- The Washington Times - Monday, May 10, 2004

RICHMOND (AP) — A bill to give six Virginia Indian tribes federal recognition received a favorable committee report as it edges toward a vote in the U.S. Senate.

Virginia tribal leaders hope to win recognition before the events marking the 400th anniversary, in 2007, of Jamestown’s founding. The tribes have been working for recognition from Congress for four years.

The tribes participating in the federal bill are the Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock, Nansemond and Monacan Indian Nation.

The favorable report was issued last week by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

“We have been waiting for this,” said Gene W. Adkins, president of Virginia Indian Tribal Alliance for Life, a group pressing for the legislation.

Backers hope the Senate will pass the bill and spur the House of Representatives to act, said Mr. Adkins, from the Eastern Chickahominy tribe.

In light of “substantial evidence, and the unique history and circumstances [the tribes] have borne over the past 400 years,” the report said, the committee finds the tribes “are, and always have been, Indian tribes warranting acknowledgment by the federal government.”

It portrayed the Virginia tribes in a strongly positive light, saying the most striking feature of their history “is that their responses to adversity have been overwhelmingly constructive ones.”

“They lost all but the smallest remnant of their aboriginal territory,” the report noted, “and yet they have abided by treaties and in the 20th century they have shown themselves, by the number of their men in military service both in and out of wartime, to be very patriotic citizens indeed.”

It added, “The early Jamestown Colony wanted Virginia’s native people to become good, functioning citizens of an English-speaking community. This is precisely what the Virginia tribes have done, while remaining Indian throughout history.”

More than 3,000 members belong to the six tribes. Their leaders say they don’t want to establish casino gambling once they achieve federal recognition, a concern of critics, but would seek federal aid in housing, education and health care.

The effort in the Senate is sponsored by Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican.

“These tribes have faced discrimination and attacks on their culture that are unheard of in most parts of the United States,” Mr. Allen told the Indian Affairs Committee last fall.

Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, joined Mr. Allen in introducing the bill.

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