Skip to content

Warner & Kaine Applaud Senate Committee Passage Of Bill To Grant Federal Recognition Of Virginia Indian Tribes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner applauded the Senate Indian Affairs Committee for their unanimous passage of the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017. The legislation would grant federal recognition of six Virginia tribes: the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond. These tribes have received official recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia, but have not received federal recognition, which would grant the tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government. The legislation will now advance to the full Senate for consideration.

“The Committee’s vote today is an important step in bringing six Virginia tribes closer to receiving federal recognition,” said Kaine and Warner. “This bill gives Virginia’s tribes access to the educational and health care services they deserve and allows members of these tribes to properly pay tribute to their ancestors.”

Federal recognition would allow Virginia’s tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government. Further, it would allow tribes to:

  • Compete for educational programs and other grants only open to federally recognized tribes;
  • Repatriate the remains of their ancestors in a respectful manner. Many of these remains reside in the Smithsonian, but without federal status there is no mandate to return the remains; and
  • Provide affordable health care services for elder tribal members who have been unable to access care.

The Senate companion bill of this legislation, introduced by Kaine and Warner, passed the Committee in May. This version, which originated in the House of Representatives and was introduced by Virginia Congressman Rob Wittman, passed in the House unanimously and will now be considered by the full body of the Senate.