Webb seeks floor vote on federal recognition for Virginia Indian tribes

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) testified at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on Thursday in support of his legislation, Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2011 (S. 379). Sen. Webb’s bill 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. Despite receiving committee approval in July 2011, the bill has not yet received a floor vote.

“Recognition would place these tribes on an equal footing with other tribes in the United States by acknowledging their heritage and their right to be treated with the same dignity and respect as other Indian tribes in this country,” said Sen. Webb. “It should be emphasized that this recognition has received broad support in Virginia, including from seven former governors and also our present governor. I spent months examining this issue in great detail, including the rich history and culture of Virginia’s Tribes before deciding to advance this legislation. After thorough investigation, I concluded that legislative action is needed for recognition of Virginia’s tribes due to the broken and burdensome administrative process we are discussing here today.”

Webb concluded by asking the Committee to work with him to bring this legislation to the Senate floor.

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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