Federal Recognition

Lumbee Tribe remains in long quest to gain federal recognition

The headquarters of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. Photo from Facebook

The Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina is once again looking to Congress to pass a federal recognition bill.

The tribe's first documented request for recognition dates to 1885. After decades of lobbying, leaders and members thought they secured federal status with the passage of the Lumbee Act in 1956.

The tribe quickly discovered otherwise. The law recognized the Lumbees as "Indians" but denied them any benefits that would come with federal recognition.

“There are a lot of us who work in Indian affairs, and we are perceived by the rest of Indian country as basically second-class Indians because we're not federally recognized,” attorney Locklear, a prominent attorney who was the first Native woman to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court, told UNC News Bureau.

Efforts to rescind the law have drawn support in Congress. But the bills always hit a snag in the Senate after passing the House.

This year appears no different. H.R.184, the Lumbee Recognition Act, has the backing of a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

But no companion has been introduced in the Senate. And Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), the new chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, has openly stated that he opposes legislative recognition bills.

Then there's the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The only federally-recognized tribe in North Carolina doesn't believe the Lumbees are legitimate.

Leaders of both tribes declined to comment to UNC News Bureau, which has posted an interactive feature on the Lumbee quest for recognition.

Get the Story:
With a new bill, North Carolina’s Lumbee Tribe continues to push for federal recognition (UNC News Bureau 4/16)

Related Stories:
Eastern Cherokees oppose Lumbee Tribe federal recognition bill (01/12)
Leader of Lumbee Tribe not optimistic on federal recognition bill (1/8)
Column: Lumbee Tribe should include casino in bid for recognition (1/7)
Editorial: Lumbee Tribe's road to recognition gets steeper (11/12)
Supporter of Lumbee Tribe's recognition loses re-election bid (11/7)
Tribes in North Carolina back Democrat Sen. Hagan in tight race (10/30)
Republican blames Sen. Reid for holding Lumbee recognition bill (08/15)
Senate candidates support federal recognition for Lumbee Tribe (06/25)

Join the Conversation