By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Four EBCI tribal members have been selected to participate in the North Carolina Native Leadership Institute facilitated by the American Indian Center at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Juanita Wilson, Jeremy Wilson, Lana Lambert and Marvel Welch are representing the Tribe in the program designed to build leadership skills and provide valuable contacts and resources for the participants on various issues including tribal governance and tribal self-determination.
“To me, not all leadership is the same,” said Jeremy Wilson. “Some are quiet leaders, some are outspoken leaders; you have to find out what style best fits you.”
The group’s first session was held Nov. 8-10 at the Chestnut Tree in Cherokee. Jeremy Wilson said he was pleased with the outcome of that meeting which was designed as an icebreaker. He said there was a free-flow of ideas and thoughts that is rare at first meetings. “To me, that went really, really well.”
Juanita Wilson said an important part of what the EBCI contingent is gaining is finding out the commonalities among the tribal groups in North Carolina. “I hope to gain education about North Carolina’s state-recognized tribes…and how can we start working together as tribes in North Carolina.”
She added, “Because we are from the only federally-recognized tribe, I wasn’t sure how things would flow, but they were very accepting and accommodating…I didn’t know what to expect, but it was a good camaraderie.”
Juanita Wilson related that some of the common issues facing all tribal groups in North Carolina include health, economic development and education and said that working with them might help to bring out new ideas and concepts for those problems at home. “A goldfish will never grow bigger than its bowl, and we have to grow our bowl. We have to have those interconnections.”
Jeremy Wilson said they are trying to break down the boundaries that exist between tribal groups in the state. “When you do that, you learn how to solve problems instead of just creating drama.”
Juanita Wilson added, “A commonality is that all of us are confounded by our governments. We are just people trying to do good for our communities.”
Lambert said she hopes to bring back more awareness of Native issues to the community. “Challenges are the same in all communities, and we can solve them by going back to our Native ways.”
In networking with members of the other tribal groups, she said she hopes to express to them, “Just being federally-recognized, doesn’t solve the problems. Money doesn’t solve the problems.”
The next session will be held on Jan. 17-19, 2014 in Wilmington and the final session is scheduled for April 4-6, 2014 in Chapel Hill.
Leadership Institute participants must be 21 years of age and a member of state- or federally-recognized tribe. The selection process is on a competitive basis. For more information on the Leadership Institute or to find out how to sign up for the next round, UNC American Indian Center (919) 843-4189 or email email@example.com.