Dole, Burr Applaud Committee Approval of Lumbee Recognition Bill

U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr today applauded approval by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee of a bill to provide full federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe. The measure is now eligible for full Senate consideration.

"Securing committee approval is a significant legislative hurdle to clear," said Dole. "I am very pleased we convinced the Committee to advance this bill one step closer to Senate passage. We will keep pushing for the Lumbee to be fully and fairly recognized, once and for all."

"I was proud to vote for this bill that provides full federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe today," Burr said. "I am pleased to see the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs take this important step to achieve the fairness and justice the Lumbees deserve. I look forward to seeing this bill come before the full Senate soon."

In June 2007 the House of Representatives passed the Lumbee recognition bill, which is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre.

"This has truly been a bipartisan effort of cooperation, and Mike McIntyre and Richard Burr have been phenomenal allies," said Dole.

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 Lumbee 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.

One other tribe, the Tiwas of Texas, faced a similar situation following the passage of a comparable bill in 1965. In 1987, Congress enacted special legislation to recognize them. This makes the Lumbee the only tribe in the country still trapped in this limbo.

The Lumbee Recognition Act was the first legislation introduced by Dole when she arrived in the Senate. In the 108th and 109th Congresses, she successfully advocated for the bill to be approved by the Indian Affairs Committee.