Federal Recognition

Sen. Kaine asks BIA to be more flexible with federal recognition

Historic photo of Mattaponi students at the original Sharon Indian School in Virginia. Photo from Upper Mattaponi Tribe

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is facing criticism for its Part 83 reforms to the federal recognition process but the agency has found a supporter in Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia).

Kaine said the BIA should be more flexible in order to address the unique situation of Virginia's tribes. Even though they signed one of the earliest treaties, many of their records were destroyed during the Civil War and their Indian identity was officially expunged from state documents, starting in the early 1900s.

"By the time the law was struck down in 1971 the Commonwealth had intentionally robbed its tribes of decades of documentation, essentially destroying their ability to gain federal recognition through BIA’s process," Kaine said in a letter to Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn, the head of the BIA.

If the reforms are adopted, petitioning groups only have to provide documents dating back to 1934 -- as opposed to time of first contact. The provision could help Virginia's tribes.

Kaine and other members of Virginia's Congressional delegation are sponsoring S.1074 and H.R.2190, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act, to extend federal recognition to six tribes.

Get the Story:
Kaine pushes US recognition of 6 Va. tribes (AP 10/2)
Kaine pushes for Indian recognition (The Suffolk News-Herald 10/3)

Federal Register Notices:
Federal Acknowledgment of American Indian Tribes (July 30, 2014)
Federal Acknowledgment of American Indian Tribes (May 29, 2014)

Relevant Documents:
Proposed Rule | Press Release | Comparison Chart (comparing current rule to proposed rule) | Response to Comments on June 2013 Discussion Draft | Frequently Asked Questions

Related Stories:
BIA ends comment period on reform to federal recognition rule (10/1)
Editorial: Pass bill to extend federal recognition to Virginia tribes (09/17)
Opinion: Federal recognition for Virginia tribes long overdue (04/17)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee approves tribal recognition bills (4/3)

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