Tribal Council poised to illegally draw new tribal districts

To the Editor,

Our Lumbee Tribal Constitution says: “These districts shall have boundaries as drawn in accordance with the provisions of Article XII section 3 below which boundaries shall be re-drawn within (1) year following the publication of each decennial federal census to maintain equal representation for each tribal member.”

The Tribal Council is attempting to use this to form 21 new tribal districts and to do so before the November elections. This statement only requires that one year after each decennial census that tribal districts be re-drawn to maintain equal representation. We are five years out from the prescribed point in time that Tribal Council has the requirement to review census material. Any action outside one year after the census is unconstitutional.

This statement does not require Lumbee tribal districts to parallel census tracts. It doesn’t even require change in the districts drawn. It states that the districts are to be re-drawn and you can re-draw something to remain as it is.

The tribal districts as they stand today honored historical tribal communities. Busting things up needlessly and illegally by census tract will destroy this Lumbee precedent. Districts 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 12 have multiple representatives because of their size. In order to “maintain equal representation for each tribal member,” these districts should have been divided within themselves. The dividing of multi-member districts into individual districts respects the mandate of the constitution.

I brought the matter of the illegal Tribal Council to light some four years ago. The only reason today that Tribal Council is moving so quickly to redesign itself is to protect the interest of individuals seated on the council. The actions of Tribal Council propose districts to be represented by individuals who were not elected by the district.

At this point in time, I believe it constitutionally compliant to divide multi-member districts and arrive at 21 districts, maintaining equal representation for each tribal member. With the 2020 census, we ought to review the census as prescribed but not create language that is not present in the Constitution.

The council must be prevented from breaking our Constitution and setting Lumbee precedent that can be used against the Lumbee people.

Eric R. Locklear


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