Monday, May 07, 2007


Atoning for Apartheid

As the Jamestown 2007 Commemoration kicks off in May, the Virginia tribes hope to be federally recognized prior to the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement. Although eight of Virginia's tribes have received recognition by the state, none has received recognition by the federal government.

While federal recognition requires substantial documentation showing continuity of existence, Virginia Indians faced the destruction of records of their Indian identity under the Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924. Through this act, the state's then-Vital Records Registrar Walter Plecker reclassified Virginia Indians as ''colored,'' removing their Indian racial designation from birth, marriage and death certificates, and threatened to imprison anyone claiming the Indian racial designation.


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