The Lumbee tribe in North Carolina has struggled for decades to be recognized by the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. Without federal recognition, the Lumbee are denied sovereignty, their own land and benefits granted to other tribes. Journalist Lisa Rab joins us to talk about how race and culture inform who gets to claim Indian ancestry. Her article “What Makes Someone Native American” appears in the Washington Post.
CLARIFICATION: In this interview, host Krys Boyd said Heather McMIllan Nakai, a staff attorney for the National Indian Gaming Commission: “is fighting this fight. She doesn’t necessarily think that she’ll be successful.” After the episode aired, Nakai contacted KERA and wrote, “At no point have I ever said that I didn’t believe I would win my case. Indeed, I am confident in my case because the law is on my side.”