"Federally recognized tribes have not been as supportive of the federal recognition of new tribal communities as they perhaps could. The primary case is lack of support for Lumbee recognition efforts. The Lumbee have for many years sought full federal recognition, but achieved recognition with no benefits from the BIA. While many tribal communities may be favorable toward the federal recognition of currently non-recognized tribes, there is often lack of political support from many tribes for recognition.
Federally recognized tribal communities often are non-supportive of the recognition efforts of tribal communities in part because they see the recognition of additional tribal communities as taking a share of currently inadequate and probably dwindling federal financial support from the federal government. While in recent years there has been considerable attention given to economic development and casino income, most tribal communities remain largely dependent on federal funds. Economic development and gaming successes are distributed unevenly throughout Indian country. Federal recognition of more tribal communities implies fewer federal financial resources for many tribes that most need federal financial programs and support.
Further complicating the recognition process in recent years is the fear of competition from the gaming rights and locations of newly recognized tribal communities. Tribes see some well-located tribal communities as potential threats to their own gaming enterprises. Furthermore, when tribes such as the Passamaquoddy sought land and federal recognition, state governments sought to limit the possibilities of Indian gaming. States like Maine and Massachusetts have not been willing to grant newly federally recognized tribes rights to engage in gaming, thereby depriving those communities from their most lucrative economic opportunity to climb out of centuries of economic poverty and deprivation.
Non-recognized tribes will remain saddled with difficult and cumbersome recognition procedures, but that burden could be somewhat relieved with greater collective and individual attention from the national tribal organizations. Ensuring that deserving federally non-recognized tribal communities gain recognition should be a primary goal for Indian country. While the financial incentives of the federal relations inhibit tribal support for more tribally recognized communities, Indian communities should not bow to these material constraints, and recognize the cultural diversity and political sovereignty of all tribal communities."
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Editorial: Indian recognition of non-recognized tribes
(Indian Country Today 10/3)