Lumbee Recognition Act Passes Senate Committee
Special Report - April 25, 2008
The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approved a bill Thursday that would grant the Lumbee Indian Tribe full federal recognition and all the related benefitsexcept the right to pursue gambling operations in North Carolina. During its business meeting on April 24, the committee approved H.R. 65Lumbee Recognition Act, a bill that is sponsored by Rep. Mike McIntryre (D-NC) and which passed the U.S. House last June. The 55,000-plus member Lumbee Tribelocated primarily in and around Robeson County, North Carolinastands to gain access to an estimated $460 million dollars over the next five years in federal funds for healthcare, education, housing and other services.
Another right that typically comes with federal recognition is the ability to seek a compact with the state in which the tribe is located to conduct gambling operations. An amendment adopted by the House Natural Resources Committee before H.R. 65 passed the House last year, however, expressly prohibits the Tribe from pursuing a gambling compact with the state. The amendmentwhich the Senate committee kept intactreads, “The tribe may not conduct gaming activities as a matter of claimed inherent authority or under the authority of any Federal law, including the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (25 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.) or under any regulations thereunder promulgated by the Secretary or the National Indian Gaming Commission.”
The North Carolina Family Policy Council submitted a letter to the entire North Carolina Congressional delegation prior to consideration of the bill by the House Natural Resources Committee last year asking that H.R. 65 be amended to prohibit the Lumbee Tribe from conducting gambling operations, should it move forward. The letter, a portion of which was read in testimony before the House Committee by Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), was entered into the committee record.
Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), the Senate sponsor of the Lumbee Recognition Act, commented in a press release on Thursday, “I am very pleased we convinced the Committee to advance this bill one step closer to Senate passage. We will keep pushing for the Lumbee to be fully and fairly recognized, once and for all.”
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