Local News

U.S. House Committee Approves Lumbee Recognition

Posted April 25, 2007

— A U.S. House committee approved full federal recognition for the Lumbee Indians of North Carolina on Wednesday, despite an opposing vote by the state's only representative on the panel.

Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., was one of seven members to vote against the bill, which would allow the Lumbees to get federal aid and benefits given to other tribes.

The Lumbees have been seeking federal status for more than a century, and those in favor of recognizing the tribe say it's long overdue. The tribe, which has 50,000 members, could receive $80 million annually with federal recognition.

"After centuries of injustice, the Lumbees have waited long enough in their quest for much-deserved recognition from the federal government to acknowledge who they truly are — an American Indian Tribe," said Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources.

A 1956 law bars the tribe from applying for recognition through the U.S. Department of the Interior, which is why officials have sought congressional action.

"A lot of prayers have been answered on behalf of the Lumbee people,” said tribal chairman Jimmy Goins.

Shuler, whose district includes the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, has said he prefers a different approach for giving the Lumbees recognition. He is sponsoring a bill that would allow the Lumbees to go through the Bureau of Indian Affairs' process for gaining recognition, which involves looking at genealogy and history of the tribe.

"We're basically allowing the Lumbee to circumvent that process," Shuler spokesman Andrew Whalen said of the bill that the committee approved 24-7. "It's an issue of fairness to other tribes."

Shuler's bill would require the Department of the Interior to act on an application from the tribe within 18 months.

Three North Carolina Republicans, including Reps. Patrick McHenry, Walter Jones and Virginia Foxx, support Shuler's bill.

But Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., applauded Rahall and other committee members' efforts to move forward with recognizing the Lumbees.

"The long-sought and long overdue recognition for the Lumbee Indians has crossed a milestone," McIntyre said in a statement.

Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., also applauded the committee's passage and said she would urge rapid committee consideration of the Lumbee bill in the Senate.

"This quest is about allowing future generations of Lumbees to benefit from the recognition for which their ancestors have tirelessly fought," Dole said in a statement.

Some have expressed concern that the Lumbees might build a casino if they were fully recognized. But the committee adopted an amendment, accepted by the tribe, that would prohibit the tribe from engaging in gaming activities.

Goins said such a move wasn't under consideration by tribal leaders.

“My people are very spiritual people,” he said said. “It has never been a factor in our decision to push this bill."


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  • twiztad_lumbee Apr 27, 2007

    I've read every comment and really took into consideration every one of these, I partailly agree with some of you and some of you are just showing plain ignorance. The reason it has taken so long for us to be recognized is because people look at lumbee as a MIXED BREED of people. I just don't understand why people would make comment such as "you better believe my home and property is going to be bigger than yours" okay maybe that is true but you shouldn't say that because that makes people think that all we do want is a handout. All I'm worried about is the elderly folks getting better medical benefits. I watch my grandpa struggle every month tring to live off a little income then buying his meds. If my gradma was not here he would be screwed. Not to make Lumbees look any better or worse than any other race because I think that all races need help from time to time. Not finished

  • Lightfoot Apr 26, 2007

    Proud2BUS Citizen,

    No, I’m not trying to stir things up, I don’t feel sorry for myself, and I don’t resent anything. I do think the Lumbees should be recognized as a tribe (though they are not like the Indian tribes of the west). However, this case is not about real recognition, but rather about greedy people wanting a welfare handout, when they are no more disadvantaged than their black and white neighbors.

  • yacs Apr 26, 2007

    Proud: "Lightfoot - It appears all you are trying to do is stir things up here - it sounds to me that maybe you are feeling sorry for yourself and resent what others are granted and you are not. I am glad that the Lumbees are being recognized it has been too long in coming. You should also be glad for them."

    Actually, in his first post, Lightfoot said they *should* be recognized as a tribe. He simply spoke out against them receiving federal aid, which generated some flak.

  • Proud2BUS Citizen Apr 26, 2007

    Lightfoot - It appears all you are trying to do is stir things up here - it sounds to me that maybe you are feeling sorry for yourself and resent what others are granted and you are not. I am glad that the Lumbees are being recognized it has been too long in coming. You should also be glad for them.

    I stated in another article today "…we are all Americans first and for most. As Americans we need to work towards making our country stronger and issues like this are just pulling us apart, placing a wedge between us all. I believe in the Constitution and what our country was founded on. WAKE UP America start acting like one country and not individual people.”

  • yacs Apr 26, 2007

    Navajo, thanks for your post. I have to admit, that's a portion of U.S. History I know little about. I have no problem commenting on the "human nature" side of some of the posts here, but I don't know enough about the facts you mention. Did the Feds make one of these contracts with the Lumbee? Were the contracts made with specific tribes, or were they more like blanket contracts? I would think that would have a bearing here.

  • yacs Apr 26, 2007

    Lightfoot: "I think her comment pretty much proved my point, didn’t it?"

    Indeed -- it pointed squarely at greed rather than justice.

    And I didn't see you back-pedaling, either.

  • Lightfoot Apr 26, 2007

    Squeshia…hope your greedy little hands can hold as much welfare money as you need. What I made was a guess, and labeled it as such, which you could easily prove one way or the other. The difference is that you make statements that you think are true, that turn out to be false. See what I mean by your lack of intelligence.

    Hevans1012…I haven’t changed my stance or my comments. Look up what “back paddle” means in a debate context.

    “You are correct sir”….I think her comment pretty much proved my point, didn’t it? My family and I are from there (St. Pauls, Lumberton, Pembroke, Maxton), and I can tell you it’s no different that any other area. I’ve been to reservations out west (WA). These NC greedy welfare beggars don’t even compare.

  • Navajo Apr 26, 2007

    For those that think federal recognition is welfare, you are wrong. In exchange for land, the Federal Government made legally binding contracts with American Indians. Thus, the federal government is suppose to oversee a number of basic needs for American Indians. Two of these basic needs are health care and education. So, keep in mind that what the government provides American Indians is NOT welfare. They made a contract and they need to abide by the contract and stop defaulting on what the Federal Government agreed on.

  • yacs Apr 26, 2007

    "Once everything is in place... you better believe my home and property is going to be bigger than yours."

    That's a pretty telling comment.

  • Squeshia Apr 26, 2007

    There again when you make an assumption....well you get the idea. Regardless of whether this is welfare, regardless of whether my home is bigger than yours, regardless of whether or not you think Lumbees deserve gov't help - we are getting it. You can say what you want and you can feel the way you do. Once everything is in place... you better believe my home and property is going to be bigger than yours. People like you hate to see others get ahead. Thank God for my hard working Lumbee brothers and sisters for getting us recognized. ;-)

    You are tired of this subject because you are only making yourself look ignorant and stupid. I work everyday for everything I have - and would GLADLY give my money for a family who was in more need than I. Goes to show you how ignorant you are.

    Have an excellent day.