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Lumbee federal recognition effectively dead in SenateBy Robert Deckert
While time is quickly winding down for passage of the Lumbee Federal Recognition bill, the Lumbee community still has hope.
“The bill is not dead,” said James Handin, deputy administrator of the Lumbee Tribal Office, “We’ll keep the fight alive.”
The Lumbee Act of 1956 declared the tribe as Indians, but deprived them of the same federal benefits that other federally-recognized tribes have, such as healthcare and educational assistance.
Locklear said Lumbees are “the largest non federally-recognized tribe in the U.S.”
An improved economy is viewed as a benefit of the bill.
Opponents to Lumbee recognition, such as other tribes and the casinos of Las Vegas and Atlantic City, are afraid of the competition that would arise if the Lumbees Tribe established gaming operations, said Handin.
Becky Leviner, public information assistant of the Museum of the Native American Resource Center, said she was “not surprised with what’s going on.”
The cost of recognizing the Lumbee tribe would be $80 to $90 million.
Lumbees might be further along toward recognition if it weren’t for the near decimation of some early tribes of Virginia and North Carolina, Handin said. Treaties would have been established.
“All we want is justice and fairness for our people,” Handin said.
If Congress does not act on the bill before the session expires in November, the process for resubmitting the bill will have to begin all over again for the next Congressional session.
“It’ll happen one day when it’s the right time,” Leviner said.