PEMBROKE — Harvey Godwin Jr. paused on stage after taking the oath as the new chairman of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.
He stood proudly as the audience rose to their feet and cheered inside the Givens Performing Arts Center. An official for UNCP estimated more than 1,200 attended the event.
Godwin Jr. vowed to build unity among the three branches of government and empower tribal members to evoke positive change throughout all tribal communities.
“We will have a transparent and open government,” Godwin Jr. said. “We will build bridges with other tribes and make us all strong. We must have unity.”
Godwin Jr. and six council members were sworn in during a ceremony at the Givens Performing Arts Center on the campus of UNC-Pembroke.
Godwin won the chairmanship during the November 17 tribal election.
The new council members are LaKishia Spaulding Sweat, District 1; Jonathan Locklear, District 4; Bobby Oxendine, District 5; Dr. Reginald Oxendine, District 7; Janet Locklear, District 10; and Barbara Lowery, District 14.
The outgoing council members are Evan Davenport, Robert Chavis, Terry Collins and Homer Fields.
Chairman Godwin Jr. brings more than 20 years of business and managerial experience to his new role. He is the owner and CEO of Two Hawk Employment Services, LLC and Two Hawk Workforce Services.
He is chairman of the board of directors for the Robeson Community College Foundation Board. He also serves on the board of directors for the Lumber River Workforce Development Board and is chairman of the Julian T. Pierce Memorial Scholarship Fund at UNCP.
Chairman Godwin Jr. gave an inspiring speech which was interrupted by several standing ovations.
“Let’s lift up all people .. If you see our young people going down the wrong path, let’s pick them up and mentor them … we need more mentors for our youth.”
Godwin also promised to revive culture, build on current educational programs and improve the economic status within the tribe by creating jobs with the tribe’s new 8A certification.
Dozens of local state and local dignitaries attended the inauguration, including many representatives from the state’s American Indian tribes and organizations. Representatives from U.S. Reps. Richard Hudson and Richard Burr’s office were also in attendance.