Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia), head of table left, and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) are seen with representatives of six Virginia tribes in Washington, D.C., on January 11, 2018. Photo: Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia)

Kevin Washburn: A 'victory' as tribes in Virginia secure federal recognition

Virginia is now home to seven federally-recognized tribes when just a few years ago there were none. Kevin Washburn, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation who led of the Bureau of Indian Affairs during the Obama administration, discusses the historic milestone:
Three years ago, no federally-recognized tribes existed in Virginia, one of the thirteen original American states. It was not, of course, that Virginia lacked historic tribal communities -- they just were not recognized by the United States.

Today, Virginia has seven recognized tribes, and there are now 573 federally-recognized tribes in the United States.

. . .

This month, in a bipartisan effort, led by Democratic Senators Kaine and Warner, the Republican-controlled Congress passed legislation extending federal recognition to six other tribes with histories similar, though not identical, to the Pamunkey Tribe. The historic Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock, Monacan and Nansemond tribes now join the list of federally-recognized tribes to whom the United States owes limited federal responsibilities. Each of these tribes has its own history, carefully documented in a Senate report and explicit Congressional findings. This legislation was not controversial during the Obama Administration when it was discussed in several Congressional hearings, and it is not controversial now. It just took Congress a little while to give the legislation due consideration and for President Trump to sign it.

Congressional recognition of these six tribes is a victory for all Americans because it corrects a longstanding historical injustice. Indeed, today, the United States is a slightly more just than it was prior to the enactment of this law. Moreover, because the recognition was accomplished by Congress, it happened relatively quickly, in the span of a few years of efforts in Congress, without requiring years and years of rigorous research and then extensive peer review by professional experts at the Department of the Interior.

Read More on the Story:
Kevin Washburn: Good News on Federal Recognition of Virginia Tribes (Linkedin January 30, 2018)

More on Virginia's tribal nations:
Nansemonds excited for federal recognition (The Suffolk News-Herald January 30, 2018)
Monacan Indian Nation celebrates federal recognition (WDBJ7 January 30, 2018)
Trump signs legislation recognizing Virginia tribes (The Virginia Gazette January 30, 2018)
Editorial: Virginia's Indian Tribes get recognition at last (The Richmond Times-Dispatch January 30, 2018)

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