PEMBROKE – The Lumbee Tribal Council on Thursday unanimously approved the creation of a Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources at its regular business meeting held at the Lumbee Tribe Compound.
The department’s primary focus will be to support tribal lands and the more than 400 agricultural producers within the tribal community, said Wendy Moore, chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
“It’s a moment in history,” Moore said.
The chairman of the Lumbee Tribe has formed a farmers’ advisory committee to look at agricultural needs and what the tribal government can do to increase support. The committee made a request to the president for the creation of the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources as well as the adoption of a mission statement.
The mission statement is: “To be stewards of the lands and waters of Lumbee by honoring our ancestors and their traditions, strengthening our existing farming community, but championing Lumbee’s agricultural opportunities and promoting tribal food sovereignty .”
Lowery told the board ahead of the vote that the decision would be a positive step in the right direction.
“I think it’s a progressive step for us as a tribe, to work with the elders, to work with our ranchers, to work with our producers in one of the different areas that they work in here among our people in agriculture … It’s going to be a really positive step for the people who are working so hard to make sure we have food on our table,” Lowery said.
Moore thanked the farmers who made up the committee at the meeting, and the council followed with a standing ovation.
“These are the hands that feed the Lumbee people and we honor you for your commitment,” Moore said.
In other news, Lowery told council members on Thursday that the tribe has entered into a contractual agreement with Salesforce, a company that provides a network that will allow tribal registration and housing services to go digital.
Tribal staff met with three different companies and at least two worked with other tribal nations and one selected received testimonials of their work.
“We’re moving away from the registration platform we’ve used since 2001 and heading into what I call ‘2022,’” Lowery said.
It also allows for seamless communication between departments within the tribe and will enable staff to carry out their work in the field.
“This is a cloud-based digital platform that will allow us to go and be paperless in the next four to five years here at the tribe,” Lowery said.
Lowery said it would be a “big step” for the tribe and it would take some time to transition to the new system, and he may come back to the council in the future to seek a closure on registration or extend the term. registration closed to allow for transition time.
“There will be a hiatus in registrations at some point,” Lowery said.
In other subjects, council amended the budget to make room for an additional $83,663 for the low-income home energy assistance program. With the addition of the funds, which were granted by the US Department of Health and Human Services, the tribe will now be able to offer cooling assistance in addition to heating and water assistance.
“We are delighted with this,” said Pam Hunt, chair of the Lumbee Tribal Council’s finance committee.
Hunt also reiterated that “every penny of that money went into the help desk – nothing went into supplies, salaries.”
Council members also approved a resolution supporting the collection of up-to-date and accurate data on missing and murdered Indigenous women to be entered into national databases.
Also on Thursday, Tribal Administrator Tammy Maynor was recognized for her 20 years of service to the tribe. Maynor is the tribe’s most senior employee, according to Lowery.
“Tammy parted this tribe with distinction, with honor,” Lowery said. “She is a wealth of knowledge.”
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.