Lumbee Recognition Bill Advances
Special Report - June 5, 2009
A bill that would grant federal recognition to the Lumbee Indians in Eastern North Carolina passed the U.S. House on June 3 by a vote of 240 to 179 and now goes to the Senate. H.R. 31-Lumbee Recognition Act, sponsored by Representative Mike McIntyre (D-NC), would give the 55,000-plus member tribe access to millions of dollars in federal funds for healthcare, education, housing and other services they do not have. While full federal recognition typically carries with it the right of the tribe to negotiate a gambling agreement, or compact, with the state in which the tribe is located, H.R. 31 includes a provision that prohibits the tribe from gambling in North Carolina. The provision states: “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 or under any regulations thereunder promulgated by the Secretary or the National Indian Gaming Commission.” Last session, a virtually identical bill passed the U.S. House and a committee in the U.S. Senate, but failed to garner the necessary support to gain approval by the full Senate.
H.R. 31 had 185 co-sponsors in the House, including North Carolina Representatives G.K. Butterfield, Howard Coble, Bob Etheridge, Larry Kissell, Brad Miller, David E. Price, and Melvin L. Watt. The bill must still be approved by the Senate to become law.
In April 2007, the North Carolina Family Policy Council submitted a letter o Rep. McIntyre requesting that the Lumbee Recognition Act be amended in order to avoid expanded Indian gaming in North Carolina.
“We are grateful that Rep. McIntryre again included a provision in H.R. 31 that expressly prohibits the Lumbee Tribe from engaging in gambling activities, and that the U.S. House passed the bill with that prohibition intact,” said Bill Brooks, President of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “As we stated in our 2007 letter to Rep. McIntyre, we do not oppose full federal recognition for the Lumbee Tribe, but we strongly oppose the expansion of gambling activities in North Carolina, which would bring a myriad of social and economic problems to our state for years to come.”
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