Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina). Photo: North Carolina State University News Services

Republican U.S. Senator blasts Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for 'bullying'

In a stunning opinion published in North Carolina's largest newspaper, Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) accuses the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of "bullying" other tribes in order to protect its gaming enterprise.

Writing in The Charlotte Observer, Burr says the Eastern Band is opposing legislation to restore land to the Catawba Nation out of greed and hypocrisy. He also blames the Cherokees for derailing a bill to extend federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe for similar reasons.

"Whether it’s the Lumbees or one mother’s home, it seems that nothing is too big or too small for the Cherokee to oppose if it affects their bottom line," Burr states. "I hope North Carolina rejects such bullying tactics from any tribe and considers each case, including the Catawbas’ and the Lumbees’, on its merits. The stakes are too high."

Artist's rendering of proposed Catawba Nation casino in North Carolina. Image: Catawba Nation Project Brief

Burr is a co-sponsor of S.790, which would place 16 acres in trust for the Catawba Nation in order for the tribe to open a casino. The Eastern Band opposes the bill and has claimed the area as its ancestral territory although it is part of a service area defined by Congress for the Catawbas.

Burr, a former member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, is also sponsoring S.1638, the Lumbee Recognition Act. The Eastern Band has long opposed such efforts and has questioned the legitimacy of the Lumbee people.

The Eastern Band operates the Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort and the newer Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel. Both are located in the far western part of North Carolina, more than 130 miles from the area where the Catawba Nation wants to open its own gaming facility.

The Lumbee Tribe is based in Pembroke, more than 280 miles from Harrah's Cherokee. Lumbee leadership has frequently downplayed talk of a potential casino though S.1638 opens the door to one.

Indianz.Com has asked Chief Richard Sneed of the Eastern Band for comment about Burr's accusations.

Read More on the Story
Richard Burr: Cherokee Indians are bullying other NC tribes (The Charlotte Observer June 19, 2019)

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