Editorial: Pamunkey Tribe deserves federal status despite past

Kevin Brown, the chief of the Pamunkey Tribe of Virginia. Photo from American Nativity

Virginia newspaper supports federal recognition for the Pamunkey Tribe in spite of controversy over a defunct marriage law:
The Pamunkeys are seeking federal recognition, and have met with broad resistance. The MGM company and various convenience stores worry about recognition’s effect on their bottom line, should it lead to casino gambling or other forms of commerce by the tribe.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Black Caucus has objected to federal recognition because of a now-repealed section of tribal law stipulating that “No member of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe shall intermarry with anny (sic) Nation except White or Indian under penalty of forfeiting their rights in Town.”

The Pamunkeys dispute the idea that the tribe discriminated against African-Americans and say some tribe members have black spouses. Whether they have or not, however, has little relevance to the core issue: Are the Pamunkeys a bona fide Native American tribe? The evidence suggests they are, and that they therefore deserve recognition.

To suggest otherwise simply because the tribe might not have lived up to present-day ideals of equal treatment is foolish. It would be like suggesting residents of Alabama were not really American citizens during the civil rights era, simply because George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door.

Get the Story:
Editorial: Pamunkey recogintion shouldn't be tied to tribal law (The Richmond Times-Dispatch 4/8)

Federal Register Notice:
Proposed Finding for Federal Acknowledgment of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe (January 23, 2014)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Editorial: Right a historical wrong and recognize Pamunkey Tribe (4/2)
Pamunkey Tribe refutes criticism of federal recognition petition (4/1)
BIA delays ruling on Pamunkey Tribe federal recognition petition (3/30)
Editorial: Opposition to Pamunkey Tribe recognition 'revolting' (3/27)
Pamunkey Tribe awaits final ruling on federal recognition bid (3/23)
MGM on track to complete $1.2B casino near US Capitol next year (03/02)
Cedric Sunray: BIA played role in tribe's racist marriage policy (02/17)
Gaming company fights federal recognition for Pamunkey Tribe (12/01)
African-American lawmakers seek probe into Pamunkey Tribe (11/28)
African-American lawmakers accuse Pamunkey Tribe of racism (10/01)
Opinion: Pocahontas and one tribe's bid for federal recognition (06/23)
Pamunkey Tribe observes anniversary of Pocahontas wedding (04/08)
Pamunkey Tribe went to England to document recognition bid (02/04)
Pamunkey Tribe awaits final answer on federal recognition (1/27)