To the Editor,
After the tribe’s federal recognition efforts came so close last year, I’m sure most of us are wondering is this the year we get it? Or maybe we’re thinking, what will it take to see full federal recognition come our way?
While the tribe clearly appreciates the significance and importance full federal recognition would bring to the tribe and this region, I suspect the Lumbee people are growing eager to learn what exactly the tribe is doing different this year to assure success. After the people made it clear how upset they were with the last administration’s part in securing an exclusive contract with the Lewin International lobbyist firm that gave them millions of dollars in gaming rights, we need a lobbyist group with our interest at heart. The Lumbee people have voted no to gaming. Hiring another lobbyist group who is clearly just interested in securing gaming rights would be an injustice to the people.
While lobbyists are a keen way to spread our voice and open doors to congressmen and congresswomen, we need a lobbyist group that knows who we are and represents us well as a proud sovereign Indian nation. We need someone who is preferably Lumbee themselves, with the know-how of who to talk to in Washington and what steps to take to make recognition happen. As the tribe has so eloquently stated before, securing full recognition is about fairness, justice, and equal treatment as an Indian nation, who have been told numerous times, “you’re Indian, but you’re just too big for us (the BIA) to deal with.”
We need a lobbyist who would view working for the tribe to secure its recognition, similar to the way lawyer, Ms. Arlinda Locklear, has done for years. Ms. Arlinda was truly a blessing in many ways, devoting her time and services for the advancement of her people. We need a lobbyist who truly wants to see us recognized for the right reasons, and not for a big paycheck in gaming rights for their own entrepreneurial interest. History tells us Congress and the federal government aren’t concerned about our interest, and protecting our sovereign rights as an Indian nation. We must realize, if we want recognition, we are the ones who have to make it happen. It will never just be given to us; we must stand up and take it ourselves.