As an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, I find it a blessing and a privilege to work on behalf of Native families and communities every day. From the start, my grandfather instilled in me a connection and commitment to our people, along with a healthy dose of the Lumbee spunk and belief in possibility. His grandfather had served as Founding President of the Croatan Indian Normal School, one of the country’s first Native American teachers’ colleges, now the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. When my grandfather came up, he left the tribal seat in Pembroke, determined to find success in the city. His landmark Tom’s Barbershop in Baltimore was a source of pride and community for nearly fifty years. My mother brought that same drive into building her own Native-woman-owned business in DC and raising me with an indigenous feminist spirit. I am thankful to be able to carry their energy forward into my own work.
Through Lux’s contracts with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, I serve as the Director of our Tribal Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) activities. We provide one-to-one support, online training, and customized workshops to support Tribes and Tribal Organizations receiving Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) funding to address the causes and conditions of poverty throughout Indian Country. The innovation and determination of our grantees is inspiring: from tiny community gardens making enormous impacts on community revitalization to major resource sustainability projects redesigning the flow of services and the ability of Tribal communities to promote the well-being of the entire community. It is an honor to be a part of transformational change and improved possibilities for our people and other Native communities across the country.
I hope my ancestors are smiling.
Nicole Oxendine is the Lux Director of Tribal Training and Technical Assistance.