Area Indians speak on recognition

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 9, 2005

Editor, the News-Herald:

Let me begin by saying that Wesley Crowder’s statement &uot;that (the proposed legislation) contains no stipulations about (gambling)&uot; is completely false. By simply reading sections 106, 206, 306, 406 506, or 607 of Senate bill S.480 you can see there are specific limitations to gaming. Senator George Allen and Senator John Warner have approved this language.

The Elks and Moose Associations &uot;voiced opposition to the bill because it doesn’t have safeguards to prevent the possibility of Indian gambling in Virginia.&uot; Let me repeat it for you: &uot;INDIAN GAMBLING.&uot;

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Virginia Indian Tribes suffered under the oppression of the Racial Integrity Act from 1924 until the Federal Government overturned it in 1967. Virginia registrar of Vital Statistics Walter Plecker singled out Virginia Indians in an attempt to document them out of existence. Are we being singled out again because we are &uot;Indian&uot;?

As non-profit organizations the Virginia Indian Tribes can conduct bingo under Virginia law, but have not. The Elks and Moose Associations conduct numerous bingo operations statewide. Do the Virginia Elks Association and Virginia Moose Association fear the spread of &uot;Indian gaming,&uot; or are they reacting to a perceived treat to their bingo revenue?

As governor of Virginia, George Allen supported Federal Recognition for the Virginia Indian Tribes, as a U.S. Senator George Allen has co-sponsored S.480, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2005. Senator George Allen believes in Federal Recognition for the Virginia Indian Tribes, do the Elks and Moose Associations?

Reginald W. Tupponce Jr.

Member, Upper Mattaponi Tribe

President, Virginia Indian Tribal Alliance For Life

Editor, the News-Herald:

I am a member of one of the six tribes seeking Federal Recognition.

I hear over and over that there are those who are afraid that the Virginia Indians would begin gambling almost the moment that we obtain the recognition that we so deserve.

This could not be further from the truth!

If the Virginia Indians were interested in making money in this way, we would be operating high-stakes bingo halls. The fact that we do not should prove that none of us are interested in any kind of gambling type venture.

One would think that the individuals, and/or groups that are afraid of us wanting to establish casinos would look at our actions which back-up our words.

We are raising the funds needed for our recognition-seeking efforts by having pow-wows, golf tournaments, bake sales, yard sales, blue-grass festivals, raffles and other community-accepted type fundraisers. Anyone who has coordinated even one of these events knows how much work goes into them.

One would think that if we were interested in gaming that instead of using the aforementioned fundraising events, we would be using what would be considered by some, easier financial resources that are more lucrative such as gaming investors and the like.

The fact that none of the tribes seeking recognition have even considered going that route, and the fact that we would never consider it should prove to anyone who has a brain that we are not the least bit interested in any kind of gaming enterprise.

Most of those who are screaming like Chicken Little have never taken the time to talk to us face-to-face and get to know us on a more personal level. Anyone who would do that would see that we are hard-working people who care about each other and our families.

We care about our families because we want them to have the opportunities that our parents and grandparents did not have.

So, I challenge the Mooses, and the Elks and all of those who oppose us, to come to a pow wow or any of the fundraisers, meet some of us, get to know us, talk to us,

and allow us the dignity to present our case to each of you before you release statements opposing us.

We welcome one-and-all to come to the pow wow, there is one on just about every weekend from February to November.

Anyone interested in coming and wants to know when and where, visit for one of the most comprehensive pow wow lists available.

Anyone who does come to a pow wow, please look for me. My name is Keith Smith.

I am Nansemond/Cherokee. I serve on the Nansemond Tribal Council and am also tribal representative to Virginia Indian Tribal Alliance for Life, (VITAL).

VITAL is an organization created for educating others about the Virginia Indians, and dispelling the misinformation, myths and down-right lies that have been told about us.

This organization consists of six Virginia Indian nations working together for a common purpose.

VITAL’s main objective is to educate, and to coordinate fundraising events needed for our recognition efforts.

We welcome you. Come let us share ourselves with you.

Thank you for your time.

R. Keith Smith

Two Rivers Running


Nansemond Tribal Council