- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 23, 2005

RICHMOND (AP) — Leaders of Virginia’s American Indian tribes said yesterday that the nature and level of the tribes’ participation in the 400th anniversary of Jamestown depends on whether they get federal recognition before the events in 2007.

Six of the eight Virginia tribes have been seeking federal recognition from Congress since 2000, but the legislation has gone nowhere.

Tribal leaders say they deserve federal recognition if they are expected to represent all American Indians at the Jamestown festivities.

“We’ll be there, but if we’re not federally recognized, we won’t be very happy participants,” said Kenneth Branham, chief of Virginia’s Monacan Nation.

“It will be a disgrace for this country and this state.”

Mr. Branham said at a press conference that a protest is among the tribe’s options at Jamestown if recognition is denied. The tribes also could scale back their involvement in the ceremonies.

“I’m so afraid that after 2007, if we’re not federally recognized, they’ll say, ‘Thank you for participating. We’ll see you in 50 years,’” he said.

Joining the Monacan Nation in seeking congressional action are the Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock and Nansemond tribes.

About 3,000 to 4,000 Virginians trace their ancestry to Virginia’s indigenous tribes.

Federal recognition would make certain federal grants and scholarships available and give the tribes legal standing to retrieve their ancestors’ remains from museums.

Some lawmakers fear it also would lead to casino gambling, although tribal chiefs say they have no interest in that.

Sens. George Allen and John W. Warner, both Virginia Republicans, have sponsored federal-recognition legislation for the tribes.

Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat, reiterated his support for recognition yesterday at the annual “tribute ceremony,” where he received two deer killed by hunters from the Pamunkey and Mattaponi tribes as payment in lieu of taxes.

Asked whether Virginia’s tribes should participate in the Jamestown commemoration if they still don’t have federal recognition, Mr. Warner said: “I hope they would, but I also understand their frustration.”

Planners of the events marking the anniversary of the founding of the first permanent English settlement in this country also support the tribes’ efforts.

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