A bill that would give full federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina has gotten a hearing in Congress.
The measure filed by Republican Congressman Robert Pittenger would extend more benefits like disaster recovery to the Lumbee.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has been opposed to Lumbee recognition in the past. That tribe says the Lumbee should go through the Office of Federal Acknowledgement in the Bureau of Indian Affairs rather than push for an act of Congress.
During the hearing this week, Lumbee Chairman Harvey Godwin said that was undue burden.
“The petition process is long, expensive - very expensive - and riddled with issues of fairness,” Godwin said. “Requiring a petition for review by the OFA would be to further delay the justice we deserve.”
The bill would not allow the Lumbee to build casinos on their land. The subcommittee did not take a vote on the measure.
Pittenger called it an issue of fairness.
“In heritage, culture and many times in their relationship with state and federal government, the Lumbee are every bit as Indian as any other tribe in this country,” Pittinger said.
Congress first recognized the Lumbee in the 1950s, but did not grant the tribe certain benefits like disaster recovery funds.