Hey, Cairo, Recognize The Indian Tribes Of Virginia

Published 3:41 pm Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb have reintroduced legislation that would recognize six of Virginia's Native American tribes. Perhaps this continued show of persistence will pay off. It should.

Last year the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs passed a similar piece of legislation offered by the two Senators but there was never a full vote in the Senate, even though it has twice passed the House of Representatives.

Federal recognition, according to the senators, would qualify the Chickahominy, Chickahominy-Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan Indian Nation, and the Nansemond Indian Tribes for federal benefits through our nation's Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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But there are higher moral and ethical issues at stake.

As Senator Webb explained, “I spent several years examining this issue before deciding to support this legislation. I am convinced that legislation is perhaps the only way to bring fairness to these tribes, due to the complicated history between Virginia's tribes and England, which began before American independence, and also due to unique racial laws in Virginia that existed well into the 20th Century. Racially-hostile laws formerly in effect in Virginia-including anti-miscegenation laws from 1691 to 1967-have had a devastating impact on tribes seeking federal recognition. As such, normal administrative procedures have been insufficient in resolving an issue of historic dignity and fairness.”

As the Obama administration instructs nations in the Middle East on how to fairly treat their people, let us adhere more strongly to the same principles in the United States, beginning with passage of the Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act.

Physician, continue healing thyself.