The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a meeting on October 30th, 2013 to discuss three bills: S. 1074, S. 1132 and S. 161.
Each bill would extend federal recognition to the Chickahominy Indian Tribe, the Chickahominy Indian Tribe-Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe, the Monacan Indian Nation and the Nansemond Indian Tribe of Virginia, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana respectively.
Recognition by the United States Government would allow these tribes to receive services that other recognized tribes receive, like better access to education, overall better economic opportunity and development, veterans services and health care services.
As a part of health care, access to better mental health services would be readily available to members of these tribes and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated in ensuring that every American Indian and Native Alaskan receives access to these necessary services. In attendance was Senator Tim Kaine [D] of Virginia, Senator Richard Burr [R] of North Carolina, Senator Kay Hagen [D] of North Carolina, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn, Stephen Adkins of the Chickahominy Tribe, Paul Brooks of the Lumbee Tribe and Gerald Gray of the Little Shell Tribe.
This has been a long and grueling process for each tribe, with many roadblocks due to the government, and Senator Hagan reminded the committee that “federal recognition is about more than federal resources… it’s about tribal identity and fairness.”