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On July 28, 2011, The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs voted to move “The Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2011” (S. 379) out of Committee in preparation for action by the full Senate.

Senator Jim Webb, the bill’s co-patron along with Senator Mark Warner, attended the Committee meeting.  He reiterated his support for recognition of the Virginia Tribes, saying “I strongly believe that recognition for these six Virginia tribes is justified based on principles of dignity and fairness”.

Representatives from the Chickahominy, Monacan and Upper Mattaponi Tribes and the Virginia Council of Churches attended the meeting and met with Senator Webb.  The Senator had a photo taken with the group which appeared in a press release from his office.

On Wednesday, June 2, the House of Representatives passed HR 1385, The Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2009. By voice vote, the bill was passed and will be sent to the Senate for further action.

Congressman Jim Moran (D-8th), the bill’s chief sponsor, spoke passionately on the House floor for passage of the bill.

Virginia’s tribes have waited 400 years to receive their federal recognition. We are one step closer to closing a sad chapter in our nation’s history, one that saw the exploitation and denigration of Virginia’s Indians said Moran.  These tribes, descendants of those that greeted the first English settlers at Jamestown, deserve the same rights afforded the 562 tribes that are currently federally recognized.

Virginia’s Indians have overcome great obstacles to get to this point,” continued Moran. “This legislation is a long overdue part of the healing process.”

A long-time supporter, Congressman Bobby Scott (D-3rd) eloquently requested passage of the bill.  Congressman Rob Wittman (R-1st) spoke strongly for the bill, too, indicative of the bi-partisan support that the legislation has received.

In a refreshing development, Congressman Frank Wolf (R-10th) spoke in support of the bill because of its prohibition on gaming.  He also said he hoped the gaming prohibition would be maintained during action in the Senate.

On Monday, in advance of the vote, a delegation of tribal members and supporters hand-delivered letters to each member of the House of Representatives, requesting they vote in favor of our legislation. To remind them to vote yes, a kernel of corn was included in each letter.

Also on Wednesday, Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner introduced S. 1178 to recognize the Tribes.

Last year, in a hearing before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the Tribes received strong support, giving hope for Senate action this year.  Earlier this year, as a follow-up to that hearing, staff from Senator Webb’s office and from the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs visited the Tribes and toured their tribal grounds.

On April 22, 2009, H.R. 1385, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2009, was passed by the House Committee on Natural Resources.  This positions the legislation to be considered by the full House.


VITAL appreciates Chairman Rahall and the Committee’s swift action in favor of Virginia’s Indians, said Virginia Congressman Jim Moran, the bill’s chief sponsor.  400 years is a long time to wait, but today’s decision moves our effort ever closer to ending this historic injustice.


The House of Representatives is expected to take action on H.R. 1385 in the coming weeks, according to Congressman Moran.

On March 18, Chairman Nick Rahall convened a hearing before the House Committee on Natural Resources for The Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2009 (H.R. 1385).

A delegation of tribal representatives traveled to Washington D.C. to support the witnesses testifying on behalf of the legislation.

Governor Timothy Kaine spoke first in support of the bill, pointing out that 562 other tribes are federally recognized but none are in Virginia.  He pointed out that the Virginia Tribes have no formal relationship with the federal government because their treaties were with the King of England, long before the United States was formed.

Congressman Jim Moran (D-8th) stated “It’s about their dignity, being recognized for who they are.” and that Congress should “bring closure to a travesty.”

“It’s absolutely long overdue, said Congressman Robert Wittman (R-1st), a bill co-sponsor and member of the Committee.

Chickahominy Chief Stephen Adkins and Dr. Helen Rountree spoke on behalf of the Tribes. 

Chief Adkins recounted the discriminatory treatment the Tribes received at the hands of the State in the early part of the twentieth century, and how it affected everything from naming children, to getting marriage licenses, to induction into military service.  He asked Congress to free the Virginia Indians from this history by officially recognizing them.

After telling the committee she has spent the bulk of her career verifying the Virginia tribes, Dr. Rountree told how the Tribes have suffered over three centuries of injustice by the colonial and State governments.  She feels that if Congress does not recognize the Tribes, that injustice continues.

The majority of the committee members present at the hearing spoke favorably about the bill.

H.R. 1385 was introduced by Congressman Jim Moran on March 9 with six cosponsors: Gerald Connolly, D-Va., Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., Tom Perriello, D-Va., Nick Rahall, D-W.V., Bobby Scott, D-Va. and Rob Wittman, R-Va.

Congressman Jim Moran has written a commentary about the annual tribute to the Governor of Virginia on Thanksgiving Day.


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