Connolly Applauds House Passage of the Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017

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Washington, May 19, 2017 | comments
Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) applauded passage of H.R. 984, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017 on Tuesday. The bill, which passed the House unanimously, fixes a persistent injustice by granting long-overdue federal recognition to six of Virginia’s Native American tribes. The legislation was introduced by Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA) and was supported by Virginia Representatives Bobby Scott, Don Beyer, Scott Taylor, and Don McEachin.

The tribes that would gain federal recognition include: the Chickahominy Tribe; the Chickahominy Indian Tribe--Eastern Division; the Upper Mattaponi Tribe; the Rappahannock Tribe, Inc.; the Monacan Indian Nation; and the Nansemond Indian Tribe.

“This is a matter of simple justice,” said Connolly. “This legislation is important not only for the Commonwealth of Virginia but for the rights of all Americans, beginning with the original Americans.”

“As if some genocidal policies of the 18th and 19th century weren’t bad enough, in terms of their terrible impact on Native American population, the racism that went on, shamefully, in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the early 20th century deeply compounded the problem by denying the identity of these individuals and communities so that the battle to have their rights restored was made so much more difficult and complex,” Connolly added.

“It’s a proud moment to stand shoulder to shoulder, Republican and Democrat, to want to right this wrong,” Connolly said.

Connolly’s full remarks delivered on the House floor follow:

“This legislation is important not only for the Commonwealth of Virginia but for the rights of ALL Americans, beginning with the original Americans.

When we talk about the Americas we sometimes talk as if the Americas began in the early 17th century with Jamestown, with Plymouth and with the subsequent colonization of the east coast.

But in fact there were millions of Native Americans here long before European colonization.

They had rich culture…they had incredible artistic expression…they had a way of life.

It was disrupted by European colonization.

And as if some genocidal policies of the 18th and 19th century weren’t bad enough, in terms of their terrible impact on this population, the racism that went on, shamefully, in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the early 20th century deeply compounded the problem by denying the identity of individuals and communities as native American so that the battle to have their rights restored was made so much more difficult and complex.

If I destroy your identity papers I destroy your ability to prove who you are.

And that’s the dilemma we find ourselves today.

This is a matter of simple justice.

It’s a proud moment to stand shoulder to shoulder, Republican and Democrat, to want to right this wrong.

And we are now one step closer to turning a page in history the right way.”

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