Tribe gets voice on veterans board

First Posted: 1/15/2009

PEMBROKE - The Lumbee tribe on Thursday honored one of its own, a military veteran who has been appointed to serve on a national advisory board.
Furnie Lambert Jr. made history when he was appointed in July to the Advisory Committee for the Center of Minority Veterans, according to Harold Hunt, who heads up the tribe's Veterans Service Office. Hunt said Lambert is the first Lumbee to serve on the 15-member board, a branch within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The board focuses on efforts for veterans who are minorities.
&#8220This is the first time a member of a state-recognized tribe has been able to have a seat at the table,” Tribal Chairman Jimmy Goins said. &#8220This is a big deal. This does us proud to have a member of this tribe of that caliber to even be considered. He will make a good representative.”
Lambert, who received a standing ovation, will serve a two-year term. He said he will meet with center officials in November in Washington and the board may meet again next spring in North Carolina.
&#8220I think it's going to be the Fayetteville/Fort Bragg area this time,” Lambert said. &#8220We will find out the issues concerning the veterans and we'll make a report that goes to Congress.”
Established in 1994, the committee consists of veterans who represent various minority groups. The committee advises the Veterans Affairs Secretary and Congress on benefits, health care and services to minority veterans.
&#8220We finally got somebody to speak for us,” Goins said.
Lambert, a Vietnam veteran from Maxton, retired as master gunnery sergeant from the Marine Corps after 28 years. He is the chairman of the tribe's Veterans Affairs Committee and serves on the N.C. Commission of Indian Affairs. He is also chairman of the Lumbee Warriors Association.
Also on Thursday, the council, after discussing the matter in closed session, tabled a decision on what language will be included in a consulting contract. Tribal Speaker Gerald Goolsby said the contract is expected to be offered to former Tribal Administrator Leon Jacobs. Goolsby said, if approved, the tribe would pay Jacobs on an hourly basis for his work to seek federal funding for housing programs.
The request was referred to the Finance Committee.
Jacobs retired in April after working three years with the tribe, and the administrator's job remains vacant.
In other business, the council:
– Learned the National Center of American Indian Enterprise Development plans to open an office at Porter Plaza in Pembroke on Sept. 1. The Arizona non-profit assists Indian enterprises and tribes with business and economic development. The Pembroke office will employ a project director and a management consultant.
– Learned that an event is being planned to re-enact the January 1958 routing of the KKK in Maxton. The event is scheduled for the 50th anniversary of the event.
– Plans to send a letter of accommodation to the Hoke County Native American Organization, which led the effort to change South Hoke Elementary back to its original name - Hawkeye Elementary. Letters will also be sent to Hoke County Public Schools and Board of Commissioners.
– Approved a resolution honoring Pembroke native and Indiana University basketball coach Kelvin Sampson for his testimony on Capitol Hill in support of the tribe gaining federal recognition.
– Approved a resolution of appreciation for Allen Meadors, chancellor of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, who came up with the idea for a Heritage Walk on campus. The names of the first 500 American Indian graduates of what was then called the Croatan Normal School are engraved into a brick walkway in front of Old Main. The Heritage Walk was dedicated on July 7.

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