Part 7: Reflections on the Battle for Lumbee Recognition

Record Number: 
BLOG030
Citation: 

Locklear, Arlinda. "Part 7: Reflections on the Battle for Lumbee Recognition." YouTube. 28 April 2010.

Annotation: 

Arlinda Locklear continues her lecture on the Lumbee's fight for recognition to a group of students at UNC- Chapel Hill in this seventh video segment by discussing the opposition to Lumbee recognition.

She says that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has been the biggest opponent of the Lumbee, stopping their efforts almost every time the Lumbee have gotten to Congress. She says that the BIA is quiet in their opposition, though, not confronting Congress but going to Indian tribes and spreading myths about the effects of Lumbee recognition.

She says the size of the tribe has been another great obstacle, being the largest non-federally recognized tribe in the country, with a population of around 55,000. She says that the Lumbee are even three times the size of the country's third largest tribe, the Houma Nation, at 17,000 members.

Locklear says that there is a big question of money with other Indian tribes. She says that the BIA tells tribes that the Lumbee will take money out of their budgets if the Lumbee are recognized and that their great size will make the cuts even larger. She says that this is a myth. "I can walk you through the IHS (Indian Health Service) budget, I can walk you through the BIA budget and give you all the technical reasons why it is not true, "she says of money being taken from other Indian tribes and given to the Lumbee.

Locklear says that there are "regulatory and legal protections" that guard against this, but she says, it is very hard to convince Indians of this after the BIA has told them otherwise for 125 years.

Locklear mentions another opposition to Lumbee recognition coming from other tribes. She says that as a majority most tribes don't care one way or the other, but that there are a few who have enough resources, through casinos, and well paid lobbyists, who fight Lumbee recognition. She says that these few tribes are enough to make it seem that there is nationwide opposition to the Lumbee gaining federal recognition.

Locklear says that one of the biggest jobs of hers and the Lumbee people is going behind offices such as the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the BIA and trying to clean up the lies spread by these agencies. She says that is a difficult battle because of well organized and supported opposition.

Locklear switches her lecture now to reasons why the Lumbee should be recognized. She says that after having discussed all the opposition, that doesn't mean there aren't reasons why the Lumbee should be recognized. She says there are many reasons and once they can get willing listeners they can convince them easily.

She says the first reason is the size, which, she says, "is what it is." She tells an amusing story of Adolph Dial, who helped the Lumbee in their battle, who told Congress when questioned about the size of the Lumbee, "the bed of misery is a fertile one." She says that this great size of the tribe is what makes them so strong and once people realize they will not take money from other tribes the size of the Lumbee won't seem so bad.

She mentions technical reasons that address the question of cost for such a huge tribe. She mentions $85 million in Indian Health Care costs, but says that Congress would not supply this money until they had appropriated the funds. Thus, this money would not come from existing tribes or other government budgets.

Locklear ends in discussing the BIA process for federal recognition. She says that the opposition say that the Lumbee have to go through the BIA to become recognized because Congress does not have the expertise to deal with such matters. "Balderdash," she says to this. She says that Congress never made a tribe turn back when they had put them in a position such as the Lumbee are in, being terminated and thus ineligible for recognition through the BIA and an administrative path. She says that it would be wrong for Congress to turn them away and force them back on the BIA when the Lumbee are the last tribe facing termination.

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