there are eight organized tribes in Virginia and two small reservations.
There are 3,500 people on the tribal registers, and the
census figures show another 25,118 people of American Indian,
Alaskan, and Hawaiian ancestry
living across Virginia.
Two tribes, the Pamunkey and the Mattaponi, have small
reservations in King William County.
Their state reservations date from the 1600s.
Six other incorporated groups are officially recognized
as Indian tribes by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
They are the: Chickahominy Indian Tribe in Charles City
County; Chickahominy Indian TribeEastern Division in New Kent
County; Monacan Indian Nation in Amherst County; Nansemond
Indian Tribe in the City of Chesapeake; Rappahannock
Indian Tribe in Essex, Caroline, and King & Queen Counties;
and the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe in King William
In its concern over education, a group of seven tribes formed
The United Indians of Virginia (UIV) in 1988. The UIV set
up a scholarship fund for young adults. Other goals
included coordinating cultural events and economic and social
development efforts. The council operated by consensus,
with officers elected by the eight tribes.
The Virginia Council on Indians was established by an act of the
General Assembly in 1983. Presently the Council is
composed of eighteen members: one member from each of the
state recognized tribes, five Indian-at-large members, one
citizen-at-large member, and four members of the General
Assembly. The Council is affiliated with the Secretary of
Natural Resources in the Governor's Cabinet. It informs
and advises the Governor, General Assembly and state agencies on
issues of interest to Indians in Virginia, such as the
educational Standards of Learning, archaeology on Native American
sites, and the respectful treatment of Native remains and
funerary objects. The Council also serves as a resource to
Native Americans throughout Virginia, as well a to the general
public for questions about the Virginia Indians.
1990s the Virginia tribes pursued federal recognition through
the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
After the Bureau
indicated that it could take decades to receive administrative
recognition, the tribes in 1999 formed VITAL, the Virginia
Indian Tribal Alliance for Life. VITAL decided to pursue
Congressional recognition. Since 2000, bills have been
introduced to both houses of the United State Congress seeking
federal acknowledgement for Virginia tribes. VITAL
recognizes the right of Indian tribes to self-government and
supports tribal sovereignty and self-determination. VITAL
is also a research and education organization dedicated to a
wider understanding and appreciation of the ideas and knowledge
of indigenous peoples, and to the social, economic and political
realities of the American Indians of the Commonwealth of
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groups in Virginia today