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In Virginia, Six Indian Tribes Still Wait for Federal Recognition


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Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We answer a question about global warming …

Play music from Paul Simon …

And tell about American Indian tribes in the state of Virginia as the United States remembers the first European settlement at Jamestown.

Virginia Indian Tribes

Last weekend, in Jamestown, Virginia, officials observed the four hundredth anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in North America. President Bush took part. He called Jamestown the beginning of a movement from the old world to the new. He also said the expansion of Jamestown had a terrible effect on the Native American tribes who lived in the area. They lost their lands and their way of life. And their struggle continues today. Barbara Klein explains.

The United States government recognizes five hundred sixty-two American Indian tribes. Most received this recognition from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. They proved through birth and death records that their groups have existed as different communities since the time the first Europeans arrived.

Federal recognition means an Indian tribe can govern itself.  Recognition also makes it possible for the tribes to receive federal help.  Some educational financial aid is only available to the children of federally recognized tribes.

Six tribes in Virginia are still not recognized. They signed a treaty in the sixteen hundreds with the king of England, but that was before the United States existed.

A Virginia law destroyed their written records in the twentieth century. The law recognized only two races -- white or colored. State officials changed "Indian" in all the tribes' birth, death and marriage records to "colored." So the federal government has no record of the tribes' existence for many years.

Tribal leaders appealed to Congress. Earlier this month, the House of Representatives approved a bill to recognize the tribes in Virginia. Indian leaders expressed hope that the Senate would do so before the four hundredth anniversary of Jamestown. But this did not happen.

Some lawmakers are concerned that federal recognition would lead to the tribes opening gambling businesses. However, the tribes had already agreed not to do this.  The legislation includes the statement that no gambling businesses would result from recognizing the tribes.

Some lawmakers are still not sure. One senator reportedly said he does not understand how Congress can let the tribes govern themselves but stop them from earning money through gambling. Others say they must study the legislation more carefully. So the Virginia Indian tribes continue to hope for recognition before the end of this year.

Global Warming

Our question this week comes from Turkey. Nadir Telli wants to know about the science of global warming.

Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's surface air and oceans. Climate change is any major change in measures of climate, such as temperature, rainfall and wind.

Scientists have debated about global warming for years. Many have different opinions about the extent to which greenhouse gases are responsible for it. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. They are produced by factories, power stations and vehicles. They trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations has studied the problem for many years. It released the first of several reports in February. The group said that it was more than ninety percent sure that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases from human activities have been the main cause of global warming.

The report said global warming will cause extremely hot weather and heavy rainfall events more often. It said more rain will fall in some northern areas while dry areas could experience more severe lack of rainfall.

Climate scientists say the average surface temperature of the Earth has increased by about six-tenths of one degree Celsius during the past one hundred years. The Environmental Protection Agency reports the warmest global average temperatures on record have all been reached within the past fifteen years. Two thousand five was the hottest year ever recorded.

Research shows the level of carbon dioxide gas in the Earth's atmosphere has increased by more than thirty percent in the last two hundred fifty years. Carbon dioxide is produced by burning oil and coal.

An increase in global temperatures has led to other problems. Scientists have observed a rise in sea levels and a melting of ice in the Earth's Polar areas. Scientists also believe that global warming is affecting endangered plants and animals, sea life and the seasonal activities of organisms.

The head of the U.N. Environment Program said global warming will also affect water supplies, agriculture, biological diversity, economies and politics around the world.

Paul Simon Wins Award

The United States Library of Congress has created a new award to honor a music writer or performer. It is called the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. It is named after the famous composers and musicians George and Ira Gershwin.

Library of Congress officials say the Gershwin award recognizes the influence of popular music on cultures around the world. Katharine Cole has more.

KATHERINE COLE:

The first winner of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is American singer and songwriter Paul Simon. The Librarian of Congress, James Billington, said Simon is the perfect person to receive the first award. This is because his beautiful music communicates with people across many cultures.

One example is Paul Simon's album "Graceland" released in nineteen eighty-six. It includes music sung by a group from South Africa called Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Simon and the group perform "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes."

Paul Simon has received many awards for his work, including twelve Grammy awards.  He is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and a Kennedy Center Honoree. He is also a two-time member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was honored first as part of the group Simon and Garfunkel, and later for his own music.

Simon and Garfunkel's first big hit song was "The Sounds of Silence" released in nineteen sixty-six.

Paul Simon says he is very honored to be the first winner of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. He will receive the award at a special concert of his music in Washington, D.C. on May twenty-third. Performers will include Art Garfunkel and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.  We leave you now with a song from Paul Simon's latest album, "Surprise." It is called "That's Me."

I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. It was written by Jill Moss and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer.

To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.


"American Mosaic" in VOA Special English
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Source: In Virginia, Six Indian Tribes Still Wait for Federal Recognition
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