State Recognized Tribes
What is state recognition?
State recognition is the formal declaration of recognition to an American Indian tribe located in Virginia by the Commonwealth. Nine of the currently recognized tribes were recognized through the state legislature, by a bill passed through the House of Delegates and State Senate and signed by the Governor. Two tribes were recognized through a treaty between Virginia and a tribal amalgamation.
In 2016, the legislature passed and the Governor signed HB814, which allows the Secretary of the Commonwealth to create a Virginia Indian advisory board. The advisory board counsels the legislator and Governor on non-recognized tribes seeking recognition.
- Chief Mark Custalow
- 122 Wee-A-Ya Lane
West Point, Virginia 23181
- Leon Custalow
- 1179 Mattaponi Reservation Circle
West Point, Virginia 23181
- The Mattaponi tribe is a state-recognized Indian tribe located on a 150-acre reservation that stretches along the borders of the Mattaponi River at West Point in King William County. Early in the twenty-first century the tribe included about 450 people, 75 of whom lived on the reservation.
- In 1607, when English colonistsestablished the settlement at Jamestown, the Mattaponi Indians lived in towns and villages on the middle stretches of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey rivers. The population included, according to English estimates, anywhere from 30 to 140 men. Their principal town, according to John Smith, was called Matapamient, and their tribal name may have translated, roughly, to "Landing Place." The Mattaponi were one of the six core tribes of Tsenacomoco, a political alliance of Algonquian-speaking Indians led by the paramount chief Powhatan. (By 1607, the alliance numbered between twenty-eight and thirty-two tribes.)
- After initially befriending the English, the Mattaponi Indians participated in the assault against English settlements, led by Opechancanough, that began the Second Anglo-Powhatan War (1622–1632). They joined Opechancanough again in the Third Anglo-Powhatan War (1644–1646). The peace treaty concluding that war established a tradition of paying yearly tribute to the Virginia governor that, after being reestablished in 1677, continued into the twenty-first century. (The fourth Wednesday of November is set aside for presentations of fish and game at the State Capitol or Executive Mansion in Richmond.) The treaty also set aside land for the Mattaponi along the Rappahannock River. In 1658, an act of the General Assembly established the Mattaponi Reservation on the western banks of the Mattaponi River.
- In 1676, Nathaniel Bacon and his rebels attacked the Mattaponi and other Indians groups, forcing them to retreat to the Dragon Swamp in Gloucester County and killing the tribe's chief, Yau-na-hah. Sometime after the rebellion ended in 1677, and the Pamunkey chief Cockacoeske signed the Treaty of Middle Plantation, Yau-na-hah's eldest son, Mahayough, led the Mattaponi back to their reservation. On November 21, 1683, Iroquoian-speaking Indians attacked a number of Virginia Indian tribes, including the Mattaponi, causing many survivors to disperse. Some joined the Pamunkey and Chickahominy Indians.
- During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Mattaponi Indians mixed their native traditions with English habits, largely converting to Christianity. Like other Virginia Indians, they struggled to preserve their identity and culture early in the twentieth century. The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 and subsequent legislation banned interracial marriage in Virginia and asked for voluntary racial identifications on birth and marriage certificates. "White" was defined as having no trace of African ancestry, while all other people, including Indians, were defined as "colored." To accommodate elite Virginians who claimed Pocahontas and John Rolfe as ancestors, the law allowed for those who had "one-sixteenth or less of the blood of the American Indian and have no other non-Caucasic blood [to] be deemed to be white persons." The laws essentially erased Virginia Indians as a category of people.
- The tribe nevertheless took steps to assert its identity, and on March 25, 1983, Virginia Joint Resolution 54 officially recognized the Mattaponi tribe. It is governed by a chief, an assistant chief, and seven council members. The reservation at West Point includes a small church, a museum, a fish hatchery and marine science facility, and a community tribal building that was formerly the reservation school. The hatchery and marine science facility were funded through grants and individual contributions and support the tribe's work with American shad.
- Chief Robert Gray
- (804) 339-1629
- Pamunkey Indian Tribe
1054 Pocahontas Trail
King William, Virginia 23086
- The history of the Pamunkey Tribe has been recorded by archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians, and dates back 10,000 to 12,000 years. The actual legal status by the white man's criteria does not come into existence until the 1646 and 1677 treaties with the King of England. The two major treaties with the Pamunkey established Articles of Peace and a land base for the Tribe, later referred to as a reservation. Listed as one of the six or more districts inherited by Chief Powhatan, evidence indicates that the Pamunkey district itself was the center among those core districts, and the Pamunkey people were considered to be the most powerful of all the groups within the Powhatan Confederacy. In 1607, Powhatan moved east to Werowocomoco in an effort to aid in the consolidation of his rapidly expanding chiefdom. His three brothers continued to live within the Pamunkey district. The Pamunkey lands have been historically established as a place where Powhatan’s leaders gathered to rest and restore their spirits. After Powhatan’s death in 1618, Pamunkey Indian tradition accords that he was buried in a mound on the Reservation.
- The Pamunkey Tribe has been recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia as an Indian Tribe since colonial times. The reservation was confirmed to the Tribe as early as 1658 by the Governor, the Council, and the General Assembly of Virginia. The treaty of 1677 between the King of England, acting through the Governor of Virginia, and several Indian Tribes including the Pamunkey is the most important existing document describing Virginia's relationship towards Indian land.
- The Pamunkey Indian Reservation, on the Pamunkey River and adjacent to King William County, Virginia, contains approximately 1,200 acres of land, 500 acres of which is wetlands with numerous creeks. Thirty-four families reside on the reservation and many Tribal members live in nearby Richmond, Newport News, other parts of Virginia, and all over the United States. The Tribe has maintained its own continuing governing body, consisting of a chief and seven council members elected every four years. The Chief and Council perform all tribal governmental functions as set forth by their laws.
- Today, the Pamunkey Indians are deeply involved in preserving their surviving culture and natural resources. The Pamunkey Indian Museum was built in 1979, and three documentary videos have been produced. All portray the ways of life and history of the people. To walk through the Museum is to walk through time, beginning with the Ice Age and moving through the natural environment, settlement, and subsistence exhibits.
- Much of the surviving Pamunkey culture is indebted to a subsistence lifestyle centered around pottery making, fishing, hunting, and trapping. Fishing, especially shad and herring are an integral part of the Tribe’s economy. Because of the Tribe’s foresight, the Pamunkey River shad runs have remained healthiest of any of the East Coast rivers that are tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. In recent years, the Pamunkey potters, through their keen appreciation for their long history, have made an effort to revive the wares that were produced before the introduction of the Pottery School. The Museum now houses a display on the pottery tradition of the Tribe, and the Gift Shop adjoining the Museum sells the wares of the current potters.
- Visit thePamunkey Indian Tribe for additional information.
- Chief Stephen Adkins
- 7240 Adkins Road
Charles City, Virginia 23030
- 807-829-5548, 804-240-2214
3116 Three Bridges Road
Midlothian, Virginia 23112
- The Chickahominy tribe is a state-recognized Indian tribe located on 110 acres in Charles City County, midway between Richmond and Williamsburg. Early in the twenty-first century its population numbered about 875 people living within a five-mile radius of the tribal center, with several hundred more residing in other parts of the United States.
