The Lumbee have approved a constitution establishing North Carolina as the tribe's territory, but some members say the designation could hurt efforts to get federal recognition. Some plan to start a petition to amend the document, defining the territory as Robeson County and the surrounding area.
Although a majority lives in and around Robeson County, several thousand live in other parts of the state and country. Members of the Lumbee Tribal Council argued those individuals deserve representation on the tribal council and access to tribal services.
"Our people are so spread out that there are pockets of Lumbees everywhere,'' council chairman Milton Hunt said. "There were some sentiments on the board that supported Robeson and surrounding counties as the tribe's territory. But, that's not the way we have it now.'' The council decided late last month the constitution would identify the tribe's territory as the state of North Carolina.
If the Lumbees try to make the land claim, they may have to go to court, said BIA spokesman Robbin Shield. The tribe does not have treaties with federal or state governments, and Shield said there may be other tribal groups in the state that can contest the claim.