Federal Recognition

Lawmakers pushing for federal recognition of six tribes in Virginia






Dancers at a powwow hosted by the Chickahominy Tribe in Virginia. Photo: Tony Alter

Six tribes in Virginia are once again seeking federal recognition.

The tribes were among the first to sign treaties with European nations and they helped the first European settlers survive at Jamestown. But they have never been formally acknowledged by the United States.

“Four hundred years after the death of Pocahontas, our country continues to do a disservice to her descendants by failing to recognize the major role Virginia’s tribes have played in American history and the fabric of our nation,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) said in a statement on Tuesday. “These six tribes have treaties that predated the United States, but because of this historical quirk and the systematic destruction of their records, they have been denied federal recognition and the services that come along with it. Congress can fix this injustice by passing our bill and granting these tribes the federal recognition they deserve.”

The Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act is being introduced in the Senate on Tuesday. The bill extends federal recognition to the Chickahominy Tribe, the Chickahominy Indian Tribe - Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe, the Monacan Nation and the Nansemond Tribe.

The House version is H.R.984. It was introduced by Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Virginia) on February 7.

Read More on the Story:
Kaine and Warner push for federal recognition for 6 Virginia tribes (The Washington Post 3/20)
Will the real Pocahontas please stand up? (Al Jazeera 3/21)
Six Virginia tribes seek federal recognition (The Tidewater Review 3/21)
Warner, Kaine introduce legislation to federally recognize Virginia tribes (WHSV 3/21)

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