Comments From My Longhouse
If anyone should have reason to believe that any information posted to
the Longhouse page of this Website is in error, please contact the owner of
the website at the Email address listed on the site Contact page. Information found to be in error will be appropriately
corrected in a post to the Longhouse page. However, I reserve the right to
express my opinion on issues that I choose.
Charles Reid AKA Sonny Hyeagle Reid.
07/26/2012: FROM ONE LONGHOUSE TO ANOTHER LONGHOUSE
The article recently placed on the Home page of the Meherrin-Chowanoke Nation website as” Words from the Longhouse” requires, at least one comment.
Who wrote the Article? Apparently it was someone not fully knowledgeable of the events during and after the CourtTrial. I wish to comment at this time only on paragraph eight (8).
The Meherrin group or” Faction” to which the author referred, did participate in the election process. The group, represented by Thomas Lewis, who signed the Consent Order, appointed two members of their group to the Election Board, as required by the Consent Order. One of these two reported to the Election Board that her group or “Faction” Did Not , repeat, DID NOT have any candidates or nominees for the offices of Chief and Council.
This means PARTICIPATION to me. They did not wish to provide candidates for these positions, and that was their choice. They were given an opportunity to do so. They are simply BAD LOSERS.
May I speculate why they didn’t fully participate and provide nominees for the office of Chief and the three council members? Could it be the group realized that the voting members of the Meherrin tribe would not vote for their nominees? Or, was it their intention all along to form a new tribe and call it “Meherrin-Chowanoke Nation”? Did they think they could have the community and public believe that this Meherrin-Chowanoke Nation was the same Meherrin tribe with an amended name change? Think about it. If this was their belief, in my opinion, it is the utmost in dishonesty and bad behavior.
The other paragraphs of the article may receive comments later. Stay tuned.
2/24/2011: WHERE IS THE MONEY ?
This is a comment on an article posted recently on the HOME page of the Meherrintribe.com website and titled "Clarification of tribal roll".
The letter of intent to submit a Petition was sent by the group 119A to the BIA in 1990. About 800 thousand dollars of federal grant money (your tax dollars) was received by group 119A, between 1989 and 2003, to prepare a Petition for Federal acknowledgment. The money has been spent and yet NO petition has been completed and submitted. How much research was done? This is a big secret that is known only to a select few tribal members, which includes Thomas Lewis, the Chairman of the tribal council during the time period that most of the money was received, and Denyce Hall, who was Director of the Petition project. Incidentally, Denyce received a very generous salary and other benefits as project Director.
When the receipt of Federal money stopped in and about 2003, Denyce Hall stopped whatever she was doing as Director of the petition project, and the unknown 119A Petition Research came to a "screeching halt", as far as we know. Apparently, it was all about money and salary and little research. Gloria Long, a secretary to Denyce Hall, was also on salary for the Petition Project and stopped reporting for work on the project once the federal money ended..
The bottom line is that after about thirteen years of research, not much was done in preparation of a Petition for Federal recognition, while spending about three quarters of a million dollars of Federal grant money, received for that purpose . Very little was produced, in an organized fashion, to file for Federal Recognition. If there was research recorded, it was not made available to several members of the tribal council and to the general body of the tribe,
One might ask why wasn’t some kind of a petition completed and submitted to the BIA for federal recognition after all of those years of federal financial help? Didn’t the project staff of 119A know that after a Petition is submitted, that changes and additional information can be added, removed or changed until the Petition is given active status ?
The ANA (administration for Native Americans) which provided the petition grant money, was promised on several grant applications that a petition for federal acknowledgment would be submitted at the end of the grant year, but no petition was submitted. The federal money was spent, but obviously promises meant nothing to group 119A. How was this money spent? Where is the research ? Where is the recorded results of this 13 year Research effort? Why wasn’t a petition submitted to the BIA? Those are Big Money questions.
It is worth mentioning that the 119A staff knew as early as 1998 , if not earlier, that group 119B had submitted a Petition to the BIA for Federal Recognition. Why wasn’t some objection put forward by 119A at that time? Why wasn’t an effort made by 119A , at that time or later, to combine research efforts with 119B? Was it because group 119A had no intention of filing a Petition for federal recognition while receiving federal money for that purpose? Was there a question of competence on the part of the 119A Petition staff and the Chairman of the council, who signed the annual applications for petition research grant money? Was there too much focus on other tribal office matters by the paid Petition Research Staff?? These are just some of the interesting questions that might be asked.
The spokesperson for group 119A, or whoever wrote the article that now appears on the meherrintribe.com website, states that it takes many years of research to complete a Petition for Federal recognition and that the group is following the BIA Protocol. Does the protocol require a change of the tribe’s name? This is precisely what the leadership of group 119A attempted to secretly do , in violation of the tribe’s Constitution and Bylaws. They tried unsuccessfully to change the name from the Meherrin tribe to the Meherrin-Chowanoke tribe. Does this make any sense if they were serious about a petition and any protocol? Wouldn’t this action have extended and complicated their research efforts?? How can any group, serious about conducting research of this kind even consider such an incompetent an irresponsible decision ?
Finally, group 119a should realize that the longest delay occurs after the Petition for Federal acknowledgement is submitted to the BIA. Historically, it has taken 15 to 25 years or even longer for a Petition to be given active status for review by the Office of Federal Acknowledgment. What has group 119A been waiting for, “An Invasion From Mars” ?? The biggest question is: Why is group 119A desperately trying to sabotage the honest effort of group 119B to obtain Federal recognition for the members of the Meherrin tribe ? Remember that Meherrin group 119B hasn’t received any Federal money to conduct its petition research.
P.S. Speaking of the Clarification of a roll, the member supporters of group 119A should ask to view the official tribal ROLL. Many may be disappointed to learn that they have been illegally REMOVED. It is my understanding that many members may have been removed from the official tribal ROLL without reason or notification. Is the 119A tribal roll a well guarded secret? I am told that it is not available for viewing by members of the tribe, is this true?
06/23/2010: Turkey Feathers
I have often wondered where Powwow dancers got their Regalia ideas for colorful tail feathers. After viewing the above picture of a couple of Turkeys, I am satisfied that it had something to do with these beautiful birds. Even some movements are very similar. In fact, the one to the rear in the above picture reminds me of a local dancer that I have seen at a Meherrin Powwow. A dancer that many of you may know. Think about it !!!
03/30/2009: REMOVALS FROM TRIBAL ROLL
Where is the Meherrin tribal membership Roll? Why isn’t it available to the entire Meherrin membership for viewing?? Are there those who are desperately trying to hide what a few have been doing secretly for many years??
Are Thomas and his group still trying to advance the theory that the tribe should be small in number, in order to achieve Federal recognition, even if it requires the removal of members from the Rolls and the denial of membership to qualified applicants?? Isn’t all of this action in violation of the tribe’s Bylaws? Doesn’t this alone justify his past removal as Chief of the Meherrin tribe? Why doesn’t he accept his terrible mistakes and removal from tribal office? Isn’t it time for him and his “loyal rubber stamp illegal council” to leave tribal office in the best interest of the tribe??
Thomas has been violating the tribal Bylaws for so long and so frequently that it has become a daily need of his. In my opinion, he has no respect for rules and fair play. Hasn’t this kind of behavior contributed heavily to the lack of progress by the tribe?
03/15/2009: Meherrin Tribe Group At Fort Bragg Army base
A group of Meherrins from the MEHERRIN Indian tribe, in Regalia and led by Meherrin Chief Wayne Brown, participated in the Wormack Medical Center’s 2008 Native American Heritage Month Celebration at Fort Bragg Army Base near Fayetteville, North Carolina. From left to right are Sharron Scala, Kelly Brown, Patrina Brown, Maxine Brown, Daphne Dunn, Belinda Rudici, US Army Col. Nadia Y. West, Johnny Dunn, Darryl McAuly, John Caudill, Chief Wayne Brown, Mike Dunn, Sylvia Caudill, Stanley Betancourt and Dorothy McAuly. The individual in Army uniform and on the extreme right is unidentified.
Col. West presented a Plaque, including a medal, to Chief Brown in recognition of the Meherrin tribes’s participation in the Medical Center’s Native American Heritage Celebration.
It should be noted that Chief Wayne Brown reorganized the Meherrin tribe in 1974 and became its first Chief after the reorganization.
A “job well done” by this Meherrin group in support of our Military.
CLICK HERE to view an article that appeared in the February 17, 2009 edition of the” Roanoke-Chowannews-Herald” newspaper. Besure to use the Zoom function in the PDF file for easy reading.
02/27/2009: BUDGETS, BUDGETS, and MEHERRIN BUDGETS
The Meherrin Indian tribe’s Constitution and Bylaws adopted, in 1996, empowers the Tribal Council to “submit all operating budgets to the General Body for approval and submit an annual line item budget of the general fund to the Genaral Body for approval”. This is stated in Article V, Section 1 (H) of the Bylaws.
