By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Have you ever watched the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray? If so, you’ll sort of get the feeling. On the first full day of the 112th Congress, Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC) introduced legislation that would grant the Lumbee Tribe full federal acknowledgment.
Identical bills passed the House in 2007 and 2009, but both bills stalled in the Senate.
“The fight for Lumbee recognition will continue, and we have to hit the ground running,” Rep. McIntyre (D-NC) said. “It is time for discrimination to end and recognition to begin! For over 100 years, the Lumbee people have been seeking the dignity and respect they deserve from the federal recognition.”
The Lumbees themselves might not be as pleased with the introduction of the bill as you might think. “While I am appreciative of the Congressman’s dedication to…correcting a grave injustice done to the Lumbee people, I was not aware nor consulted about reintroducing this bill,” Lumbee chairman Purnell Swett told The Fayetteville Observer. “Furthermore, I had not contacted the Congressman and requested that this previous bill done by another administration be reintroduced.”
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has historically been against the Lumbee Tribe seeking recognition through Congressional means. “Congressman McIntyre re-introduced the Lumbee recognition bill in Congress in what I believe is an inability of members of our congressional delegation to understand the underlying issues of tribal federal recognition,” Principal Chief Michell Hicks said on Friday, Jan. 7. “I remain committed in our efforts to ensure that the federal recognition process takes precedence over political pandering in the new congress.”
The bill is now in the hands of the House Natural Resources Committee.