Hagan pushes Lumbee recognition at Congressional hearing
Posted October 30, 2013
Updated October 31, 2013
Washington — U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan testified Wednesday before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in support of a bill that would designate members of the Lumbee tribe as eligible for federal benefits.
In 1956, Congress acknowledged the Lumbee Indians, but it withheld tribal privileges, such as federal funding for health care and housing. The Lumbees have fought for full privileges ever since.
Hagan and her Republican counterpart, Sen. Richard Burr, are sponsors of the most recent bill to would extend to the Lumbees those rights shared by other Native Americans. Congresmen Richard Hudson and Mike McIntyre have supported a similar measure in the House.
"The Lumbee Indians are among the earliest North Carolinians," Hagan said Wednesday. "The Lumbee have maintained a distinct community in what is now Robeson County, North Carolina, with more than 40,000 current members in and around the county seat of Lumberton.
"Beyond simple fairness, the issue of Lumbee recognition is critically important to the North Carolina economy, and to counties and communities that have been hardest hit by the recent economic downturn."