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History of LRDA


LRDA Founders
Top Row: Roderick Locklear, Horace Locklear
Bottom Row:  Gerald Sider, Bruce Jones


Lumbee Regional Development Association, Inc. (LRDA) evolved out of President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” programs that resulted from the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Having no tribal Federal Recognition from the United States, the Great Society programs made a lot of federal program services available to low-wealth and high-poverty “minority” communities throughout the nation.


It was because of their love for the Lumbee People that the original founders came together and formed Lumbee Regional Development Association Inc. Mr. Rodrick Locklear along with Mr. Horace Locklear, Mr. Gerald Sider, and Mr. Bruce Jones brought together tribal leaders, from the Lumbee churches, business sector, farmers, and Lumbee educators, and established LRDA in 1968 as a private nonprofit to seek access to the federal Great Society anti-poverty programs to help bring the long overdue and sorely needed, social, educational, and economic advancement services to the Lumbee People.


The community-based corporation was to primarily serve the large Lumbee population in Robeson, Scotland, and Hoke counties of North Carolina. LRDA has worked aggressively to improve services for members of the Lumbee Tribe. LRDA has been committed to providing a range of valuable services that assist disadvantaged Indian people. The organization works in conjunction with a number of governmental organizations and local agencies to provide services and improve social and economic conditions in Lumbee Communities.


In the early 1990’s  LRDA's Board of Directors, had led the efforts since the early 1970s for full Lumbee Tribal federal recognition by Congress, while serving as the governing body of the tribe. The LRDA Board received funding to begin the long process to formalize a written tribal constitution; to begin a new constitution-based form of governance of the tribe under an elected Tribal Council. That goal was achieved in 2002. LRDA retrained its separate community services role, and local, state, and national identity as a Lumbee-controlled and governed non-profit organization with over 50 years of outstanding service to the Lumbee people.

LRDA has been a leader throughout the nation in bringing to and providing services for Lumbee Indians residing within the four-county region it serves. LRDA's achievements are many;

  • The 1970s led the fight for equal employment of state tribes in federal agencies.

  • The 1970s fought for the rights of state-recognized Lumbee students to be declared eligible for federal Indian Health Services scholarships to attend Medical School.

  • In the 1970s fought to have Lumbee students declared eligible for the federal Office of Education scholarships to attend Law School.

  • The 1970's led efforts to establish the first American Indian-owned and governed bank in America, known today as Lumbee Guaranty Bank.                                                   

  • 1972 advocated and succeeded in getting direct funding from the US Department of Labor for employment and job-training services for Lumbee people, and still provide WIOA services today.

  • 1983 advocated and was successfully awarded Head Start Program, child care services to the Lumbee Tribal communities.

  • 1987 submitted a petition for Federal Acknowledgment of the Lumbee Tribe to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

  • 1988 successfully advocated and lobbied for the Lumbee Tribe to be included in the National Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act, (NAHASDA),​ which is now operated by the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.

  • Lead voter education and registration of the Lumbee community, bringing about political change.

  • Lead efforts to establish the NC Commission of Indian Affairs (NCCIA).

  • Fought and won membership in the National Congress of American Indians.

  • Led effort along with NCCIA to create the United Tribes of NC Annual Unity Convention.

  • Assisted in establishing Lumbee River Legal Services Corporation.

  • Established Lumbee Farmer's diversification model for poultry farming.

  • Operated the first commercial Indian-owned FM Radio Station in the Southeast region.

  • In 2010 became the first non-profit in the Southeast to have an organizational structure to include an affiliate for-profit company to be granted 8a status, allowing for "sole source" non-compete contracting.

  • 2015, Developed a 28-acre 5MW Solar Farm. ​

Establishing Lumbee Homecoming in 1968 resulted in a rebirth of pride for the Lumbee people. Lumbee Homecoming has grown into the largest American Indian celebration in the Southeast.

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