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"The ecumenical task is to make the church in which we live more like the church that we confess."

Native American Outreach

Late in the year 2000 the Virginia Council of Churches was invited by the six Virginia Tribes seeking Federal Recognition to join them in this effort.  For the past ten years the Council has supported this effort and these tribes with our prayers, our participation in Pow Wow, in worship together and in prayer.  We have provided testimony, both oral and written before various committees of the US House and US Senate on several occasions.  After a decade of effort the tribes now are only one step away from recognition.  One Senator, Senator Coburn of Oklahoma has placed a hold on this bill preventing unanimous consent to reach the floor.  Senator Coburn has indicated to Governor McDonnell that he will not remove his hold even after being requested to by a fellow conservative.  The 111th Congress adjourned without the Senate taking up S1178, the bill died at the close of the session.  The tribes now will need to go back to square one and start over with the new 112th Congress.

S 1178  Recognition of Virginia Indian Tribes
(Died at the close of the 111th Congress, December 2010)
Patron:  Webb and Warner

Enactment of this legislation would provide for official federal recognition for six of Virginia's state recognized Indian Tribes.

Proposed Action:
To gain public support for S 1178 (Senators Webb and Warner) to receive time for a floor vote.  Currently, the Bill has been approved by the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and by the US House of Representatives (in the form of HR1385).  Support is needed to raise public awareness of how close this Bill is to becoming law and encourage Virginia's Congressional delegation to do all they can to see it passed.

Policy Objectives:

To have the US Congress pass legislation recognizing six of Virginia's Tribes (Chickahominy, Chickahominy Eastern Division, Monacan, Nansemond, Rappahannock and Upper Mattaponi).

These six Tribes (the Mattaponi and Pamunkey did not wish to be a part of this effort) have no recourse other than federal legislative recognition to finally be recognized by the US Government.

Historically, the Virginia Tribes have largely been overlooked in the history of our nation.  Because these tribes ceased hostilities with the colonist in 1677 and signed a treaty with England they have had no recognition from the beginning of our country.  As a result of the systematic discrimination caused by the Virginia 1924 Racial Integrity Act, their records have been altered and destroyed by official acts of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  In addition, during the Civil War, six of the eight courthouses that held their historical records were destroyed.

Under the current administrative rules used by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, these Tribes cannot meet the necessary documentation procedures to become recognized through the administrative process.  Nevertheless, all six tribes have applications with BIA pending.

This Bill is supported by the Chickahominy, Chickahominy Eastern Division, and Monacan Nation, Nansemond, Rappahannock and Upper Mattaponi Tribes.

This is the only federal recognition bill that has received no opposition from any other Tribe in the country.

This Bill is supported by every living governor of Virginia, past and present.

A similar Bill, HR 1385 has passed the US House of Representatives in 2009.

A similar Bill by then US Senator George Allen was reported from the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in 2005.

This bill has the votes in the US Senate to pass if it can get to the floor for a vote.

This bill has the support of the White House.

Keys Facts:
In 1607 approximately 30 Tribes inhabited Tsenacomoco (Sin e' Calm e' Caw), now called Virginia.  Of those Tribes, eight are recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Two bills pending before the 111th Congress relate to this issue.  S 1178 (Webb and Warner) was reported from the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on October 22nd, 2009 and is awaiting action on the US Senate floor.  HR 1385 (Moran) passed the US House of Representatives on June 6th, 2009. The two bills are substantially similar.

Passage of the federal legislation would enable the Virginia recognized Tribes to become eligible for up to $12 million per year in federal Indian Health and Indian Education benefits, (no new cost, these expenditures would come from existing appropriations).

The federal legislation, in concurrence with Tribal agreement, contains a prohibition on gaming that provides that the Tribes will not engage in gaming even if Virginia were to allow gaming for its citizens.

This bill directly pertains to six of the eight Tribes (Chickahominy, Chickahominy Eastern Division, and Monacan Nation, Nansemond, Rappahannock and Upper Mattaponi Tribes) which have Tribal Membership rolls of 3,398 members.

Source: Virginia Indian Tribal Alliance for Life - June 23, 2010 (VITAL)

More Information
Read Rev. Jonathan Barton's Testimony
Read letters from other religious leaders who spoke out
Virginia Indian Tribal Alliance for Life (VITAL) Website

Virginia's Eight State-Recognized Tribes

Chickahominy Tribe
Chickahominy Indians Eastern Division
Mattaponi Tribe
Monacan Indian Nation
Nansemond Tribe
Pamunkey Tribe
Rappahannock Tribe
Upper Mattaponi Tribe