May 8, 2007
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia:  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 1294, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act.

   I want to thank my colleague from Virginia (Mr. Moran) for introducing the bill, and the gentleman from West Virginia and the gentleman from Alaska for their leadership and cooperation in bringing the bill to the floor.

   This year marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in North America. Jamestown is the cornerstone of our great republic, and its success relied heavily on the help of the indigenous people of Virginia. Virginia's Native Americans played a critical role in helping the first settlers of Jamestown survive the harsh conditions of the new world.

   After the Jamestown colony weathered the first couple of years in the new world, the colony expanded, and the English pushed further inland. The same Native Americans that helped those first settlers were coerced and pushed from their land without compensation. Treaties, many of which precede our own Constitution, were often made in an effort to compensate the Virginia Native Americans. But, unfortunately, as history has shown, those treaties were rarely honored or upheld.

   Like many other Native Americans, Virginia Indian tribes were marginalized from society. They were deprived of their land, prevented from getting an education and denied a role in our society. Virginia's Native Americans were denied their very fundamental human rights and the very freedoms and liberties enshrined in our own Constitution.

   This bill on the House floor today will finally grant Federal recognition to the Chickahominy Tribe, the Eastern Chickahominy Tribe, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe, the Monacan Indian Nation, and the Nansemond Tribe. The bill will ensure the rightful status of Virginia's tribes in our Nation's history.

   Federal recognition will also promote tribal economic development that will allow Virginia's tribes to become self-sufficient. Those same opportunities will allow Virginia's tribes to flourish culturally and economically, and will lead to a brighter future for a whole new generation.

   We have waited too long to recognize Virginia's tribes. The time has come for Congress to act. I urge my colleagues to support the bill.