Lumbee must finally get full federal recognition

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"Lumbee must finally get full federal recognition." Winston-Salem Journal [Winston-Salem, NC] May 20, 2011.


When the lame-duck Congress adjourned in 2010, it was only another step in the long journey for recognition for the Lumbee tribe. This journey has been filled with disappointment and frustration.

The lame-duck Congress was reviewing the bill that was introduced by Democratic Representative Mike McIntyre. The bill passed the House earlier in 2010. This bill would have acknowledged the Lumbee Tribe as descendants of the Cheraw tribe.

The bill had a no-gaming provision, to deal with concerns about competition by the Cherokee Indians. The compromise might have gained the Lumbees federal recogntion if the tribe had not hired a Nevada gaming consultant, Lewin International.

Even though the contract with the gaming consultant was terminated, the arrangement damaged the tribe's credibility.

The federal government has granted full recognition to more than 440 Indian tribes in the United States, including some 200 village groups in Alaska, according to the Lumbee Tribe's Web site.

The continuing drive for full recognition may again get wrapped up in politics, at least in the short term. Full recognition has been estimated to cost, potentially, several hundred million dollars over five years for education, health care and economic development in the tribal areas. The 2011 Congress will be looking to cut programs wherever it can, not add new funding, to deal with the deficit.

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