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Tribe seeks state recognition for enrollment cards

Tribe seeks state recognition for enrollment cards

While the federal government considers tribal enrollment cards official forms of identification sufficient to board a domestic flight or cross a U.S. border, state law doesn’t recognize them as valid documentation to make tobacco or alcohol purchases. On Aug. 4, the Cherokee Tribal Council unanimously passed a resolution seeking to change that, and Principal Chief Richard Sneed has signed it. 

“They’re completely on board with this,” Callie Phillips, a law student who is an intern with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Office of the Attorney General, said of the state legislators she’s contacted about the issue. “It kind of seems like an overlooked part of the law, and they’re willing to work with us there.”

Like a North Carolina driver’s license, an Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians enrollment card includes a color photo, physical address, date of birth, issuance and expiration dates and holographic security feature. The cards also feature a tribal seal, signature, blood degree and enrollment number. 

Currently, the state accepts only four forms of identification as valid for alcohol and tobacco purchases: a driver’s license, special state identification card, military identification card or passport. The state does accept enrollment cards for other types of transactions, including banking, voter registration, state notary authorization and state sales-tax exemption transactions. 

The tribe’s own code also omits tribal enrollment cards from its list of valid ID for alcohol purchases, listing the same four forms currently outlined in state law. Phillips also submitted an ordinance that would add the cards to that list. It was placed on the Aug. 4 agenda as a new ordinance and then tabled for the mandatory 25-day waiting period. The proposed ordinance is on the agenda for the Sept. 1 session. 

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