To the Editor,
The Tribal Council of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina was asked one last time on July 19 to vote to allow a constitutional amendment to be put forth in November. The amendment would simply give Lumbee people an opportunity to decide whether or not to return the Tribal Council to the original one-man, one-vote structure appearing in the Lumbee Constitution.
Only 14 of the 21-member Tribal Council needed to stand up to allow this amendment to be placed on the ballot in November. All 21 Tribal Council members ignored the opportunity and the voice of the Lumbee people. Tribal Council sent forth as their messenger a former Tribal Council member whose voice thundered forth that the Tribal Council is “21 and Done.” While the Tribal Council said little last Thursday evening, they did much. They actually put themselves on the fast track to being done.
Let me share some numbers with you. HUD records that each month the members of the Lumbee Tribal Council are paid $150 for attending the monthly Tribal Council business meeting. These meetings generally last no more than three hours each month. Tribal Council is paid $400 each month for attending the Housing and Finance committee meeting. These meetings combined generally last no more than four hours each month. In total, Tribal Council is paid $550 each month for less than 10 hours of work. During that entire 10 hours the Tribal Council permits the public to speak no more than 15 minutes.
Here’s some more numbers. In the counties of Cumberland, Hoke, Robeson and Scotland, there are 26 county commissioners governing 526,000 people. Why do 57,000 Lumbees — 28,000 living in these four counties — need 21 Tribal Council members for governance?
When divided among the 21, the $300,000 that Tribal Council has already overspent for this program year amounts to $14,285 per Tribal Council member.
That $300,000 should be making safe more homes for tribal members and serving interests of the Lumbee people, such as the North Carolina Indian Cultural Center. Lumbee people, let’s put the numbers in our favor. Let’s reduce the 21 now. Sign the petition circulating in your community to take back your tribal government.
Eric R. Locklear