Pamunkey Indian tribe, among the very first North American natives to interact with white settlers more than 400 years, had been granted long-denied recognition by the federal government.
The US department of interior said yesterday.
It was announced in Washington that the Pamunkey tribe was found to have met all seven mandatory criteria for federal acknowledgment.
It said one of the major seven mandatory criteria for federal acknowledgement was proving continuous existence.
The department said the recognition has already been extended to more than 550 tribes across the nation.
It said this would pave way for access to government money and programmes for housing, healthcare and education.
It said in the case of Pamunkey, it would come into effect in 90 days.
Chief Kevin Brown, Head of the Pamunkey Indian tribe, said it was a welcome development because they have been waiting for it for a long time.
“We are really happy.
Brown said it has taken so long for Virginia’s tribes to receive such status because one of the seven mandatory criteria for federal acknowledgement is proving continuous existence.
He said the Virginia’s 20th century racial segregation laws robbed native descendants of that evidence.
Brown disclosed that by law, Indians had to label themselves as “coloured” and could even be jailed for calling themselves Indians.
He said even some members of Congress, were also worried that the Virginia tribes would open casinos, therefore defeating similar bills in the past.
Brown promised that the Pamunkey tribe was not planning to open casinos. (dpa/NAN

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