Dancers at a
powwow hosted by the Chickahominy Tribe in Virginia. Photo: Tony
Six tribes in Virginia are once again inching closer to federal recognition, more than 400 years after their ancestors welcomed the first European settlers at Jamestown.
The U.S. House passed H.R.984, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act, by a voice vote on Wednesday afternoon. Around the same time, the Senate Committee on Indian
Affairs approved a companion measure, S.691, at a business meeting.
"The six tribes
are culturally and historically significant to the Commonwealth of
Virginia and to the story of America itself. Ancestors from these
tribes populated coastal Virginia when Captain John Smith settled at
Jamestown in 1607," Rep. Rob Wittman
(R-Virginia), the sponsor of H.R.984, said during consideration of the bill on the House floor. "They were also the first of the American Indian tribes that entered into peace agreements, actually entered into peace
agreements with the Crown of England because United States, at that
time, was not formally a nation yet. So they were peace-loving even
before the United States came of age."
Despite the movement, H.R.984 faces an uncertain future. Congress has not passed a stand-alone federal recognition bill since the mid-1990s due to opposition from conservative Republicans.
The bill applies to the Chickahominy
Tribe, the Chickahominy
Indian Tribe - Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the
the Monacan Nation and
the Nansemond Tribe.
All have agreed to a prohibition on gaming and all will be able to follow the land-into-trust process if the measure becomes law.
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Trump's surprise FBI firing upends Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (May
Committee on Indian Affairs adds business meeting to agenda (May 8,
Federal recognition for tribes in Virginia is long overdue (March 24,
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