- In 1607, when English colonists established the settlement at Jamestown, the Chickahominy Indians lived in towns and villages along the Chickahominy River, from the fall line of the river to its mouth. They spoke a dialect of Algonquian and practiced a culture similar to the other Algonquian-speaking Indians of Tsenacomoco, a paramount chiefdom ruled in 1607 by Powhatan. Although they lived in the heart of Tsenacomoco, the Chickahominy did not send a representative to the alliance's council until around the year 1616. And rather than be ruled by a single weroance, or chief, they governed themselves through a council of elders.
- Because of their proximity to Jamestown, the Chickahominy Indians had early contact with the English, trading with John Smith on his several voyages up the Chickahominy River in 1607 and teaching the colonists how to grow and preserve their own food. After the First Anglo-Powhatan War (1609-1614), the Chickahominy Indians negotiated an independent treaty with the English leader Samuel Argall, becoming tributary allies of the Virginia colonists, providing 300 bowmen in case of war with the Spanish, and paying a yearly tribute of two bushels of corn for every fighting man.
- In 1644, the Chickahominy joined the paramount chief Opechancanough in his attacks against the English. The peace concluding that war, in 1646, set aside land for Virginia Indians, including the Chickahominy, in the Pamunkey Neck area of present-day King William County. In 1677, the Pamunkey chief Cockacoeske signed a new treaty with the English on behalf of several Indian groups, but the Chickahominy, joined by the Rappahannock, refused to become subservient to her or pay her tribute. After 1718, the Indians were forced to relocate, and by 1820 the Chickahominy Indians gradually had begun to settle in the tribe's present-day location on Chickahominy Ridge. There they purchased land, built homes, and established the Samaria Indian Church.
- Like other Virginia Indians, the Chickahominy struggled to preserve their identity and culture early in the twentieth century. The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 and subsequent legislation banned interracial marriage in Virginia and asked for voluntary racial identifications on birth and marriage certificates. "White" was defined as having no trace of African ancestry, while all other people, including Indians, were defined as "colored." To accommodate elite Virginians who claimed Pocahontas and John Rolfe as ancestors, the law allowed for those who had "one-sixteenth or less of the blood of the American Indian and have no other non-Caucasic blood [to] be deemed to be white persons." The laws essentially erased Virginia Indians as a category of people.
- The tribe nevertheless took steps to assert its identity. The Chickahominy tribe reorganized early in the 1900s. In 1901 an old church on tribal land was reorganized as the Samaria Indian Baptist Church, with 90 members in 1910 and 210 in 1945. A new church was built in 1962 and became the Samaria Baptist Church in 1987. On March 25, 1983, Virginia Joint Resolution 54 officially recognized the tribe, which is governed by a chief, two assistant chiefs, and a twelve-person council.
- Visit theChickahominy Indian Tribe for more information.
CHICKAHOMINY TRIBE EASTERN DIVISION
- Gerald A. Stewart
- 1191 Indian Hill Lane
Providence Forge, Virginia 23140
- The Chickahominy Tribe Eastern Division is a state-recognized Indian tribe located about 25 miles east of Richmond in New Kent County. Early in the twenty-first century its population numbered about 132 people, with 67 of those living in Virginia and the rest residing in other parts of the United States.
- The Eastern Chickahominy share an early history with the Chickahominy Indians, who, despite their similar language and culture, lived independently of the Algonquian-speakingIndians of Tsenacomoco. In 1614, following the First Anglo-Powhatan War (1609-1614), they become tributary allies of the Virginia colonists, and in 1646, following the Third Anglo-Powhatan War (1644-1646), joined other Virginia Indians living in the Pamunkey Neck area of present-day King William County. By 1820, families with present-day Chickahominy surnames had begun to settle in Charles City County. In 1870, a state census reported a group of Indians living in New Kent County; these are likely the ancestors of the present-day Eastern Chickahominy Indians.
- Chickahominy Indians in the Windsor Shades–Boulevard area of New Kent County established a school in 1910. In 1920–1921, they formally organized themselves as a separate tribal government, with E. P. Bradby the first chief. Some have argued that the distance between the New Kent and Charles City tribal centers – amounting to 20 miles round trip – occasioned the split, while others have cited church issues and a disagreement over the creation of a reservation (the western faction opposed a reservation, while the eastern faction supported it). In September 1922 the Tsena Commocko Indian Baptist Church was organized. In 1925, Virginia issued the tribe a certificate of incorporation.
- Like other Virginia Indians, the Eastern Chickahominy struggled to preserve their identity and culture early in the twentieth century. The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 and subsequent legislation banned interracial marriage in Virginia and asked for voluntary racial identifications on birth and marriage certificates. "White" was defined as having no trace of African ancestry, while all other people, including Indians, were defined as "colored." To accommodate elite Virginians who claimed Pocahontas and John Rolfe as ancestors, the law allowed for those who had "one-sixteenth or less of the blood of the American Indian and have no other non-Caucasic blood [to] be deemed to be white persons." The law essentially erased Virginia Indians as a category of people.
- By late in the century, however, the tribes had reasserted their identity. On March 25, 1983, Virginia Joint Resolution 54 officially recognized the Eastern Chickahominy Tribe.
- Visit theChickahominy Indians Eastern Division web site for more information.
- Chief G. Anne Richardson
- 5036 Indian Neck Road
Indian Neck, Virginia 23148
- The Rappahannock first met Captain John Smith in December 1607 at their capital town "Topahanocke" on the banks of the river bearing their name. At the time, Smith was a prisoner of Powhatan's brother, Opechancanough. He took Smith to the Rappahannock for the people to determine if Smith was the Englishman who, three years earlier, had murdered their chief and kidnapped some of their people. Smith was found innocent, at least of these crimes. The perpetrator was a tall man. Smith was too short and too fat. Smith returned to the Rappahannock's homeland in the summer of 1608. He mapped 14 fourteen Rappahannock villages on the north side of the river. The Rappahannock's territory on the south side of the Rappahannock River was their primary hunting grounds.
- English settlement in the Rappahannock River valley began illegally in the 1640s. The Rappahannock sold their first piece of land to the English in 1651. However, Rappahannock chiefs and councilmen spent more than ten years in county courts trying to get payment for this and other land sales. They never received full payment. By the late 1660s, encroaching settlers and frontier vigilantes forced the Rappahannock to move, first inland on the north side of the Rappahannock River and later to their ancestral hunting grounds on the south side of the river.
- During Bacon's Rebellion, the Rappahannock hid with other Tribes in the Dragon Swamp to avoid those English vigilantes who sought to kill all Indians "for that they are all Enemies." After the rebellion, the Rappahannock consolidated at one village. In November 1682, the Virginia Council laid out 3,474 acres for the Rappahannock "about the town where they dwelt." One year later, the Virginia colony forcibly removed the Tribe from their homes and relocated them to Portobago Indian Town. There, the colony used the Tribe as a human shield to protect white Virginians from the New York Iroquois who continued to attack the Virginia frontier and threaten the expansion of English settlement. In 1705, the Nanzatico Indians, who lived across the Rappahannock River from Portobago Indian Town, were sold into slavery in Antigua. Within a year, the Rappahannock were, once again, driven from their homes. The Essex County militia removed the Rappahannock from Portabago Indian town and the land there was patented by English settlers. The Rappahannock returned to their ancestral homelands downriver, where they continue to live today.
