Mar 22nd, 2009 by vitalpres
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.Â 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.