LUMBERTON, N.C. (WNCN) — In a push to win the Native American vote and ultimately, our critical, key battleground state, President Donald Trump held a rally in Robeson County on Saturday.
“We’re fighting for every American of every background, of every race, color, and creed, including Native Americans,” Trump said to a packed crowd of supporters at the Robeson County Fairgrounds. “That’s why I’m here, Native Americans.”
Trump’s campaign stop comes just a few days after he voiced his support for a bi-partisan bill
that would give federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.
That recognition would provide better health care, education, and access to federal grants to the tribe’s 55,000 residents, many of which live in Robeson, Cumberland, Scotland and Hoke counties.
“This is a group that’s been forgotten,” Trump said while pointing to a group of Lumbee supporters who were holding signs.
The Lumbee Tribe has about 33,000 registered voters. Janeth Carter, 19, is a member of the tribe who supports President Trump.
“This is something the Lumbee Tribe have fought for, for years and years and years,” she said of efforts to receive federal recognition. “For him to come all the way down to Lumberton, North Carolina, Robeson County, it means a lot.”
Trump publicly pledged his support for the bill about two weeks before Election Day, and after his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden expressed his support.
“I’ve heard a lot of things like Trump is doing this to pander for the vote,” said Carey Jacobs, a member of the Tuscarora Tribe. “Me personally, I don’t feel like that.”
“We would have supported him whether he said it or not,” said Cochise Clark, a member of the Lumbee Tribe who played an honorary drum song for the crowd ahead of Trump’s arrival. “I was always on the Trump Train.”
Not everyone in the Lumbee Tribe feels the same. Several signed a letter in support of Joe Biden. They said they believe President Trump is “using our generations-long quest for recognition to boost his electoral chances.”
“It’s hard to say, but we’re traditionally a blue county, Robeson County,” said Jacobs. “Last election, back in 2016, it was red for Trump. My feeling, my sense is, he’s probably gonna get it again this year.”
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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