Lumbee Tribe one step closer to federal recognition after House approves legislation

North Carolina news

LUMBERTON, N.C. (WECT) – The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation to unconditionally recognize the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina as a federally-recognized tribe on Monday.

“My people have been praying patiently for a long time, and with today’s vote, the House of Representatives took a giant step toward our goal. I am pleased beyond words,” said Harvey Godwin, Jr. Chairman of the Lumbee Tribe. “We are forever grateful to Rep. G.K. Butterfield for introducing our bill in March of 2019 and for his help in securing co-sponsors for the legislation.”

RELATED: North Carolina’s Lumbee Tribe continues call for federal recognition amid 2020 election cycle

The proposed bill will amend a previously passed law, the Lumbee Act of 1956, clarifying the status of the Lumbee Tribe and deeming them an authentic tribe. With the passage of the bill, the Lumbee Tribe will have more rights under federal law

“Today’s unanimous and bipartisan vote to pass H.R. 1964 is a long-awaited victory for the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. I am proud to have introduced this legislation that will right a historic wrong by finally extending the Lumbee Tribe the full federal recognition they deserve. When enacted, the Lumbee Tribe will be a sovereign entity under federal law and have access to federal funding and services that will promote economic development, access to quality health care, and robust community empowerment. I am grateful for the support of my colleagues in the North Carolina Congressional Delegation on both sides of the aisle,” Butterfield said.

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After the passage of the bill in the House of Representatives, its fate will be decided upon in the U.S. Senate where Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis have already introduced counterpart legislation, according to a press release.

“In addition to extending the special legal and political relationship to the Lumbee Tribe, the legislation would establish a service area for the distribution of federal programs and services, authorize jurisdictional agreements, and permit the Interior Secretary to take land into trust for the Tribe,” according to the release.

Copyright 2020 WECT. All rights reserved.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misidentified the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians as Lumbee. We apologize for the error.

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