- In an effort to solidify their tribal government in order to fight the state for their recognition, the Rappahannock incorporated in 1921. They were officially recognized as one of the historic tribes of the Commonwealth of Virginia by an act of the General Assembly on March 25, 1983. The Rappahannock initiated plans to build a cultural center and museum. In 1995, they began construction of the cultural center project and completed two phases by 1997. Phase three, a planned museum, is in the planning stages.
- In 1998, the Rappahannock elected the first woman Chief, G. Anne Richardson, to lead a Tribe in Virginia since the 1700s. As a fourth generation chief in her family, she brings to her position a long legacy of community leadership and service among her people. Also in 1998, the Tribe purchased 119.5 acres to establish a land trust, retreat center, and housing development. The Tribe built their first model home and sold it to a tribal member in 2001. Plans are underway for the retreat center. In 1996, the Rappahannock reactivated their work on federal acknowledgement, which had originally began in 1921 when their Chief George Nelson petitioned the federal Congress to recognize Rappahannock civil and sovereign rights. The Rappahannock are currently engaged in a number of projects ranging from cultural and educational to social and economic development programs, all geared to strengthen and sustain their community.
- The Rappahannock host their traditional Harvest Festival and Powwow annually on the second Saturday in October at their Cultural Center in Indian Neck, Virginia. They have a traditional dance group called the Rappahannock Native American Dancers and a Drum group called the Maskapow Drum Group, which means "Little Beaver" in the Powhatan language. Both of these groups perform locally and abroad in their efforts to educate the public on Rappahannock history and tradition.
- The mission of the Tribe is to preserve Rappahannock culture, social structures, and political structures while educating the public on the rich contributions that Rappahannock have made and continue to make to Virginia and the Nation.
- State recognized: March 25, 1983
UPPER MATTAPONI TRIBE
- Chief W. Frank Adams
- 5932 East River Road
King William, Virginia 23086
- Kenneth Adams
- 237 Mona Drive
Newport News, Virginia 23608
- For centuries the ancestors of the Upper Mattaponi People have lived in villages along the waterways of Virginia, the land known as Tsenacomocco. They lived in union with the land, the first farmers of America, harvesting corn, beans and squash and hunting deer in ways still employed today. Like their neighboring tribes, they spoke the Algonquian language and when the British came in 1607 they were prosperous people under the leadership of Chief Powhatan, the Paramount Chief of over 30 neighboring tribes. The first recognized map of the region, Captain John Smith’s map of 1612, indicates the present location of the Upper Mattaponi corresponds correctly with a village marked on his map as Passaunkack.
- When the British landed at Jamestown in 1607 the people of the Mattaponi River were soon to go through a major transformation. By the mid-1600s the upper reaches of the Mattaponi River was still frontier land and other tribes had been forced by the British into the area. A 1673 map drawn by August Hermann indicates the largest concentration of Indians near the village of Passaunkack, home of the Upper Mattaponi People. Bacon’s rebellion of 1676 led to the Peace Treaty of 1677, signed on behalf of the Mattaponi by Werowansqua Cockacoeske, Queen of the Pamunkey, and a reservation of Chickahominy Indians and some of the Mattaponi Indians was established near the village site of Passaunkack. During the 1700s the Chickahominy migrated back to their homeland close to the Chickahominy River. Those people that remained at Passaunkack were the ancestors of the modern Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe.
- Through the 18th and 19th centuries the Upper Mattaponi were known as the Adamstown Band, with so many of their tribal citizens having the last name Adams, possibly named for the last British interpreter in the area, James Adams. By 1850 large nucleuses of at least 10 Adamstown families continued to live in the same area and were still farmers and hunters just as their ancestors had been. A Civil War map of 1863 continued to designate the area as Indian Land, and by the 1880s the Adamstown band had built their own school. Because of the racial climate of the times, the Adamstown people had few rights and found it very difficult to prosper financially. Even so, they valued an education and the first federal funds were requested in 1892 to help support education of the Adamstown Indians.
- In the early 20th century, a revival of culture spread throughout the Indian Tribes of tidewater, Virginia and the Adamstown Band officially changed it’s name to the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe, incorporating under the laws of Virginia and properly reflecting their long history on the upper reaches of the Mattaponi River.
- In 1919, the desire for education among the Upper Mattaponi continued to be very strong and they built a small one-room schoolhouse, Sharon Indian School. This building was to serve them until 1952, when a modern brick structure was erected adjacent to the original one-room school, that being converted into a cafeteria. The new school was closed in 1965 with the policy of desegregation, and is now on Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Buildings, the only public Indian school building still existing in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today Sharon Indian School is used for various events such as Tribal Meetings and Cultural Gatherings.
- By the 1800s, the majority of the Upper Mattaponi people had converted to Christianity and worshipped in their homes or in other Indian Churches, in particular the Pamunkey and Mattaponi reservation churches. In the early 20th century church services were held in the one room school building, but in 1942, the tribe decided to build a new church, Indian View Baptist, which is still home to a great many of the Upper Mattaponi People. Every summer homecoming is held on the church grounds and hundreds of Upper Mattaponi people and dozens of Indians from other Virginia Tribes join together in worship. It is a major time of Celebration for the Upper Mattaponi People.
- During the last half of the 20th century, even as the Upper Mattaponi people maintained their tribal identity and cohesion, they became part of the fabric of mainstream America as physicians, pharmacists, accountants and successful business owners. Some have gone on to become leaders in government and in major American Indian organizations. They have purchased a sizable acreage of land where many of their cultural events are held and have developed plans to develop a portion into a new tribal and cultural center.
- Visit their website athttp://www.uppermattaponi.org/.
- Chief Lee Lockamy
- 1001 Pembroke Lane
Suffolk, Virginia 23434
- Assistant Chief Samuel M. Bass
- 3903 Manning Road
Suffolk, Virginia 23437
- The Nansemond tribe is a state-recognized Indian tribe whose members live mostly in the cities of Chesapeake and Suffolk. In 2009 about 200 Nansemond tribal members were registered in Virginia.
By 1607, when the first English settlersfounded Jamestown, the Nansemond lived in several villages centered near Chuckatuck, in present-day Suffolk, along the Nansemond River. Their head chief lived near Dumpling Island, where the tribe's temple and sacred objects were located. The Nansemond tribe spoke a dialect of Algonquian and was among the roughly 28 to 32 tribes of Tsenacomoco, an alliance of Algonquian-speaking tribes that was ruled by the paramount chief Powhatan.
