Wittman and other members of Virginia's Congressional delegation have asked the BIA to schedule a briefing with the tribes as soon as possible to help get them up to speed. Most of them are based around Richmond, the capital of Virginia, which is about a two-hour drive from Washington, D.C., A spokesperson for the BIA was looking into the request on Thursday. The tribes were the first to welcome new European settlers at Jamestown in present-day Virginia. Their ancestors signed some of the first treaties with European nations but they waited more than 400 years for formal acknowledgment by the United States. The recognition law is named in honor of the late Thomasina E. Jordan. Though she was a citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, whose federal status wasn't acknowledged until 2007, she was known as a champion of the indigenous peoples in Virginia, where she resided for most of her adult life.
“Thomasina said the Virginia tribes deserved recognition, because they kept the colonizers more or less at bay for 200 years, giving the tribes in the interior of the country some breathing room,” Danielle Moretti-Langholtz, the director of William & Mary’s American Indian Resource Center, said in a College of William & Mary news release. The BIA published the annual list of Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible To Receive Services From the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs on January 30. The document had been signed on January 11, which happened to be the same day H.R.984 cleared its final hurdle on Capitol Hill. It's possible the BIA will update the list to include the new tribes. The agency did so in May 2016, when the Pamunkey Tribe, whose homelands are also located in Virginia, gained federal status after the list had been published in January of that year.
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