Why didn’t the Council under the Chairmanship of Thomas Lewis share the tribal operating budgets with the membership of the General Body from 1996 to 2004? He was Chairman of the Council during this period, wasn’t he?
The Council is on record as having approved budgets during his time of Council Chairmanship, because operating budgets were submitted in annual applications to the ANA (Administration for Native Americans) for federal grant money. These applications, containing proposed budgets were signed by Thomas Lewis and other Council members.
Why was Thomas so secretive about these tribal budgets and the federal grant money received by the tribe?
Did he receive some assistance in developing the budgets from others that were associated with the disbursement of funds included in these budgets? Is this the reason he chose not to share this process with the General Body of the Meherrin tribe?
To my knowledge and to the good memory of many dedicated Meherrins, who attended General Body meetings from 1996 to 2004, NO tribal operating or line item budgets or budgets of any kind were presented to the General Body by the Council, or its Chairman Thomas Lewis, for discussion or approval. To my knowledge, the General Body of the tribe knew nothing about tribal budgets associated with the tribal Council.
This may account substantially for the absence of progress by the meherrin Indian tribe during the period that THOMAS LEWIS was Chairman of the tribal council.
The tribal budgets submitted with the applications for our federal grant dollars can be obtained through the federal FOIA. I have some!! :)
01/14/2009: COMMENT ON A NC NEWS AND OBSERVER NEWSPAPER ARTICLE ABOUT THE MEHERRIN TRIBE
AN article written for the North Carolina News and Observer Newspaper, about the Meherrin Indian Tribe, recently appeared on the Internet. I noticed the article while surfing the Internet and found it very interesting and was motivated to make a few comments. CLICK HERE to view the Article.
Thomas Lewis is quoted in the article as stating that “they feel like they more or less want to take the tribe over and do away with everybody that’s claiming to be a Meherrin Indian”. I assume he is referring to those Meherrins that support Chief Brown. ISN’T THIS PRECISELY WHAT HE, THOMAS LEWIS, HAS DONE as Chairman of the Council and as Chief of the tribe for ten years or longer? How dare him to accuse others of his unethical and Irresponsible behavior while holding tribal office. He has refused many times to make available the tribal membership roll for viewing by tribal members. Was this action taken to hide the membership removal of dedicated and legitimate Meherrins? I will let you decide.
The article mentions federal recognition. Tribes must apply for it! Thomas Lewis and his supporters have spent thousands and thousands of your tax dollars in Federal grant money over the years while promising to submit a Petition for federal recognition, but they have not kept their promise. How were your tax dollars spent? Who knows?? The Ledgers of income and expenses for the project haven’t been available to tribal members for viewing. Who will Thomas blame for this failure??
Thomas Lewis and his loyal supporters think that changing the name of the Meherrin tribe will solve the problems of achieving federal recognition. If they can’t meet the requirements based on Meherrin history and heritage, isn’t it rather stupid to think by adding another colonial tribe with a different culture, heritage and colonial language to the tribe’s name will improve the chances?? They just don’t GET IT!! Incidentally the Meherrin tribe has an Iroquois history and the Chowan tribe or Chowanoke was Algonquin. These are two different cultures and histories. But Thomas apparently doesn’t understand.
I might mention that Chief Brown and his Meherrin group submitted a Petition for federal recognition in 1995 and has not received any federal grant money.
By the way, I found the quotes from Forest Hazel very interesting and informative. How was he and others able to justify State recognition for the Occaneechi tribe? Was he giving the reasons why the NC commission on Indian Affairs initially denied State recognition to the Occaneechi Band?? Or, is he supporting the Meherrin Name change?
I wish to applaud Senator Ed Jones for allowing the Meherrin “name change” bill to “die” in the NC legislature. This was, in my opinion, an excellent decision.
Finally, do you believe that Greg Richardson, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Commission on Indian Affairs, is sincere in his quoted preference statement at the end of the article?????
12/09/2008: THE HEADDRESS
The Headdress Mystery Continues
What is that on the tree limb to the right of the eagles?? Is that the Hat that was in the lake with the advancing Alligators?? There was something in the water underneath the Hat, and the eagles must have retrieved the Hat after the "Gators" finished their fun. Do you think, whatever it was, ESCAPED?? In any event, it appears that the Eagles removed the Hat from the water and took it to their nesting tree, because it was recognized as an Algonquin Headdress and they knew that it should not be a part of Iroquois Regalia.
11/26/2008: A LITTLE HUMOR
May There Be An Injection of Humor
The picture below shows a Headdress, of some kind, on top of the water in a lake or pond. Does any one recognize the location of the site or the Headdress?? If there is a human body beneath the Hat, it is in immediate danger. There are alligators closing in and appear to be searching for a special MEAL. Wow!Look at the big "Gator" on the edge of the water, which will probably slide in and join the Fun. This looks like it could be a permanent REMOVAL!!
11/05/2008: The 2008 Meherrin Powwow
2008 Meherrin Powwow Success.
Was the 2008 Meherrin POWWOW a Success, as indicated by an announcement on the Web site, which is sponsored by the Thomas Lewis Splinter group of the Meherrin tribe? This group planned and executed the activities of this Powwow, which from all reports, was far from being successful compared to Powwows of the past.
This group of Meherrins is well known for inflating and exaggerating the success of events that it has sponsored or been a major part of in the past. Does this description of the 2008 Powwow fall in the same category? Do they have facts to support this “success story” as the web announcement indicates?
What criteria or “yardstick” did they use in deciding that the 2008 Powwow was a “SUCCESS”?
Was the decision based simply on the fact that the event was planned and did take place?? From reports that came my way, this may be the realistic reason for describing the event a “success".
The NEWS is that a much smaller group of school children showed up for “Children’s Day” on Friday, the first day of the Powwow. This is compared to previous Powwows. On Saturday, which is normally the big attendance day for the event, only about 20 to 30 or so people were reported to have been observed. By all standards this would constitute a very, very small attendance. Besides, I am told that many of those may have been from the Thomas Lewis group of supporters. Reports also indicate the final day of the Powwow, on Sunday, was basically a repeat of Saturday. Additionally, the word is that the Meherrin Museum was closed (locked up) and not available for viewing. Does this sound like a SUCCESSFUL POWWOW??
Where were the Drum groups, where was the entertainment of past Powwows, where was the dancing competition? Why weren’t there more cultural activities? Isn’t one of the major purposes of the Powwow, to teach the culture and history of the tribe to those that attend?? What happened?
Was this due to poor planning or to a “careless attitude?
Three people that paid to attend on Saturday and arrived about 4 PM described the Powwow “as like a dead area with no music or entertainment and no activity among the small group of vendors”. They reported that they were disappointed and departed shortly afterwards. I was told that the Museum wasn’t even open. But the Powwow was described as a SUCCESS on the Meherrin group’s web site…….Meherrintribe.com.
The chains were removed from the entrances at the Meherrin tribal grounds, but only a few people entered during the 2008 Powwow. May a real “SUCCESS” be achieved in 2009?
09/16/2008: Change to Message on Chief
The earlier message attributed to Thomas Lewis has been changed!
After my comment on the initial September message that appeared on the Chief's page of the Meherrintribe.com website, a new message article was posted to that page which deleted the following Paragraph from the initial posted message.
"Also the tribe has been engaged with a legal battle that threatens the sovereignty of all recognized tribes in North Carolina. As many of you know, there is a splinter faction of Meherrin and non-Meherrin individuals who have engaged in the filing of lawsuits that attempt to undermine not only the sovereignty of Indian Tribes, but also attack the history, customs, and existence of the recognized tribes in North Carolina. Which would also have impact on Indian groups around the nation. We have diligently defended these positions and have worked closely with the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs on these, and other related matters."
May I assume that those associated with the initial posted message finally realized the errors involved in most of the above paragraph text, and also didn't wish to reveal the group's close relationship with the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs?
09/08/2008: COMMENT ON A MEHERRIN WEBSITE MESSAGE
A Comment on a recent message attributed to Thomas Lewis and placed on the “Chiefs Page” of the meherrintribe.com website.
Please remember that Thomas Lewis was removed from the office of Chief of the Meherrin tribe on November 10, 2007, in accordance with the tribal bylaws. However, he has refused to accept the removal action. Instead, he along with his supporters, declared that there are two tribes or groups within the Meherrin tribe and that his removal was unacceptable. He still lingers on with a small splinter following.
The article states “the tribe has been engaged with a legal battle that threatens the sovereignty of all recognized tribes in North Carolina”. Does Thomas really know the meaning of Sovereignty as it applies to Indian tribes. If he does, then he should know that only Federal recognized Indian tribes in this great country are given a level of sovereignty. The Meherrin tribe IS NOT FEDERAL RECOGNIZED. It is only State recognized and to my knowledge, the State of NC has never extended any level of State sovereignty to non federally recognized tribes.The only tribe in NC with sovereignty, as far as I know, is the Eastern Band Of Cherokees in western NC, which is Federal recognized. I think Thomas is very confused and should stop spreading this false information.
