WASHINGTON – Congressman Wittman applauds passage by the House Natural Resources Committee of legislation that would grant federal recognition to six Virginia Indian tribes. Wittman’s bill, H.R. 872, was included in a larger package of federal recognition bills that were considered by the Committee late last week.
Wittman’s legislation would right long-standing historical wrongs by extending federal recognition to the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond tribes. These tribes have all been officially recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia, but they face unique barriers to federal recognition through the Bureau of Indian Affairs because of certain gaps in official records. Specifically, the tribes lack formal treaties with the U.S. Government because they made peace with England before the United States was established.
“This isn’t just about federal recognition,” Wittman said, “it’s about protecting the identity of the tribes and restoring the dignity of the historical ‘first contact.’ These tribes have deep roots in the Commonwealth, and they and their ancestors have played a critical role in our country’s history. It is because of the Virginia tribes that the first permanent English settlement in America succeeded when others failed. These tribes shouldn’t be denied federal recognition because of one-size-fits-all requirements that fail to account for circumstances beyond their control. Federal recognition isn’t just a tribe priority, it’s a Virginia priority, and I will keep fighting until the federal government rights this wrong.”
Virginia Governors, past and present, have expressed strong support for federal recognition legislation. It previously passed the House in both the 110th and 111th Congress, and wide bipartisan support exists across the Commonwealth and Congress.
Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he is Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee.