indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Obama's influence felt at Lumbee recognition hearing
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Filed Under: Recognition

The election of President Barack Obama brought change to Washington on Wednesday as the Bureau of Indian Affairs, for the first time, endorsed federal recognition for the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.

After years of opposing legislative recognition for the largest tribe east of the Mississippi, the BIA's new position was reflected in testimony to the House Natural Resources Committee. A senior official relayed the administration's unequivocal support for H.R.31.

"As a matter of equity and good conscience, it is time for the Lumbee Tribe to be recognized," said George Skibine, a career employee who is in charge of the BIA.

When asked by a committee member how the shift in thinking came about, Skibine wasn't able to single out a particular person. But it was clear from his answers that the direction came from the top levels at the Interior Department.

"The decision was made by the political leadership at Interior," testified Skibine, pointing to staff to Secretary Ken Salazar

Salazar, as another member pointed out, works for Obama. And it was the president who promised on the campaign trail to support the tribe's long-running federal recognition bid.

Although a version of the bill passed the House in 2007, Democratic leaders responded to the message. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia), the chairman of the committee, made the bill the first on his agenda for the 111th Congress.

But Republicans continue to oppose legislative recognition as a matter of principle. They want the tribe to go through the BIA's lengthy review process, which could take years, or even decades, to complete.

At least one Democrat agrees. Rep. Heath Shuler (D-North Carolina), who testified yesterday, has introduced a rival bill, H.R.839, to allow the state-recognized tribe to submit a petition to the BIA for consideration.

The BIA route is currently not available to the tribe because Congress, during the height of the termination era in the 1950s, passed a law that described the Lumbees as "Indians" but denied them the benefits associated with federal status.

Shuler's district includes the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, whose leaders have questioned the legitimacy of the Lumbee Tribe. Shuler said he didn't know how the Eastern Band gained federal recognition -- it was through an act of Congress -- when asked by Rahall.

The United South and Eastern Tribes also opposes legislative recognition, the group's executive director told the committee. But Michael Cook acknowledged that several USET members, who own some of the largest casinos in the country, gained federal status through acts of Congress.

The Lumbee bill bars the tribe from engaging in gaming, which is currently outlawed in Virginia. The prohibition sticks even if the state changes its laws in the future, said Skibine, who also serves as director of the BIA's Office of Indian Gaming Management.

Skibine suggested an amendment to the bill to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court in Carcieri v. Salazar. He said Congress should make clear that the tribe is eligible for the land-into-trust process.

The House is likely to pass the bill again. The tribe has supporters of both parties in the Senate but the bill didn't make it to the floor during the last Congress.

Committee Hearing:
Full Committee Legislative Hearing On H.R. 31 And H.R. 1385 (March 18, 2009)

Related Stories:
Obama administration backs Lumbee recognition (3/18)
Audio: House hearing on federal recognition bills (3/18)
Witness list for hearing on recognition bills (3/17)
House Resources hearing on federal recognition bills (3/16)
Road to Recognition: Rival Lumbee bill introduced (3/11)
Bill to recognize Virginia tribes introduced in House (3/10)
Road to Recognition: Lumbee Tribe seeks housing (3/10)
Road to Recognition: Lumbee Tribe continues push (3/9)
Indian inmates fight over Lumbee recognition (2/24)
Lumbee Tribe recognition bill introduced again (01/15)



Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tribes mount another fight after Trump approves another pipeline (3/24)
Native Sun News Today: Navajo elders continue long fight on land (3/24)
Editorial: Just another day of trying to keep up with the Trumps (3/24)
Elizabeth LaPensée: Video games encourage indigenous culture (3/24)
Mary Annette Pember: Native women work with youth offenders (3/24)
Tiffany Midge: Trump continues to conjure hero Andrew Jackson (3/24)
John Kane: Seneca Nation money train coming to end in New York (3/24)
Grand Ronde Tribes secure approval of school mascot agreement (3/24)
Editorial: Federal recognition for tribes in Virginia is long overdue (3/24)
Seneca Nation ends casino payments after sending $1.4B to state (3/24)
Appeals court hears slew of Indian cases amid focus on nominee (3/23)
Internal tribal disputes continue to trip up federal court system (3/23)
Mark Trahant: Indian health care gains ignored in political debate (3/23)
Native Sun News Today: Young fighters maintain Lakota tradition (3/23)
Ivan Star Comes Out: America loses its self-respect and humanity (3/23)
Rosalyn LaPier: Why water remains sacred to indigenous peoples (3/23)
Winona LaDuke: North Dakota spreads filth about water protectors (3/23)
Harold Monteau: Tribal governments are abusing their own people (3/23)
Alex Jacobs: Donald Trump in middle of the 'deep state civil war' (3/23)
Secretary Zinke announces 'doggy days' for Interior Department (3/23)
Keystone XL Pipeline route crosses Ponca Tribe's forced removal (3/23)
Indian lawmaker resigns after being charged for child prostitution (3/23)
Pinoleville Pomo Nation buys site of long-delayed casino project (3/23)
High court pick acknowledges poor treatment of 'sovereign' tribes (3/22)
Dakota Access submits another status update entirely under seal (3/22)
Court allows claim for alleged underpayment in Cobell settlement (3/22)
South Dakota tribes continue to extend Class III gaming compacts (3/22)
Cowlitz Tribe secures approval to offer liquor as casino debut nears (3/22)
Native Sun News Today: Community project continues at Pine Ridge (3/22)
Cronkite News: Copper mine on sacred site complains about delays (3/22)
Mary Annette Pember: Awareness for missing and murdered sisters (3/22)
Stacy Pratt: Visiting the gravesite of Andrew Jackson in Tennessee (3/22)
Murder charge filed for fatal shooting of Navajo Nation police officer (3/22)
Muckleshoot Tribe still seeking answers for fatal shooting by officer (3/22)
Hopland Band submits claim for county raid of marijuana operation (3/22)
Chukchansi Tribe sued for $21M by gaming development company (3/22)
Seminole Tribe accused of breaking contract with outlet at casino (3/22)
Indian Child Welfare Act survives attack from conservative groups (3/21)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on diabetes (3/21)
Ponca Tribe hosts 282-mile walk to retrace trail of forced removal (3/21)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.