Lumbee Recognition Act Reintroduced in U.S. Senate
Special Report - March 23, 2005
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole (RNC) has reintroduced legislation that would grant the Lumbee Indian Tribe of North Carolina full federal recognition. S660Lumbee Recognition Act, which is identical to the version introduced by Senator Dole during the last session of Congress, would make members of the Lumbee Tribe eligible for “programs, services, and benefits (including privileges and immunities) provided by the United States to members of Indian tribes.” One of these privileges, which has been the subject of much concern for many across the state, is the right to conduct gambling operations. After obtaining full federal recognition, the Lumbees could seek a Tribal-State Compact with North Carolina authorizing the establishment of one or more gambling casinos along the I-95 corridor in Robeson County. Because this is a major interstate thoroughfare between New Jersey and Florida, a casino in this area could rival the size of any in the world. While S660 does not specifically authorize the Lumbee Indians to have gambling, obtaining full federal recognition would represent a major step in that direction.
If Congress approves the measure, the Lumbees would become the second tribe in North Carolina to be given official federal recognition, joining the Eastern Band of Cherokees. In 1997, the Cherokee Tribe opened the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, which has become the most popular private tourist destination in the state, attracting over 8,000 people a day and 3.3 million visitors per year.
More information about the risks surrounding casino gambling in Robeson County can be found in the North Carolina Family Policy Council’s research paper entitled “Lumbee Casino Gambling.”
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