PEMBROKE, N.C. -- The 55,000-strong Lumbee Indians of North Carolina are watching their odds for federal recognition get longer as a dispute over gambling and lobbying divides members of the tribe.
The largest tribe east of the Mississippi has never been closer to recognition from the federal government. But the tribe's ruling council recently signed a contract appointing a Nevada-based firm
with gambling industry expertise to be its advocate in Washington.
Critics in the tribe say that wrecks their chances, since the bill passed by the House of Representatives and a key Senate committee prohibits the Lumbee from gambling operations.
Tribal Chairman Purnell Swett says the contract isn't the problem. Instead, he blames the critics for publicly airing the tribe's division.
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