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.â€
A long-time supporter, Congressman Bobby Scott (D-3rd) eloquently requested passage of the bill.Â 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.