Tip: The state should accept EBCI cards for alcohol and tobacco purchases


One-feather staff

Tribal ID cards issued by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) to its members can be used as valid identification in many instances, from air travel to banking. The tribal council passed the resolution. No. 370 (2022) unanimously at its regular session on Thursday, August 4 that supports an idea to amend North Carolina law to add EBCI tribal cards as a form of valid identification during purchase of alcohol and tobacco in the State.

North Carolina General Law 18B-302(d)(1) states that identification currently accepted in the state to establish age includes: “…driver’s license, special ID under GS 20-37.7 or issued by the state agency of any other state authorized to issue similar official special ID cards for that state, military ID or passport…”

Res. #370 states, “…the State of North Carolina should accept tribal identification cards for all legitimate identification purposes and may rectify this oversight by adding “or a tribal identification card issued by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians or any other federally recognized tribe” to NCGS Ch 18B-302(d)(1), thereby allowing members of the tribe to purchase alcohol and tobacco off the border of Qualla with a valid Tribal Registration Card”.

Callie Phillips, an intern with the EBCI Attorney General’s Office, who submitted the legislation, said: ‘I ask for your support as I continue with state legislators to ensure our registration cards are valid under of state law. North Carolina accepts four forms of identification – a (driver’s) license, state ID, passport, or military card for any type of purchase over 21. I just want to add our federally recognized credentials.

She commented that the state of North Carolina already accepts EBCI tribal cards for various things requiring identification, including the purchase of special EBCI license plates, state sales tax exemption, banking, etc. “So it’s already on their books.”

Phillips continued, “At the federal level, you travel with the TSA. You can enter at the borders of Mexico and Canada. There are many other states that have this in their laws. It’s a fairly simple solution.

In May 2021, Mississippi passed a law designating Mississippi Choctaw Indian Band Registration Cards as legal statewide identification.

Big Cove representative Teresa McCoy praised Phillips’ efforts and shared an anecdote of a time she lost her wallet before heading to Florida for graduation. She visited EBCI Tribal Registration the next day to get a new card. “They gave me this one card, and I was allowed to get on a plane and go to my son’s graduation just with a registration card. I didn’t have a credit card. I had no cash. I didn’t have my driver’s license or anything. I just got this card, and it got me on the plane, and it got me flying back and forth from Florida.

She added: “The concerns I have received from the community all stem from the purchase of alcohol. Apparently when buying alcohol across the border they card you and when they see the registration card they don’t accept it. They say, “we can’t take that card, it’s not really anything” – which can be really offensive to people when they want that six-pack and that card won’t work. I appreciate your legislation.

Earlier in the session, the Tribal Council had Ord. No. 366 deemed read and deposited. Also submitted by Phillips, this order would codify the addition of an EBCI registration card, or card from any federally recognized tribe, as the age verification identification used during purchasing alcohol on EBCI tribal lands. This ordinance will come up for action at the September Tribal Council session.

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