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African Americans and Indians: A Complex History

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(RVA News) – After Christopher Columbus “discovered” America, Europeans drove the Indians from their land and even enslaved them, but it was Africans who would endure the brunt of slavery.

As Virginia Indian tribes seek federal recognition, some African-American groups are focusing not on the two races’ shared history of mistreatment but on historical discrimination by Native Americans.

That is because the Pamunkey tribe and perhaps others prohibited their members from intermarrying with African-Americans.

U.S. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-Va., says he has supported the efforts of Virginia tribes fighting for years for federal recognition through the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs or congressional action.

“However, the BIA should take any accusations of civil rights violations seriously when considering granting federal recognition,” Scott said. “When evidence came to light that the Pamunkey once had discriminatory laws, the bureau should have conducted a more thorough review to accurately assess the impact these now repealed discriminatory laws had on the tribe.”

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