Fredericksburg Today: Spanberger introduces bipartisan bill for federal recognition for Virginia’s Patawomeck Tribe


7th District Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger today led the introduction of bipartisan legislation to federally recognize the Patawomeck Indian Tribe of Virginia.

More than 2,600 members are enrolled in the Patawomeck Indian Tribe of Virginia — and approximately 70 percent of these members live in Stafford County. In 2010, the Commonwealth of Virginia granted state recognition to the Tribe. However, the Patawomeck are not recognized by the federal government — meaning they are ineligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Spanberger’s Patawomeck Indian Tribe of Virginia Federal Recognition Act would extend federal recognition to the Tribe and its members, making them eligible for services and benefits provided to federally recognized tribes. Among other benefits, this recognition would create new opportunities for members to apply for grants — including grants for education programs, job creation, and healthcare services. The bipartisan bill is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Jen Kiggans (R-VA-02) and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10).

“In Congress, I represent nearly 2,000 members of the Patawomeck Tribe — and their long history, their rich traditions, and their centuries of contributions to Virginia deserve respect and recognition. However, a lack of recognition by the federal government has left the Tribe unable to access new resources for economic development, healthcare, and education in our communities,” said Spanberger. “The federal government is long overdue to acknowledge what the Commonwealth of Virginia and the members of the Patawomeck Tribe themselves already know to be true. I want to thank the leadership and Members of the Patawomeck Indian Tribe of Virginia for their ongoing efforts to secure this recognition, and I’m honored to lead this legislation on their behalf in the U.S. House.”

“More than a decade ago, we — the Patawomeck Indian Tribe of Virginia — worked tirelessly to secure official recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia. But our community has always been here, and we have been a strong part of the fabric of our Virginia home. We are not only descendants of many centuries of our ancestors, but today we are neighbors, colleagues, friends, and proud Americans — and our heritage deserves to be recognized by the federal government like other Indigenous communities,” said Chief Charles “Bootsie” Bullock, Patawomeck Indian Tribe of Virginia. “On behalf of the Patawomeck Indian Tribe, I want to thank Rep. Abigail Spanberger for understanding our tribe’s unique history, culture, and challenges — and we appreciate her efforts, working with both parties, to secure federal recognition for our tribal citizens. It is long overdue.”

Click here for the bill text.

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