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More than 400 years after their ancestors greeted John Smith and other English settlers, Virginia’s Pamunkey Indians have finally won recognition from the federal government that they are a Native American tribe.
The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs announced Thursday that the Pamunkey’s decades-old quest for recognition has been approved, making the tribe of Pocahontas the first in Virginia to receive the coveted designation. Six other Virginia tribes are seeking recognition through an act of Congress.
For the 208-member Pamunkey tribe, who occupy 1,200 acres of land east of Richmond, it was a huge and long-sought victory. The tiny tribe spent more than $2 million to press their claim over the years.