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H.R. 984 (Rep. Robert Wittman (R-VA))

Six Indian tribes recognized by Virginia would receive federal recognition under H.R. 984.

The U.S. would recognize the Chickahominy Indian Tribe, the Chickahominy Indian Tribe--Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe Inc., the Monacan Indian Nation and the Nansemond Indian Tribe. Recognition makes members of the tribes and tribal governments eligible for federal services and benefits.

The bill would allow the Interior Department to accept land from the tribes to hold in trust for each tribe’s benefit. The tribes wouldn’t be allowed to open casinos or conduct other gaming activities on land taken into trust.

The measure would codify the membership, governing body and structure of each tribe as it exists on the date of enactment. Tribes could elect new governing bodies in accordance with their governing documents.

It wouldn’t affect tribal hunting, fishing or water rights and wouldn’t supersede the terms of any child welfare or custody agreements between the tribes and any state.

“The history of these tribes is intertwined with the birth of our nation, and their federal recognition status is long overdue,” Virginia Republican Rob Wittman said in a Feb. 7 news release following his introduction of the bill. “I’m proud to work with the Virginia tribes to ensure that they are granted the recognition that they have been denied for far too long.”

Previous Action

Wittman introduced H.R. 984, the “Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act,” on Feb. 7. Several members of the Virginia delegation cosponsored the measure: Republican Scott Taylor and Democrats Donald McEachin, Gerry Connolly, Bobby Scott and Don Beyer.

The bill was referred to the House Natural Resources Committee, which hasn’t acted.

Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine introduced a companion measure, S. 691, on March 21.

Similar legislation has been introduced by members of the Virginia delegation in the House during each Congress since 2000. The House passed measures in 2007 and 2009.


The House is scheduled to consider H.R. 984 under suspension of the rules during the week of May 15. A two-thirds majority would be required for passage.

Bill Summary: H.R. 228, American Indian Workforce Programs

Indian tribes that have been approved to consolidate federal funding for workforce assistance and development wouldn’t have to trace funds back to their source programs under a modified version of H.R. 228.

The bill would modify the 1992 Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Demonstration Act, Public Law 102-477, to clarify ambiguities that have led tribes and the federal government to disagree about its implementation, according to the markup memorandum on a substantially similar bill, H.R. 329 in the 114th Congress, by House Natural Resources Committee majority staff.

Under the law, an Indian tribe can apply to the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to consolidate funds provided to the tribe from several programs -- including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Child Care and Development Fund -- and transfer them to the tribe’s control. In fiscal 2014, more than 250 participating tribes benefited from approximately $90 million in grant funding, according to BIA data cited in a committee report on the previous measure.

The bill also would make other changes to the 1992 statute to clarify how agencies would implement the transfers.

The amended version set for floor consideration makes technical changes to the bill.

On December 14, 2016, the Thunderbird Strategic team attended a Listening Session on Issues important to Native Americans and the incoming Administration's leadership positions.  Hosted by the Western Caucus Foundation, the event was chaired by Congressman Markwayne Mullen (R-OK) who leads the Trump Native American Coalition.  Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) also attended as a staunch supporter of Native issues.  The TBird team issued written comments that covered the reorganization of the Office of Special Trustee, tribal and individual land matters (fractionalization), federal contracting parity provisions for Tribes and Native Hawaiian Organizations, reservation water systems, labor relations, and the importance of continuing to support native focused programs that strengthen self-determination and tribal sovereignty.

On September 14th, at NIGA's Mid-Year Conference at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Hotel, Thunderbird Strategic's President Kevin Allis will be a panelist that looks into the growing Daily Fantasy Sports industry, and it's impacts on tribal gaming. Kevin will focus on current and future Capitol Hill activity that looks into the DFS industry.

DFS in Indian Country: Threat or Partner?
The battle is over: daily fantasy sports is now legal in New York State. So what does this mean for tribal gaming operations? Hear an expert panel discuss the threats and opportunities presented by this new form of sports wagering, and learn what tribal casinos can do to benefit from DFS.

On Monday, September 19, 2016, Thunderbird Strategic's President Kevin Allis will be part of a panel that discusses what bank boards discuss and review when making lending decisions. 

Banking: Inside the Decision-Making Process of Banks
Description: Tribal governments' reliance on potential lenders is an important relationship for promoting growth and development. However, your bank’s health, lending capacity, and factors for approvals may not be in sync with your tribe’s plans and timing for growth. In this session, panelists will share inside information on how banks and bank directors make final decisions. Panelists will also cover supporting factors affecting the decision-making process, including a tribe's governance policies, borrowing capacity, capital, collateral, defining the project, predicting return on investment, and future cash flows. Gaining a better understanding of these factors will help create a sound banking relationship.

Thunderbird  Strategic President Kevin Allis (far left) accompanied Hawaiian Leaders at the Native American Finance Officers Association conference held at Gila River's Wild Horse Pass.  Governor John Waihee (3rd from the right), Senator Brickwood Galuteria (3rd from the left) were accompanied by Kevin throughout the week, meeting with tribal leaders and discussing the importance of Native Hawaiian federal recognition.  Thunderbird Strategic is proud to announce that Kevin will lead the charge in getting tribal support for the Hawaiian pursuit of federal recognition for the indigenous populations of Hawaii.  

House Small Business Committee Roundtable:  Recently Thunderbird Strategic's Founder & President Kevin Allis was invited to join the Democratic Members of the House Small Business Committee in a roundtable discussion around small business access to capital, and federal contracting matters.  Kevin carried the message of two important Native Hawaiian Organization clients, and discussed in detail equal access to the SBA 8(a) Program for all Native contractors, the concerns around the policy to award contracts on a "Lowest Price Technically Acceptable" basis, and the disconnect between agency officials that manage government sponsored load guarantee programs and the underwriting policies of the private banks that actually provide the badly needed capital. The discussion has led Kevin and his team to follow up with the Members of the Democratic Party who attended the roundtable on the issues discussed.