"Virginia's Indians have earned the right to be cynical.
Two years ago, six state tribes landed at the doorstep of federal recognition, only to have the mat snatched from underfoot. The bill stalled in the Senate after the conclusion of the feel-good Jamestown 2007 commemorative. Once the threat of Indian protest of the events passed, it seemed as if the politicians lost interest.
But the tribes -- Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock, Monacan Indian Nation and Nansemond -- kept the faith. And now, the stars -- cosmic and political -- have aligned in their favor.
On Monday, Rep. James P. Moran, D-8th, reintroduced his legislation to federally recognize the tribes. And the tribes are ready to believe again.
"There was optimism in 2007," said Chief Kenneth Adams of the Upper Mattaponi Tribe. "But . . . in my heart, I still had reservations that it would get to the president's desk. I don't have those reservations now."
In 2007, the bill breezed through the House after the tribes agreed to give up their authority under federal law to pursue casino gaming. But the bill ground to a halt in the Senate, and some supporters worried their moment had passed.
Then the political winds shifted."
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Michael Paul Williams: Va. Indian tribes deserve federal recognition
(The Richmond Dispatch 3/12)
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