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Recognizing the Lumbee July 10, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Politics.

In North Carolina exists a Native American tribe called the Lumbee.

This tribe has been federally recognized as an Indian tribe since 1956’s Lumbee Act, the state of North Carolina has recognized the tribe since 1885. The federal government was, as per usual, decades behind.

But the Lumbee represent a special case. They, along with the Tiwa tribe of Texas (now known as Ysleta del Sur Pueblo) represent the only two tribes to be recognized federally, through statute, that were not “administratively acknowledged” by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, perhaps their ineptness is demonstrated in the amateur website they operate. This special status barred the tribes from “application of general Indian statutes and the delivery of Federal services to the tribe.”

In 1987, Congress enacted legislation to allow the Tiwa to be administratively acknowledged. But the Lumbee remain stuck in the rut of having recognition but not full recognition.

It is time for that to change. How to do that, you ask? Well, some forethinking legislators have a solution.

The legislation

In the Senate, S. 660, the Lumbee Recognition Act, promises “that the Lumbee Indians should now be entitled to full Federal recognition of their status as an Indian tribe and that the benefits, privileges and immunities that accompany such status should be accorded to the Lumbee Tribe.”

The chief Senate sponsor is Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), with Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) as intial co-sponsor. They introduced the bill on St. Patrick’s Day 2005. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) was added as a co-sponsor in May of this year. Dole introduced similar legislation in 2003.

The House is considering parallel legislation, H.R. 21 IH. The chief House sponsor is Rep. Mike McIntryre (D-NC), 211 other members of the House have been added as co-sponsors. The House legislation pre-dates the Senate bill by a couple of months; McIntyre introduced it Jan. 4, 2005.

Both bills are sitting in committee right now. The Senate bill, in the Committee on Indian Affairs. The committee will hold a hearing concerning the bill at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday. S. 660 has been in the Committee on Indian Affairs since its introduction.

Over on the other side of the Capitol Building, the House version of the bill, H.R. 21, was referred to the House Committee on Resources upon its introduction.

What’s Next?

Since the bills have been stalled in committee it would be important for constituents to keep on their respective Senators or Representatives to support S. 660 or H.R. 21. So give Denny a call, he might actually listen on this one, owing to its broad bi-partisan support.

The Lumbee Act of 1956 recently saw its 50th Anniversary pass by on June 7. The Lumbee Tribe sponsored and is sponsoring a series of events over the 50 days following 7 June, one day for each year since the passage of the Lumbee Act of 1956.

The Senate action in Indian Affairs Committee is hopeful, as it shows that the bill is not dead despite being stuck in the committee for more than a year.

Considering the Lumbee are historically recognized as an Indian tribe and, depending on the estimate, 40,000+ to 53,000 strong, they certainly merit administrative acknowledgment by the BIA. The BIA recognizes tribes of much smaller sizes, especially in Alaska, where many native villages are recognized.

It’s time that the Lumbee get what they have long deserved, recognition.


1. Keith - July 12, 2006

Hi Gonzo, I am a Lumbee Indian who grew up in the state of Maryland and I personally don’t want federal recognition because we have always been a hard working people. I don’t want our tribe to become welfare Indians like the other Indians up north and out west. All the other Lumbee’s i know and my family also are not intersted in the federal recognition except a few. We don’t need the govenment to tell us we are Indians we know that already, we have the last word on that. Why would I and any other Indian person want to be owned by the Federal government. I own and live in my own house and my own land and its going to stay that way. We are not lazy Indians.

Thank you, Keith

2. dr. gonzo - July 12, 2006

Thanks for the input. :) Seems the tribe itself disagrees, at least according to their site.

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