Native American tribal nations covet state and federal tribal recognition. The Lumbee Tribe is one of those tribes. Though North Carolina has granted the Lumbee Tribe State recognition, the Lumbee Tribe's 134-year-long quest for Federal recognition has not been successful. Neither of the two types of Federal Recognition – Administrative and Congressional – have permitted the Lumbee Tribe to benefit alongside the other federally-recognized Tribes from increased respect, sovereignty, and resources. Instead, the Lumbee Tribe has been spun around by the regulatory recognition rigmarole.

In this article, I first explore arguments for and against federal recognition of the Lumbee Tribe. Next, I investigate the long-standing debate between Congressional and Administrative recognition. Finally, against this backdrop, I propose two solutions. First, Congress could independently recognize the Lumbee Tribe. Or second, Congress or the BIA could modify the federal recognition process to ensure that Native American tribes, like the Lumbee Tribe, have a fair and just opportunity to petition for and receive recognition.

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