PEMBROKE — Jimmy Goins, a former chairman of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, is being remembered as a charismatic leader who worked to improve the plight of Lumbee Indians, pushing them to the brink of full recognition.
“He loved his people, but he also was a man for all men,” said David Weinstein, a former mayor of Lumberton and state senator. “He was a man you could talk to, have a difference of opinion, and he would never get mad. His word was his bond. You could shake hands and it was a done deal. He was respected by all.”
Goins, 66, was killed Sunday in a single-car accident as he was traveling alone on N.C. 71 , about 4.4 miles north of Maxton, according to the state Highway Patrol. According to a report filed by Trooper S.C. Hunt, Goins was traveling south when his vehicle ran off the road to the right, struck a highway sign and overturned before striking a tree and coming to a rest on its top. On Tuesday morning, the cause of the wreck had not been determined.
Goins was the second elected Lumbee tribal chairman, and served two three-year terms, from 2004 to 2010. There had been speculation that he would announce that he would again be a candidate for chairman this November.
Goins, who owned an insurance business in Red Springs, was also a farmer. He was especially well known throughout the Prospect and Philadelphus communities, and his political ties stretched across the region and the state.
On Monday, Gov. Pat McCrory issued a statement saying that as chairman of the tribe Goins “devoted his tenure to serving the youth and veterans of the community.”
“He will always be remembered for his service and dedication to the Lumbee people, the state and the entire nation,” McCrory said.
State Sen. Jane Smith and state Rep. Charles Graham, both representatives of Robeson County, said Monday they will have a tribute to Goins submitted into the records of their respective houses of the General Assembly.
“I knew Jimmy for years. He certainly will be missed,” Graham said. “He was a proud Lumbee and a voice for the Lumbee people.”
Even before his election as tribal chairman, Goins had for years been involved in tribal affairs. A statement from the Goins family said that he continually sought to improve the quality of life for all Lumbee people while pursuing federal recognition for the Lumbee Tribe.
Before becoming chairman he served as a member of the Lumbee Tribal Council and assisted in the early stages of development of the tribal government and the Lumbee Tribal Constitution. He was a member of the Lumbee Self-Determination Commission from 1998 to 2000, served as a member of the Lumbee Tribal Council, and was chairman of the tribe’s Federal Recognition Committee.
As chairman, he led tribal efforts to move the Lumbee Recognition Bill through both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. The House passed the Lumbee Recognition Bill in 2007, with the bill passing the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in 2008 and becoming eligible for full Senate consideration in 2008.
“I enjoyed working with Jimmy on the federal recognition bill. He was a diligent and dedicated leader who never gave up,” former U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre said Monday in a statement. “I will always remember our celebration together on the steps of the Capitol when the Lumbee Recognition Bill passed the U.S. House. He was overjoyed and knew his hard work had been fruitful.”
Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks called Goins a great leader.
“Jimmy was a true advocate for the elders, youth and the veterans,” he said. “He was instrumental in writing our first constitution and served on the LSD Commission. This comes as real shock for the county and for the tribe. He loved his people … This is truly a sad day for the Lumbee Tribe.”
Tammy Maynor, director of Governmental Affairs, worked for Goins during his tenure as chairman.
“Jimmy was a charismatic chairman,” she said.“When he became chairman, the tribe had very little by way of assets. Under Chairman Goins’s leadership, the tribe’s assets grew and he believed in creating jobs. In his second term as chairman, his focus was the long-term growth of the tribe and began thinking of ways the tribe could become more self-sufficient.
“He believed in homeownership,” Maynor said. “He believed that owning a home built wealth within the communities. His belief was if we built more homes, then that would be more money we could put back into the Homeownership Program. He was an advocate for new construction.”
According to Maynor, the current multi-million dollar Housing Complex was built under Goins’ administration. Goins was also instrumental in starting the tribal Boys and Girls clubs, she said.
Goins was also remembered for his love of family, his friendship, and his willingness to do all he could to help anyone in need.
James McEachin, of Maxton, was a business partner with Goins in the early 1980s. The two ran Regional Office Supply in Pembroke.
“Jimmy was a wonderful guy. He was an entrepreneur. He had a lot of smarts for doing things and getting things done. He had great ideas and he liked to make them happen,” McEachin said. “He was a very dear friend to me. He gave me one of the greatest professional opportunities of my business life. He opened the door for me to do what I had learned about business administration in school.
“I know personally that he loved his family and he believed in the Word,” McEachin said. “We talked a lot about life … Jimmy was an all-around guy. He was a very likeable guy. If he could help you, he would.”
Pearlean Revels, a former speaker of the Tribal Council, said that a lot of people never knew just how “caring” Goins could be. He often used his own financial resources to assist those in need, she said.
“He was a political man, but he was one of a kind when it came to helping people,” Revels said. “He was a great giving person. He loved the Lumbee people.”