Opposition expressed against Indian bill

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Two state organizations are calling for changes to proposed legislation that would grant federal recognition to the Nansemond Indians and five other Virginia tribes.

Both the Virginia Moose Association and the Virginia Elks Association, in a joint statement released last week, voiced opposition to the bill because it doesn’t have safeguards to prevent the possibility of Indian gambling in Virginia.

U.S. Sens. John W. Warner, R-Va., and George Allen, R-Va., are co-sponsors of the bill proposing federal recognition of the Nansemond, Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock and Monacan tribes.

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The recognition would make the estimated 1,500 to 4,000 members of the Virginia tribes eligible for the federal government’s benefits and special services already provided to other recognized tribes nationwide.

The Virginia General Assembly has endorsed the proposed federal recognition, stating that &uot;members of the Indian tribes…have represented that they have no intent in operating commercial gaming on their lands.&uot;

&uot;We are not opposed to the recognition for the Indian tribes,&uot; said Wesley Crowder, government relations chairman for the Virginia Moose Association. &uot;But we don’t want them to be able to do the gambling and that (the proposed legislation) contains no stipulations about it.

&uot;We want the legislation to contain language saying they cannot do casinos… or at least that if they can do gambling, they would have to abide by Virginia’s charitable gaming laws.&uot;

That would be fine with the Nansemond tribe, said Dot Dalton, the state coordinator for the Native American Resource Network and a vocal advocate for the Suffolk tribe.

She has been working with the tribe to acquire city property in Chuckatuck to build Mattanock Town, a replica of a Nansemond Indian village.

&uot;So far as I know, none of the tribes in Virginia want gambling,&uot; Dalton said.

&uot;The Nansemonds have said they absolutely would not want it and are willing to include that as a deed restriction with the city of Suffolk.

&uot;The tribes in Virginia feel like they have the right to be treated like everyone else.&uot;