Baxley, Jaymie. “Brick by Brick: Lumbee Tribal Housing Complex - | Behind the tribe’s turtle-shaped HQ.” The Robesonian (Lumberton, NC). October 3, 2015
While Robeson County does not get much notice for its architecture, it has many distinctive buildings, such as the Lumbee Tribal Housing Complex in Pembroke, known by many in the area as “The Turtle.”
The design was thought of by former Tribal Administrator Leon Jacobs, who shared it with a Lumbee architect, Michael Clark. Michael Clark’s son, Che’ Clark, was in charge of the project and acted as principal designer. Jacobs noted that the Housing Complex was made in the image of the turtle to serve as a landmark for future generations.
The turtle holds a sacred status in American Indian culture, as it is a symbol of power, strength, creation, and longevity. It also represents protection. Just as the internal organs of a turtle are protected by the shell, the place where many important decisions are made is inside the walls of the Lumbee Tribal Housing Complex.
Che’ Clark said that the building was created to show the tribe’s pride in land, values, and culture. Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks added that the unorthodox appearance of the establishment is a point of pride for the Lumbee people.