May 17, 2017
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 984, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act and I want to thank my fellow Virginian, Congressman ROB WITTMAN for introducing this bill, and the gentleman from Utah, Chairman Bishop and the gentleman from Arizona, Ranking Member GRIJALVA, for their leadership and cooperation in bringing the bill to the floor.

   Four hundred ten years ago, the first English settlers founded Jamestown, Virginia. The founding of Jamestown represented a first step in the creation of our great Republic, and the success of this colony is owed to the help of the indigenous people of Virginia.

   With this assistance, the Jamestown colony weathered a difficult first few years in the New World before expanding, with English colonists pushing further inland. The same Native Americans who had helped those first settlers were pushed from their land without compensation. Treaties, many of which precede our own constitution, were made in an effort to compensate Virginia's Native Americans. Unfortunately, as history has repeatedly shown, these treaties were not often honored.

   Like many other Native Americans, and many other groups who were not white, and despite their contributions to the founding of our nation, Virginia's Indian Tribes were pushed to the fringes of 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 Constitution.

   This bill 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.

   Federal recognition of Virginia's Indian Tribes will promote tribal economic development and allow Virginia's tribes to flourish culturally. Federal recognition, a process that has been ongoing for these tribes for over 30 years, will lead to a bright future for a whole new generation of tribe members.

   Mr. Speaker, I was a member of the Virginia General Assembly in 1983 when many of these tribes first gained formal recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia, and I am proud to be here today supporting federal recognition for these tribes.

   The time has come for this Congress to act, and I therefore urge my colleagues to support this bill.