Indian reservations have arguably outlived their usefulness. They did some good amid the turmoil of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But nowadays, Indian reservations and related programs do little more than ensure the festering of poverty among tribal members and the prosperity of a very small minority. Travel to any Indian reservation or predominantly-Indian community and you will see the failures of full-blown socialism first-hand and in living color. Things are often in much better shape right outside tribal lands.
For decades, Democrat and Republican politicians have dangled federal recognition in front of the Lumber Tribe, which is centered mostly in Robeson County. The tribe has been very very loyal to Democrats. In recent years, as Republicans have gained and strengthened their control in Raleigh and DC, the Lumbees have begun flirting with the GOP. (They did some of that during the Holshouser and Martin eras in Raleigh, but scooted right back over to the Dems.)
Most other federally-recognized tribes do not want the Lumbees in on the recognition game. The Cherokees – loyal to the GOP for decades – often lead the anti-lumber recognition fight.
Many suggest the Lumbees are not an actual Indian tribe. Their tribe was created via late 19th century, early 20th century legislative action. There is no actual Lumbee language. There is no verifiable Lumbee culture to point to. Many unbiased observers see the “tribe” as actually the product of intermarriage between blacks and whites and members of some now-lost miscellaneous Indian tribes. Some have suggested they are the descendants of The Lost Colony survivors and the Croatan Indian tribe.
Lumbee recognition has been very unsuccessful in navigating the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of Interior, like all other recognized tribes have. The attempts at recognition legislation offer a work-around for the Lumbees that none of the other tribes got.
Raleigh and DC politicians love to travel to predominantly Lumbee areas of Robeson County to raise money. It’s a strange choice — given that Robeson County is one of the poorest, most-crime ridden, most drug-infested locales in the state. (The county also is among the state’s leaders in STDs and illiteracy.)
Where does all the campaign money they raise come from?
The biggest employer in the county – whose people are drastically underemployed — is the government.
Politicians have dangled recognition in front of the Lumbees like Lucy teases Charlie Brown with the football. As long as the pols have something the Lumbees want or need, the Lumbees will keep leaning on them for support.
Thom Tillis and Ted Budd are the latest to do the dangling.
The current recognition legislation – as with that of the past – allows for seizure of Robeson County land to form a reservation. If you happen to be white or black and own land in the county’s “Indian country,” you are S-O-L.
There is also some wiggle-room to allow for gambling. The Cherokee casinos are doing well out in the western part of the state. The latest Indian casino — in speaker Timmy’s backyard of Kings Mountain – is getting some scrutiny from the feds. Apparently, there are way too many politically-connected white people with their hands in the cookie jar of this “Indian casino.”
Adding more people to federal Indian programs will be akin to flushing more money that we don’t have down a rat hole. Instead of ghettoizing and further compartmentalizing Native Americans, why not lead an aggressive effort to clean up crime and drug addiction and introduce the free market to these people? Teach lessons about reaping the rewards of one’s hard work.
In the 1960s, there was an aggressive push to bring Americans of all classes and colors together. Here in the 2020s some of the same people are pushing some horrid identity politics that divide us and punish less-than-desirable people (i.e., white straight males).
Just check out the Balkans and the Middle East to see examples of how poorly identity politics ends up working out.