Why Request Federal Recognition?
A message from the Board of Directors regarding Historical Congressional Federal Recognition of the Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Monacan, Upper Mattaponi, Nansemond and Rappahannock Indian Tribes of Virginia.
The Commonwealth of Virginia formally recognizes eight tribes, whose ancestors and cultural connections can be traced directly to groups documented to have been living in Virginia in 1607 at the time of initial English colonization. Documentation, treaties and other legal actions (including the establishment of reservations for the tribes) precede the United States Constitution in treaties with the King of England. For example, the Treaty of 1677 Between Virginia and The Indians. Virginia has maintained ongoing relationships with these Tribes for nearly 400 years and yet these tribes have never been formally recognized by the United States Federal Government. In fact, hundreds of tribes across the United States have been recognized, but not one is from Virginia.
The Virginia Indian Tribes were marginalized from society, prevented from getting an education and had unjust laws imposed on them. As a result, they live in rural communities, and still remain largely uneducated in comparison to other minorities. Please help correct these wrongs.
The frequent deprivation which afflicted these indigenous peoples denied them their human rights, fundamental freedoms and inherent birthrights. It also denied them the possession of their lands, territories and resources and prevented the Indian people from fully exercising traditions and cultural interests and from providing for their basic needs. This is truly a human rights issue.
The Virginia Indian Tribes have been slighted in the process of Federal Recognition due in part to Dr. Walter Plecker, State Registrar for the Commonwealth in the early 20th century. Through his campaign of racial classification, Plecker denied the Virginia American Indians their inherent birthright by removing the category of “Indian” from birth and marriage records. This resulted in paper genocide.
In 1999, both chambers of Virginia’s General Assembly agreed to House Joint Resolution 754 urging Congress to grant federal recognition to the Virginia tribes and asking the state’s delegation in Congress “to take all necessary steps forthwith to advance it”. Please heed their words.
Recognition is a tribal issue! Six of the eight state-recognized tribes of Virginia stand united in their efforts to gain Historical Federal Recognition through Congress.
Federal recognition will ensure these Virginian Indians’ rightful status in the history of Virginia and this Nation.
Federal recognition will offer housing opportunities to those who can’t afford it and educational opportunities to our young American Indian people.
Federal recognition will promote economic development opportunities that will enable the tribes to become self-sustaining and provide economic development in their surrounding communities.
Federal recognition will provide a future filled with honor and promise for our children.
Following the recent commemoration of the 400-year anniversary of the founding of this great country, let these Native American tribes, whose ancestors where the first to welcome those early settlers, not be the last to be recognized. Please take action today!