Part 3: Reflections on the Battle for Lumbee Recognition

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Locklear, Arlinda. "Part 3: Reflections on the Battle for Lumbee Recognition." YouTube. 28 April 2010.


Arlinda Locklear continues her lecture on the Lumbee's fight for recognition to a group of students at UNC- Chapel Hill in this third video segment by discussing when and how federal recognition was officially established.

Locklear begins by stating that before 1978 there was no official position for federal recognition within the United States government. She then stresses that federal recognition was not created by Congress but by the Department of the Interior.

Locklear says that pressure was being put on the government on both sides of the continent to create some process whereby the US government could officially recognize Indian tribes who lacked any kind of federal recognition. The pressure, she says, came from court cases where Indian tribes were being denied rights granted to them from treaties with the US government.

On the West Coast, Locklear explains that certain tribes were having their fishing rights taken away, which had been granted to the tribes in treaties with the US government. When taken to federal courts, the tribes won despite the fact that many lacked  federal recognition.  Locklear says that these cases would hold up in courts today "whether you are federally recognized or not, so long as you can prove certain indicia of continued tribal existence."

On the East Coast, Locklear discusses how some Indian tribes had had their land taken from them by the states they lived in even though only the US government can take land from the people within her borders. So, as in the West Coast, these Eastern tribes took their cases to the federal courts and won.

Responding to pressure on both sides of the continent to establish a method of federal recognition, and members of Congress, frustrated at the lack of a policy, the Department of the Interior "adopted a regulatory process to recognize Indian tribes."

Locklear says that there are seven "mandatory criteria" involved in becoming federally recognized. She next states that three of these criteria are the crux of this policy, which will determine whether or not you will gain federal recognition.

One, the tribe must prove that they are the descendants of, "what the regulations call a historic Indian tribe."

Two, the tribe must prove that from 1789 to the present, they have lived as a "separate community of people with social boundaries."

Three, the tribe must prove that from 1789 to the present they have opted for Indian political leadership.

Locklear then discusses a few of the other criteria. One criteria, which she says is nearly as important as the three above, states that you must provide a list of tribal membership and explain what tribal membership is, though she does not go into detail as to what this entails.

Locklear mentions one last criteria that she says is critical for the purposes of the Lumbee discussion. The tribe must prove that they are not the subject of legislation of Congress that either terminates or forbids the federal relationship.

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