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Editorial: Long overdue federal recognition for tribes in Virginia

Filed Under: Opinion | Federal Recognition
More on: 114th, h.r.3764, h.r.872, house, senate, virginia
     
   

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) accepts a treaty tribute from the Pamunkey Tribe and the Mattaponi Tribe on November 25, 2015. Photo from Twitter

Are six tribes in Virginia really getting closer to federal recognition? One newspaper hopes justice is finally coming for the Native people who welcomed the first European settlers at Jamestown:
Time moves slowly when the milieu is a federal bureaucracy. When news arrived last week that six Native American tribes were "getting closer" to federal recognition, the first reaction was to ponder this question: Just how much longer can these tribes continue to "get closer" without actually reaching their destination? It's as if the finish line keeps moving.

The Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan and the Nansemond tribes have been imitating Sisyphus for a long time. Last year, the Pamunkey tribe — about 200 strong, centered in King William — achieved federal recognition after a 33-year campaign. The Pamunkeys are the first, and to date the only, Virginia tribe to earn this distinction, which confers benefits related to housing, education and health care.

House Resolution 872 — sponsored by Congressman Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland — was passed by the House Natural Resources Committee earlier this month, part of a legislative package that would make Congress the final arbiter of tribal recognition. (Currently that authority rests with the White House, and the path to the Oval Office is both long and exceedingly expensive.)

The vote now goes to the full House and Senate, which is where similar legislation has hit roadblocks in the past.

Read More:
Editorial: Overdue recognition (The Daily Press 9/22)

Related Stories:
Montana and Virginia tribes 'duped' with federal recognition bill (9/15)
House committee advances controversial federal recognition bill (9/9)
House panel sets markup on controversial federal recognition bill (9/6)
USET leader criticizes GOP lawmakers for handling of Indian issues (12/08)
House committee holds another hearing on federal recognition bill (12/8)
Virginia tribes continue to pay tribute required by 1677 treaty (11/25)
Republicans push for federal recognition bill despite opposition (10/29)
Top GOP lawmaker slams BIA's Washburn on eve of big hearing (10/28)
House subcommittee embraces two tribal federal recognition bills (09/30)
House subcommittee takes up two federal recognition measures (09/28)
Editorial: Other tribes in Virginia deserve federal recognition too (07/03)
Virginia tribes hindered by racist policies created by one man (07/01)
Leader of Monacan Nation passes on after fight with liver cancer (6/24)
Leader of Monacan Nation diagnosed with terminal liver cancer (06/03)
Sen. Kaine optimistic on success for tribal recognition measure (04/14)
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Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules business meeting (3/12)
Lawmakers introduce bill to extend recognition to Virginia tribes (02/11)

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