National | Federal Recognition

Group concedes after defeat in Pamunkey Tribe recognition case

An undated photo of the Pamunkey Reservation in Virginia. Photo from Virginia Department of Historic Resources

A small opposition group is conceding defeat after failing to derail federal recognition for the Pamunkey Tribe of Virginia.

Cheryl Schmit of Stand Up For California believes she raised important questions about the tribe's status. But she told The Washington Post that other entities will have to carry on the fight after the Interior Board of Indian Appeals dismissed her challenge.

With the appeal -- which was the only one filed -- out of the way, the Pamunkeys will now become the 567th federally recognized tribe in the nation. The tribe is the first in Virginia to complete the Bureau of Indian Affairs process.

“We are thrilled that federal recognition of the Pamunkey tribe is finally official. With this long-overdue designation, the Pamunkey is the first Virginia tribe to be recognized and receive access to critical federal benefits," Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) said in a press release.

Warner and Kaine are sponsoring S.465, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act, a bill that recognizes five other tribes in the state. Both hope the Pamunkey decision will help secure passage of the measure.

The bill extends federal recognition to the Chickahominy Tribe, the Chickahominy Indian Tribe - Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe, the Monacan Nation and the Nansemond Tribe.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved S.465 at a business meeting in March 2015. It has not been considered on the Senate floor.

Get the Story:
Virginia’s Pamunkey withstand challenge to tribe’s federal recognition (The Washington Post 2/2)
Pamunkey challenge denied, tribe now federally recognized (The Tidewater Review 2/2)

Interior Board of Indian Appeals Decision:
In Re Federal Acknowledgment of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe (January 28, 2016)

Relevant Documents:
Letter to Chief Brown | Notice of Final Determination

Federal Register Notices:
Final Determination for Federal Acknowledgment of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe (July 8, 2015)
Proposed Finding for Federal Acknowledgment of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe (January 23, 2014)

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