Shane Locklear #8

7 05 2010

This week we read David E. Wilkins Breaking into the Intergovernmental Matrix: The Lumbee tribes efforts to secure federal acknowledgement. In this article Wilkins discusses the concept of being politically recognized by the federal and state government. This recognition is in direct relation to American Indian tribes. Wilkins explains the difference between being recognized by the executive branch and Congress. The article ultimately seeks to understand the reasoning behind the Lumbee tribe seeking federal recognition.

Wilkins discusses the process a tribe must go through to receive federal recognition. Recognition can be achieved through two different processes. A tribe can take the administrative route (BIA) or they can receive recognition through congressional legislation. If trying to receive recognition through the BIA a tribe must meet 7 required criteria. One of these criteria states that a tribe must not be terminated. Since the Lumbee tribe was recognized and terminated in the same year they could not receive recognition through this particular process. Because of this the Lumbee tribe is currently seeking federal recognition through Congress.

Wilkins talks about the history of the recognition process and how it changed a great deal after 1870. Before then the recognition process was used as a means to acknowledge the existence of certain tribes. But after 1870 the idea of sovereignty was incorporated and tribes became eligible for certain benefits such as healthcare and education. Through these new benefits a tribe could also be eligible to house gaming in their community or reservation. There would have to be a consensus between the tribe and state in regards to the gaming. Ultimately gaming could bring revenue into the tribe. Regardless of the benefits or terms of recognition, tribes would always fall under the federal government because they would be seen as wards of the government.

The Lumbee people have strived to seek federal recognition to receive healthcare and educational benefits. Wilkins also addresses another issue he believes the Lumbee people are after in regards to recognition. He believes that the Lumbee people seek recognition to find some validation as real Indians from a historic Indian group. The Lumbee people already believe that they are an Indian community guided by kinship. So in reality I do not wholly agree with Wilkins’ argument because outsiders are the only ones who actually question the Lumbees identity as an Indian tribe.

Wilkins also addresses why the Lumbees have been unable to receive federal recognition and government aid. He talks about the three eras that the Lumbee people have attempted recognition: the 1880’s to 1924, the 1950s, and 1980s. The first two eras was a time in which the government was trying to assimilate Indians into mainstream society by detribalizing them. In 1956 the government send anthropologist Carl Seltzer to the study the people of Robeson County. Through these studies of phenotypical characteristics he determined that there were only 22 ‘Indians’ residing there. This process was greatly flawed. Another problem is in the funding of recognition for the tribe. Where will the government get the money? This has caused worry with other federally recognized tribes because if the Lumbee receive benefits the recognition money will be split between 55,000 additional Indians.

For many years the federal recognition process has been one of mystery and confusion for a great deal of people. Wilkins provides us with a thorough explanation of the process and historical background involving the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina. Today the Lumbee continue their fight for recognition although a few things have changed. Being federally recognized does not make any tribe more or less Indian than they already are. It basically serves as a political relationship with the federal government that will entitle us to certain benefits. I believe that we should be entitled to these benefits regardless but the ultimate problem is where will the federal government get the money to aid 55,000 members of one tribe?




Chris Burris #8

28 04 2010

David E. Wilkins’ article “Breaking Into the Intergovernmental Matrix:  The Lumbee Tribe’s Efforts to Secure Federal Acknowledgement” investigates the Lumbee tribe’s attempts to gain federal recognition and the concurrent federal benefits by examining both the Lumbee’s motivations and the major political, cultural, and administrative obstacles that they have encountered in both historic and contemporary times in their pursuit of recognition.  He begins with a bit of background on the Lumbee and their modern composition, noting that efforts for federal acknowledgement have been hampered in some degree by splinter groups in Robeson County that claim affiliation to a number of different tribes, although these groups constitute a small minority of the Indian population in Robeson.

He goes on to discuss the meaning and importance of federal recognition, describing the evolution of what it means to be federally recognized as a sovereign Indian tribe and the various relevant political, legislative, and administrative bodies.  Being federally recognized would confer benefits such as healthcare and education on the tribe, paid for by the federal government, which estimated the cost of federal recognition of the Lumbee as roughly 120 million a year.  He then describes the nature of the relationship between the tribe and the North Carolina state government, which has recognized them as a legitimate tribe and in 1885 passed a law granting them funds for their own Indian school, effectively three-way segregation.

Wilkins identifies three distinct categories of reasons that the Lumbee want federal acknowledgement.  The first is Political/Legal; were they federally recognized, they would have greater sovereign status than they do presently, and could run their own government for the tribe.  Next are fiscal reasons; the government would supply the tribe with money for various programs such as healthcare.  Finally, and most importantly in Wilkins’ view, are the normative reasons, which essentially amount to that the Lumbee want to be recognized as a confirmation and validation of their identity as Indians.  Wilkins goes on to enumerate the obstacles and reasons that have made it difficult for the tribe to achieve this status, naming administrative issues, reluctance on the part of the government and other tribes who do have federal recognition to pay the associated costs of Lumbee recognition, and cultural reasons such as various divisive factors within the Indian community in Robeson County as chief culprits.  He concludes by reflecting on the contents of the article and asserting that the end of the path to federal acknowledgement for the Lumbee is not yet in sight.

