Federal Recognition

BIA issues preliminary decision in favor of Pamunkey Tribe





The Pamunkey Tribe of Virginia has won preliminary approval of its federal recognition petition, a first in a state where officials tried to eradicate all traces of non-Indian identity.

The tribe met all seven criteria for recognition, the Bureau of Indian Affairs announced on Friday. The proposed finding came after more than four years of consideration by the Office of Federal Acknowledgment.

'The petitioner has occupied a land base in southeastern King William County, Virginia - shown on a 1770 map as 'Indian Town' - since the Colonial Era in the 1600s and exists today as a state Indian reservation," the BIA said in a press release

A final determination will be made after a 180-day comment period, to be followed by a 60-day response period. So it's possible that the tribe's petition will be wrapped up by the end of the year.

“It is very good news,” Chief Kevin Brown told The Tidewater Review.

The tribe is the first in Virginia to complete the process. Several others in the state have been discouraged from going to the BIA due to cost and time restraints.

After welcoming the settlers at Jamestown in 1607, the tribes negotiated treaties with the British and had reservations set aside for them in the 1600s. But their members were subject to race-based policies and laws in Virginia that required them to hide their Indian identity.

As a result, several Virginia tribes have sought federal recognition through Congress. The bills have not become law amid opposition in and out of the state.

Get the Story:
U.S. Official Backs Recognition for Virginia's Pamunkey Tribe (AP 1/17)
Pamunkey Indian Tribe in King William County earns preliminary federal recognition (The Tidewater Review 1/18)
History of Pamunkey Indian Tribe (The Tidewater Review 1/18)

Related Stories:
First female leader of Pamunkey Tribe selected for memorial (12/10)
Pamunkey Tribe told to wait longer for decision on recognition (11/20)