Council: State should accept EBCI cards for alcohol, tobacco purchases

by Aug 4, 2022NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments


One Feather Staff


Tribal identification cards issued by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) to its members can be used as valid forms of identification in many instances from air travel to banking transactions.  Tribal Council passed Res. No. 370 (2022) unanimously during its regular session on Thursday, Aug. 4 that gives its support to an idea to change North Carolina law to add EBCI tribal cards as a valid form of identification when purchasing alcohol and tobacco within the state.

North Carolina General Statute 18B-302(d)(1) states that identifications currently accepted in the state to establish age include: “…a driver’s license, a special identification card under G.S. 20-37.7 or issued by the state agency of any other state authorized to issue similar official state special identification cards for that state, a military identification card, or a passport…”

Res. No.  370 states, “…the state of North Carolina should accept tribal identification cards for all legitimate identification purposes and could rectify this oversight by adding ‘or a tribal identification card issued by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians or any other federally recognized tribe’ to N.C.G.S. Ch 18B-302(d)(1), therefore allowing tribal members to purchase alcohol and tobacco off the Qualla Boundary with a valid tribal enrollment card”.

Callie Phillips, an intern with the EBCI Attorney General’s Office, who submitted the legislation, said, “I’m asking for your support as I continue on to the state legislators to get our enrollment cards valid under the state law.  North Carolina accepts four forms of ID – a (driver’s) license, state ID, passport or military for any kind of over 21 purchase.  I just want to add our federally recognized IDs.”

She commented that the State of North Carolina already accepts EBCI tribal cards for various things requiring identification including purchase of EBCI special license plates, state sales tax exemption, banking, etc.  “So, it is on their books already.”

Phillips continued, “Federally, you travel with TSA.  You can enter borders on Mexico and Canada.  There are a lot of other states that have this on their laws.  It’s a pretty simple fix.”

In May 2021, Mississippi passed legislation designating the enrollment cards for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to be recognized as a legal identification statewide.

Big Cove Rep. Teresa McCoy praised the efforts of Phillips and gave an anecdote of a time she lost her wallet prior to traveling to Florida for a graduation.  She visited EBCI tribal enrollment the following day to get a new card.  “They issued me that one card, and I was allowed to get on an airplane and fly to my son’s graduation simply on an enrollment card.  I didn’t have a credit card.  I didn’t have cash.  I didn’t have my driver’s license or anything.  I just had that one card, and it got me on the plane, and it got me back and forth from Florida.”

She added, “The concerns I’ve received from the community all stem from purchasing alcohol.  Apparently, when buying alcohol off the Boundary, they card you and when they see the enrollment card, they do not accept it.  They say, ‘we can’t take that card, it’s not a real anything’ – which can really be offensive to people when they want that six pack and that card ain’t going to work.  I appreciate your legislation.”

Earlier in the session, Tribal Council had Ord. No. 366 deemed read and tabled.  Also submitted by Phillips, this ordinance would codify adding an EBCI enrollment card, or a card from any federally recognized tribe, as an age-verifying identification used when purchasing alcohol on EBCI tribal lands.  This ordinance will come to the floor for action during the September Tribal Council session.