Yes, there is a “legal battle” pending in the NC Court system involving two Meherrin groups. One group, headed by Thomas Lewis that has consistently violated the tribe’s Bylaws and a second group, of Meherrins, that has made every effort to honor and abide by the tribe’s Bylaws. It should only impact the Meherrin tribe. It will hopefully decide and rule on internal issues within the Meherrin tribe. The article on the Meherrin website will lead one to think otherwise.
There is a reference to “Non-Meherrin individuals who have engaged in the filing of lawsuits”. This is completely false and the authors of this article know better. They are simply trying to mislead those who may have an interest in the affairs of this tribe and 501c3 non profit organization. These individuals will do and say anything to justify their behavior.
The article indicates that Thomas and his supporters “have worked closely with the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs on these and other related matters”. It has been my understanding that the Commission refrains from getting involved in the internal affairs of North Carolina State recognized Indian tribes. Has there been a recent change in this policy?
The article also attempts to justify the placement of chains and no trespassing signs at all entrances to the tribal property citing insurance liabilities. This is the first time in many years for this required action. Is this action designed to prevent access to the tribal grounds by the other group, of Meherrins, that is involved in the internal issues of the tribe?? Is Thomas Lewis brother’s Insurance agency still providing the Insurance policy for the property? There are many questions that could be asked concerning this recent event.
Finally we are told that this 501c3 Non profit Corporation, which is being guided presently by a member that was removed from the office of chief, is in the process of receiving funds to keep the tribal office open. The source of the funds is unknown, but we have a good idea how the money will be spent and who will get whatever jobs that might become available.
The Meherrin tribe is presently in an awful mess and only time will tell if improvement is in its future.
02/18/2008: COMMENT ON A FORMER MEHERRIN CHIEF
This is in response to a recent article posted to the Meherrin website”Meherrintribe.com” and attributed to Thomas N. Lewis. The article appeared on the “Message from the Chief” page.
Since the Meherrin tribe is a 501C3 nonprofit organization, I feel it my right, privilege and responsibility, as a former member of the tribe to comment.
Do you know that Thomas N. Lewis was removed from the office of the Chief of the Meherrin tribe at a Tribal General Body meeting on November 10, 2007? This action was in accordance with the tribal Bylaws and involved tribal members from both tribal groups that he describes as 119A and 119B. He chaired the General Body meeting that adopted the motion to remove him and there were no objections raised by him at that meeting. It required him to immediately vacate the office of tribal Chief.
Did he comply? NO. Instead, he subsequently, along with members of the tribal council, decided to declare the removal action invalid and to remain as tribal Chief. To further violate the tribal Bylaws, the Chairman of the council refused to assume the office of the tribal Chief, as the Acting Chief, as required by the tribal Bylaws. These two, so called leaders, conspired to violate the removal action taken by the General body.
Do you know that at the meeting at which Thomas Lewis was removed from office, the General body members agreed, without exception and without objection from Thomas Lewis, to have the next general Body meeting at the Meherrin Native American Church in Winton, NC on January 12, 2008 at 2PM ?? But instead, Thomas and his supporters decided to form a SPLINTER GROUP and meet at the Elks Shrine Lodge in Winton, NC on the same date at the same time. This meeting was by invitation only, I am told, with a documented list of members that could attend and was enforced by an off-duty member of a local police force. I am told that two Meherrin tribal members attempted to attend the meeting and could not because they weren’t on the list of members that were allowed to attend.Was this action in the best interest of the tribe ??
It is obvious that this strategy was designed to violate the tribal Bylaws and prevent the removal of Thomas Lewis from office. How can anyone and his close supporters profess to move forward in the achievement of tribal goals in an environment of deceit and open abuse of organizational rules??
Incidentally, there were about fifty members present at the ELKs Shrine meeting and it wasn’t the largest member meeting ever ,as Thomas would like for you to believe. The meeting was a closed one and represented a group that prefers to be known as 119A within the Meherrin tribe. The meeting scheduled at the Meherrin Church was held as agreed upon at the previous General Body meeting and was attended by over one hundred and fifty tribal members despite the absence of the Splinter group that chose to meet at the ELKs Shrine. The meeting at the Church was open to all tribal members.
How can Thomas speak of “successes to come”?? There have been no tribal successes which I can recall, under his leadership. If there are any, it would be nice to share them with the tribal members and the public. There have been many promises over the years but no concrete achievements, except the land mortgage pay off and this was done by member contributions, which included a generous gift from me. I must admit that there were successes in the mismanagement of funds. Why not explain these ??
Why does the article mention that members and others continue to “spread gossip” and “harmful words” ?? What I have heard is more in the line of truth and some people don’t like to hear the truth. They always find it convenient to avoid it. As for calling the tribal office or contacting the “chairman” for the “truth”, you will only be given what they wish you to know. Is it the truth or isn’t it?
Why aren’t the financial Ledgers for grant money available to tribal members for viewing? Why isn’t the tribal roster or roll available for inspection? Why have members been illegally removed from the rolls? . Why have the tribal Bylaws continued to be violated? Why have there been illegal attempts to change the name of the tribe?? These are a few questions , among others, that might be asked if one is able to reach someone at the tribal office.
I keep hearing and reading the expression “we are moving on”. Is it in the direction of more deceit, mismanagement and violations of the bylaws? If so, many believe that this will be consistent with past behavior of those that pretend to lead the group that prefer to be known as group 119A.
12/30/2007: MEHERRIN INDIAN ISSUES
I must comment on the most recent Dec. 2007 announcement posted to the Meherrin tribe web site.
The group responsible for the article continues to refer to its group being the "legitimate Meherrin Indian tribe 119A with the current and elected governing body". This is, in my opinion, a misstatement, that isn't completely accurate, and reveals a misinterpretation and a flawed understanding of the tribe's Constitution, and Bylaws as well as the filing system of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for Indian Groups submitting a letter of Intent to petition for federal recognition.
The "current and elected governing body" was elected by the general enrolled membership of the tribe, as provided by the Bylaws, and which includes both groups that are frequently referred to as 119A and 119B. This governing Body is suppose to represent the entire membership, no matter how many groups may exist within the tribe.
The present, and still in effect, 1996 Bylaws, provide for more than one legitimate group within the tribe. Article XI (Click here to view) of the Meherrin Bylaws provides for such groups and permits a group to establish its own rules and regulations. Therefore, the group referred to as a "splinter faction" is an inaccurate reference. This group is simply one that has separated from those that are associated with the letter of intent to petition by group 119A, in order to file a petition for Federal recognition for the entire Meherrin tribe. This petition action was taken by the petition 119B group, because those members associated with the 119A letter of intent to petition, have spent hundreds of thousands of Federal dollars since 1990 to prepare a petition, but apparently have had little interest in filing one for Federal recognition, even though promises were made in applications for Federal money. It may be suggested that these two groups are similar to "clans" in an Indian tribe.
Now how should one interpret the designations 119A and 119B?
These are simply labels in a BIA filing system designed to identify a group that has sent a letter of intent to petition for federal acknowledgement to the BIA. This means that one group in the Meherrin tribe is labeled as 119A because it sent a letter of intent to petition in 1990, but has NOT yet petitioned for federal recognition, and the second group in the Meherrin tribe sent a letter of intent to petition in 1995 followed by a petition for recognition. Remember that group 119A has acknowledged the right of any group to petition for federal recognition and so has the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
So why does the article on the Meherrin web site refer to group 119B as a "splinter group" and 119A as being the legitimate Meherrin group represented by "the current and elected governing body of the Meherrin tribe"? Didn't members of group 119B vote in the elections for these elected officials, including the tribal Chief? Or Is it because members of group 119B along with some members of group 119A voted successfully at the November 2007 General Body meeting to remove the tribal Chief?? Incidentally, he still refuses to step down!!!!
12/04/2007: THOMAS LEWIS REFUSES TO STEP DOWN
Thomas N. Lewis was legally removed as chief of the Meherrin Indian tribe by a two thirds (2/3) majority vote of tribal members attending a General Body meeting of the tribe on November 10, 2007. BUT he refuses to "GIVE UP" the position of chief in violation of the tribe's Constitution and Bylaws !!!!
WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS????...."GOD"???
Check this web site for updates.
11/13/2007: Thomas Lewis REMOVED
Thomas Lewis is OUT as chief of the Meherrin Indian Tribe!! He was voted from office at the November 10, 2007 General Body Membership meeting, in accordance with the Tribal Bylaws.
More news will follow about this event!!!!
10/27/2007: CORRECTION to 10/13/2007 Comment Below
There was a Meherrin Tribe General Body meeting in July 2007. But, this was the only and last meeting of the General Body since the one held in January 2007. Remember that the tribe's Bylaws require a monthly meeting of the Gereral membership.
