PEMBROKE — The Lumbee Tribal Council on Thursday wasintroduced to a new community activism group whose goal is to encourage tribal members to learn about important tribal issues and make their government more responsible and accountable to the people.
The Lumbee Community Involvement and Engagement Committee is not part of the tribal government and is open to all Lumbees who are enrolled members of the tribe, according to Eddie Locklear, the group’s vice chairman.
According to Locklear, the primary purposes of the group are to support transparency and accountability of the tribal government; prevent tyranny within the tribal government; and support Chairman Harvey Godwin Jr.’s vision of “Lumbee core values” — belief in God, family, education, hard work, connection to the land, economic development, equitable housing, outreach to Lumbees in other areas, and belief in the power of the people.
Locklear said the group will serve as a forum for tribal members to discuss issues among themselves and also provide a means of communication with Tribal Council members and the chairman. Members of the group will suggest to the council and chairman things that can be done to make the government more responsive to the people, he said.
As structured, the group will consist of a steering committee and eight work teams. The work teams will have the same names as the Tribal Council’s standing committees: Economic Development; Finance;Constitution and Ordinance; Federal Recognition; Ethics; Housing; Health and Human Resources; and Education.
Locklear told The Robesonian after the meeting that the steering committee will include about 21 members and each work team will include four or five members.
‘We want to educate people so that they know what is going on,” Locklear said.
The group was formed in April and is trying to make tribal members aware of its presence.
“We hope to eventually involve hundreds of tribal members,” said Locklear.
The council also heard from Robie Goins, of Prospect, about what he said was the negative impact the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline will have on Robeson County. The 600-mile pipeline, which will transport natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina, will end in Robeson County near Pembroke.
Goins, a civil engineer, is a member of Eco Robeson, a coalition of groups and individuals opposing the pipeline’s development.
“I think there are other sustainable fuels, such as solar and wind, that are other avenues of getting necessary power,” Goins said.
The pipeline construction is estimated to cost about $5 billion, employ a large number of workers during the construction period, and provide natural gas to Eastern North Carolina, where supporters say it is needed for economic development.
Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Electric are working on the project. Dominion Resources, based in Richmond, Va., is building the pipeline and will oversee its operations.
Opponents have expressed concerns about the safety of transporting natural gas by pipeline, dangers to human and animal health, and potential harm to farms, wetlands and other sensitive areas.
Goins said that among his concerns is that the pipeline is being built close to residential areas and wetlands.He also said there is documented evidence that shows there are already enough existing pipelines to transport the amount of natural gas needed by utility companies to generate power.
In other business, the council on Thursday:
— Appointed Councilman Alton Locklear to a five-year term on the N.C. Indian Housing Authority board.
— Amended an existing ordinance to give the chairman only 10 business days after a bill is submitted for his approval to sign it into law or veto it. If the chairman does not act within 10 business days, the council’s action becomes effective.
The ordinance previously gave the chairman 30 days to decide whether to veto council action.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.