On January 29th, 2018, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017 (H.R. 984) was signed into law. The new law grants federal recognition to the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond tribes.
Federal recognition grants Virginia’s tribes legal standing and status in relationships with the U.S. government. This status enables the tribes to pursue repatriation of historical and cultural artifacts, comment on federal agency actions that could affect their future, and gain access to a number of federal programs.
Previously, the tribes received official recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia but had faced barriers preventing them from receiving federal recognition due gaps in official records.
The Pamunkey tribe obtained federal recognition through the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 2016. All seven tribes are now counted among the 573 Native American tribes currently acknowledged by the United States government.
“Today we celebrate a decade of hard work. Our ‘first contact’ tribes of the Commonwealth of Virginia will finally receive the recognition they deserve,” Rep. Wittman said. “This is an issue of respect; federal recognition acknowledges and protects the historical and cultural identities of these tribes. Not only will it affirm the government-to-government relationship between the United States and the Virginia tribes, but it will create opportunities to enhance and protect the well-being of tribal members. I want to thank Senators Kaine and Warner and Representatives Scott, Beyer, and Connolly for supporting my efforts as we finally give these tribes the recognition they have long deserved.”
Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) introduced H.R. 984 on February 7, 2017. The bill passed the House by voice vote on May 17, 2017 and the Senate by Unanimous Consent on January 11, 2018. President Trump signed the legislation into law on January 29, 2018.
Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he is the Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.
source: Representative Robert J. Wittman