PROVIDENCE FORGE, VA – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) attended the 67th annual Chickahominy Pow Wow over the weekend to celebrate the tribe's recently secured federal recognition. Sens. Warner and Tim Kaine, as well as Rep. Rob Wittman, passed legislation in January finally granting the tribe recognition centuries after the Chickahominy and five other Virginia tribes first made contact with English settlers. Sen. Warner participated in the Pow Wow Grand Entry, a ceremony honoring veterans in attendance, and greeted the crowd of several hundred, alongside Chickahominy Chief Stephen R. Adkins, State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, Del. Lamont Bagby, Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson and other local officials.
“It should not have taken 341 years to get federal recognition for the Chickahominy people, but I'm glad to be here celebrating this long overdue victory,” said Sen. Warner. “All of Virginia's tribes pay such respect to our country and to our veterans, and it was a moral slight that they did not have this recognition until this year. The day when Chief Adkins and the other chiefs of Virginia's tribes sat in the Senate gallery as we won federal recognition was one of my proudest days this year.”
"The Chickahominy are a sovereign nation within these United States," said Chief Adkins. "Federal recognition wouldn't have happened without Sen. Warner, Sen. Kaine, Congressman Wittman, their staffs and many others who worked on this bill. But as Sen. Warner remarked, there was a spiritual atmosphere in the Senate on the day the recognition bill passed. All of us know what that spirit is. So praise God, the Creator was on our side."
The Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act was signed into law on January 29, 2018, after decades of bipartisan efforts by Virginia’s elected officials. Sens. Warner and Kaine secured final passage of the bill earlier that month. Six Virginia tribes—the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond— now have the federal recognition they have waited centuries for. Many of these tribes include descendants of Pocahontas’ Virginia Powhatan tribe. These tribes had received official recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia, but had not received federal recognition, which will grant the tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government.
This federal recognition allows Virginia’s tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government. Further, it allows tribes to:
- Compete for educational programs and other grants only open to federally recognized tribes;
- Repatriate the remains of their ancestors in a respectful manner. Many of these remains reside in the Smithsonian, but without federal status there is no mandate to return the remains; and
- Provide affordable health care services for elder tribal members who have been unable to access care.
For more information on the Chickahominy Pow Wow, you can visit the Chickahominy Tribe's website.