Allen bill to bring recognition to Nansemonds, other Indians

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 31, 2003

The Senate Indian Affairs committee today approved a measure (S. 1423) sponsored by Senator George Allen (R-VA) to provide federal recognition to six Virginia Indian tribes.

The legislation is consistent with Senator Allen’s past actions and fulfills his 2000 campaign promise to support such recognition. Federal recognition would allow tribal members to receive federal benefits and services extended to other recognized tribes, such as grants for higher education and health care through the Indian Health Service.

&uot;I am truly pleased for this historic level of success for Virginia Indians which is an unprecedented step to right a Virginia wrong,&uot; said Senator Allen.


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Senator Allen’s legislation provides federal recognition for the following tribes: the Chickahominy Tribe, the Chickahominy Indian Tribe, Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe Inc., the Monacan Indian Tribe and the Nansemond Indian Tribe.

&uot;The American Indians in Virginia contribute to the diverse, exciting nature and heritage of the Commonwealth,&uot; said Allen.

&uot;The six tribes seeking federal recognition have suffered humiliation and indignities that have gone largely unnoticed by most Americans.

Due to government policies that sought to eliminate their culture and heritage, I believe the circumstances of their situation warrants Congressional recognition.&uot;

&uot;The Indian tribes in Virginia have one of the longest histories of any Indian tribe in America, which is a remarkable point considering none of the tribes in Virginia are federally recognized.

&uot;As Virginia approaches the 400th anniversary of the 1607 founding of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America, it is most appropriate that the role of Virginia’s Indian tribes in the development of our Commonwealth and our country is properly recognized and appreciated.&uot;

There are more than 550 federally recognized tribes in the United States. While no tribes have been federally recognized in Virginia, the Commonwealth of Virginia has recognized the eight main tribes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 21,000 American Indians in Virginia.

In 1999, the Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution calling on the U.S. Congress to grant federal recognition to the tribes in Virginia.

Senator Allen, who named the legislation in honor of Thomasina Jordan, noted the personal significance of the committee’s approval.

&uot;Thomasina Jordan was a dear friend of mine. As Governor of Virginia, I appointed Thomasina as Chair of the Virginia Council on Indians, and she served as an advisor to me in many ways over the years.

&uot;Thomasina was a great leader and civil rights activist in Virginia, paving the way for this legislation. Regrettably, she passed away in 1999 after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

Thomasina’s efforts to ensure equal rights and recognition to all American Indians continue today in spirit because she was able to have an effect on the lives of so many individuals and encourage many to join her quest for fairness, honor and justice,&uot; said Allen.

&uot;I can imagine Thomasina with a big smile right now with this important success.

And, I’m particularly thankful to Chairman Ben Nighthorse Campbell for his magnificent assistance and guidance in getting my bill approved by the Committee.&uot;

In a statement initially introducing the bill in the Senate, Senator Allen referred to the words of Thomasina Jordan, who wrote: &uot;We belong to this land. For 10,000 years we have been here. We were never a conquered people. The dominant society needed us to survive in 1607, and it needs American Indians and our spiritual values to survive in the next millennium.&uot;

– Compiled by Barbara Lee Allen