What I found most relevant and interesting pertaining to my topic of 18th century migrations was the bit of discussion in the article about the original native tribes that constitute the Lumbee; the Hatteras, Saponi, and Cheraw.  Wilkins does not cite this fact so I could not follow up on his specific reference further, but it is nevertheless interesting to consider the nature of the Lumbee as comprised of a melting pot, so to speak, of various indigenous tribes from the region that coalesced primarily during the 18th century.  I only wish there was more historical material relating to the movements and relationships of various regional native tribes in that time; unfortunately, conjectures have to be drawn from the slightest hints and shreds of evidence.




Nirav Lakhani-#1

26 01 2010

Weekly Reflection #1

            In this week’s readings, Stanley Knick’s “Because It Is Right” presents a case for federal recognition by Lumbee people. Knick’s essay cites the long history of Indian settlements in North Carolina and the effects of interaction with white settlers as causes for the lack of a well-defined modern day Lumbee. Despite this contemporary anomaly of defining a Lumbee Indian, Knick demonstrates that acculturation, a long tradition of the Lumbee name, and genealogical and archaelogical evidence weave together to create a very unique story for a very unique group of people that deserve their claim for federal recognition.

            Our other reading, The Transformation of the Southeastern Indians, 1540-1760, provides a historical context to Indian history of the South East as a whole. This reading holistically creates strong impressions of the interconnectedness of Indian history and Colonization. Beginning with a discussion of aboriginal movements, essayist Marvin T. Smith brings to light a new set of factors resulting from interactions with white settlers that pushed and pulled Indian civilization into new units of organization and altered geographical location. For example, Indians were pushed away from settlers due to crippling smallpox epidemics but pulled back due to dependence for trade and steel-based items. The four year smallpox epidemic is detailed by Paul Kelton who describes how tight-knit Indian communities were socially and biologically more susceptible to the spreading the deadly virus. Of course, the epidemic did not completely annihilate the Indian population, and those that remained began to fell increasing pressures from southward land patenting extending from Virginia onward. In her Chapter of the book, Helen C. Rountree explains how the introduction of commercial value of land led to fierce rivalry over native Indian lands, and new cultural importance on goods, resources, and trade into colonial societies. As a whole, the reading demonstrates the evolution of dependency theory between natives and settlers. The consumerist’s minds of the settlers eventually captured the good natured intention of Indians and forced them to contribute to colonies as hired hunters and contributors to local trade economies. Naturally, as seen through discussions of the Creek Indians and Yamasee wars, disputes over land rights, goods, and indebtedness followed, as new forms of currency and civil suit became the standard as the sovereignty of individual tribes slowly began to die out.

            These readings tapped a variety of primary and secondary sources of interest. Knight’s sources ranged in depth and breadth, covering healing practices from Edward Croom’s 1983 publications entitled Medicinal Plants of the Lumbee Indians to exploration documents dating back to 1594. The article provided a general history of Lumbee’s and it’s relevance to contemporary politics and serves as a great reference on the debate for federal recognition. The sources for our second reading are extremely well documented. The latter portion of The Transformation of the Southeastern Indians provides a thorough list of all referenced material for all five chapters of our assigned reading. No matter the topic of assignment, the list is good reference for any researcher seeking precedent for Indo-European relations.

            These readings were particularly thoughtful for me because of my unfamiliarity with Indo-European interaction just following Christopher Columbus. The reading led me to ask two questions. If dependence theory was used to describe interactions between settlers and Indians, why did Indians fail to gain the necessary bargaining power to stand up to settlers demanding more goods despite their higher skill with harvesting and finding natural resources in demand. Next, on the topic of land patenting, despite cultural beliefs that shied away from land as property, seeing that Indians assimilated in so many other ways without force, what aspect of Indian psychology prevented Indian land patents from being issued to counteract European ones.

             On addressing the latter of the two questions I pose, I choose to begin my research with some background on culture and identity with the following readings:

535. Swanton, John R. “Probable identity of the ‘Croatan Indians’.” U.S. Dept. of Interior. Office of Indian Affairs. Washington, DC, 1933. 5p.

The document would offer a starting point for research on native tribes of the southeast region and lead to perhaps a more succinct question regarding Indian psychology and identity, which made land patenting a unforeseen option from the Indian perspective. To answer my second question a great reference from the book notes (#82 cited by Steven C. Hahn) could be used. The reference how Indians “became irreversibly and inevitably ““dependent”” after several generations of sustained contact and the subsequent loss of aboriginal handicraft skills” The source is:

82. See White, Roots of Dependency, pp. 16-146; Braund, Deerskins and Duffels; Merrell, Indians’ New World, pp. 49-92; Crane, Southern Frontier