On Wednesday, June 12, 2013, U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) introduced S. 1132, the Lumbee Recognition Act, a bill which would provide federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.
"I am proud to reintroduce this legislation, continuing my efforts to ensure that the Lumbee Tribe receives long-overdue federal recognition," Senator Burr said. "I hope that the Senate will fulfill its commitment to achieve fairness and justice for the Lumbees."
"Full federal recognition is critical to the heritage and cultural identity of more than 55,000 North Carolinians and the economic vitality of the entire Lumbee community," Senator Hagan said. "I am committed to working with my colleagues to pass this legislation to give the Lumbee Tribe the full recognition they deserve."
North Carolina formally recognized the Lumbee Tribe in 1885, and three years later, in 1888, the tribe began its quest for federal recognition. In 1956, Congress finally passed legislation recognizing the tribe, but it included a terribly unfair caveat - the Lumbees were denied the benefits that every other federally recognized tribe receives.
The 1956 Lumbee Act actually prohibits the tribe from going through the Bureau of Indian Affairs process for full recognition. As the law now stands, the Lumbee Tribe can only be recognized by an act of Congress.
The Lumbee Recognition Act would provide the Lumbees with complete recognition and make the tribe eligible for all federal benefits and programs.