- Like the other tribes of Tsenacomoco, the Nansemond had a tense and often hostile relationship with the English settlers. The colonists had exhausted their supplies soon after arriving in Virginia and, unaccustomed to growing their own food, sought to trade with the Indians for corn. In late 1608, Powhatan directed the tribes of Tsenacomoco to refuse to trade. In 1609, Captain John Smithsent George Percy and John Martin, along with a group of sixty colonists, to bargain with the Nansemond for an island. After two of their English messengers disappeared, Martin and Percy's men attacked a nearby Nansemond settlement, where, according to Percy, they "burned their howses ransaked their Temples, Tooke downe the Corpes of their deade kings from their Toambes, and Caryed away their pearles Copper and braceletts wherewith they doe decore their kings funeralles." The English also destroyed the Indians' crops. More than half of Martin and Percy's men were killed during the attack, an event that helped initiate the First Anglo-Powhatan War (1609-1614), one of three distinct periods of hostility between the Indian and English communities. The Nansemond towns were burned again in 1622 in retaliation for the coordinated Indian assault against English settlements on March 22, 1622, which was led by the Pamunkey chief Opechancanough and marked the start of the Second Anglo-Powhatan War (1622-1632).
- The peace treaty that concluded the Third Anglo-Powhatan War (1644-1646) set aside land for the people of Tsenacomoco, including the Nansemond. By 1648, according to the scholar Helen C. Rountree, the Nansemond lived on the northwest and south branches of the Nansemond River. A group of Nansemond converted to Christianity and, starting with the Nansemond woman Elizabeth and the Englishman John Bass in 1638, began to intermarry with the descendants of Nathaniel Bass (perhaps Basse). After the turn of the eighteenth century, a group of the Christian Nansemond moved to Norfolk County, near the Great Dismal Swamp; the current members of the Nansemond tribe are largely descended from this group.
- The non-Christianized Nansemond remained on their tribal lands, but in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, as increasing numbers of Europeans moved to the Nansemond River area, the tribal members had to relocate their tribal lands and their reservation on several occasions. The Nansemond tribe sold its last known reservation lands – 300 acres on the Nottoway River in Southampton County – in 1792. By this time only three non-Christianized Nansemond survived; the last died in 1806.
- The identity and culture of the Nansemond, like those of other Virginia Indian tribes, were threatened by legislation passed by the Virginia government in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 and subsequent legislation banned interracial marriage in Virginia and asked for voluntary racial identifications on birth and marriage certificates. "White" was defined as having no trace of African ancestry, while all other people, including Indians, were defined as "colored." To accommodate elite Virginians who claimed Pocahontas and John Rolfe as ancestors, the law allowed for those who had "one-sixteenth or less of the blood of the American Indian and have no other non-Caucasic blood [to] be deemed to be white persons." It essentially erased Virginia Indians as a category of people under the law. The U.S. Supreme Court declared the Racial Integrity Act unconstitutional in Loving v. Virginia (1967).
- By late in the century, the Nansemond tribe had reasserted its identity and was formally recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia on February 20, 1985. The tribe holds its monthly meetings at the Indiana United Methodist Church in Chesapeake, which was founded in 1850 as a mission for the Nansemond. As of 2013, tribal members operated a museum and gift shop in Chuckatuck and planned to develop a tribal center, museum, and burial grounds on ancestral lands along the Nansemond River. With the city of Chesapeake, the Nansemond cohost the American Indian Festival each June, and the tribe celebrates its annual powwow each August.
MONACAN INDIAN NATION
- Chief Dean Branham
- 104 Walnut Place
Lynchburg, Virginia 24502
- Assistant Chief Pam Thompson
- 187 Cedar Gate Road
Monroe, Virginia 24572
- The Monacan Indian Nation is a state-recognized Indian tribe whose tribal area is located near Bear Mountain in Amherst County. The original territory of the Siouan-speakingtribe and its allies comprised more than half of present-day Virginia, including almost all of the Piedmont region and parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Early in the twenty-first century about 1,600 Monacans belonged to the tribe, one of the oldest groups of indigenous people still existing in its ancestral homeland, and the only group in the state whose culture descends from Eastern Siouan speakers.
- Scholars believe that thousands of years ago, in the Ohio River Valley, the Siouan-speaking people lived as a unified group, and that eventually the tribes moved both east and west, separating into the Eastern and Western Siouan speakers. Monacan Indians spoke a language related to other Eastern Siouan tribes, such as the Tutelo. The Monacan people are also related to the Occaneechi and Saponi peoples located in present-day North Carolina, and they were affiliated with the Manahoac Indians, who occupied the northern Piedmont in what is now Virginia.
- When the first English settlers founded Jamestown in 1607, the Monacan lived above the falls of the James River and were traditional enemies of the Algonquian-speaking Indians of Tsenacomoco. Powhatan, the paramount chief of Tsenacomoco, had discouraged the Englishmen from visiting the Monacan, but in September 1608, Christopher Newport and 120 men set out anyway, traveling 40 to 50 miles beyond the falls. After kidnapping a Monacan political leader to act as a guide, Newport and his party visited the towns of Mowhemicho and Massanack, while mapping three others: Rassaweck, Monasukapanough, and Monahassanugh. According to English reports, Rassaweck, on the James River, was the principal Monacan town. The area in general, John Smith wrote, was a "faire, fertill, well watred countrie," but it did not boast the mineral wealth for which Newport was hoping, and the Englishmen soon retreated back to Tsenacomoco.
- Traditionally, Monacan people buried the remains of their dead in sacred earthen mounds constructed over time. These mounds, excavated by archaeologists and others, have been the site of secondary burials. In other words, many corpses were exhumed and reburied during periodic ceremonies. Thirteen such mounds have been found throughout the Blue Ridge and Piedmont regions, similarly constructed, some more than a thousand years old. In the mid-1750s Thomas Jefferson observed several Indians visiting one of the mounds on the Rivanna River and in or about 1784 directed an excavation of the burial mound. Located in Albemarle County, the mound's location, according to a map published by John Smith, lies in what was Monacan territory, but scholars disagree as to whether the mound's builders were Monacan. Some argue that because most burial mounds are found west of the Piedmont, the so-called Jefferson's Mound may have been the work of Indians who invaded the area from the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley. In 2000, after learning of the possibility of nearby development, the Monacan Indian Nation conducted a blessing ceremony at the site.
- During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, most Monacan Indians were living on a settlement near Bear Mountain in Amherst County. Sometime around 1868, a small log cabin was built and used as a community church. In 1908, the Episcopal minister Arthur P. Gray Jr. established Saint Paul's Mission and the Bear Mountain Indian Mission School. The school enrolled students through the seventh grade until the advent of public in 1964. A fire in 1930 left only the schoolhouse intact, but the church was immediately rebuilt.
- Like other Virginia Indians, the Monacans struggled to preserve their identity and culture early in the twentieth century. The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 and subsequent legislation banned interracial marriage in Virginia and asked for voluntary racial identifications on birth and marriage certificates. "White" was defined as having no trace of African ancestry, while all other people, including Indians, were defined as "colored." To accommodate elite Virginians who claimed Pocahontas and John Rolfe as ancestors, the law allowed for those who had "one-sixteenth or less of the blood of the American Indian and have no other non-Caucasic blood [to] be deemed to be white persons." The laws essentially erased Virginia Indians as a category of people.
- By late in the century, however, the tribes had reasserted their identity. On February 14, 1989, the Monacans were recognized as a tribe by the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 1995, the Episcopal Diocese returned the land on which the old mission stood, and the site is now the home of the tribe's museum and cultural center. The original log cabin was restored and, in 1997, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2007, a Virginia Historical Highway Marker was erected at the site.
