution in his statement issued Monday, saying it grants the “tribal chairperson the power to represent the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina before all other governments and tribunals.
“I am not in agreement with and nor will I sign the proposed agreement between the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”
There has much discussion of the pipeline as it regards the Lumbee Tribe, how it affects the Lumbee people, and the role the tribal government should play in voicing the concerns of the Lumbee people, Godwin said.
“Your elected Tribal officials, myself included, have a responsibility to ensure that the decisions we make reflect the will of the people we are elected to represent and are made with the best interest of the Lumbee people in mind.
“I have and will always continue to believe that our collective voice is one of the strongest tools we can ever have,” Godwin said. “As chairman, I took an oath to uphold the Lumbee way of life and that includes protecting our voice.”
Casting a yes vote for the resolution were Janie McFarland, James B. Hunt, Alton Locklear, Bobby Oxendine, Reginald Oxendine, Jan Lowery, Anita Hammonds Blanks, Janet Locklear and Barbara Lowery. Voting no were Sharon Hunt, Jonathon Locklear, Jarrod Lowery, Alvin Mercer, Corbin Eddings, Frank Cooper, Michael Chavis and Ricky Burnett. Absent were Lakishia Sweat, Larry Chavis, Douglas Locklear and Annie Taylor.
Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas are partners in the project to build a $5 billion pipeline that would carry natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina. The pipeline would end near Pembroke.
“We have great respect for the Lumbee tribe and its history in this region. We have worked very hard to build strong relationships with the tribal leadership based on trust and mutual respect,” Aaron Ruby, Media Relations manager for Dominion Energy, said in a statement. “We value their input, and we have made a sincere effort to address their concerns. We believe this pipeline is going to help build a better economic and environmental future for the region. We also believe it’s important to be sensitive and respectful towards the people whose communities will be impacted. We will continue working cooperatively with the tribal leadership, which we believe is the best way to protect the environment and preserve the region’s history and culture.”
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]