May 24, 2024 - News

NC's Tuscarora Nation renews its push for state recognition

Illustration of a gavel made out of an acorn.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The Tuscarora Nation of North Carolina is once again pushing for state recognition under legislation filed earlier this month.

Why it matters: The tribe, which has sought recognition for decades, is currently excluded from some benefits afforded to the eight other state-recognized tribes, like eligibility for scholarships, the ability to compete in powwows and adorning students with feathers at graduations, The News & Observer reports.

The big picture: The Tuscaroras have been in North Carolina for 2,400 years, and comprise three bands across Lumberton that act as one nation, according to the tribe's website.

  • Across its three communities, the tribe's current enrollment is 2,000 members, a representative tells Axios.
  • Tuscaroras are also in New York and Six Nations, Ontario.

Context: Republican state Rep. Edward Goodwin has filed numerous bills seeking to grant state recognition to the Tuscarora Nation since his election in 2018.

  • "I can't believe at this time in our history, we're taking a people who were Native Americans, who were here before all the rest of us were here, and we're treating them this way," Goodwin said.

Zoom in: This year's bill would also give the tribe representation on the Commission of Indian Affairs, which denied the tribe's petition for state recognition in 2019, saying it was a "splinter group" of the Lumbee Tribe, according to the N&O.

  • The Lumbee Tribe is recognized by the state but has yet to receive federal recognition after a century of fighting for it.

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