Legislation Granting Federal Recognition to Six “Pocahontas” Viriginia Tribes Passed by U.S. Senate

Pocahontas (1595-1617), daughter of Chief Powhatan of Powhatan Indians of Virginia. She is said to have saved the life of Captain John Smith as Powhatan was about to execute him.

Published January 15, 2018

WASHINGTON – Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a bill called Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017. The legislation provides federal recognition to six Virginia tribes that previously held state recognition. Similar legislation was passed in May 2017 by the House of Representatives. Now, it awaits the signature of President Donald Trump.

Once signed by the president, the legislation will grant federal recognition to: the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond. These tribes include direct descendants of Pocahontas’ Virginia Powhatan tribe.


The bill was introduced by ntroduced by Representative Rob Wittman (R-Viriginia 1st Congressional District). U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner took the lead in the Senate for its passage.

“Decades in the making, federal recognition will acknowledge and protect historical and cultural identities of these tribes for the benefit of all Americans,” Congressman Wittman said.

“It’s a fundamental issue of respect, and fairly acknowledging a historical record, and a wonderful story of tribes that are living, thriving and surviving and are a rich part of our heritage. This is a happy day to stand up on their behalf,” Senator Kaine said.

Once signed by the President, federal recognition will allow Virginia’s tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government.


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