Panel wants to get word out on gaming process

First Posted: 1/15/2009

PEMBROKE -- Lumbee tribal officials say the next steps in the tribe's effort to gain federal recognition are networking, lobbying, community meetings and fund-raisers.
Gaming was another topic at Tuesday night's federal recognition committee meeting. Members discussed ways to send messages to news media outside Robeson County and North Carolina explaining the requirements for gaming.
“Locally, The Robesonian and The Fayetteville Times have reported that this is not a 23-member Tribal Council decision,” said council member Linda Hammonds. “Those outlining areas are not aware that we don't make that decision.”
The Lumbee Act -- which would provide federal recognition and accompanying benefits for Lumbee Indians -- was introduced into both chambers of the Congress last month. Gaming is a reserved right of all federally recognized tribes. A decision to allow gaming must be decided in a referendum vote of enrolled tribal members and must be approved by the governor.
Tribal officials say their motivation for federal recognition is housing, education and health-care assistance -- not to open a casino. Committee Chairman Jimmy Goins asked committee members to emphasize that concept when they speak at civic and community meetings.
Goins is scheduled to speak at upcoming meetings of the Lumberton Rotary Club and Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation. Councilman Dobbs Oxendine volunteered to speak at a local Kiwanis meeting. Goins said he plans to ask the staff to schedule community meetings with Lumbees living in Charlotte and Raleigh, as well as Hoke, Robeson and Scotland counties. Councilman Larry Townsend suggested that tribal officials meet with members of the local church community.
“It would behoove us to work with the local ministers so they don't get all bent out of shape and start putting the cart ahead of the horse,” Townsend said, in reference to the possibility of a casino.
In other business, the committee discussed networking methods to determine which congressmen and senators support Lumbee federal recognition. Townsend asked committee members to talk to acquaintances across the state and nation and ask them to lobby their representatives. Hammonds said the tribe's Web site and e-mail are other tools for soliciting support for the Lumbee Bill.
Oxendine is heading the effort to raise money to pay for lobbying. Tribal officials hope to raise about $140,000. Suggestions included a formal steak dinner, a motorcycle “poker run,” T-shirts and bumper stickers.

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