House approves bill to federally recognize Monacan Indian Tribe ahead of powwow

(Photo: Monacan Tribe Nation)

AMHERST Co., Va. (WSET) -- A local Indian tribe is getting very close to getting federal recognition after trying for decades.

The U.S. House has already approved a bill sponsored by Virginia's senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.

And now, the senate Indian Affairs Committee has given it the green light.

The Monacan Indian Nation in Amherst County is one of six tribes that have sought federal recognition.

It would open the door for more educational programs and grants.

The recognition would also allow the tribe to pay proper respect to the remains of ancestors and it would provide affordable health care for many elderly members.

"That's good, but we've been here before. It's just a stepping stone, we've got meny more to go," said Chief Dean Branham of the Monacan Indian Nation. "You've got to go to the Senate, Congress, then to the president."

There's no word on when the Senate will vote on the bill.

The tribe is asking the public to assist by reaching out to legislators.

Meanwhile, the Monacan Indian tribe is gearing up for its 25th anniversary of their annual powwow.

Organizers were setting up for the occasion Friday afternoon.

Thousands are expected to attend, including tribes from all over the world.

There will be lots of vendors, dancing, traditional items, and food for sale.

The public can also pick up a few educational items and check out the drum and dance competitions.

"It's a lot of pride for us, because it brings people here to educate them that we're still here, we're here in Amherst County, so it's just a great way to get out there and let them know what our culture and tradition is," said Pamela Thompson, Assistant Chief of Monacan Indian Nation.

The Powwow opens Saturday at 10 a.m.

If you miss out Saturday, there's always Sunday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

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