Column: Don't make Virginia tribes wait any longer
"Six of Virginia's Indian tribes may - finally - get the federal recognition that should have been theirs decades ago.

The House of Representatives this week passed a measure granting the six tribes and the Lumbee in North Carolina the long-sought designation. It would open up the possibility of hundreds of millions in federal dollars for housing, education and health benefits.

The issue now shifts to the U.S. Senate, where a version of the bill is being sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb, the Virginia Democrat. Similar legislation has reached the same point before, but the momentum is stronger this time around. Earlier this year, Webb's aides took staff members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on tours of tribal grounds in the commonwealth. Webb has discussed the issue with the committee chair, Byron Dorgan of North Dakota. And late last year, the Senate held hearings on the issue, before time ran out in that congressional session.

The financial benefits are not the only reason the 4,200 members of the tribes - the Eastern Chickahominy, Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock, Monacan and Nansemond - want the federal designation. Wayne Adkins, a Chickahominy member, says the move would be a source of pride; elevate the state groups to the same status as 562 other Native American tribes around the country; and give them a stronger claim to recover the remains of members taken to universities and museums."

Get the Story:
Roger Chesley: State's tribes have waited long enough (The Virginian-Pilot 6/6)

Recognition Bill:
H.R.1385: Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2009

Related Stories:
Virginia tribes focus work on Senate after House win (6/4)
Lumbee, Virginia recognition bills on House agenda (6/3)
House committee advances two recognition bills (4/22)
House Resources markup on recognition bills (4/21)
Congress urged to recognize six Virginia tribes (3/19)
Audio: House hearing on federal recognition bills (3/18)
Witness list for hearing on recognition bills (3/17)
House Resources hearing on federal recognition bills (3/16)
Column: Virginia tribes deserve federal recognition (3/12)
Bill to recognize Virginia tribes introduced in House (3/10)