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WHEREAS, American Indian Day began in Virginia in 1987; recognition was expanded by the General Assembly to a week in 1988; and in 1996, the General Assembly expanded recognition to “Native American Indian Month” and the Wednesday immediately preceding Thanksgiving as a Day of Appreciation for American Indians in the Commonwealth of Virginia of each year; and
WHEREAS, Native Americans have inhabited the land now known as the Commonwealth of Virginia since time immemorial; and
WHEREAS, Virginia’s native peoples helped ensure the survival of the earliest settlers of the Commonwealth by teaching them means of survival and providing access to food; and
WHEREAS, Native American men and women contribute to all areas of life in Virginia, including government, business, arts and sciences, medicine, education, law enforcement, and the military; and
WHEREAS, Virginia is home to 11 state-recognized Indian tribes: the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway), Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Mattaponi, Monacan, Nansemond, Nottoway, Pamunkey, Patawomeck, Rappahannock, and the Upper Mattaponi; and
WHEREAS, on January 28, 2016, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe achieved federal recognition after a decades-long petition process; and
WHEREAS, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribe of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017 became law on January 29, 2018, extending federal recognition to six Virginia Indian tribes: The Chickahominy Indian Tribe, Chickahominy Indians Eastern Division, Monacan Indian Nation, Nansemond Indian Nation, Rappahannock Tribe, and the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe; and
WHEREAS, thousands of Native Americans from other tribes across the country have moved to Virginia and call the Commonwealth their home; and
WHEREAS, on November 27, 2019, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, and the Mattaponi Indian Tribe will commemorate the 342nd anniversary of the Treaty of Middle Plantation, which established the first reservations in the United States; and
WHEREAS, Native American Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the thousands of American Indians in Virginia whose abilities and contributions strengthen Virginia’s economy, enrich Virginia’s diverse culture, and invigorate Virginia’s communities;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize November 2019 as NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH and November 23, 2019, as AMERICAN INDIAN DAY OF APPRECIATION in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.