- For more information, go to theMonacan Indian Nation web site.
- Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown
- Post Office Box 397
27345 Aquia Path
Courtland, Virginia 23837
- Vice Chief Ellis “Soaring Eagle” Wright
- 23066 Angelico Road
Capron, Virginia 23829
- [The following information comes from the Ethno-Historical Snap Shot of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe by Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown.]
- The Hand Site Excavation (44SN22) – in Southampton County carbon dates the ancestors of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian in Southampton County, Virginia to around 1580. It is believed the site existed in 900 AD.
- The Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe made first ethno-historic contact with the English in 1607-1608 in what is now Nottoway County, Virginia. The English were looking for information germane to Roanoke Island -the “Lost Colony.” In 1607 the tribe was called Man-goak or Men-gwe by the Powhatan Confederation’s “Algonquian Speakers” and further listed in the upper left hand quadrant on John Smith’s 1607 map of Virginia by the same name in what is now Nottoway County.
- The Colonials gave names to other Indian Tribes based on what the Indians they had first contact with called other tribes; such as, the Algonquian Speakers calling the Cheroenhaka, NA-DA-WA or Nottoway as perceived by the Colonials. In the Seventeen Century, Virginia Indians (Natives) were divided into three language groups: Algonquian Speakers, Siouan Speakers and Iroquoian Speakers.
- In the 17th Century, the Iroquoian Speaking Tribes occupied lands east of the Fall Line on the inner Costal Plains of Southeastern Virginia. These tribes were the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway), the Meherrin and the Tuscarora. In 1650 per the dairy entries of James Edward Bland, the Nottoway Indians were called by the Algonquian Speakers as NA-DA-WA which the Colonials reverted to Nottoway.
- August 1650 Bland encountered two Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Villages: The first town located in what is now Sussex County near Rowantee Branch / Creek was “Chounteroute Town.” At that time Chounteroute (Cho-un-te-roun-te) was king /Chief of the Nottoways. The second town, Tonnatorah, was located on the south side of the Nottoway River where the current Sussex - Greensville County line meets the River.
- The true name of the tribe is Cheroenhaka (Che-ro-en-ha-ka), meaning “People at the Fork of the Steam.” The tribe’s lodging area was where the Nottoway River fork with The Blackwater River to form the Chowan River – thus “People at the Fork of the Stream.”
- The Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe signed three treaties: The Treaty of 1646; 1677 and a STAND ALONETreaty of February 27th, 1713. The “Stand Alone” Treaty of 1713 was signed between Colonial Lieutenant Governor Spotswood and the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe’s Chief “Ouracoorass Teerheer”, AKA William Edmund Edmond, as called by the Colonials. Said Treaty has a “Successor Clause.” Our tribal government (Council) contends that the Successor Clause meant that the recognized relationship the tribe had with the Colonials from 1713 to1775 continued with the Commonwealth of Virginia beginning in 1776 to the present time.
- Tribal Warriors of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe joined forces with Bacon in what became known as the infamous Nathaniel Bacon’s Rebellion of May 1776 resulting in the downfall of Occaneechee Island / Indians on the Roanoke River.
- In the mid 1680s, the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, due to encroachment by the Colonials and to avoid war with other tribes, move from the Nottoway Town of Ta-ma-hit-ton / Tonnatorah in Sussex County to the mouth of the Assamoosick Swamp in what is now Surry County and again in the mid 1690s moved further down the Assamoosick toward present day Courtland and Sebrell in what was then Isle of Wight County - currently Southampton County Virginia.
- In 1705 the House of Burgess (now House of Delegates) granted two tracks of land to the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe – the Circle and Square Tracks consisting of some 41,000 acres of Reservation Land. The tracks of land fell within the confines of what was then Isle of Wight County – now Southampton County. Note: Southampton County was annexed from Isle of Wight County in 1749.
- In 1711 Colonial Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood, along with 1600 armed men, met with the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Chief Men, offering “Tribute” forgiveness, referenced in The Treaty of 1677, (Tribute was 20 Beaver Skins and 3 Arrows) if the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Chief Men would send their sons to the “Brafferton,” a school for Indians at the College of William and Mary.
- Even though the Cheroenhaka were fearful their sons would be sold into slavery, ethno-historic records document that Spotswood reported on November 17, 1711 that two sons of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Chief’s men were attending the “Brafferton.” Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indians “Surnames” continue to appear on the enrollment roster of the “Brafferton” throughout the 1750s and 1760s.
- March 1713 the Colonial Council at Williamsburg ordered that the Meherrin Indians be incorporated with the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indians and that the Nansemond Indians be incorporated with the Saponies. Purpose: remove to a place where they would be less liable to have differences with the English and for the convening of instructing their children in Christianity by missionaries at the two settlements.
- On August 10, 1715 the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian “King,” William Edmund and 8 Great Men (Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Chief Men) were invited to the Capital in Williamsburg and put in irons and chains for three days until they consented to send 12 of their children to attend school at Fort Christiana. On August 13, 1715 the chains were removed and they were ordered release.
- On December 10, 1719 a list of names of 8 Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) and 12 Meherrin children were given to the Colonial Council in Williamsburg, Virginia to attend school at Fort Christiana in what is now Brunswick County.
- On November 30, 1720 the Colonial Council ordered that a collection of all transaction with Tributary Indians or Foreign Indians be made and that the clerk of the council make a collection of all negations with the Indians from first settlement of the Colony.
- On April 7 and 8, 1728, William Byrd visited the town of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe on the tribes reservation land in what is now Courtland, Virginia. He described how the men and women looked, sang, danced and dressed, the nature of their Fort, Longhouses and bedding; to include, the colors that the women were wearing – Red, White and Blue. Byrd noted in his dairy that the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe was the only tribe of Indians of any consequence still remaining within the limits of Virginia.
- Byrd noted that that the Palisade Fort was square about 100 yards on each side. He also described how the young men danced for him with their faces painted, singing and keeping step to the sound of a gore drum stretched tight with a animal skin. Byrd's papers also note how the women looked in a there finery (damsels of old) to include the white and blue couch shell beads in their braided hair and around their necks. He wrote of the red and blue match coat wrapped loosely around their body that their mahogany skin shown through. He also noted that though they be sad colored that they would make great wives for the English planters and that their dark skin would bleach out in two generations.
- On August 7, 1735, the Indian Interpreters, Henry Briggs and Thomas Wynn, for the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indians were dismissed by an Act by the Commonwealth and on the same day the “first” of many land transfer deeds for the “Circle Tract of Land” transpired between the Colonials and the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe’s Chief Men and would continue up until November 1953, until both Circle and Square Track of Lands (41, 000 Acres of Reservation Lands), were in the hands of the Europeans.
- On December 19, 1756 George Washington submits letter to The Honorable Robert Dinwiddie expressing and interest among the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indians in engaging some assistance from them.
- On March 8, 1759 a petition for pay to Tom Steph, Billy John(s), School Robin, and Aleck Scholar, all of which are Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indians, who served under George Washington in the French & Indian Wars until the reduction of Fort Duquesne.
- In July 1808, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia mandated a “Special” Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Census be taken of those Indians living on the remaining lands of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Reservation in what is now Courtland, Virginia. – some 7, 000 + remaining acres.
