Feb 17 2023

In 1956, Congress passed legislation recognizing the Lumbee tribe, but the bill included an unfair caveat that denied the Lumbee benefits that every other federally-recognized tribe receives.

WASHINGTON, D.C.  U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Ted Budd (R-NC) introduced the Lumbee Fairness Act, legislation to grant long-overdue federal benefits to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina that every other federally-recognized tribe receives.

“More than six decades ago, Congress made a promise to recognize the Lumbee Tribe, but then failed to keep it. I’m committed to making sure the Lumbees finally get the full recognition they deserve,” said Senator Tillis. “There is broad bipartisan consensus for full federal recognition, earning the unequivocal support of both President Biden and former President Trump, and passing on a bipartisan basis in the House in the last two Congresses. I’m proud to introduce this legislation to uphold the promise to the Lumbee Tribe, and I will continue to work across the aisle to get it across the finish line.”

“The more than 60,000 North Carolina members of the Lumbee Tribe have waited decades for federal recognition. They deserve the same rights, privileges, and respect granted to other Native American tribes throughout our country,” said Senator Budd. “I look forward to working with Senator Tillis to finally get this across the finish line.”

“For generations, the Lumbee have fought for full federal recognition and tribal sovereignty that is long overdue," said Rep. Rouzer.  "I’m proud to champion the Lumbee Fairness Act in the 118th Congress and will continue working to help the Tribe receive the federal protections they are due, including access to the same resources as every other federally recognized tribe.”

“We are grateful to Congressman Rouzer, Senator Tillis and the co-sponsors of the Lumbee Fairness Act," said Lumbee Tribal Chairman John Lowery. "It has been almost 70 years since the 1956 Act was passed. It is clearly time for Congress to provide the Lumbee People with the benefits that are inherent to federally recognized tribes.”


The Lumbee Tribe is the largest American-Indian tribe in the Eastern United States. In 1885, North Carolina formally recognized the Lumbee Tribe. Three years later, the Tribe began to seek federal recognition. In 1956, Congress finally passed legislation recognizing the tribe, but the bill included an unfair caveat that denied the Lumbee benefits that every other federally-recognized tribe receives.

Representatives David Rouzer (R-NC), Dan Bishop (R-NC), Richard Hudson (R-NC), Greg Murphy, M.D. (R-NC), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Deborah Ross (D-NC), and Don Davis (D-NC) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Read the bill text here.