04.26.21

Sens. Burr, Tillis Reintroduce Lumbee Federal Recognition Bill

Today, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) reintroduced the Lumbee Recognition Act, legislation to grant long-overdue federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.

“For more than 130 years, the Lumbees have sought the same federal recognition that other tribes across the nation enjoy,” said Senator Burr. “This federal recognition will help the Lumbee people not only improve their economy, but enhance their health care systems and schools.

“Despite broad bipartisan support of this legislation over the last three decades, Congress has yet to act on this important bill. This has been a grave disservice to the Lumbee people and the rich culture the tribe contributes to North Carolina. It’s time to get this done. I urge the Senate to swiftly pass this bill.”

“The Lumbee Tribe has been fighting for more than a century to gain federal recognition and, as long as I’m in the U.S. Senate, I’m going to continue my work to make sure this happens,” said Senator Tillis. “I am proud to co-introduce this legislation again and continue my work with Senator Burr to get this legislation across the finish line.”

Background: 

The Lumbee Tribe is the largest American-Indian tribe in the Eastern United States. In 1885, North Carolina formally recognized the Lumbee Tribe. Three years later, the Tribe began to seek federal recognition. In 1956, Congress finally passed legislation recognizing the tribe, but the bill included an unfair caveat that denied the Lumbee benefits that every other federally-recognized tribe receives.

Senator Burr has been an unwavering advocate of the Lumbee Tribe. In 2007, Senator Burr first introduced the Lumbee Recognition Act and has since testified multiple times before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on the tribe’s qualifications and unjust treatment.

The Lumbee Recognition Act has broad bipartisan support. In October 2020, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden and President Donald Trump announced their support of federal recognition for the Lumbee Tribe. Since 1988, legislation to federally recognize the Lumbee Tribe has been introduced in Congress 29 separate times – 15 times by a Democrat and 14 times by a Republican.

Representatives G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Dan Bishop (R-NC), David Price (D-NC), and Richard Hudson (R-NC) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives on April 22, 2021.