‘A sense of pride:’ Lumbee tribal chairman talks latest milestone in fight for federal recognition

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PEMBROKE, N.C. (WBTW) — The Lumbee tribal chairman says he and other tribe members are feeling ‘hopeful and positive’ after Monday’s milestone.

The U.S. House approved the Lumbee Recognition Act Monday afternoon and the bill now moves on to the Senate. The act would give Lumbee Tribe members access to services and benefits provided to members of federally recognized tribes.

“It’s really a sense of pride, especially for our elders, who have been looking for this for so long and actually pray for it in church,” Tribal Chairman Harvey Godwin Jr. said. “It’s going to mean better healthcare for our elders. It’s going to mean better education.”

Godwin said it’s a fight that’s been going on for generations.

The Lumbee Tribe was recognized by the state of N.C. in 1885 and sought federal recognition in 1888.

“We’re very excited,” Godwin said. “But we know this is a process and this is the first huge hurtle we overcame (Monday.) But we still have two more to go which is passing in the senate and then having the president sign it in a lame duck session. And we’re very hopeful and positive that’s going to happen.”

President Trump previously voiced his support for federal recognition of the tribe. Joe Biden has also voiced his support.

“It would also make us eligible for many federal programs,” Godwin said. “We would become a sovereign government just like the U.S. government.”

Count on News13 for updates.

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