Federal Recognition

Senate Indian Affairs Committee approves tribal recognition bills

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved two federal recognition bills at a business meeting on Wednesday.

S.161, the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Restoration Act, extends federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Montana. The tribe's petition is being reconsidered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“The Little Shell deserve recognition and passing this bill through committee is a big step in the right direction,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana), the chairman of the committee, said in a press release. “While the journey has been difficult, the Little Shell have the backing of the state of Montana, all affected local governments and all of Montana's tribes. I will continue to press for the long-overdue respect and federal recognition the Little Shell earned.”

The committee also approved S.1074, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act. The bill extends federal recognition to six Virginia tribes: the Chickahominy Tribe, the Chickahominy Indian Tribe - Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe, the Monacan Nation and the Nansemond Tribe.

“Federal recognition of the Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Monacan, Nansemond, Rappahannock and Upper Mattaponi tribes of Virginia is long overdue,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) said in a press release. “Members of our Virginia Indian tribes are both part of the history of the Commonwealth and valued members of our present and should be recognized as such. Committee passage of this legislation is an important step forward and I remain committed to turning this bill into law."

The bills can now be considered by the full Senate. Companion measures have not received hearings in the House.

Congress hasn't passed a federal recognition bill since 2000 and that was part of an omnibus Indian package. A stand-alone federal recognition bill hasn't been enacted since the mid-1990s.

Get the Story:
Panel: Yes to federal recognition of tribe (The Great Falls Tribune 4/3)
U.S. recognition of Va. tribes moves forward (The Richmond Times-Dispatch 4/3)
Bill to recognize Nansemonds passes committee (The Suffolk News-Herald 4/3)
Senate panel approves Little Shell recognition (AP 4/2)
US recognition of Va. tribes moves forward (AP 4/2)

Committee Notice:
Business Meeting to consider the following legislation (April 2, 2014)

Related Stories:
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets business meeting & hearing (3/31)

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