Who is responsible for the scheduling of this monthly meeting?? THE CHIEF OF THE TRIBE, according to the Bylaws, is the responsible person. Why is he still violating the Bylaws that were adopted in 1996??
Incidentally, it was at the July 2007 General Body meeting when it was announced that Terry Hall had been "sworn in" for another four (4) year term on the Tribal Council. The Big Problem here is that there had been NO LEGAL ELECTION for this council seat, as provided in and required by the 1996 Bylaws for this tribe and 501c3 organization. Remember that the council also serves as the Board of Directors for this 501c3 tribal organization. Does this appointment event and violation of the tribe's Bylaws affect the tribe's 501c3 status?
My advice to the chief of the tribe is to schedule and hold General Body meetings as required by the 1996 tribal Bylaws. This will provide an opportunity for interested tribal members to ask questions, suggest ideas and be involved in the beneficial operation of the tribe, as was intended by the adoption of the 1996 Bylaws.
10/13/2007: MEHERRIN TRIBE GENERAL BODY MEETINGS
What happened to the Meherrin tribe General Body meetings?? I have been told that there hasn’t been a schedule meeting since January 2007. This means that there have been nine (9) months since the last meeting.
The leaders, especially the chief of this 501c3 tribal organization, should be reminded of Article X - Section 1 of the 1996 tribal Bylaws, which states “Business meetings of the General Body shall be held monthly”.
Is the absence of these meetings a tactic of the leaders to avoid questions from the general membership concerning their administrative behavior, or is it intended to eliminate or severely reduce input from the organizational general membership in business matters that concern this 501c3 non-profit tribe??
No matter what else may be true, this behavior is unfair to the membership and grossly in violation of the 1996 tribal Bylaws for this Indian tribe. The membership should be highly concerned and take action to correct this undemocratic attitude of those responsible.
(If there is an error in the number of unscheduled General Body meetings, as indicated
above, please provide the correct number with supported information, and an
appropriate correction will be posted to this web site. Please submit any correction
09/13/2007: A TRIBUTE TO MRS. ARLENE MELTON BROWN
By courtesy of the publisher of the Roanoke-Chowan Hearld Newspaper, located in Ahoskie, NC, I am providing the article written by Cal Bryant, a journalist for the Newspaper, and posted to the Newspaper’s web site on September 13, 2007.
The article describes a well deserved tribute to Mrs. Arlene Melton Brown upon her untimely and sad passing, and I thought it appropriate to share it with my visitors. May she complete her journey to her final peaceful resting place.
Brown’s legacy can never be buried
By Cal Bryant
WINTON - A voice so strong and passionate for Native Americans is now silent, but not before Arlene Melton Brown was responsible for restoring pride in the Meherrin Indians.
It was only fitting that Brown’s death came Tuesday, Sept. 4, a mere 24 hours after Labor Day….thus ending her labor of love to see the Meherrins recognized as a full-fledged Indian tribe by the North Carolina government.
It was on June 19, 1986 when Brown addressed the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs as well as other state officials representing the Department of Natural Resources and Community Development and the Department of the Administration. She gave a history of her heritage and lineage to Sally M. Lewis, a full-blooded Meherrin Indian. Following her speech, a motion was made and passed accepting the Meherrin Tribe descendents of Sallie M. Lewis for state recognition.
According to her son, Chief Wayne Brown, the compassionate plea for recognition marked the first time in 250 years that Meherrin government officials had direct contact with the governor’s office.
“Her funeral and burial were tribute to her statesmanship,” Chief Brown said. “It was a ceremony that was to her people.”
The Sept. 8 funeral was indeed a tribute to a long and fruitful life, one that saw Brown rise to the title of Senior Princess of the Meherrin Tribe and Chief Woman of the Snipe Clan. It began with her children and grandchildren assembling outside the Meherrin Native American Indian Church in downtown Winton. There, Rev. William Reid, bearing a ceremonial peace pipe, offered a Native American prayer. Meanwhile, the Eastern Bull Drummers softly filled the air with a sacred song.
Those observing the brief ceremony included two state officials n District 4 Senator Ed Jones and District 5 Representative Annie Mobley. At the ensuing funeral held at the Garrett’s Funeral Home Chapel, both state officials took an active role in paying tribute to Brown as Rep. Mobley read Governor Mike Easley’s letter of condolence while Senator Jones offered condolences on behalf of the North Carolina General Assembly.
Officials from the State of Virginia were also in attendance. Chief Bass offered his condolence from the Nansemond Tribe. Paige Reid Archer, former Miss Senior Meherrin Princess, presented Daffie Brown Woldman with a turtle bag in honor of her mother from Chief Kenneth F. Adams of the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe of Virginia. The turtle bag was placed with Arlene Brown in preparation of her journey to the after life.
Additionally, Archer read the burial rights of the passing of a Chief Woman under the Iroquois Great Law of Peace. According to Chief Brown, this marked the first time in over 500 years that the Great Law of Peace was used during a funeral service.
Letters of condolence were also read from the Brunswick County (Va.) government and from Susan Morrison of the Meherrin Regional Library in Brunswick County.
“From the list of dignitaries present and those who sent letters of condolence, it is evident that my mother was truly revered as statesman of the tribe,” Chief Brown said. “She was truly a Great Chief Woman, a title quite befitting.”
Chief Brown went on to say that his mother leaves a great legacy.
“Her stay upon this earth was long and fruitful,” he noted. “She was a pillar of the community; strong, compassionate and a loving mother to her children and to all who knew her. She will truly be missed by all who met and knew her.”
Born May 1, 1926 to Clinton and Nollie Reid Melton, Arlene later married Joseph Mackanear Brown.
She is survived by seven sons (Joseph, Wayne, Donald, Kelly, Arnold, Marcus and Patrick) and six daughters (Kitty, Patricia, Patrina, Sharon, Sylvia and Denise) along with three sisters, two brothers, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
End of Article.
31/July/2007: THE TRUTH OF THE MEHERRIN CHIEF
The text quoted below was included in a message posted to the Meherrin tribe website dated July 20, 2007. It was posted on the “Message From the Chief Page”.
“ I hope to routinely post messages of this nature due to incorrect and false information being posted by individuals or wrong information intentionally passed on by persons hostile to the tribe itself. For instance, I was recently advised that the Meherrin were thought to be receiving remains from the Smithsonian Institute, this is false, and posted by someone unaware of the facts of what the tribe is attempting to accomplish. More on that subject will follow on other messages as we may soon have something great to share with you.”
If the message to which it refers contains false information, and is distorting the facts, then why was the "Smithsonian Institution" documented, recorded and accepted in the Meherrin tribe General Body minutes, dated Dec 09, 2006, as being the source of the Indian Remains? Click here to view the meetings minutes.
This is a clear example of the TRUTH from this Chief. The “left hand does not know what the right hand is doing”. My advice is for the Chief to learn and speak the TRUTH. What can we expect the truth to be in the future??
07/26/2007: A Meherrin Tribal Crisis
An article(Click here) was posted to the Meherrin website on July 24, 2007 concerning two groups within the Meherrin tribe that are seeking Federal recognition. The article was posted by the group that refers to its self as Group“A”, because it was the first group within the Meherrin tribe to file a letter of intent to Petition for Federal acknowledgement with the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs). This occurred in 1990. The BIA identifies this group as 119A and the second as 119B, since it filed its letter of intent later in 1995. This second group is identified in the posted article as group “B”. I will use the designations as listed in the article for consistency. Group “A” also operates the website where the referenced article is posted.
First of all, Group “A” has only pretended to be serious about Federal recognition while having spent lots of federal grant money to prepare a petition and has yet to file one. Where as Group “B” has received no grant money, but has managed to file a petition and is high on the BIA list to be considered for Federal recognition.
Obviously this matter is of great concern to Group”A”, but this group has done nothing to advance its position toward completing a petition, while spending the federal grant money received for that purpose. It’s failure to prepare and file a petition should have been the concern of this group’s leadership for many years, but it wasn’t and still isn’t. This group only stands on the sidelines and offers criticism. Group “A” can only blame its leadership for its past and present inefficiency. The referenced website article is a clear example of its destructive criticism and feeble justification for its leadership behavior.
The article mentions democracy in the first paragraph and that “everyone is entitled to a position”, but it is well known that when a tribal member attempts to exercise that right, the member is quickly ridiculed and even illegally suspended from tribal activities by the leadership on unfounded charges. There is no democracy in this group and this is one of the reasons for the Group “A” failures.
The article mentions “Sally Lewis” and her descendants. It must be emphasized that NC State recognition was given to this tribe based on the descendants of her. It follows that Group “B” has an inherent and reasonable right to petition for Federal recognition even if the leaders of Group “A” should disagree. Incidentally, the Chief of Group “A”, Thomas Lewis, and other members of this group are descendants of Sally Lewis and are among those listed on the membership role in the petition submitted by Group “B” to the BIA for federal recognition. These members have chosen to play the Federal Recognition “game” both ways.
