The Pamunkey Tribe and the Mattaponi Tribe presented their annual tax tribute to the Commonwealth of Virginia during a ceremony in RIchmond, the state capital, on November 21, 2018. Photo: Governor of Virginia

Pamunkey Tribe still working on casino plan after winning recognition

The Pamunkey Tribe continues to work on plans for a casino in Virginia.

The tribe has secured a 600-acre site outside of Richmond, the state capital. But that's not the only option on the table.

“We only want to go where we’re welcome,” Chief Robert Gray said last week as the tribe presented its annual treaty tribute to the state, The Virginia Mercury reported.

Gray added that the tribe wants to negotiate a Class III gaming compact with the state. The lottery, bingo games and horse racing are legal under state law, and some lawmakers are hoping to legalize sports betting and full-scale gaming in 2019, The Mercury reported.

The tribe gained federal recognition in 2016 by going through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. As a result, the tribe should be eligible for all Indian services and programs, including the land-into-trust process.

But since its status wasn't finalized until 2015, the tribe may have to address the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. The ruling states that tribes must have been "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934 in order to qualify for the land-into-trust process.

The Pamunkey Tribe was one of the first Indian nations to sign a treaty with a European government. That history and other actions are likely to be examined once the tribe submits a land-into-trust application.

"I'm proud of the long friendship between the Commonwealth and the Pamunkey and Mattaponi tribes and the integral role that Virginia Indians play in our communities," Gov. Ralph Northam said in a post on Twitter as the treaty tribute was accepted on November 21.

The Treaty of Middle Plantation was signed in 1677. The tribute ceremony has taken place for 341 years.

The tribe has a state-recognized reservation about an hour east of Richmond. There are no plans to develop that land for gaming.

Earlier this year, six other tribes in Virginia won federal recognition through passage of H.R.984, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act. The new law authorizes them to go through the land-into-trust process but it bars them from engaging in gaming on any acquired lands.

The Pamunkey Tribe is not subject to that same restriction.

Read More on the Story
Pamunkey Tribe hopes to announce potential casino location in coming months (The Virginia Mercury November 23, 2018)
‘Celebrate our differences': Native Americans pay tax tribute to Commonwealth (WRIC November 21, 2018)

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