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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KAINE. Mr. President, I am pleased to introduce the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2013.

This legislation is critically important, because it is a major step towards reconciling an historic wrong for Virginia and the Nation. While the Virginia Tribes have received official recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia, acknowledgement and officially-recognized status from the federal government has been considerably more difficult due to their systematic mistreatment over the past century.

The identities of the tribal members of Virginia's Indian Tribes were stripped away by Virginia's Racial Integrity Act, a State law in effect from 1924 to 1967. Racial identifications of those without white ancestry were changed to ``colored'' on birth certificates during that period. In addition, 5 of the 6 courthouses that held the vast majority of the Virginia Indian Tribal records needed to document their history to the degree required by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Federal Acknowledgement were destroyed in the Civil War.

Furthermore, Virginia Indians and England signed the Treaty of Middle Plantation in 1677. This predated the creation of the United States of America by just short of 100 years. This Treaty was never recognized by the founding fathers of the United States. Therefore, the Tribes were not granted Federal recognition upon signing treaties with the federal government like tribes in other states did.

I am proud of Virginia's recognized Indian Tribes and their contributions to our Commonwealth. The Virginia Tribes are a part of us. We go to school together, work together, and serve our Commonwealth and nation together every day. These contributions should be acknowledged, and this Federal recognition for Virginia's native peoples is long overdue.

It is my hope that the Senate will act upon my legislation this year, to give these 6 Virginia Native American Tribes the Federal recognition that is long overdue.

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