PEMBROKE – At a scaled-down event, the Lumbee Tribe witnessed a power-swap on Thursday as John Lowery became the seventh man to assume the presidency and Harvey Godwin Jr. said his final farewells.
Making strategic decisions that will positively impact the tribe 100 years from now is what Lowery was talking about after taking the oath of office by District Court Judge Gregory Bullard, surrounded by his wife, Jessica, and children John II and Jenna, the Stage of the Givens Performing Arts Center.
“The decisions we make today will easily affect our children and grandchildren 100 years from now, so strategically I will work with the tribal council to focus on 20 to 50 to 100 years… It takes vision, vision, creativity and the belief that tomorrow will be better than today for our tribal government to be truly strategic, ”said Lowery.
The Lumbee Tribe Dedication Ceremony was held before a small audience including close friends and family, elected officials and the Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. The tribal administration reduced the event at the last minute due to the threat of the spread of the COVID-19 variant Omicron. Hundreds of people were still able to view virtually via the live broadcast, which is available on the Lumbee Tribe’s YouTube channel, website and social media.
A reception will take place at a later date.
Among his list of promises as tribal president, Lowery spoke of modernizing the tribal registration process and launching a campaign to encourage members to register their children as soon as possible to ease the burden of registering for the adulthood.
Removing barriers for older people seeking rehabilitation services by dissolving asset standards received a round of applause from the public.
“Our seniors shouldn’t be penalized for having worked hard all of their lives and have a little property or a little money in the bank,” Lowery said.
Lowery turned to elected officials in the audience as he vowed to pursue a more “aggressive” and “more assertive” approach for the Lumbee tribe to achieve federal recognition that could include lawsuits against the US government .
“I have already started to look at options such as legal moves that might put us in a position to pursue some type of legal action against the United States government,” Lowery said. “We have sought recognition for 134 years. “
“Do you think there is another bill that has been pushed for 34 years? No, just us.
Work on improving veterans services, education, agriculture, and health were also mentioned by Lowery in his remarks.
Lowery served on the Lumbee Tribal Council for three years, representing District 5, which encompasses the Prospect and Wakulla communities, from 2006-2008. During this time, he was elected chair of the Constitution and Ordinance and Federal Recognition committees.
Since joining the Lumbee Tribal Council, Lowery has worked for the National Congress of American Indian in Washington, DC, served in the Office of Tribal Relations at the United States Department of Agriculture, most recently served as director regional operations for the department of North Carolina. of Commerce, and currently serves as the tribal liaison for Carolina Complete Health. Early in his career, Lowery was a youth development specialist and civic education teacher in Robeson County Public Schools.
He lives in Lumberton with his wife, Jessica, who is a public school educator in Robeson County, and their two children.
Lumbee Tribal Council
Lowery’s swearing-in followed the swearing-in of five members of the Lumbee Tribal Council by Judge Bullard.
Persons sworn in include Billy Ray Oxendine, District 1; Jody Bullard, District 4; Wendy Moore, District 5; Nanci Locklear, District 7; and Homer Fields, District 14.
Fields is not new to the board, having served two terms from 2009 to 2015. He is a military veteran and worked for DuPont in various positions for 35 years.
Locklear has 16 years of experience with tribal government. She worked for the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina from 2003 to 2019 in the Housing Department and currently works as a Property Manager for Excel Property Management.
Bullard is currently the premier public safety / EMT instructor for Robeson County Public Schools. In addition, he continues to play a part-time role as a primary care provider in the intensive care transport unit with UNC Health-Southeastern.
Oxendine worked at Southeastern Regional Medical Center for 29 years and at Robeson County Public Schools for 11 and a half years. He is currently retired and helps his wife take care of his in-laws.
Dewey McNeill of District 9 and Bobby Emanuel of District 10 were not present at the swearing-in ceremony.
Moore and McNeill were both re-elected in office. The two were without opposition.
Moore is employed by NV5 CALYX Engineers and Consultants as Utilities Analyst II. His service includes: North Carolina Lumbee Tribal Council (2019 – Present; 2006 – 2009); Lumbee Tribal Constitutional Assembly (1993); and Lumbee Traditional Elders Council (1998 – present).
“Tribal council is not a great job. It is altruistic work. You’re going to be thanking your wives a lot more and you’re going to say a lot more please because there are a lot of sacrifices that come with this position, ”Moore told fellow newly sworn members.
The other five incumbents: Carvicous Barfield, District 1; Tedd Woodell, District 2; Reginald Oxendine, District 7; Marshil Locklear, District 10; and Terry Hunt, of District 14, did not seek re-election, either by choice or because of the maximum term of office.
The outgoing members said goodbye words and received gifts.
During his farewell, Godwin received a Lumbee Warriors Association crest and he and the outgoing tribal council members received a song of honor.
Godwin thanked his family, especially his wife, Sheila, as well as the staff who were present throughout the years.
“I look forward to the next six years and what it will bring,” Godwin said. “I’m very excited about this and I think our Lumbee tribe is going to move forward like they’ve never done before.
“Sacrifice comes with service,” Godwin said. “We talk about you, we criticize you, you can become controversial over any thing.”
The outgoing president called on the tribe members to respect the position even if they disagree with the man chosen for the job.