Friday, February 19, 2010

Virginia Recognizes Three Tribes

Feather News

Virginia´s lawmakers approved the state recognition of the Patawomeck Tribe, or Patawomeke, as it was spelled on Captain John Smith´s map for the river that we now call the Potomac, and two Nottoway tribes.

According to the resolution that recognized the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, which lost the last of its reservation lands in the 1850´s, ¨many of the tribal members ¨relocated to what became known an ´Artist Town,´ near what is now Riverdale Road in Southampton County. These tribal members continued to live there as a tribal communal group up until the late 1990s sharing their Native American traditions and customs – hunting, trapping, fishing the Nottoway River, farming, and raising livestock ...¨

Since both the state Senate and House of Delegates passed the resolution, the governor´s approval is not necessary. The legislature´s decision to recognize the three tribes marks the first time in over 20 years that a tribe in Virginia has recognized an Indian tribe. Each of the three tribes will also have a seat on the Virginia Commission on Indians (VCI) along with other state recognized tribes.

VCI, which includes the eight state recognized tribes, has been the body designated to review recognition petitions for the past 20 years. No petitions have yet to be approved by VCI in the history of the commission.

Wayne Newton, the Las Vegas performer, is a Patawomeck tribal member and spoke on the Tribe´s behalf before Virginia´s House of Delegates.

Members of the VCI insist in the need for an exhaustive vetting process before a recognition decision is made while critics claim that tribes are being subjected to a more demanding process than that of the eight Virginia tribes recognized in the 1980´s and 1990´s.