Lesson 10: Lumbee (and the federal recognition process)

In preparation for our trip to Pembroke tomorrow, we will be discussing two articles about the Lumbee and their fight for federal recognition. Gerald Sider’s article, Lumbee Indian Cultural Nationalism and Ethnogenesis, addresses how the Lumbee have formed an identity with relation to white and African-American communities in Robeson County, North Carolina. He focuses on a cultural nationalism movement that has sought to work with these groups and form a parallel Lumbee identity and on a political nationalism movement that has fought against injustice from outside the Lumbee as well as socioeconomic oppression within the Lumbee. Sider argues that both movements need each other but need to work together if the Lumbee are to achieve their goals. We will evaluate Sider’s analysis and plan.

We will also discuss Anne Merline McCulloch and David E. Wilkins’ article, “Constructing” Nations within States: The Quest for Federal Recognition by the Catawba and Lumbee Tribes. They are political scientists exploring the factors that lead to success or failure in tribal attempts to gain federal recognition. They identify four factors, social construction of the tribe, social cohesiveness, perception of the legitimacy of tribal benefits, and economic resources, as having the biggest role in whether a tribe is recognized. They argue that much of the process is based on outsiders’ perception of whether a tribe is “Indian” enough. We have spent a lot of time already this semester talking about modern Native American identity and what it means to them to be Netsilik, Dené, Kootenai, Tlingit, Newe, or Absaroke, so this will be a great opportunity for us to evaluate the federal recognition process and its use of identity.

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