July 02, 2015

Warner, Kaine Applaud Federal Recognition Of The Pamunkey Tribe

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine praised the announcement by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) that the Pamunkey tribe will be granted federal recognition. Since serving as Governors of Virginia, Warner and Kaine have been strong supporters of the Virginia Indian tribes’ efforts to gain federal recognition.

“I congratulate the Pamunkey Indian Tribe on finally receiving this long-overdue federal recognition,” said Warner. “This historic milestone also reminds us of the work that remains before us to correct the injustices committed against Virginia Indian tribes. Senator Kaine and I will keep urging our colleagues in the Senate to pass our legislation to ensure that the Chickahominy Indian Tribe, the Chickahominy Indian Tribe--Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe, the Monacan Indian Nation, and the Nansemond Indian Tribe also get the federal recognition that they deserve.”

“I’m thrilled the Pamunkey will finally receive the federal recognition they deserve,” said Kaine, who submitted comments to the BIA in October calling for greater flexibility in the federal recognition process. “Federal recognition both honors the Pamunkey’s identity and makes its members eligible for well-earned benefits including housing, education and health-care funding.  The Pamunkey are the first Virginia Indian tribe to receive federal recognition, over 400 years after making contact with the first European settlers. Despite the integral role the tribes played in American history and the unique cultures they have continued to maintain for thousands of years, they have faced barriers to recognition due to extraordinary circumstances out of their control. Today’s announcement is an important step toward righting this historical wrong, and I’m optimistic that the federal government’s decision to recognize the Pamunkey will spur Congress to act on our bill that seeks long-overdue recognition for six other Virginia tribes - the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan and the Nansemond.”

In the Senate, Warner and Kaine have introduced the bipartisan Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act, legislation that 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. The bill cleared its first procedural hurdle in March with passage out of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

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