Update: The House passed H.R.1294, the Virginia tribes recognition, by a voice vote this afternoon. The bill pased after House Democrats, earlier in the day, rejected a Republican-led attempt to block consideration. Statement from Rep. Jim Moran.
Fears about gaming continue to affect Indian legislation on Capitol Hill, with two federal recognition bills bearing the stamp of casino foes.
On April 25, the House Natural Resources Committee approved H.R.1294, a bill to recognize six Virginia tribes, and H.R.65, a bill to recognize the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. The action came after amendments to both measures barred the tribes from engaging in gaming.
In both cases, the tribes affected agreed to the prohibition.
The Virginia tribes and the Lumbees cite religious and
social objections to casinos, which they feel could hurt
their chances at gaining full recognition.
But the main proponents of the ban include noted foes
of gaming. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Virginia), a longtime critic of
the Bureau of Indian Affairs, cited the Jack Abramoff
scandal as one of the reasons to oppose gaming for
the six Virginia tribes.
"Why won't the tribes accept a law that would prevent gambling on
tribal lands?" Wolf asked at an April 18 hearing.
"If the tribes are not interested in gambling, why not make that the law?"
There aren't any recognized tribes in Tennessee but that
didn't stop Rep. John Duncan (R-Tennessee) from pushing
the gaming ban on the Virginia tribes and the Lumbees
at the April 25 markup.
Duncan said he acted after Wolf described the gaming industry
as "out of control."
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), the co-chairman of the
Congressional Native American Caucus and the only Native
American in Congress, opposed the amendments.
"I don't think you should have to bargain away pieces of your
sovereignty to get sovereignty," he said at the markup.
The committee, though approved Duncan's amendments to
H.R.1294 and H.R.65. The move helped put the Virginia
tribes on the fast track in the House, which is voting
on the bill today.
But Cole's concerns could raise problems in the future.
A handful of tribes, mainly in the East, are subject
to the same types of gaming bans that are in the two recognition bills.
For some, the ban has been nearly detrimental. The
Tigua Tribe and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, both of Texas,
lost their main source of revenue when the
courts upheld a gaming ban in their federal recognition
laws and forced them to shut down their casinos.
The tribes were then victimized by the convicted lobbyist
Abramoff, who pressured
the Tiguas into paying millions to an associate in hopes
of passing legislation to rescind the ban.
The Alabama-Coushattas unwittingly donated money for
a lavish trip to Scotland that helped put a Republican Congressman
in prison sentence.
In New England, a handful of tribes have had their
sovereignty virtually decimated by agreeing to
submit to state gaming and other laws.
A series of ruling from the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals
has hurt at least five tribes in Maine and Rhode Island.
Even in cases where a tribe agreed to a restriction rather than
a total prohibition on gaming, the effects haven't been positive.
Through its federal recognition act,
the Catawba Nation is subject
to the gaming laws of South Carolina and is now barred
from opening a video gaming facility on its reservation
under a recent state court decision.
The Virginia and Lumbee tribes, however, don't foresee
any major problems if they gain recognition with the
gaming prohibition bans.
"Indian gaming has gotten so out of hand that no ones wants to touch it,"
Arlinda Locklear, a Lumbee lawyer, told The Robesonian newspaper following
According to the amendment in H.R.1294, the Virginia tribes
"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."
It contains additional language that bars gaming under
"regulations thereunder promulgated by the Secretary or the
National Indian Gaming Commission."
Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act
House Report 110-124
Lumbee Recognition Act
Full Committee Markup
(April 25, 2007) |
Committee Legislative Hearing: H.R. 1294 and H.R. 65
(April 18, 2007)
Virginia Indians Tribal Alliance For Life - http://www.vitalva.org
Official Lumbee Tribe website - http://www.lumbeetribe.com
House Resources Committee - http://resourcescommittee.house.gov
Virginia tribes hope 2007 is year for
(5/7) Editorial: A step
forward for Virginia's tribes
(5/7) Opinion: Virginia Indians advocate 'mythology'
(5/4) Rep. Moran expects vote on
(5/3) Editorial: Lumbee Tribe takes step to
Virginia tribes deserve recognition
(5/1) Editorial: Lumbee recognition long overdue
(4/27) House committee approves Lumbee
(4/26) Virginia recognition bill clears House committee
Virginia tribes make case for recognition bill
(4/19) Lumbee Tribe presses for federal recognition
(4/19) Adkins: Virginia tribes deserve
(4/18) House hearing
on Lumbee, Virginia recognition
(4/18) Virginia tribe optimistic on recognition in
hearing on Lumbee, Virginia recognition
(4/2) Bill to recognize Lumbee Tribe introduced again
(01/08) Lumbee Tribe faces recognition
battle again in 2007
outlines Indian agenda for 110th Congress
(12/11) Virginia tribe optimistic on recognition in