To the Editor,
By tribal law, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina Tribal Council must recite the preamble to the Lumbee constitution at each meeting. The preamble speaks of a tribal government that promotes education, culture and social and economic well being. The council has been meeting recently to establish the tribal operating budget for 2012-2013.
These meetings have been well attended by Tribal Council members. The fact, however, that these meetings have been monopolized by two or three Tribal Council members is interesting. This small number of decision-makers supports the effort within the tribal membership to reduce the overall size of the Tribal Council and return it to one-man, one-vote governance.
While they have not supported the platforms of the Lumbee constitution, the budget sessions have been full of emotion, aggression, fear, anxiety, frustration and a large dose of pettiness. The budget sessions have not focused on expanding services to 57,000 tribal members.
The council moved to reduce every departmental budget in the tribe. They favored efforts that reduce elder activities and number of elders participating in such activities. They supported reducing elder and youth services by limiting these services to income-eligible tribal members. Non-income-eligible households would have to pay for services to both our young and old.
The council opposed reorganization of tribal administration that better reflects departmental missions and responsibilities and expands services to tribal members. They spoke against promotion, advancement, retention and cost of living increases to tribal employees. They reduced positions in tribal administration, thus reducing services to tribal members. They are also taking steps to reduce compensation to tribal employees.
The council increased the budget of the Tribal Council by $125,000, including an $85,000 increase in travel. Rather than increase the number of new or rehabilitated homes of 57,000 tribal members, the 21 prefer to use those housing dollars for council travel.
The 21 may say what tribal government should be about but they are not putting the money where their mouths are.
Eric R. Locklear