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PEMBROKE — In 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. bid his final goodbyes.

Making strategic decisions that will positively impact the tribe 100 years from now is what Lowery spoke about after receiving the oath of office from District Court Judge Gregory Bullard, surrounded by his wife, Jessica, and his children John II and Jenna, the Givens Performing Arts Center Stage.

“Decisions we make today easily affect our children and grandchildren 100 years from now, so strategically I will work with Tribal Council to focus on 20-50-100 years down the road…It takes vision, creativity and the belief that tomorrow will be better than today to make our tribal government truly strategic,” Lowery said.

The Lumbee Tribe’s dedication ceremony was held before a limited audience including close friends and family, elected officials and the Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. The Tribal Administration curtailed the event at the last minute due to the threat of spreading the COVID-19 Omicron variant. Hundreds of people could still watch virtually via the live stream, 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 pledges as tribal chairman, Lowery spoke about modernizing the tribal registration process and launching a campaign encouraging members to register their children as soon as possible to ease the burden of registration as adults. .

Removing barriers for older people seeking rehabilitation services by removing asset standards received a round of applause from the public.

“Our seniors shouldn’t be penalized for working hard all their lives and having 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 “assertive” approach to securing federal recognition for the Lumbee tribe that could include legal action against the US government.

“I have already started looking at options such as legal moves that might set us up to pursue some type of legal action against the United States government,” Lowery said. “We have been seeking recognition for 134 years.”

“Do you think there is another bill that has been pushed for 34 years? No, just us.

Working 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. federal recognition.

Since his time with the Lumbee Tribal Council, Lowery has worked for the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C., served in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Tribal Relations, most recently served as director of regional operations for the North Carolina department. of Commerce, and currently serves as the Tribal Liaison for Carolina Complete Health. Early in his career, Lowery was a youth development specialist and civics teacher at Robeson County Public Schools.

He lives in Lumberton with his wife, Jessica, who is an educator at Robeson County Public Schools, 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.

Those 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 at DuPont in various capacities 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. Additionally, he continues in a part-time role as a primary care provider in the Intensive Care Transport Unit with UNC Health-Southeastern.

Oxendine worked at the Southeast Regional Medical Center for 29 years and at Robeson County Public Schools for 11½ years. He is currently retired and helps his wife take care of her 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. The two were unopposed.

Moore is employed at NV5 CALYX Engineers and Consultants as a Utility II Analyst. His service record includes: Tribal Council of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina (2019 – Present; 2006 – 2009); Lumbee Tribal Constitutional Assembly (1993); and Lumbee Traditional Elders Council (since 1998).

“Tribal council is not a glorious job. It is selfless work. You’re going to thank your wives a lot more and you’re going to say a lot more please because there’s a lot of sacrifice that comes with this position,” Moore told his fellow newly sworn members.

The other five holders: Carvicous Barfield, District 1; Tedd Woodell, District 2; Reginald Oxendine, District 7; Marshal Locklear, District 10; and Terry Hunt, District 14, did not seek re-election either by choice or because of term limits.

Outgoing members said farewell words and received gifts.

Godwin’s Farewell

In his farewell, Godwin received a crest from the Lumbee Warriors Association and he and outgoing tribal council members received a song of honor.

Godwin thanked his family, especially his wife, Sheila, as well as the staff who have been there over 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 will move forward like they’ve never moved forward before.

“Sacrifice comes with service,” Godwin said. “You are talked about, you are criticized, you can become controversial on the smallest of things.”

The incumbent president called on the tribesmen to respect the position even if they disagree with the man chosen for the job.

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