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U.S. Senate Committee Approves Bill To Recognize Six Virginia Tribes

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A Senate committee passed a bill to give six central Virginia Indian tribes federal recognition. That would let the tribes apply for federal housing and education dollars.

Virginia lawmakers say the tribes are unique. They signed British peace treaties and an old state law made it impossible to claim their Indian heritage. Furthermore, court records needed for recognition were destroyed during the Civil War.

So Senator Jim Webb introduced legislation to get approval from Congress. Wyoming Republican John Barrasso argues that decision should be left up to the Department of Interior. "These tribes point to one or more problems, not on their own making, that make the administrative process very difficult or impossible--that's fair enough," said Barrasso. "The appropriate congressional fix is to address each of the specific problems specifically, not simply deem them to be tribes."

A similar bill passed in the House. That legislation drafted by Virginia Congressman Jim Moran would prevent gaming on Indian land. The Senate bill now goes to the floor for a vote.

Sara Sciammacco reports...

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