A technical assistance letter, pertaining to Group “B” was noted in the article. When did Group “A” make it available to the General Body and why was it in Group’s “A” possession?? Did Group”A” obtain it through the “Freedom of Information Act” or through some other source.??
What is interesting and appalling is that Group “A” is predicting that the BIA will deny Federal recognition to Group”B”. Since when did this Group become qualified to reach such a decision?? Group “A” has been unable to prepare an acceptable petition for Federal Recognition since 1989.
According to the Group “A” website article, a meeting will be scheduled “to gather its members”. The purpose is not clear at the moment. However, may I advise those tribal members to seriously evaluate this Group’s leadership behavior and the lack of regard for its Bylaws. This group is a “Bylaws violating machine”.
Now what about this Chowanoke business? Now, it all comes forth. Group”A” readily admits that the reason it launched an illegal campaign to change the name of the Meherrin tribe to include the Chowanoke Nation, is because its leadership predicts a denial of the Group “B” petition, and Group “A” needs a new name in order to file a subsequent petition for federal acknowledgement. This group never ceases to amaze me. This is very unhealthy, rediculous thinking, and reveals the intelligence level of the Group “A” leadership.
If this Group “A” can’t complete a Petition and meet the requirements
of federal regulation 25 CFR Part 83.7, using the historical Meherrin tribe as the tribe from which its members are descended, how can it expect to enhance its chances for a successful petition by adding the “Chowanoke Nation” to the tribal name?? This doesn’t make much sense to anyone but this Group’s leadership. It shows a clear absence of the ability to understand the BIA requirements for Federal Acknowledgement. The leaders of Group”A”, and those in the group, that may be working to prepare a petition to submit to the BIA, are largely responsible for this huge deficiency. However, the leaders of this Group are now desperate, and who knows what actions they have in mind to take next. We must wait and see what unfolds.
Isn’t it interesting that whoever wrote the article posted to the Meherrin website, listed four (5) other tribes in NC that haven’t submitted petitions to the BIA, after having sent letters of intent to petition?? Is Group “A” attempting to justify its failure to provide a petition for federal recognition?? I wonder if either of the tribes listed, received as much Federal grant money as the Meherrin Group “A” received, to prepare a Petition??
Do you realize that Group “A” received over $400,000.00 from 1997 to 2003 in federal grant money, and about another $400,000.00 from 1989 to 1996. This was a lot of federal tax payer money to prepare a petition for federal acknowledgement. Did the other tribes listed by Group “A” in the website article receive similar amounts from the federal government to prepare a Petition ?? Since comparisons have been used by Group “A”, I feel this is a fair question.
It also might be noted that those in control of this money paid Forest Hazel of the Occaneechi tribe $250.00 to research the Robins/Robbins surname. Also a Group”A” tribal member stated at the June, 2003 General Body meeting that he had received money on three occasions for petition research, but didn’t share the amount of money he was given. I attended the meeting. What happened to all of this federal grant money?? I am told that a ledger with receipts and disbursements was maintained, but General Body members of the tribe were not permitted to see it. There are members that were refused many times to view that ledger. Was this a democratic way of conducting business within Group “A” ?? Was this money properly directed toward the preparation of a petition for federal recognition?? Perhaps if the money had been used wisely and efficiently, Group “A” might have completed a petition to send to the BIA. Instead, this group only offers excuses.
By the way, the article posted to the Meherrin website, Indicates that about 50 names were included in the membership roll that was a part of the Group”B” petition for federal recognition. This number is in error. I am told that there are more than 200 names on the membership list. Could Group”A” reveal its source for this petition information??
Also it must be remembered that the Robins/Robbins members of Group “A” may have indicated on the initial applications for membership to the Meherrin tribe that they were Meherrin descendants and not Chowanoke. This is reflected on a tribal membership list that was provided to the NC Commission of Indian Affairs in 1984. It is interesting that these members have suddenly chosen to be known as Chowanokes.
My final thoughts are that Group “A” doesn’t really want to pursue Federal recognition. This Group will be satisfied with a new name and a possible stolen NC State recognition, if it should occur, and will be happy ever after.
I predict that Group “A” will continue to violate its tribal Bylaws, reduce the names on the tribal roll, and announce a much smaller enrolled membership. This Group needs to replace its leadership and soon.
This is George. His mate died earlier this year and he is now courting another young lady. This lady was responsible for the death of George's previous mate. The two females engaged in an aerial battle and Martha, George's first mate, lost the fight. Now George is courting the winner. This was a tragic event in this triangle of love and battle. The winner of the aerial battle was successful in claiming her man. So is the story in the life of Bald Eagles. Does this remind you of something in the life of man?
03/23/2007: MEHERRIN TRIBE ASKING FOR MORE TAX-PAYER DOLLARS
I read the article that was posted on the Meherrin Indian Web Site recently concerning “new initiatives” announced by the tribe.
This is a pathetic group that doesn’t seem to learn from mistakes and leaders that don’t seem to realize that others will recognize and see through their nonsense tactics.
This is nothing more than the same old story by the same old group of tribal leaders. Their message is…give us more of the tax-payer dollars, because we have learned from experience how to mismanage and waste it.
This time, however, the tribal leaders apparently think that the State of NC will be as generous with its grant dollars as other government sources have been in the past.
If this group really wants to be self sufficient, as it advertises, it should stop begging for grant money and start doing something about its own economic development. After all, the group has been “begging” for and wasting money for many years. It is time for a change in behavior.
02/18/2007: A MEHERRIN GROUP GOES TO RALEIGH, NC TO MEET WITH STATE SENATOR
A Meherrin Indian group went to Raleigh, North Carolina on Feb 7, 2007 to attend a meeting with the State Senator that represents the district in which the tribe is located. According to the Meherrin tribe web site, the group included the tribe’s Chief, Thomas Lewis, George Lewis (his brother); Douglas Patterson and some other Meherrin members.
Senator Ed Jones represents the 4th District in NC, and was recently appointed to replace the former (and now deceased) Senator Holloman who previously represented this District.
The tribal delegation didn’t waste much time in arranging this meeting with the new Senator Ed Jones. What were the real reasons and motivation for the sudden visit? The tribal representatives indicated it was to discuss “items of interest to the Meherrin people that included economic opportunities, Federal Recognition, North Carolina Native American Burial Laws, and proposed future legislation.”
However, my guess is that the visit was designed to receive more "hard-earned NC tax payer dollars" to mismanage. I’m sure that Senator Jones will recognize this insincere effort by the visiting group and respond accordingly. I truly hope so.
Did they tell the Senator that after all of these years, since 1996 and probably earlier, that the only “economic opportunity pursued by the tribe has been the annual tribe’s Powwow, which has been badly mismanaged in many ways?
Did they tell the Senator that current and past tribal leaders of this group have talked about Federal Recognition for many years and spent close to a million dollars of Federal grant funds to prepare a petition to submit to the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) for Federal Acknowledgement consideration, AND STILL HAVEN’T COMPLETED A PETITION TO SUBMIT?? But they spent the Federal money!!! This isn't a good track record for managing money.
Did they tell the Senator that tribal leaders have even talked about placing a Casino on the tribal grounds upon Federal Recognition without having submitted a Petition for such recognition.
I dislike being repetitive, but it is necesary to emphasize that this group represents those who promised year after year to complete a Petition for Federal Recognition, while using federal grant funds, but never kept the PROMISE. Instead, they mismanaged the money, and now they are searching for more funds to misuse. This group is identified by the BIA as 119A. And by the way, Chief Thomas Lewis, in the visiting group that met with Senator Ed Jones, was the tribe's contact person for the Federal grant money for many of those years prior to the ending of the Federal grants in 2003. I bet this wasn't brought to the Senator's attention.
Did they tell the Senator that another group within the tribe submitted a Petition for Federal Recognition to the BIA in 1995 and will be up for active consideration soon?? This group is identified by the BIA as 119B, and never received any Federal grant money to prepare a Petition. This may be one of the reasons for the recent tribal “name change” by the group that met with Senator Jones.
The 119B group more accurately represents the Meherrin tribe that was given NC State recognition in 1986. The group that met with Senator Jones and who recently changed its name to the “Meherrin-Chowanoke Nation” is not the Indian tribe that received State recognition in 1986 and should NOT BE so recognized. DID THEY TELL THE SENATOR THIS??
Did the Meherrin group tell the Senator that about thirteen (13) members, including the Chief, changed the name of the Tribe from the “Meherrin Indian tribe” to the “Meherrin-Chowanoke Nation” at the December 9, 2006 tribal meeting without notifying the general membership of their plans? This was, incidentally, another violation of the tribe's Bylaws
Did they tell the Senator about the current serious concern among many members of the tribe about this “name change” decision? I bet they didn’t.
