House committee passes Wittman Bill to grant federal recognition to Native American tribes

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(File photo)
(File photo)

Republican Congressman Rob Wittman, who represents the 1st District of Virginia, which includes the Historic Triangle, announced Wednesday the passage of H.R. 872, a bill he authored that would grant federal recognition to six Native American tribes of Virginia.

According to press release from Wittman’s office, the legislation was included in a larger package of federal recognition bills that were considered by the House Natural Resources Committee late last week.

The bill would extend federal recognition to the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond tribes, the release stated.

“This isn’t just about federal recognition,” Wittman said in the release. “It’s about protecting the identity of the tribes and restoring the dignity of the historical ‘first contact.’ These tribes have deep roots in the Commonwealth, and they and their ancestors have played a critical role in our country’s history.”

The tribes have already been officially recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia, but they have yet to receive federal recognition through the Bureau of Indian Affairs due to gaps in official records. The tribes lack formal treaties with the U.S. Government because they made peace with England before the United States was established, the release stated.

“It is because of the Virginia tribes that the first permanent English settlement in America succeeded when others failed,” Wittman said in the release. “These tribes shouldn’t be denied federal recognition because of one-size-fits-all requirements that fail to account for circumstances beyond their control.”