- The Special Census was conducted by “White” Trustees in Southampton County. They were Henry Blow, William Blow, (a descendant of John Blow) and Samuel Blunt. Note: Not all Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian living on the Reservation were enumerated.
- In 1816, new trustees were appointed for the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe. Theses Trustees were empowered to make reasonable ruled and regulations for the government of the tribe and for the expenditure of the money held in trust for them, which was to continue so long as any number of the tribe were living. Any funds remaining on hand were then to be paid into the public treasury.
- In 1820 Former President Thomas Jefferson procured a copy of the language of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indians as recorded by John Wood. Wood recorded the language on March 4th, 1820, from Edie Turner, (Wana Roonseraw) who lived on the tribe’s reservation in Southampton County, Virginia. Jefferson sent a copy of the language to Peter DuPonceau of Philadelphia who recognized the language as Iroquoian. On March 17, 1820, Jefferson was quoted in a article that appeared in the Petersburg Newspaper, “that the only remains in the state of Virginia of the formidable tribes are the Pamunkeys and Nottoways [Cheroenhaka…WDB] and a few Mottoponies.”
- According to writings of Albert Gallatin (Gallatin 1836:82), The Honorable James Tresevant (Trezevant), a former Judge in Southampton County, compiled a second recording of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Language in Southampton County, Virginia, between 1831 and 1836. Tresevant reports that the Nottoway name for themselves was Cheroenhaka, sometimes spelled Cherohakah.
- In 1823-24 William Bozeman AKA Billy Woodson whose name was listed on the Special Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Census of 1808, Note: Billy Woodson’s father was white – Michal Boseman), filed a petition with Court of Southampton County to have remaining Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Reservations Lands divided “Free and Simple” between the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indians.
- On February 5, 1849, the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe filled suite within the Commonwealth of Virginia Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery for the County of Southampton County against Jeremiah Cobb. The suite was filled on behalf of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribal Members and all other members of said tribe by the tribe’s Trustees (white), James W. Parker, G.N.W. Newsom, and Jesse S. Parham.
- On November 8, 1850, Judge Rich H. Baker, Court of Southampton County ruled in favor of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe and on March 3, 1851, as witness by Littleton R. Edwards, Clerk of said court, awarded the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe $818.80 with interest from June 1, 1845.
- As a result of the successful Court Case in 1851, the Commonwealth of Virginia in the Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery for the County of Southampton County, Virginia RECOGNIZED the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County, as a Tribe and has never, since said time, by way of Law, Act, Bill or Policy negated its Tribal Status.
- In 1825 -1850 as the final bits of Reservation Lands was disappearing into the hands of the Europeans many Tribal members with the surnames of Artis, Bozeman, Turner, Rogers, Woodson, Brown, Boone, Williams, relocated to what became known a “Artist Town” near what is now Riverdale Road in Southampton County, Virginia. Their descendants continue to live there as a tribal communal group up until the late 1990s sharing their Native American Traditions and Customs – hunting, trapping, tanning hides, fishing, farming, and raising Hogs, some of which still own land in said Artis Town.
- The Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe is the only “Iroquoian Tribe” still residing in the Commonwealth of Virginia claiming a documented continual existing “STATE RECOGNIZED” status. [Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe Vs Jeremiah Cobb, March 3rd, 1851, Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery for the County of Southampton County].
- In 1877 some 575 acres of Tribal Reservation Land in Southampton County was divided between five Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian families whose descendants still reside in Southampton County Virginia.
- In 1965, 66, & 69 an excavation of the Hand Site Settlement (44SN22), in Southampton County, Virginia, off hwy 671 was conducted; wherein, some 131 “Documented” grave remains (Bones) of Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indians were removed and placed on a shelf in boxes at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC. All non-skeletal remains are housed at the Department of Historical Resources, Richmond, Virginia.
- In February 23, 2002, the Historic Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County, Virginia, reorganized by bringing together family clusters of Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Descendants and families still living in Southampton County Virginia.
- In May 2002 a tribal government was in place with the election of a Tribal Chief and Council Members. Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown was elected as the first modern day Chief. He is the 5th “Foster” Great Grandson of Queen Edith Turner (1734-1838) aka “Wana Roonseraw” and the 4th Great Grandson of Mary “Polly” Woodson Turner aka “Kara Hout” (Foster daughter of Queen Edith Turner) and Pearson Turner.
- The first Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe Pow Wow and Gathering took place on the grounds of the Southampton County Agriculture and Forestry Museum, Courtland, Virginia, on July 24, 2002 and has continued annually at the Southampton County Fair Grounds on the fourth weekend of July as a celebration of the “Green Corn Harvest.” On December 7, 2002 the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe filed a letter of intent with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) announcing that it would be filing for Federal Recognition. Effective date on BIA Website is December 30, 2002.
- On July 29, 2003, the Court of Southampton County, Virginia issued a license to Chief Walter David “Red Hawk” Brown, III, as Chief of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, with all legal rights to perform the rites of matrimony for said Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe in accordance with the customs and traditions of said tribe and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- On February 27, 2004, the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribal Shield and Heraldry was copyrighted with the Library of Congress. (VA 1-256-506)
- On July 23, 2004 Issue I of the Journal of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe Southampton County Virginia, the WASKEHEE, was published documenting the ethno-history of the tribe as written and documented by Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown under the title “Creator My Heart Speaks” and has continued annually thereafter. All of which have been archived into the Library of Virginia. Issue I of the Waskehee was copyright with the US Copyright Office on August 3, 2007 – Reg. #: TX 6-627-973.
- On July 24, 2004 the elected official body of Southampton County Virginia, the Southampton County Board of Supervisors, issued under it seal, a Proclamation of Recognition of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe proclaiming July 24 of said year as “Cheroenhaka Day.”
- On September 21, 2004, the tribe participated, as one of 500 tribes, some 25,000 Natives, in the “Grand Procession” of the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown was interviewed by ABC News, as narrated by Peter Jennings on the “6:30 World News,” giving comments as to what it meant, as a Native American, to be a part of the great celebration – video clip located in the tribe’s historical archives. Vice Chief Ellis “Soaring Eagle” Wright was interviewed by ABC news appearing on the 12:00 O’clock local news.
- On June 3, 2005, the State Recognized WACCAMAW Indian Tribe of South Carolina voted in favor of a Joint Resolution of the WACCAMAW Tribal Government, Resolution Number: Joint-HH-06-04-05-001, recognizing the sovereignty of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County, Virginia as signed by the Honorable Chief Harold D. Hatcher.
- On June 13, 2005 the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribal Heritage Foundation was Incorporated as the Non Profit, 501 (c) 3, entity of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe of Southampton County Virginia.
- On July 23, 2005 Issue II of the Journal of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe Southampton Virginia, the WASKEHEE, was published depicting Spotswood’s Treaty with the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indians in February 27, 1713; to include, listing the tribe’s vocabulary as recorded by John Wood in 1820. Issue II of the Waskehee was Copywrite with the US Copyright Office on April 23, 2007 – Reg. #: TX 6-595-331.
- On October 14, 2005, the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe’s “Elected Officials” along with other tribal members and educators, visited the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC, at the invite of Dr. Dorothy Lippert, Case Officer, Repatriation Programs, and viewed, in a special showing, of Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian “Skeletal Remains” taken from the Hand Site Excavation in Southampton County (44SN22). The skeletal remains “carbon dated,” date back to 1580.
- On January 18, 2006 the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe Offered to the General Assembly of Virginia Senate Joint Resolution (SJ) 152, Title: Extending state recognition to the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe. The SJ 152 was struck by Senator L. Louise Lucas, voice vote, on February 10, 2006, in the Senate Rules Committee without receiving any testimonial from tribal representatives.
- On February 9, 2006, at the recommendation of Senator Thomas Norment, Chairperson of the Senate Rules Committee, the “Tribal Elected Government” of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County Virginia submitted a “Letter of Intent” to the Chairperson and Council members of the Virginia Council on Indians as an official notice of intent to petition the Virginia General Assembly to extend State Recognition to the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe.
- On July 9, 2006 Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown, as Chief of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County Virginia, was the first to appear on the televised documentary “My Hampton Roads,” Wavy TV 10, as narrated by Andy Fox. Chief Red Hawk shared the tribes history, televised on site in Southampton County, and the surnames of his family ancestors by way of a televised visit to his family’s cemetery and farm; to include, the one room school that he and his ancestors walked two miles to attend, with more than a half million viewers.
- On July 22, 2006 Issue III of the Journal of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe Southampton County, Virginia, the WASKEHEE, was published capturing the tribe’s visit to the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC, on October 14, 2005; wherein, the skeletal remains of the Hand Site Excavation were viewed. The journal also documents the writing of William Byrd and his visit to the tribe’s reservation in what is now Southampton County on April 7, 1728. Issue III of the Waskehee was copyright with the US Copyright Office on December 11, 2006 – Reg. #: TX 6-506-719.
- On July 22, 2006 the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe published its World Wide Web Site which documents the tribe’s Constitution and Bylaws, Ethno historic and current history, Language, Powwow Events, by name tribal 1808 special census, and educational presentations.
- On September 25, 2006 the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe conducted a “Public” Peake Belt and Pipe Ceremony by the banks of the Nottoway River on the grounds of the Southampton County Court House, Courtland, Virginia; wherein, elected officials, Board of Supervisors, from five counties (Nottoway, Sussex, Isle of Wight, Surry and Southampton Counties) attended and shared in the tribe’s traditional ceremony of passing the Peake Pipe and accepting a Wampum (Ote-ko-a) Belt from Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown. All five counties presented Proclamations of Recognition, under their Counties’ Seal to the tribe.
- In February 2007, the National Museum of American Indians (NMAI), in recognition, added the name of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County, Virginia to the “Honor Wall” of the NMAI, Washington DC. The name of the tribe is listed on panel 4.22, Line 20 of the Wall.
- The tribe’s Six Annual Pow Wow and Gathering took place on July 21st and 22nd 2007 at the Southampton County Fairgrounds, Courtland, Virginia as a celebration of 427 years of documented Ethno-History (1580 to 2007).
- On July 21, 2007 Issue IV of the Journal of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe Southampton County, Virginia, the WASKEHEE, was published as a Jamestown 2007 Special Edition recording Colonial Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood visit to the tribe reservation in 1711 with 1600 armed men inviting the Chief Men to send their sons to the Brafferton. Issue IV also records the first Land Deed of Sale, on November 24, 1735, between Charles Simmons and the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indians with actual marks of the tribal Chief Men. Issue IV of the Waskehee was copyright with the US Copyright Office on August 16, 2007- Reg. #: TX 6-820-738.
- On July 26, 2008 Issue V of the Journal of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe Southampton County was published documenting the tribe’s visit to the Library of Virginia to accept an award on behalf Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Queen Edith Turner (Wane’ Roonseraw) 1734-1838. The Journal captures Turner last will and testament; to include a transcribe copy of the 1808 Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian “by name” Special Census.
- On March 20, 2009, the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County Virginia reclaimed, by purchase, 100 acres of its former 41,000 acre reservation land – formerly the Square Tract. The land will be used to build a combined Tribal Educational Center and Museum, an Interactive “Palisade” Native American Indian Village with “Longhouses” – Cattashowrock Town, a Worship Center and Powwow Grounds.
- On July 25, 2009 Issue VI of the Journal of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe Southampton County Virginia, the WASKEHEE, was published with a second listing our tribal language as recorded by John Wood in 1820, with copies of letters between Thomas Jefferson and Peter DuPonceau certifying that we are Iroquoian speakers.
- On August 10, 2009, J. Walter D. “Spirit Hawk” Brown, IV, son of Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown, was admitted to Bacone College, Muskogee, Oklahoma, on an American Indian Student of Promise Scholarship – Student ID A000038451.
- Bacone College was originally founded in 1880 to educated American Indians; as such, “Spirit Hawk” made history for the tribe in becoming the first recorded Tribal Member, since 1711 (The Brafferton) and 1878 (Hampton Normal School), to attend College at a school originally set aside for the education of American Indians.
- On November 20 and 21, 2009 the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe entered into a partnership with First Landing Foundation Historical Villages at Cape Henry, Fort Story, Virginia Beach Virginia and the Archeological Society of Virginia, Nansemond Chapter, and conducted a Native History School Day and a Corn Harvest Fall Festival Powwow.
- May 2009 through December 2009 Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown, along with the support of other tribal members and the Archeological Society of Virginia, Nansemond Chapter, gave Native American Ethno Historical Educational Presentations (SOL Specific) to more than 2,500 students from different public school throughout Hampton Roads, Richmond, Southside and Western Virginia; to include sharing the history, Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian and other Prehistoric Artifacts, and the spoken language of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County.
- From July 2002 through December 2009 Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown, along with other members of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe; to include, the support of the Archeological Society of Virginia, Nansemond Chapter, have addressed more than 500,000 people throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia consisting of students, educators, historical societies, libraries, professional organizations, the general public, and military audiences at different post, bases and installations, (Army, Navy, Air force Marines) by way of onsite classroom presentations, historical lectures, Powwows, television documentaries, sharing the history and language of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County Virginia.
- The Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe currently owns 100 acres of tribal land which is a small portion of the former 41,000 acre reservation granted our tribe by the House of Burgess in 1705. We have also put up a palisade native village with arbors and long houses pattern after the documented visit by William Byrd II of Westover to what is now Southampton County on April 7 and 8, 1728. The name of our Native Palisade Village is Cattashowrock Town. The village bears the name of a documented Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Village as noted in a sworn statement by James Threatt in the court of Prince George County in 1703. The village is open to the public every Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Chief Lynette Allston
- 25274 Barhams Hill Road
Drewryville, Virginia 23844
- William Wright, Tribal Council Vice Chairman
- 2556 Lakewood Circle
Chesapeake, Virginia 23321
- Prior to 1607, several distinct groups of Iroquoian speaking native people, including the Nottoway Indians, lived in the Virginia-North Carolina coastal plain. Located inland and away from the first coastal incursions of Europeans, the Nottoway Indians remained relatively undisturbed by the English Colony expansion from Jamestown during the first half of the seventeenth century.
- The Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia descends from a significantly larger Nottoway community and culture. Nottoway Indians traditionally lived in dispersed units within communities or towns each with separate leaders. Though similar in name and language, each had a unique internal structure.
- Early Nottoway territory surrounded the river of the same name covering parts of the present day counties of Southampton, Nottoway, Dinwiddie, Sussex, Surry and Isle of Wight. In Virginia, there are three Native American linguistic groups – Algonquin, Siouan and Iroquoian. The Nottoway Indians are a Southern Iroquoian tribe. Southern Iroquois people trading and living in this area of Virginia and North Carolina also included the Meherrin, Tuscarora and, further west, the Cherokee.
- The 1650 diary account of Edward Bland describes his journey along the lower reaches of the Nottoway and Meherrin river valleys. His journal is the earliest known written record of direct contact between the Nottoway and the Colonists seeking to expand into Nottoway territory. A major purpose of the Bland expedition was to explore land for colonial expansion and to further enhance the explorers’ profits from Indian-Colonial trade.
- Through the Treaty of Middle Plantation in 1677 and the Spotswood Treaty with the Nottoway in 1713-1714, the structured relationship with Virginia during the Colonial Period was established with many Tribes, including the Nottoway. Through these treaties the Nottoway lost considerable autonomy and gained little in return.
- The Nottoway Indians were forced onto a land reserve of approximately 40,000 acres in present day Southampton and Sussex counties referred to as the circle and the square. Near Sebrell Virginia, on the north side of the Nottoway River, the circle tract encompassed a Nottoway “Great Town” on Assamoosic Swamp. On the south side of the Nottoway River, the boundaries were set for the six mile square tract. From 1735 to 1878, the reservation land was gradually sold, or otherwise lost. The last portions were allocated to individual descendants of females of the Nottoway Tribe.
- Modern day migrations for jobs have led Nottoway family lines from throughout the counties that surround the Nottoway River into nearby urban centers of the Tidewater region. Yet many of the ancestral families of the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia still live on land that was once a part of the original Reservation.
- To learn more about the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia, visit the Tribe’s website. You may also visit their Community House and Interpretive Center in Capron, Virginia. Featured at the Center is a permanent exhibit, “Nottoway Indian History – From Barter…to Buffer…to Be.” The exhibit addresses selected key issues and pivotal points in Nottoway Indian history. It explains the interaction of the Nottoway with other tribes and with the Colonial government. It also discusses the impact of the actions of the Nottoway Indians on transitions in the growth of Virginia and the evolution of the Nottoway as citizens of Virginia. The Center has free admission, is open to the public on most Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and at other times by appointment. Every third weekend of September, the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia’s pow wow is held on the grounds of the Surry County Parks and Recreation Center in Surry, Virginia.
- Citizens of today’s Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia are not artifacts of a romanticized past. They are citizen Indians with a rich past and a proud future.
- Chief John R. Lightner
- 1416 Brent Street
Fredericksburg, Virginia 22401
- Assistant Chief Charles (Bootsie) Bullock
- 215 Chapel Green Road
Fredericksburg, Virginia 22405
- [Written by Bill Deyo, Patawomeck Tribal Historian]
- When the English colonists settled Jamestown in 1607, the Patawomeck Tribe was a very large tribe of the Powhatan Federation. They quickly made friends with the English colonists and eventually even became their allies, refusing to help the leader of the Powhatan Federation, Chief Opechancanough, younger brother of Powhatan, who tried to obliterate the English in the great massacres of 1622 and 1644. Without the help of the Patawomeck Tribe, the settlement of Jamestown would almost certainly have failed to survive. The Patawomeck supplied the Jamestown settlement with corn and other food when they were starving.
- In 1607, the Patawomeck Tribe was settled in the areas we now know as Stafford and King George counties. The English pronounced the name of the tribe as “Potomac,” from which the Potomac River derived its name. Their chief, called the “Great King of Potomac” by the English, appears to have married the sister of the Great Chief Powhatan. The Great King’s next younger brother, I-Oppassus, or “Japasaw,” as the English called him, was the Lesser Chief of the Tribe. Japasaw was known as “Chief Passapatanzy,” as that was where he made his home. The famous Indian princess Pocahontas, daughter of Powhatan, was visiting Japasaw’s family at the time that she was taken captive by the English, who had hoped to use her as a bargaining chip to force her father to release the English captives that he had.
- Pocahontas had many family ties to the Patawomeck. Her mother has long been thought by historians to have been a member of the Patawomeck Tribe. Also, one of Japasaw’s two wives was a sister of Pocahontas, and the first husband of Pocahontas was Kocoum, the younger brother of Japasaw.
- The rule of the Patawomeck Tribe eventually fell to Japasaw’s son, Wahanganoche, sometimes called “Whipsewasin” by the English. Those were very troubled times for the Patawomeck, as several influential colonists tried to take away the land of the chief by making false accusations against the tribe for the murders of certain colonists. Chief Wahanganoche was taken prisoner by the English and was forced to stand trial in Williamsburg. The chief was acquitted of any wrong doing, much to the dismay of the greedy colonists who wanted his land.
- In 1663, on his way home from Williamsburg, Chief Wahanganoche lost his life. From implications in a letter written by Col. John Catlett, it appears that the chief was ambushed and murdered in Caroline County near the Camden Plantation. It is ironic that his silver badge, given to him in Williamsburg by authority of the King of England, for safe passage over English territory, was found 200 years later at Camden, where it had apparently been lost as a result of the chief’s murder.
- Shortly after the death of the chief, in 1666, the English launched a full-scale massacre against the Patawomeck and other area Virginia Indian tribes. Most of the men of the Patawomeck Tribe were killed, and the women and children were placed in servitude. Two of the chief’s sons made it across the river to Maryland but were captured by an enemy tribe and were turned over to the English. A few of the Patawomeck children, who were orphaned by the 1666 massacre, were taken in by area colonists.
- Chief Wahanganoche was very shrewd in allowing a number of his daughters to marry well-to-do English colonists in the area. He must have been careful to instruct them to pass on the Indian ways to their children. It is because of the children of those daughters and some of the orphan children of 1666, who also married English colonists that the Patawomeck Indians and their culture survived.
- The descendants of these Patawomeck children intermarried with each other, and many of their descendants have continued to marry cousins of Patawomeck descent to keep the blood strong. They passed on the Indian ways of agriculture and of hunting and fishing that have been used up to the present day in Stafford County. Some of the current tribal members are still able to construct the intricate eel baskets just like their Patawomeck ancestors did more than 400 years ago.
- The descendants of the Patawomeck Tribe banded together in the 1700s in the White Oak area of Stafford, which was in King George County until the county boundaries changed in the late 1770s. This was in walking distance from the Passapatanzy area, where many of the descendants still live today.
- For more information about the Patawomeck Indians of Virginia, go to thePatawomeck Indian Tribe of Virginia.
- Library of Virginia
- Virginia Department of Historic Resources
- Virginia Indian Heritage Program
- Virginia Indian Heritage Trail Guide Online
- Virginia Department of Education Teacher Resources on Virginia Indians
- Virginia’s American Indian Historic Highway Markers
- Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
- Bureau of Indian Affairs, United States Department of The Interior
- American Indian Environmental Office, United States Environmental Protection Agency
- American Indian Studies at Virginia Tech