Did they tell the Senator that the REMAINS excavated in Hertford County sometime in the past and given to the Meherrin tribe by the Smithsonian Museum for reburial, may not be Meherrin Indian remains?? I was told that the remains were being held by the Federal government for the Tuscarora Nation. How do we know that the remains are Meherrin?? Were the remains carbon dated?? Was DNA involved?? Was this discussed with the Senator?? Is this group trying to arrange for an appropriation of State funds for the reburial of these remains?? Is this why the group wanted to see the Senator??
Incidentally, it is my understanding that excavated Indian remains held by a Federal agency are only to be given to a Federal recognized tribe. The Meherrin tribe,Ooops, Meherrin-Chowanoke Nation IS NOT FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED. Then, how did this tribe manage to obtain the Remains??
The group that met with Senator Jones is quoted in the web site article as having said, “Our roles are to do what is best for the tribe”. Unfortunately, the current Chief and other members of the leadership have done the very opposite by changing the name of the tribe, preventing members of the tribe from voting in elections, conducting elections illegally, mismanaging funds, illegally closing the membership rolls, illegally suspending members, allowing honorary members and non-members to participate in business meetings, and frequently violating the tribe’s Bylaws. How can this Leadership behavior be justified and accepted as being “best for the tribe”?? No wonder there has been no economic progress, no sense of family, and no successful direction in this tribe for many years.
To top it off, after the group had its visit with Senator Jones, it had a “social meeting” with Greg Richardson, Director of the NC Commission on Indian Affairs, according to the Meherrin web site article. Afterwards, they returned to the tribal area and the tribal Chief cancelled the tribe’s General Body meetings for February and March without an explanation. The notification was only posted to the tribe’s web site and only one day prior to the scheduled monthly meeting of February 10, 2007.
Was this cancellation action in the best interest of the Tribe??? Is this consistent with the claim that “We Are Family”?? Does this cancellation action suggest that the tribe’s leadership is really seeking new ideas and encouraging participation from the general membership of the tribe??
I can only say that HYPOCRISY seems to flourish among many Leaders of this 501c3 nonprofit tribe, and certainly with some of the Meherrin group that attended the meeting with Senator Ed Jones, especially the tribal Chief.
02/09/2007: The NEXT MOVE of the Meherrin Tribe Leadership!!!
The Meherrin Leadership changes The Tribe's Name and Cancels General Body Meetings.
On December 09, 2006 approximately 13 members of the tribe, at a General body meeting, changed the name of the tribe to “Meherrin-Chowanoke Nation” with a Yea-Nay voice vote, even though one member of the tribal Council voted Nay.
At the following January 13, 2007 General Body meeting there were more members in attendance and the Chief was asked to explain WHY the Name Change. He did not give an answer, but stated that a presentation would be given at the next February 10, 2007 General body meeting to explain the name change. Guess What??
The February and March 2007 General Body meetings were cancelled two days before the date of the February meeting with a notification on the tribe’s web site. I am told that there was no other official notification of the cancellation. Incidentally, most members of the tribe don’t have access to the internet and those who do, can’t be expected to view the web site daily for meeting cancellations.
But what is clear here, the tribal Chief, the tribal Council and their few supporters wanted to avoid face to face questions from members concerning the urgency to change the name of the tribe and the true reasons for doing it. So the tribal Chief cancelled the next two General Body meetings.
This is a technique used many times before by the Meherrin tribal leadership to avoid explanations for its behavior and decisions. It is hoped by this action, that over a period of two months, interest in seeking answers and explanations for leadership actions will DISSIPATE. This is the way this tribe does business!!
Remember that this tribe is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and is only State recognized. It is expected to conduct business in accordance with its Bylaws and any existing requirements due to its nonprofit and State charted status.
I contend that the manner in which the tribe’s name was changed and the cancellation of the General Body meetings without due cause, and sufficient notification, may be in violation of the tribe’s Bylaws. It’s that simple. Interested members of this organization should give this their consideration.
A few days ago an article titled “Initiatives from Chief Lewis” was posted to the Meherrin web site. I will provide comments soon, on my web site, concerning information in that article. Stay Tuned.
02/03/2007: WHAT WILL THEY DO NEXT??
THIS IS AN UPDATE ON THE MEHERRIN TRIBE "NAME CHANGE".
I was told that approximately thirteen members attending the Meherrin tribe’s December 9, 2006 General Body meeting, voted to change the name of the tribe from the Meherrin Indian tribe to the Meherrin-Chowanoke Nation. The vote was a “yea, nay” voice vote by the few members assembled at the meeting. Click here to view the minutes of that “historical meeting”.
The Turtle has been used to represent the Meherrin tribe for a long time, and I think the cartoon image to the right displays the concern of those Meherrins that were not present at that meeting. They are angry and disturbed at those few members who felt it necessary, for whatever reasons, to vote on such an important issue without informing the more than 900 member’s of the Meherrin tribe concerning the “name change” agenda item.
This action by a chosen few was not only in violation of the tribe’s Bylaws but was done without sufficient cause, and without proper notification to the general membership of the tribe, which incidentally, is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
The Meherrin Indian tribe was given recognition by the State of North Carolina in 1986 on the recommendation of the NC Commission for Indian Affairs based on the descendants of Sally M. Lewis, who was accepted by the commission as a full blood MEHERRIN Indian. What impacts will this “NAME CHANGE” have on State recognition??
I am told that the tribal name change has been placed on the agenda for the next meeting of the NC Commission for Indian Affairs. Since this tribe was not previously given State recognition based on Choanoke (Chowan tribe) descendants, the Commission should carefully consider the legitimacy of the “name change” issue, with regards to State recognition.
Incidentally, can it be proven that some members of the Meherrin tribe are actually descended from the colonial Chowan tribe and how many are enrolled in the Meherrin tribe?? What was their claim to Indian heritage on their initial applications for membership in the Meherrin tribe?? These are interesting questions to be answered, as well as the motivations for claims to a different Indian heritage.
01/23/2007: THE EAGLE IS PISSED!!!
A selected few recently changed the name of the Meherrin Indian Tribe and the Eagle is Pissed as well as many enrolled members of the Tribe.
01/09/2007: Meherrin Indian tribe XMAS dinner/meeting fails again
The following statement appeared on the 2007 January Announcement page of the Meherrin Tribe Web Site: “We had a great celebration at our Christmas dinner/meeting. If you missed it, shame on you”
My question is, what did “WE” celebrate?? I have heard that less that twenty (20) members of the tribe attended. The tribe, I understand, has over 900 enrolled members. Certainly the small “turn out” was not a cause for celebration. I think it was a cause for “Serious Concern”.
Then, what was celebrated?? Was it the unwise idea proposed at the meeting to change the name of the tribe to the “Meherrin-Chowan (Chowanoke) tribe?? Who are the Chowan tribe descendants in the Meherrin tribe?? What is the purpose of the “name change”?? Please let the tribal members know about it, and it might be wise to even let the Public in on the reasons for the proposed tribe “name change”, since the tribe is a 501C3 non profit organization.
If I recall correctly, the dinner/meeting in December 2006 was a repeat performance of the one in 2005…..a failure and not something to describe as a “great celebration”.
A lack of member participation and interest in tribal activities might suggest ineffective tribal leadership and a desire on the part of the membership to make some changes. If this is true, I can think of no better time for tribal members to organize and exercise their right to vote on issues that will improve the tribe.
01/05/2007: The Meherrin Indian tribe and Powwow Money
The Meherrin Indian tribe located in NC is still a 501C3 Non- Profit Incorporated organization and must account for the management of money received and legitimate expenses.
The tribe conducted a Powwow during the last weekend of October 2006 and has failed,as of this date, to provide a financial report of the event to the tribal members. Why the delay???
The tribal General Body meeting scheduled for November 2006 was cancelled and at the following December 2006 meeting the members were told that there were expenses to be paid and that the financial report for the event wasn't available. These excuses and tactics have been used for previous Powwow events in the hope that tribal members would lose interest and not ask questions about financial accountability and profits realized from the money making affair.
What happens to the net profit from this event?? This is a reasonable question to ask, not only from members of the non-profit tribe, but also from the general public, since the tribe is a 501C3 organization.
Some questions that might be asked are: How much grant money was received from the NC Arts Council and how was it used in conducting the Powwow?? How much money was received from all of those advertisements listed in the Powwow program book?? What was the cost for advertising in the Powwow program book...for a quarter page, half page and full page, etc?? NUCOR has always paid $ 500.00 for its full, color page. What were the Kitchen profits and Gate receipts?? How much was collected from the Vendors?? What was the profit from the sale of program books, T-shirts, caps etc?? If there was a "Student Day" on the Friday of the Powwow, how much money was earned from their attendance?? A fee has always been received by the tribe for each student attending the Powwow on "Students Day". Were all expenses properly reported and reasonable?? Who were involved in collecting the money and was it properly processed and reported?? Were procedures implemented to insure maximum accountability for money collected and expenses paid?? I am sure there are additional questions that can be asked concerning the flow of money for this event.
