Editorial: Hope fading fast for Lumbee Tribe's recognition
"It is impossible to predict what the U.S. Senate will do with any legislation. Nobody knows that better than the Lumbee Indian tribe, which has sought full federal recognition in vain for more than 50 years. Most often, those efforts have collapsed in the Senate, where arcane rules allow a single senator to shut down important legislation. So it's been for the Lumbees, who came within two Senate votes of recognition in 1992 and have had several near misses since then.

This year was especially hopeful for the tribe. A recognition bill easily passed the House last year and then moved smoothly through the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in October. It was awaiting action on the Senate floor. Members of the tribe and the Senate were optimistic. This might have been the year of recognition.

But that hope is fading fast, after a sudden and unexpected strategy change, decided at a secret tribal council meeting. The council fired the lawyer who spearheaded the recognition effort - at no charge - for the past 20 years, Robeson County native Arlinda Locklear. And it hired a gaming consultant to push recognition through.

Members of the tribal council insist this doesn't mean they have visions of casinos in their future. The recognition legislation includes an amendment forbidding the tribe from opening casinos. Tribal council speaker Ricky Burnett says that's still the deal. "No gaming. Uh-uh," he said."

Get the Story:
Editorial: New Game: Tribal council takes big gamble on recognition bill (The Fayetteville Observer 3/21)

Lumbee Recognition Bills:
S.1735 | H.R.31 | H.R.839

Related Stories:
Lumbee Tribe ends relationship with longtime attorney (3/19)
New Lumbee chairman promises to push for recognition (1/15)
Lumbee Tribe chairman aims to boost credibility (11/18)
Lumbee Tribe moves closer to federal recognition (10/23)