LUMBERTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- A community hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic is rebuilding with the help of the largest federal grant in tribal history.
In February, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina received the largest federal grant in tribal history to assist in the hardships brought on by COVID-19. One month later, it's also helping its members in other parts of the United States.
Lumbee Chairman Harvey Godwin, Jr. spoke to ABC11 about what was thought to be an $18 million grant that turned out to be $19 million is being used to give rental and utility assistance along with water. The grant is also being used to help local school children with internet access making this award a lifeline for the Lumbee people.
"It helped us create government-to-government relationships between the Lumbee tribe government and the federal government which is proof that we are ready for federal recognition and we know how to manage programs and we know how to manage dollars to help people."
Godwin says using these funds to help the people is sending a clear message to the rest of the country that the Tribe is more than ready for federal recognition.
With vaccines being administered daily and this grant being utilized for relief the light at the end of the tunnel of this pandemic is getting a little brighter.
"It's like God just smiles on you and he smiles on everybody and that you have done something pleasing to him-and I think that's the feeling I get every time we are able to help a human being."
The money is not only being used to benefit the tribe members living in the Sandhills region, it's available for members nationwide.
Godwin believes this grant is all the proof that the Lumbee tribe needs to receive federal recognition.
To take full advantage of the award, Chairman Godwin says the funds must be used up by December 2020.
Lumbee Tribe using $19 million grant to benefit members locally, nationwide during pandemic