Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Senate panel OKs bill recognizing 7 Indian tribes

We reported in June that the U.S. House passed a bill to officially recognize seven Indian tribes in Virginia and North Carolina. Now a Senate committee has approved the legislation. "The Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and six Virginia tribes would be eligible for up to $800 million in federal funds under two bills passed by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee," Ken Thomas of The Associated Press reports. The bills ban the tribes from purchasing casinos.

Normally, lawmakers say Congress lacks the expertise to recognize tribes, but Thomas reports these groups have faced "lengthy delays in accessing federal funding for housing, education and health benefits." President Obama has said he supports the Lubmees' recognition but has not commented on the Eastern Chickahominy, Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock, Monacan and Nansemond.

The Lumbees have sought federal support for more than a century, while the six Virginia tribes have been petitioning the government since the 1990s. Some have waited 20 or 30 years for their federal recognition to be processed through the Interior Department, a system that Sen. Byron Dorgan, D.-N.D., characterized as "broken." (Read more)

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