Tribe Puts Recognition Ahead of Casino Gambling Rights
The Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, eager to end its decades-long pursuit of federal recognition, fired a consulting firm as a sign to federal officials it will keep a promise not to pursue casino gambling rights. Tribal officials terminated the contract with Lewin International, a company known as a gaming comnsultancy, to avoid resistance to tribal recognition from anti-gambling forces.
North Carolina recognized the tribe in the 1880s, but a lack of federal acceptance denies tribal members access to funding for health care, schools, and economic assistance. Lumbee representatives have been promising Congress the tribe would not use recognition as a roadway to opening its own casinos, but the contract with Lewin gave the company a percentage of future tribe business, including gambling ventures.
The decision to distance the tribe from Lewin ends a period of conflict within tribal councils. Some saw no issue with Lewin, but others admit even the idea that gambling could be a long-term objective of the Lumbee is harmful to its efforts.
"We all know that perception is reality up there in Washington," tribal chairman Purnell Swett said in the news release announcing that the deal was off. "Anything that could take away from our recognition work, whether real or imagined, has to be dealt with."
Both US Senators from North Carolina and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are behind recognition efforts. Congressional accountants say the tribe would collect over $108 million annually if recognition is approved.
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