400-Year Wait
4:00 am
Tue May 28, 2013

Federal Recognition for VA's Indian Tribes

A bipartisan group of Virginia lawmakers is fighting to win federal recognition of six tribes in the commonwealth.

The tribes have treaties dating back to the 1600s. But there 's a catch: the agreements are with the King of England. Even now, the UK recognizes and honors these American tribes, while the US government doesn't. That's partly because in 1924, a law was passed that declared Virginia contained no Native Americans and wiped the commonwealth's record books of their history.

The six tribes are fighting for federal recognition that would provide them educational and health care benefits enjoyed by other tribes. That also would allow them to collect their ancestors remains kept in the Smithsonian.

The House has passed legislation recognizing Virginia 's tribes twice. So has a Senate committee, but the full upper chamber has never recognized the tribes.

While optimistic, supporters say the legislation won't likely come up until near the end of this session. Which means after about a 400-year wait, these tribes continue to wait.

 Audio FileMatt Laslo reports from the Capitol.  Edit | Remove