Monday, June 18, 2007


Queen Elizabeth's visit to Virginia is now a memory and the GodSpeed has set sail. Both these events were viewed as potential leverage by the Virginia Indian tribes in their quest for federal recognition. The potential to leverage these events has diminished the tribes chances to gain federal recognition.

H.R. 1294, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act, passed the House by voice vote, but is now slated for the Senate. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee was the stumbling block during the 109th Congress. During the 110th Congress this new bill may meet with the same fate as the old attempt. Not everyone is an advocate of the Virginia Indians.

Congressman Frank Wolf’s statement on Federal Recognition of Virginia Indian Tribes weakens their legislative quest. A caveat is created by the weak support of the congressman comments like:

"Mr. Chairman, I'm going to vote for this bill because I believe it represents a significant step forward in ensuring that the Commonwealth's interests are safeguarded when it comes to preventing casino-style gambling from coming to the state while providing full federal recognition to these six Virginia Tribes.

"However, I hope the Senate will take a very careful look at it before proceeding because I have already begun hearing rumors that attorneys are being consulted about ways to overturn the limitation on tribal gambling included in the legislation.

"I believe the tribes when they say they aren't interested in pursuing gambling. Nevertheless, I would be extremely disappointed if there is any merit to the chatter I am hearing already – even before the bill gets out of the House – about their interest in a court challenge of the bill's gambling limitation. I certainly hope that's not true, and that what I am hearing is simply rumor.

"I also must admit that I am troubled by the fact the tribes have been paying a lobbyist at least $80,000 for the past several years to advance this legislation. I certainly hope that this bill isn't the first step down the slippery slope we've been down before relating to lobbying and tribal gambling.

"Again, my concern is not with the federal recognition of Virginia's Indian tribes. It has always been with the explosive spread of gambling and the potential for casino gambling to come to Virginia. No bill should become law unless it protects the interests of the Commonwealth.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you stopped to consider that the House approval for recognition was a bogus feel-good action aimed at creating good-will for the Jamestown 2007 festivities? And that the Senate was always expected to take a harder look at whether these tribes deserved recognition according to existing law? The truth is, all 6 tribes know they don't stand a chance going by the BIA rules and not because of their claims that Virginia policies during the Plecker administration was virtual genocide. These tribes lost their history and their organization over a hundred years ago, only to reinvent themselves during the 1900s. They are now trying too hard to convince people they are Indian - which they may well be. But being Indian does not grant federal recognition to you and your organization. Your tribe is federally recognized based on history - which these tribes do not have.