Editorial: Finally the year for Lumbee recognition?

"We’ve seen years of Lumbee bills moving from committee to the floor of one branch or the other of Congress. But we’ve never seen one pass. That’s a shame, because the Lumbee tribe qualifies for federal recognition. Its members — many living in North Carolina’s poorest county — could begin finding their way out of poverty with programs and support that are available to federally recognized tribes. Federal officials estimate the tribe would get as much as $400 million over five years.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee sent this year’s recognition bill to the full Senate on Thursday. There is reason for optimism — a House version, submitted by Rep. Mike McIntyre, passed last year. The Senate bill was filed by Sen. Elizabeth Dole. A Dole spokesman likened the move to the Senate floor to getting through the playoffs and into the World Series. It’s tantalizingly close. But in the Lumbees’ 100-year quest for federal recognition, tantalizingly close has happened before, only to see the legislation die.

Technically, the tribe has already won federal recognition. Congress approved it in 1956 — but it was a Pyrrhic victory, because the bill also denied the tribe the federal aid that should come with recognition. Fifty-two years and countless congressional forays later, the Lumbees remain in the same, frustrating chase."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Recognition bill moves to Senate floor. Is this finally the year? (The Fayetteville Observer 4/28)

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