Committee Approves Lumbee Recognition Bill; Legislation Headed to House Floor
Washington --- Today the House Committee on Natural Resources approved a bill introduced by Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) to provide federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.
The bi-partisan bill, called the “Lumbee Recognition Act” (H.R.1964) is co-sponsored by the Tribe’s congressman, Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) as well as Reps. Richard Hudson (R-NC), David Price (D-NC), Alma Adams (D-NC), Don Young (R-AK), and Bill Timmons (R-SC).
“I am pleased the Committee took this action and so grateful for the strong support and commitment of Mr. Butterfield and all the bill sponsors,” said tribal chairman Harvey Godwin.
The Tribe was recognized by the State of North Carolina in 1885 and has sought federal recognition since 1888.
“Our people are rooted in our deep faith, our love of the land, proper education, and maintaining our tribal ways. This legislation is necessary to fix what Congress did in the 1950s and clarify that we do have a special relationship with the United States,” Godwin said.
If the bill is enacted, the Tribe and its nearly 60,000 members would be eligible for services provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other federal agencies. Already a presence in rural southeastern North Carolina, federal recognition would equip the Tribe to strengthen the regional economy for the benefit of all North Carolinians.
Today’s action is widely seen as the next step in remedying an injustice that has plagued the Lumbee people for generations.
“The Lumbee Tribe has waited years for the federal recognition they deserve and this is a monumental step in that direction,” said Rep. Bishop. “This legislation has been a top priority of mine during my first year in Congress, and I thank my colleagues Chairman Grijalva, Ranking Member Rob Bishop, Rep. Butterfield and Rep. Hudson for their support of the Lumbee. I urge my colleagues to bring this measure to the House of Representatives floor and pass this critical legislation that will change the course of Lumbee history for generations to come,” said Rep. Dan Bishop.
“I am thrilled by today’s vote in the House Committee on Natural Resources to advance my bill, H.R. 1964, to extend full federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina,” said Rep. Butterfield. “For far too long the Lumbee have been denied the services and economic development opportunities they deserve and, most importantly, the recognition by the federal government of being a sovereign people, something the State of North Carolina has recognized since 1885. Today’s vote is a critical step in rectifying this historical wrong. I thank my colleagues on the Committee for their votes to pass my bill and look forward to it moving to the floor for passage out of the U.S. House of Representatives,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield.
The text of H.R.1964 is available at https://www.congress.gov/.../hr1964/BILLS-116hr1964ih.xml