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Bipartisan Virginia Delegation Introduces Bill To Grant Federal Recognition Of Virginia Indian Tribes

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Washington, February 7, 2017 | comments
Federal recognition would grant Virginia’s tribes legal standing and status in relationships with the U.S. government

WASHINGTON - U.S. Congressmen Rob Wittman (R-01), Bobby Scott (D-03), Gerry Connolly (D-11), Don Beyer (D-08), and Scott Taylor (R-02) today reintroduced legislation to grant federal recognition to six Virginia Indian tribes. The bill is the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017.

The legislation would grant federal recognition to the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond tribes. These tribes have received official recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia but have faced barriers preventing them from receiving federal recognition because of gaps in official records. Specifically, the Virginia tribes lack formal treaties with the U.S. Government because they made peace with England well before the establishment of the United States. The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 also led to a “paper genocide,” which destroyed birth records, marriage certificates, and land titles of Virginia’s tribes.

Federal recognition would grant Virginia’s tribes legal standing and status in relationships with the U.S. government. This status would enable the tribes to pursue repatriation of historical and cultural artifacts, comment on federal agency actions that could affect their future, and gain access to a number of federal programs that serve the other 566 federally recognized tribes.

“The history of these tribes is intertwined with the birth of our nation, and their federal recognition status is long overdue,” said Congressman Wittman. “I’m proud to work with the Virginia tribes to ensure that they are granted the recognition that they have been denied for far too long.”

“Despite their critical role in our nation’s history, Virginia’s tribes are still waiting for federal recognition,” said Congressman Scott. “I commend my colleagues in the Virginia congressional delegation for introducing this legislation and I look forward to working with them to ensure the rightful status of Virginia’s tribes.”

“We should do all that is within our reach to address the injustices of history in a way that has a positive and appreciable impact on Native American tribes. Granting Federal recognition of Virginia tribes is one way in which we can honor the role native Americans played in the history of our Commonwealth,” Congressman Connolly said. “It is a privilege to right this wrong and I am pleased to join my colleagues in this bipartisan effort to correct a long-standing discrimination.”

“Virginia’s tribes are a critical thread of our cultural cloth who have been denied proper recognition for far too long,” said Congressman Beyer. “I’m pleased to support the bill to grant these tribes the federal recognition to which they’re entitled.”

“These tribes are an important part of Virginia history and it is past time to support their recognition by the federal government,” said Congressman Taylor.

"We are asking Congress to help us make history for the Indian people of Virginia, a history that honors our ancestors who were there at the beginning of this great country," said Chief Steve Adkins of the Chickahominy tribe.
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