Three years ago, in June 2007, Lumbee leaders created a campaign to join more foster parents with Lumbee foster children. Unfortunately, now there are two fewer foster families than there were three years ago when the campaign began, and twice as many children in need of a foster home. According to reporter Mike Hixenbaugh, "Debra Bailey, the foster home coordinator in Robeson County, said there are just 13 Lumbee foster families and more than 60 Lumbee children in foster care."
Two high schools in Robeson county are to receive several million dollars in federal School Improvement Grants. Fairmont High School will receive $3.1 million and Lumberton Senior High School will receive $6 million.
Robeson County has received these grants because, according to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, Robeson County high schools are among the lowest ranking in North Carolina (in the bottom five percent) in terms of state testing and graduation rates.
A recent survey sent to six hundred Lumbee Tribe members not affiliated with the tribal government shows that around seventy-five percent of the respondents agreed that tribal officials and even the tribal chairman should be recalled. Members may want to change their leadership due to a recent involvement between the Tribal Council and a Nevada gaming consultant, Lewin International. Had the contract with Lewin not been dissolved, Lewin would be fully responsible for handling the Lumbee Tribe's lobbying in Washington for full federal recognition.
Jim Lowry, who died this past June at 65, is to have his memory honored for helping to found and bring recognition to the Lumbee Tribe. This Wednesday the North Carolina House made a unanimous decision to do this. Lowry grew up in Robeson County and moved to the Triad. There he owned and managed car dealerships. Rep. Ronnie Sutton, a Lumbee of Robeson County, said that Lowry owned the only dealership of Rolls-Royce cars in three states.
Last week during his State of the Tribe address Purnell Swett, Tribal Chairman of the Lumbee Tribe, made a call for unity to strengthen the Tribe's chance for winning their fight for full federal recognition in Washington. Swett said, "We are at a very critical point in the whole federal recognition process...We must work together."
Not far away, though, around 100 people, "four times as many people as there were in Swett's audience," attended a ceremony honoring Arlinda Locklear former legal counsel for the Lumbee Tribe.
Recent events concerning the Lumbee Tribal Council's flip-flopping from Arlinda Locklear to Lewin International to, at the present time, no legal counsel, seem to be negatively impacting the tribe's chances for full federal recognition via the current bills in Congress.
Lumbee Tribal Chairman Purnell Swett used most of the time for his first State of the Tribe address to discuss the need for investment in the tribe's housing program. At the end of his speech, though, Swett made a call for unity regarding the tribe's fight for full federal recognition in Washington. Swett told his audience, "We are at a very critical point in the whole federal recognition process," thus explaining his call for unity.
Bud Shapard, former director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Pisgah Forest resident, recently wrote a letter to the editor of The Robesonian discussing his opinions of the bill in Congress this year for full federal recognition of the Lumbee Tribe.
The ampitheater where the play 'Strike at the Wind!' is usually performed, which is located just outside the North Carolina Indian Cultural Center, is soon to be torn down, according to property manager Harold Collins.
Says Collins, “The theater’s in bad shape. State inspectors were here in March and I was told it would be cheaper to tear it down and rebuild than to try to make repairs.”
Collins said it would cost about a half million dollars to rebuild, money that is not available.
Although there is no longer a contract between Lewin International and The Lumbee Tribe, the Lumbee Sovereignty Coalition will still push for the recall of tribal council members.
Beth Jacobs, of the Coalition, said that "the way some council members ignored the request of tribal members to terminate the contract is just one example of how tribal officials for years have abused their authority." She also says that members of the council who voted for the contract with Lewin International will be targeted for recall.