From Robeson County to Washington D.C.: Lumbee Tribal Administration and Ag Department staff visit the white house to look at opportunities for rural communities

By Staff Report, posted 2 weeks ago
Ricky Harris, USDA Tribal Liaison Pamela Sunshine Richardson, Haliwa Saponi Chief Dr. Brucie Richardson and Larry Edwards in Washington, D.C.
Photo provided by: The Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. 

Tribal Administrator Ricky Harris and Lumbee Tribe Agriculture and Natural Resources Department Manager Larry Edwards traveled to Washington D.C. in mid May following an invitation from the White House to participate in sessions at the Rural Communities in Action event which serves to lift up opportunities for rural communities. 

The sessions gave Harris and Edwards a chance to interact and hear from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, White House Staff, USDA Staff, US Senators, as well as other community leaders from across the nation as they spoke about rural issues like labor, infrastructure, healthcare and building economy. The meetings allowed the attendees to gain better knowledge of federal grants and programs available.

Larry Edwards and Lumbee Tribal Administrator Ricky Harris. 
Photo provided by: The Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. 

The "Rural Communities in Action" event welcomed a small, select group of rural leaders from across the nation with a goal to showcase significant investments and initiatives in rural America by the Biden-Harris administration, including the American Rescue Plan, bipartisan infrastructure legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act and the Rural Partner Network, among others.

Edwards said the meetings allowed him to see the enthusiasm of the federal staffers and their desire to make a change in rural communities. “One of the big things that was echoed throughout the day was that you don’t have to leave home to make a living,” according to Edwards. “They stressed the importance that if someone wants to live in rural America, that they should be able to do so and make a family.”

Harris and Edwards Participate in Breakout sessions. 
Photo provided by: The Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.

The White House event also spotlighted success stories from rural leaders and provided a platform to recognize individuals making a positive impact through partnerships with the administration via the new White House Rural Initiative. “In the afternoon, we had small group breakout sessions and that allowed us to discuss issues we face here at home,” said Harris in a press release. “We shared how one of the big items we are tackling is the Housing crisis across our tribal territory, but it also allowed us to tell our story about continued efforts and focus on full federal recognition through the Lumbee Fairness Act, which has been a goal of Lumbee Tribal Chairman John Lowery and the Lumbee People.”

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