Incidentally, is the special bank account for Powwow money at Southern Bank still open?? If so,whose name is on the account?? In past years there was talk of such an account, and it was always in violation of the tribe's Bylaws. The money should have been put in the tribe's General Account as required by the Tribal Bylaws.
Let's hope that a detailed financial report will be forthcoming soon for the Meherrin tribe 2006 Powwow. When the opportunity arrives, concerned tribal members and those who monitor 501C3 organizations, should exercise their right to ask questions about the flow and management of the tribe's Powwow money and insist on accountability.
11/20/2006: Certificate of Appreciation at 2006 Meherrin Powwow
I would like to comment on the Certificate of Appreciation that was presented to Thomas Lewis, Chief of the Meherrin tribe, by Mr. Gregory Richardson at the 2006 Meherrin tribe Powwow. Mr. Richardson is the Director of the North Carolina Commission for Indian Affairs. The award was presented on behalf of the Commission as part of a honor ceremony.
Mr. Richardson, who is also a member of the Haliwa-Sapony tribe, has stated to me : “Chief Lewis was publicly recognized for his general service to the Indian tribe and community as the Chief Elected Official of the tribe and was not recognized for any specific accomplishment or activity”. He also stated: “The commission does not evaluate the performance of tribal leaders, the fact that he is the sitting Chief of the tribe is sufficient for him to receive a certificate from the commission”.
I find a problem with this kind of recognition from a State Agency. It appears to me that if a State Official or State Commission wishes to honor a recipient for services rendered to his community and Indian tribe, some research should be done to determine what services were rendered and what benefits were derived, if any, as a result of the services provided. How can a service provided be appreciated if you have no knowledge of the quality of the service or whether or not a quality service was even rendered?? There should be some criteria other than those mentioned above to support a certificate of appreciation.
Honoring an individual with a Certificate of Appreciation for services to his community simply because the recipient is an elected official of an organization or group is not meaningful and can be considered “blind Recognition”. This was an unwise decision and action, in my opinion, by the Commission and its Director.
If Chief Lewis has provided any quality service (or service at all) to the Meherrin tribal community and if his contributions and guidance to the Meherrin Indian tribe are worthy of special recognition, please provide me with some specifics and I will post it to this site.
11/10/2006: Bird for Xmas Dinner
I was e-mailed this Video/Audio recently and have decided to share it with my visitors. I got a big laugh from it and hope you do too. Let me know what you think. Click here to view and hear. Sonny.
08/30/2006: Meherrin Tribe Trying To Claim Indian Remains
A group from the present day Meherrin Indian tribe met with the Executive Director of the NCCIA (North Carolina Commission on Indian Affairs) , Gregory Richardson and others on June 19, 2006 to discuss the return of “Native American Indian remains" to the Meherrin tribe. Click here to see a summary of the meeting that appeared on the Announcement page of the Meherrin tribe Web site in July 2006.
What is interesting is that this meeting occurred on the 20th Anniversary of the day that the NCCIA recommended this tribe for NC State recognition. It is the opinion of some that the recommendation was a very questionable and generous decision, based on evidence available to the Commission. This is a reasonable subject for debate.
My question is : Does the present day Meherrin tribe qualify, as an Indian group, to request and receive the remains of those that may have been determined to belong to Meherrin Indians descended from the earlier Meherrin Indian tribe, for the purpose of reinterment, as is suggested in the meeting summary, that was posted to its Web site??
Assuming, that the remains in question, are those of Meherrin Indians, can the present day Meherrin tribe prove to the satisfaction of the Federal Government that this Indian group is descended from the colonial-era Meherrin Indian tribe, and therefore eligible for, and authorized to receive the remains? I think the tribe will encounter great difficulty, based on documents to which I have access and information of which I am aware. I don’t believe the Federal government will accept “hearsay” or hearsay evidence pertaining to this issue.
Furthermore, I understand that the remains in question are being held for the Tuscarora Nation by the Federal Government. Are the remains, those of a previous Meherrin tribe, or those of the federally recognized Tuscarora Nation? This is an important determination.
It will be interesting to see how this Indian Remains issue is resolved. The article posted on the Meherrin Web site stated that “we are seeking a resolution to this situation that will meet the satisfaction of all parties involved”.
Finally, it is obvious to me that one of the reasons for the meeting with the NCCIA on June 19, 2006 was to obtain the endorsement and support of the Commission in this “Remains” matter. I am curious to know if the Meherrin group succeeded. I posed this question, via e-mail, to Mr. Gregory Richardson, Executive Director of the NCCIA, several weeks ago, but he hasn’t responded.
07/06/2006: The Archer Family Reunion
THE ARCHER REUNION
A Reunion for the descendants of George Thomas Archer was held at the home of Lorraine Archer Lau in Archertown, North Carolina on July 1, 2006. Many descendants from several States of the good old USA attended and it was a grand affair. Relatives gathered in a beautifully landscaped area and exchanged greetings and told stories of the past and present, while enjoying a fun day with lots of good food, music, and entertainment.
I met relatives that I had known in the past but had not seen for a long time. I was introduced to many young kinfolk that I had not had the pleasure of meeting before, and I chatted with those whom I had seen more recently. It was a delightful experience and one that I will remember and cherish for a long time. Everyone present appeared to have a great time among the relatives and the non-relative guests.
It was Reunion Time, and an event of immense enjoyment. I’m sure the next one will be even greater. I can hardly wait!!!
I want to thank Darlene, Lorraine Archer Lau’s daughter, who worked so hard with the planning and preparation for this First Archer Reunion. May I also congratulate those that served in a supporting role to ensure that the family reunion would be a successful event.
Some photos that I took during the family reunion will be posted in the Special Events album of the Photo Gallery on this Website. Please navigate to and view the album.
05/05/2006: Do You know This....???? #24
The Meherrin Tribe Chief is acting like a DICTATOR.
It is my understanding that the Meherrin Tribe is having a shortage of volunteers to “groom the tribal grounds”, that is, to join the grass cutting detail. The chief has threatened to set up a schedule and DRAFT members to cut grass and relocate benches. Since when did the members of this Tribe become his SLAVES?? Is he familiar with the Tribal Bylaws and understands his given authority?? I can remember reading an interview that this present chief gave to a reporter, from the Virginian Pilot Newspaper, at a recent Meherrin Pow Pow, in which he said “the chief of the Meherrin Tribe is only a ceremonial position”. He was chairman of the Council at the time (I have a copy of the newspaper article). Apparently, “the duties”, in his mind, have changed since he became chief!!!!
03/23/2006: Let us read to understand!!!
A BOOK RECOMMENDED FOR READING
This Web Site is not supported by Advertisements. However, I am suggesting to all of my visitors, who may be interested in learning about the tribalization efforts, and the cultural identity search of Native American Indian community groups in eastern areas of North Carolina, to read a recently published book titled “KEEPING THE CIRCLE”.
This book was written by Christopher Arris Oakley, an assistant professor of History at East Carolina University, and published in 2005 by the University of Nebraska Press. It covers a period of research from 1885 to 2004.
I promise you a learning experience about these community groups and why and how they proceeded to identify with the heritage and culture of pre -colonial and colonial-era Indian Tribes. In my opinion, the primary goal of tribalism was to achieve Federal Acknowledgement, in order to receive associated benefits in the areas of housing, education and health. It was and still is the thought that if an organized group or Tribe could prove it descended from a colonial Indian Tribe that possessed Treaty and Claim rights, the chance of receiving Federal recognition from the present U.S. government would be promising.
I invite all who read this book to reach his or her own opinion, based on the information presented. I feel the author has done an excellent job in describing these ethnic Indian groups, the problems encountered during organization and the reasons for many of their actions.
02/26/2006: Do You know That....???? #21
Thomas N. Lewis(aka twofeathers), Chief of the Meherrin Tribe since May, 2005, was introduced on the “Meet The Chief” page of the recently launched Meherrin Indian Tribe web site. On that page he stated, quote, “I call upon each and every member of our proud nation to unite”, unquote. Why now?? Why didn’t he ask this during those eight years that he was Chairman of the Tribal council when he did his best to create dissention and disunity among the membership of the Tribe??? This is the 1000 dollar question!!
In my opinion, and that expressed by other tribal members, Thomas N. Lewis’ primary ambition and concern was to become Chief of the Meherrin Tribe. He was not interested in achieving Unity within the Tribe and moving the organization forward. His main objective was the achievement of personal recognition and any other personal benefits that might be available. In short, his main focus has been on his individual gain and welfare. I think he felt, that if there were too much Unity within the Tribe, it would interfere with his maintaining his Tribal Council Chairmanship and his progression to the elected office of Tribal Chief. After all, he wasn’t and still isn’t the most gifted person available to serve in these leadership positions.
So what did he do to create a tribal environment to further his needs?? He alienated honest and ethical members of the tribe by conspiring with a small group of supporters and office staff to violate the tribal Bylaws on several occasions, which included the illegal suspension of several tribal members on unfounded charges, because he felt they were a threat to his becoming Chief of the tribe. He also was the principle player in a group consisting of council members and office staff, who organized a small group of tribal members (25 to35) that could be called upon to be present at General Body meetings and elections, when needed to vote in support of his agenda. Frequently the agenda did not support the advancement of tribal Unity and the Tribe itself.
This alienation of tribal members not only served to decrease tribal Unity, but caused a substantial number of tribal members to lose their motivation to continue active with tribal matters, and even prompted some to leave and form another Tribe. As Chairman of the Council, to ensure his election to Tribal Chief, he declared that those tribal members holding older membership cards could not vote on issues at General Body meetings or in tribal elections until they received the newer cards, and then he proceeded to delay the process of issuing the new membership cards. This was all in violation of the Tribal Bylaws and certainly didn’t promote tribal Unity, but did serve his personal interest and ambitions.
Now after all those years as Chairman of the Tribal Council, and after satisfying his thirst to become Tribal Chief, he is asking for TRIBAL UNITY!!!! IT MAY BE TOO LATE!!!
02/11/2006: Do You know That....???? #20
It was very interesting reading the first paragraph on the “Meet the Chief page” of the Meherrin Indian Tribe website. Thomas N. Lewis (“two feathers”, which he calls himself) was elected Chief of the Tribe in May, 2005. He mentions that he was Tribal Chairman for eight years and that one of the eight included serving as Acting Chief of the Tribe. This may be true, but do you know that year as Acting Chief was in violation of the Tribe’s Bylaws??? It seems that after all of those years serving as chairman of the Tribal Council, he would have learned something about the tribal Bylaws.
Calvin Hall’s term as Chief of the Tribe, terminated in May, 2004 and an election for his successor should have been conducted in May, 2004 as per the Tribal Bylaws. The Bylaws also state that if there is a vacancy in the elected office of the Chief, it will be the responsibility of the Tribal council to call a Special Election within 60 days of the vacancy to elect a tribal Chief. Please remember that Roberts Rule of Order, which is the parliamentary authority for the Meherrin Bylaws ( Article XVIII ), specifically states that Bylaws CANNOT be rescinded but only amended. There is a provision in the Meherrin Bylaws( Article XIX ) along with the operational procedures of the Standing Bylaws Committee, for amending the Bylaws, but no such action was taken. Therefore, not holding an election for a Chief until May 2005 was in violation of Article IX, Section 5 of the Tribe’s Bylaws and afforded Thomas N. Lewis the opportunity to occupy TWO tribal offices, Chief of the Tribe and Chairman of the Tribal Council, at the same time for A WHOLE YEAR. How opportunistic and self seeking can one be???
Remember, as Chairman of the Tribal Council, it was Thomas’ responsibility to conduct an election for tribal Chief in accordance with the Bylaws and he DID NOT. Could this have been because he wanted the power of the Council and the Chief at the same time??
This is another example of excessive personal greed, ambition and need for recognition. The unfortunate result of this behavior is that the Tribe becomes the loser.
But when this major violation of the Tribal Bylaws occurred, where were the Chairpersons of the Bylaws and Election Standing committees??? Ignorance of, or ignoring the RULES, is no excuse!!! This has become a common practice within the Meherrin Tribe.
12/10/2005: Do You know That....???? #12
I read recently that Honorary membership in the Meherrin Indian Tribe was given to Gloria Long (with no Indian ancestry) in October 2005. The reason given for the special honor was “for her dedication and all the long hours of work she puts in each year helping the tribe in any way she can”.
Do you know that “all of those long hours” she put in during the years up to and including September 2003 were well paid for in salary using the Federal grant money received from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA). She served as a full time secretary to Denyce Hall when Denyce was the tribal project director for the preparation of the Petition to be submitted to the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) for Meherrin Tribe federal recognition. Her salary was greater than that of the average secretary pay for similar duties performed in the region of the country in which she was employed. In short, she was well paid for her services to the Tribe.
I am told that prior to her Meherrin Tribe employment, she worked for Denyce Hall’s husband as a receptionist in his dental practice, and returned to that job after her employment with the Meherrin tribe was terminated at the end of September 2003. If this is true, when did she find all of that time to devote to tribal activities “free of charge” and
more specifically, what did she do to earn this Honorary membership? Isn’t this a reasonable question?
I ask this because for the last several years the Tribal Rolls have been closed to applicant tribal membership, even closed illegally for a portion of the period. There are numerous legitimate applications locked up in the tribal office waiting to be processed. Some of which are adult sons and daughters of tribal members, who can’t be screened and processed for membership in the tribe. Then how can the Meherrin Tribe justify giving Honorary membership to some one who has NO Indian ancestry and obviously has done nothing to earn it, except work for a salary in the employment of the tribe and subsequently employed by Denyce Hall’s husband, who is the Tribe’s Treasurer and sits on its Council. I think all of those people, with Indian ancestry, waiting for their applications to be considered for tribal membership, need a more reasonable explanation.
Could The Tribe’s generosity with this honor be attributed to the devotion of the recently elected Chief, Thomas N. Lewis and Denyce Hall, the tribal rural health outreach worker? Both engaged in long and extended lunch periods with Gloria while she was employed by the Tribe. Additionally, Gloria was responsible for maintaining the financial ledger for the ANA grant money, in which all three had a common interest.
Does Gloria still have that Printing Business in Sunbury, NC that she used to supply T-Shirts to the Meherrin tribe for sale at its Powwows and in the tribal office?? She was well paid for these and I can remember one tribal member stating that competition suppliers would have been cheaper for the tribe. Perhaps it was this and other questionable behavior that earned the special honor of membership.
Now what does all of this say about the Gloria Long Honorary membership situation? It simply says that she has personally benefited from her relationship with the Meherrin Indian Tribe and has been rewarded, not for her contributions to the Tribe, but for her close relationship with some members of the Tribe.
I will say this again….the Meherrin Tribe is in urgent need of repair. How long can these irresponsible decisions continue. Can you imagine what would happen if this Tribe should ever accidentally qualify for Federal Acknowledgement? Thank goodness, we know that’s not possible.
12/04/2005: Meherrin Tribe Federal Recognition
In my opinion, the Meherrin Indian Tribe is not qualified to receive Federal Recognition from the USA government. It cannot meet the requirements of the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) and even if it could, it doesn’t possess a present membership and the quality of leadership that could govern with the honesty and integrity needed with such recognition. If the present leadership and organization are an example of what can be expected in the future, any kind of Federal Acknowledgement would “spell” disaster for this Tribe. They simply aren’t ready and don’t have the potential for such status. The intelligent members of the Tribe are well aware of this fact.
What concerns me, is that the Tribe’s Chief and others in the tribe continue to promise such recognition as a long term goal even after spending more than three quarters of a million dollars in federal grant money to prepare a petition and still hasn’t completed one to submit to the BIA. This petition preparation has been going on since 1989 with hardly any effective results. This group will be using Federal recognition as a long term goal well into the next century, if for nothing more than to advertise it as a goal to keep the membership happy with inflated expectation.
The group to which I refer above, Is identified by the BIA, for federal recognition petition purposes, as group 119a. This group received all of that federal grant money and used it grossly ineffectively, but still promises to “work for federal recognition”. I hope the Federal government is less generous in the future, in giving our tax dollars to such organizations. Especially those that fail to use the money wisely, and for the purpose intended.
The Meherrin federal recognition mess is further complicated in that a second group within the tribe submitted a petition for federal recognition in 1995, five years after a letter of intent to petition was submitted by group 119a, discussed above. This second group is identified by the BIA as petitioner 119b and should be considered soon by the BIA for recognition, since it included a petition along with its letter of intent to petition. This group didn’t receive any federal funds to prepare a petition for federal recognition.
Now what can one reasonably expect from this Meherrin Tribe Federal acknowledgement petition mess? I think the answer is simple and uncomplicated. Neither Meherrin group will receive Federal Recognition from the BIA because neither can meet the Federal Regulation requirements for such status. I’m sure the BIA will research this Tribe very thoroughly and it will be easy to determine that it DOES NOT merit or deserve Federal recognition. I will explain my opinion in more detail in a subsequent comment on this site.
Denyce Hall is the former salaried tribal member that directed the preparation of the Federal Recognition petition for petitioner 119a from 1997 to September 2003. She was responsible for the research, budgeting and spending of federal grant money during that period. May I repeat, the petition for this group is still incomplete, but a lot of money was spent. There were many problems associated with that effort. The Federal grant money for the project was terminated in 2003 and so was the research for the petition. To my knowledge, there has been NO unpaid, volunteer work on the petition for Federal recognition for group 119a, since the end of September 2003.
In the meantime, please view an article from the Indian Country Today newspaper about Federal Recognition Denial to a Vermont Band. This should provide a clue, even to Chief Thomas N. Lewis and Denyce Hall, the tribal rural health outreach worker. This article is in a pdf file and will require an acrobat reader program on your computer for viewing.
09/10/2005: Page use
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