PEMBROKE — The Lumbee Supreme Court has agreed with Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks that the Lumbee Tribal Council does not have the authority to create a tribally designated housing entity.
In its ruling written by Chief Justice Gary Locklear and issued today, the court unanimously ruled that the “Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina is barred from creating a tribally designated housing entity subject to an amendment to the Lumbee Constitution allowing the same.
“Further, the Tribal Council is barred from spending tribal (as opposed to self-generated) funds or directing the tribal chairman to spend tribal funds for the exploration of TDHE,” the ruling states. “Finally this court deems itself to have the inherent power to address the conduct of the tribal chairman and the Tribal Council when they appear before this court, thus the chairman is admonished to cooperate with the council with respect to reasonable requests of information and reasonable access to the tribe’s financial records, and the council is admonished to refrain from overreaching during its enactment of the tribal budget.”
A hearing on the issue of whether the Tribal Council has the authority to create the housing entity and use tribal funds to hire a consultant to help establish such an entity was held Jan. 29. Chairman Brooks had challenged the council’s efforts to hire Brian Pierson, a Wisconsin lawyer with experience in Indian housing issues as a consultant.
The chairman’s attorney had argued that the tribe’s constitution gives the executive branch of government the authority to create and administer the tribe’s programs. The attorney for the council countered by arguing that the council’s constitutional authority to enact the tribe’s annual budget gives it the power to allocate and designate money for a specific use, such as a tribally designated housing entity.
Read more on the decision in Wednesday’s print edition of The Robesonian.