VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- Native American tribes across the state, including right here in Hampton Roads, are about to get a big boost.
On Monday, President Donald Trump signed a bill into law granting them federal recognition.
The local tribes affected include: Monacan, Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Nansemond and Upper Mattaponi.
Chief Lee Lockamy, of the Nansemond tribe, loves showing off Native American artifacts, dating back to the 1600's, inside his Virginia Beach home.
“Artifacts don’t grow on trees you have to be lucky to have the stuff, or have some family that had some that was passed down to you,” said Lockamy.
Lockamy was on the floor of the senate when the bill was passed. He has been waiting for that moment for 20 years.
“It was pretty emotional, in my life time I’ve seen this go up and down, up and down, and almost go through the last couple years and it’s heart breaking, sometimes you get all set on it,” said Lockamy.
The law gives the tribes access to federal funds for health care, housing and education.
“It doesn’t pay to be an Indian it’s very expensive and a lot of time,” said Lockamy.
The Nansemond Tribe, which is made up of more than 300 active members in Hampton Roads, already has blueprints on how they plan to use the grant money.
“We want to build a bigger tribal museum, we have the boy scouts that come out there on the lands and camp and this year we are going to have some girl scouts come out also,” said Lockamy. “We need to have a lot of the kids in the tribes, in all the tribes, try to be historians, historians are what tell the story.”