Tribal Council picks Blanks as speaker

By: By T.C. Hunter - Managing editor

PEMBROKE — Anita Hammonds Blanks is the new speaker of the Lumbee Tribal Council, taking the position in a split vote Thursday night that was evident throughout meeting at council chairpersons were selected.

Also during the meeting, a councilmember’s position on the board was challenged..

Blanks and Ricky Burnett were the only two people nominated for the position, and Blanks defeated Burnett by a vote of 11 to 10 to take the position previously held by Bobby Oxendine.

Oxendine stepped away from the speaker’s podium immediately after the vote and handed the speaker’s gavel to Blanks.

Blanks stepped to the podium and said, “We’re going to continue with the council’s business.”

The next piece of business was electing a Tribal Council vice chair.

That position went to Bobby Oxendine, who defeated Frank Cooper by an 11-10 vote.

Leaders of the council’s various committees were elected next. Each committee chair, the Tribal Council speaker and the council vice chair, serves for one year.

Jan Lowery retained her position as council secretary. She was the only person nominated and was chosen by acclamation.

Al Locklear was elected parliamentarian, defeating Reginald Oxendine Jr. by a 11-10 vote.

After the vote Councilman Frank Cooper asked if Al Locklear was supposed to be at the meeting.

“Are you supposed to be here?” Al Locklear shot back to Cooper.

“By his own words he said he was going to retire from the council in January,” Cooper said.

Councilwoman Janie Oxendine McFarland replaced Al Locklear as vice chairman in August after the council stripped him of his council leadership positions in July. He lost those positions after the council levied sanctions against him in July.

Locklear’s sanctions were prompted by a misdemeanor battery conviction in Las Vegas while on tribal business. He also was charged with driving while impaired in South Carolina, but court records show he was guilty of the lesser charge of careless operation of a vehicle.

At one point it was thought that Al Locklear resigned from the Tribal Council. Al Locklear denied resigning from the council, but in a letter to the Lumbee Tribe’s Board of Elections he stated that he “intends” to resign in January.

In answer to Cooper’s question, Blanks said Al Locklear was a member of the council with all the rights and privileges that come with being a council member.

“The question is: Is he supposed to be here?” Cooper said.

“Then my answer is yes,” Blanks said.

And the council’s business continued.

Janie Oxendine McFarland was elected council treasurer over LaKishia Sweat by a vote of 14 to seven. McFarland becomes chair of the council’s Finance Committee by virtue of being council treasurer.

Reginald Oxendine Jr. beat out Al Locklear for the post of Constitution and Ordinance Committee chairman. The final vote was 11 to 10.

Jarrod Lowery is the new chairman of the Economic Development Committee. The chairmanship defaulted to Lowery because in December he was picked to serve on the Lumbee Tribe Enterprises board of directors and the Economic Development Committee chair must serve on the LTE board.

The LTE is a Lumbee Tribe owned small business established in May 2011 to provide products and services to industry and government partners.

Cooper was elected chairman of the Education, Culture and Public Relations Committee over Bobby Oxendine by a vote of 11 to 10.

Barbara Lowery was chosen chair of the Ethics Committee. She was the only nominee.

Jarrod Lowery was the only nominee for Federal Recognition Committee chairman, and thus was given the chairmanship.

The chair of the Heath and Human Services Committee went to Jan Lowery, the only nominee.

Ann Taylor beat out Larry Chavis for the position of Housing Committee chair. The final vote was 13 to eight.

The Lumbee Nations Tribal Program chair went to Blanks, by council acclamation.

In other business, council members gave themselves a fourth reason for an excused absence from a council meeting: work

The council approved a revised ordinance on “rules of order and regulations governing the duties of the Tribal Council officers and decorum of Council meetings.” The revised ordinance states council members can be granted an excused absence because of duties related to their private employment. The other three reasons are death of an immediate family member, hospitalization and tribal duties.

Anita Hammonds Blanks Hammonds Blanks

Al Locklear Locklear

By T.C. Hunter

Managing editor

Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at

Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at