Webb and Warner Push Long Past Due Federal Recognition Of Virginia Indian Tribes

Senate Committee Approves Webb Bill to Recognize Virginia Indian Tribes

July 28, 2011

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs today approved the “Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2011” (S. 379), introduced by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) and cosponsored by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) that would grant federal recognition to six Indian tribes of Virginia. The status would qualify the tribes for certain benefits provided through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and other federal agencies. Today’s Committee markup completes the final step needed before a full Senate vote on the legislation.

“After meeting with leaders of Virginia’s Indian tribes and years of thorough investigation of the facts, I strongly believe that recognition for these six Virginia tribes is justified based on principles of dignity and fairness,” said Senator Webb, who submitted for the record a bipartisan  letter of support signed by seven former governors and Virginia’s current governor. “We must honor the heritage of our Virginia tribes, a heritage aggravated in the past by racial hostility and state-sanctioned actions that greatly diminished their cultural identity.”

On February 18, 2011, Senators Webb and Warner introduced companion legislation to Rep. Jim Moran’s measure in the House of Representatives. Last year, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approved a similar bill by the Senator, but it never received a full vote in the Senate. The version in the U.S. House of Representatives passed in the 110th and 111th Congresses.

The six tribes have received state recognition as early as 1983, and have received strong bipartisan support from the Virginia General Assembly for federal recognition.  Those affected by the Federal Recognition Act are (1) the Chickahominy Tribe; (2) the Chickahominy Indian Tribe – Eastern Division; (3) the Upper Mattaponi Tribe; (4) the Rappahannock Tribe, Inc.; (5) the Monacan Indian Nation; and (6) the Nansemond Indian Tribe.

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