Lumbee bill back before the House; Swett surprised by quick action

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Douglas, Donnie, and Bob Shiles. "Lumbee bill back before the House; Swett surprised by quick action." Robesonian. February 26, 2011.


Purnell Swett was surprised when U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre reintroduced the Lumbee Tribe federal recognition bill to Congress on the first day of the 112th Congress on February 26, 2011.

“I was surprised when I learned today that the bill had been re-submitted,” Swett said Thursday. “We were assessing and evaluating what we had learned in the past session.”

The legislation is identical to the bill that has been in the House two times, in 2007 and 2009. McIntyre has promised to do all he can to pass the recognition bill.

Swett is not saying that he preferred that McIntyre not move the bill so fast, but is instead saying that he would have liked to have had an opportunity to hold further conversations with Senators Richard Burr and Kay Hagan. Swett said that he was not aware of nor consulted about re-introducing this bill.

“One of my main concerns is that the 1956 Act recognized the Lumbee as an Indian tribe but forbid the tribe from receiving services afforded to other American Indian tribes. I personally believe that it is important to have members of Congress understand this", Swett said. "Again, all we are asking is that we receive the same treatment as other American Indian tribes that have been recognized and be allowed to access the services provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Services.”

The Lumbees are recognized by the state of North Carolina. Full federal recognition would mean hundreds of millions of dollars for the tribe to be used for housing, education, and economic development.

The last time the bill was introduced the tribe was experiencing some difficult times. The tribe had dismissed Arlinda Locklear, a Washington, DC lawyer and member of the Lumbee tribe. The tribe had made connections with the Lewin International firm that had ties with Las Vegas gaming.

After much criticism, the tribe dismissed Lewin International and hired the Washington, DC firm of Anderson Tuell. The bill that has been submitted to the House says that the Lumbee Tribe will not pursue gaming.

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