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Group Questions N.C. Indian Cultural Center

MAXTON, NC -- About 35 people crammed a meeting room at the Evans Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department back in July to complain about the North Carolina Indian Cultural Center. The complaints targeted the center itself, its board of directors and Beverly Collins, the center's director.

The complaints ranged from mismanagement of money to allegations that people are being mistreated. The group also wanted the center to accept "reality" and simply become a recreational facility. The group planed to circulate a petition asking for the removal of the entire 15-member board.

Collins, who was not invited to the meeting, said: "It's hard for me to answer to questions thrown at me because none of the accusations are true."

The 456-acre site near Pembroke includes a golf course, pool, amphitheater, nature trails, picnic area and a 100-acre lake. Many of the complainants have volunteered at the center, including Carnell Locklear and Buddy Dial who orchestrated the meeting.

Dial said there is no evidence the center is ever going to achieve its mission of becoming a cultural center. A statement the group circulated said, "It is a fact that over $4 million has been raised and spent to develop at North Carolina Indian Cultural Center and since there is no evidence of how this money has been spent over the year ... we call into question the continued control of the site by the NCICC."

The group wants another entity to take it over. "We want to form some kind of organization and let them know that we want it to become a recreation center - just what it is - not a cultural center," Dial said.

"We want the words 'Cultural Center' taken off that place totally. If that means going to Ronnie Sutton and if he can't do something about it, then we're going above him." Sutton is a state representative from Pembroke.

The group's statement also said: "A systematic effort and plot has been implemented to disenfranchise and alienate the local community from being involved at the center. "Certain facilities are not being used in the best interest of the public. “Pool facilities do not meet the standards as required by the local Health Department, and sanitation facilities are not maintained to meet the needs of a large gathering."

Freeman said, "There's a lot of Indian people who are not aware of what's going on. But for the people that live in and around the Cultural Center, it has left a very bad taste in their mouth."

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