Lumbee Tribe and Lewin International to End Contract

Jun 04, 2010, 16:16 ET from Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina

PEMBROKE, N.C., June 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Through a mutual agreement, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and Lewin International, LLC have agreed to end a contract that provided assistance to the Lumbee Tribe in their efforts to achieve full federal recognition and gave Lewin International the right to develop a recreational facility on the tribe's land once recognition is achieved.  

"We appreciate all that the folks at Lewin International have done to help, but unfortunately the contract itself has become a distraction from our mutual efforts to achieve full federal recognition for the Lumbee Tribe," said Tribal Chairman Purnell Swett.  "We all know that perception is reality up there in Washington.  Anything that could take away from our recognition work -- whether real or imagined -- has to be dealt with."

The Lumbee Tribe was recognized by the federal government in 1956, but was denied the full benefits that come with recognition.  The contract with Lewin stated that Lewin would assist in achieving full federal recognition.  Supporters of the contract pointed out the value of having extra political support to get the bill passed, although opponents of the contract claimed Lewin's involvement in gaming enterprises in the past ran counter to the tribally-supported legislation pending before the U.S. Senate and passed by the U. S. House of Representatives that does not allow for gaming.

"This contract was never about gaming," said Tribal Speaker Ricky Burnett.  "This agreement was about supporting the Lumbee Tribe in recognition in return for being able to work with the tribe to build a recreational facility."

Chairman Swett has indicated that he will ask for a resolution from the Tribal Council of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina to support the mutually-agreed upon terms for dissolving the agreement, which does not include any penalties on either side.

"I would like to thank the team at Lewin International for their hard work and cooperation on this effort and particularly recognize Mr. Lewin's unwavering personal support for our efforts to achieve full federal recognition," said Chairman Swett.  "Their desire to eliminate this distraction is in my mind further proof of their good intentions and I thank them for their support."

Chairman Swett added that with this issue behind the tribe, they can now return their focus to the recognition bill in the Senate.  

"We are at a critical juncture and regardless of what contracts are in place or who we are working with, it all comes down to whether we can get a vote in the Senate," continued Chairman Swett.  "We sincerely hope Senator Reid will give us an opportunity to have a vote this year and we are confident that if put before the Senate, our bill would be approved."

SOURCE Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina