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Inclusion of Virginia Indians in Jamestown anniversary makes history.

By Bobbie Whitehead -- Today correspondent

RICHMOND, Va. - The eight chiefs of the state-recognized Virginia Indian tribes stood in line near the Capitol steps May 3, awaiting the visit of Queen Elizabeth II of England.

The occasion made history since the event, set to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Jamestown's founding, included Virginia Indians as dignitaries invited to meet the queen as well as the state's General Assembly - and marked the first time Virginia tribes were represented in a Jamestown anniversary.

As Queen Elizabeth II approached the Capitol steps, Chief Ken Adams of the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe welcomed her.

''Your majesty, the descendants of the sovereign Virginia Indian nations who greeted your people in 1607 extend a warm welcome to you today,'' Adams said. ''We have the profound privilege of renewing and strengthening our common bonds of history. Just as your people recently greeted us with such honor and dignity, we now return that honor with the Virginia Indian Intertribal Drum and dancers' song of welcome.''

After the welcome, the queen shook hands with the eight chiefs. Chief William Miles of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe gave the queen a broche encased in a clam shell. The broche was a replica of one that Pocahontas wore when she visited England.

''I was quite honored to meet the queen,'' Miles said. ''She was very thankful for the gift, and I could tell by the expression on her face that she was very pleased with the gift.''

In the queen's address to the General Assembly, she noted that 50 years ago when she visited the 350th Jamestown anniversary, the event was conducted from the perspective of the settlers at Jamestown.

This time her welcome was quite different.

Celebrations of the first permanent English settlement are nothing new. A century earlier, Virginians held the Jamestown Exposition of 1907 and an anniversary in 1957. But Virginia Indians were not represented in those events, said Reggie Tupponce, Upper Mattaponi member and Virginia Indian Tribal Alliance for Life vice president.

''We're proud that our chiefs were there, and we're hopeful that all of the press will have an impact on our full recognition,'' Tupponce said.

Lynn Curry of the Mattaponi Indian Tribe stood along the steps as Queen Elizabeth II walked by and Curry said she found the Virginia Indians' participation in the visit and commemoration exciting.

''It's something we've never taken part in before and as First Virginians, for her to stop here on her trip, it's a privilege that we were able to take part in her visit,'' Curry said.

After meeting the queen, Chief Gene Adkins of the Chickahominy Indians - Eastern Division described her as kind, especially to extend a greeting to each chief.

''When we were in England in July 2006, we passed by the palace where she lives, but that's as much of what we saw of her,'' Adkins said. ''But just to see Queen Elizabeth II and for her to extend her hand to shake ours was just a good, good feeling.''

By Queen Elizabeth II recognizing the chiefs, Chief Barry Bass of the Nansemond Indian Tribe said he felt honored.

''That's something that none of our ancestors had the opportunity to do, and I felt strongly that it was something I needed to do,'' Bass said.

Miles said meeting someone like the queen was an extreme honor and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

''I guess I was very surprised at her enthusiasm, and I think Prince Phillip was equally enthusiastic,'' Miles said.

With a three-hour wait for the queen's arrival, Chief Kenneth Branham of the Monacan Indian Nation said they had time to get over any nervousness.

''She made it easy for us to be comfortable,'' Branham said. ''It was an honor to meet her. It's almost like she's on display, but it's her destiny, and she's representing the United Kingdom, and what better representative do they have than their queen.''

Being a part of the commemoration provided meaning for Virginia's tribes, which for centuries have been excluded. Ironically, Virginia Indians helped the English survive.

''The fact that the local Indians were doing the welcome dance was a privilege,'' Adams said.

Despite Virginia Indians' appreciation for being included in the Jamestown anniversary, protesters during the May 11 - 13 commemoration events criticized the tribes for participating, according to news reports.

Several organizations protested outside the Historic Jamestowne visitor's center May 12, according to The Associated Press reports. A few members of the American Indian Movement, along with the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the Black Lawyers for Justice, called the commemoration a ''whitewashing'' of history, according to other reports.

Some Virginia Indians said they were unaware of the planned protest.

''It was rude of them to come to Virginia without even talking to Virginia Indians to let us know they were coming,'' Adams said. ''I certainly would not do that to them.''

At the Anniversary Park section of the Jamestown 2007 Commemoration, several Virginia Indians - Ken and Mark Custalow, Mattaponi flute makers; George Whitewolf, a Monacan traditional clothier; and Mildred Gentle Rain Moore and Kevin Brown, Pamunkey potters, worked at the crafts tent where they demonstrated their crafts and answered questions by visitors curious about their culture.

''You can't hold a grudge about something that happened so many years ago,'' said Moore, who rolled a coil of clay that she attached to the top of a bowl she was making. ''I'm glad we were asked to participate in the Jamestown anniversary, and those who don't like it should go on about their lives. Life's too short.''