Virginia tribal interests represented in successful legislation
House Bill (HB) 1952, patroned by Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) and Chief Co-Patroned by Delegate Keith Hodges (R-Middlesex) passed the House and the Senate unanimously. HB 1952 was requested by the Mattaponi Tribe, whose reservation is in King William County, Virginia.
The bill streamlines the process whereby the tribe can acquire real property for annexation to an existing reservation, on the condition that such real property is located within one mile of an existing reservation. Over the centuries, the lands of the Mattaponi have been encroached upon, such that the present reservation is merely 70 acres. The Mattaponi Tribal Council has undertaken efforts to re-acquire lands in close proximity to the Reservation, in order to provide additional home-sites for members to relocate to the Reservation, thus enhancing the long term viability of this important Tribe.
Speaking about the legislation, Peace stated, “HB 1952 assists our first Virginians in expanding their tribal lands to enable tribe members to return home to their reservation and construct residences. Virginia tribes enabled the success of the first permanent English settlement in our Nation, and have impacted our Commonwealth immeasurably.”
Chief Custalow of the Mattaponi Tribe states, “Today was a great day on the Mattaponi Reservation and for its people to find out that the House Bill 1952 was passed and is going to the governor for signature. The passing of this bill will allow the Mattaponi people to expand our reservation from its existing boundaries. It will allow us to have the ability for our people to come home, to move back to the reservation and preserve our culture as our forefathers have taught us throughout many years.”
Peace was also chief co-patron of House Bill 1686, patroned by Del. Hodges. HB 1686 passed unanimously, and permits Virginia Indian tribes that are recognized by the federal government to join their Planning District Commissions (PDC) as members and to negotiate the terms of such membership. There are 21 PDCs in Virginia, and are comprised of elected officials and citizens appointed to the Commission by member local governments.
“It is a privilege to work with Delegate Peace to move forward legislation that provides our First Virginians solutions for the unique issues that they face,” stated Delegate Hodges.
One important duty of the PDC's is to create a strategic plan for their region of service. This plan is created in cooperation with local governments, businesses, citizen organizations, and other interested parties. The plan is intended to help promote the orderly and efficient development of the PDC by stating goals and objectives, strategies to meet those goals, and mechanisms for measuring progress.
Peace and Hodges have co-authored several bills in the past to designate the Secretary of the Commonwealth as the liaison to the state recognized tribes and reforms to the manner in which tribes may navigate the state building code.
These King William Delegates encourage your support and awareness of the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission. More information about construction of this Indian Tribute at the State Capitol may be found at http://indiantribute.virginia.gov/