Wayne Mackanear Brown, Principal Chief of the Meherrin Nation, dies at age 70
Editor's Note: I knew Chief Brown from meeting him at a few occasions and at powwows in the Virginia and North Carolina areas. He was always gracious and accommodating. Blessings and prayers to the family, friends and tribal members of the Meherrin Nation.
This memorial article was submitted to Indian Country Today courtesy of:
Rahahe'ti David Webb
Tuscarora and Meherrin Nations.
July 2, 1948 - February 7, 2019
AHOSKIE, NC – Wayne Mackanear Brown, Principal Chief of the Meherrin Nation, age 70, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on Thursday, February 7, 2019 at Select Specialty Hospital Duke Regional.
He was born on July 02, 1948 in Ahoskie, North Carolina, a son of the late Joseph Mackanear and Arlene Melton Brown. He attended Calvin Scott Brown School. In 1967 he attended Fayetteville State University (FSU) earning a B.S. degree in Political Science and Social Studies in 1970 and was a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and Who’s Who. In 1972 he attended University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNC-G) earning a Master’s degree in Social American History.
In 1972 he married Evelyn Jean James, and together they had one child, Pierre F. Brown. They divorced in 1978.
He taught history and geography at Ahoskie High and was one of the first teachers to teach European, Native American and African American history. In 1977 he began a career with the Virginia Department of Corrections serving as Operations Manager and then as a Administrative Assistant to the Chief Warden. He was the primary spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Corrections and liaison between the Institution and the Virginia Attorney Generals Office. He was the first Native American to serve a high-ranking role in Virginia government and served with distinction until retiring in July 2007.
Wayne loved his family, and served his tribe passionately. In 1975 he placed an ad in the local newspaper-seeking Meherrin Nation descendants. He re-organized the Meherrin Nation in 1975 and became the first chief under the newly-formed government since the 1800s. This led to the endeavor of gaining state recognition in 1986 and the pursuit to obtain federal recognition for the tribe. In 2008, following a notable career in Virginia, Wayne Brown was elected Principal Chief in a general election by Meherrin Nation tribal members.
Chief Brown instituted many beneficial programs for the Meherrin Nation and facilitated the return of traditional Iroquois cultural practices to our community. Working with tribal members and medicine society members from the Haudeonosaunee, Chief Brown restored ceremonies and the Great Law of Peace in the Meherrin Community, which shares a history with the Tuscarora Nation. These have grown among the community in the time since.
Throughout his life, Chief Brown put the interests and needs of his family and nation above all else. He will be greatly missed.
Chief Brown is survived by his son, Pierre Brown (Brenda), two grandchildren, Chase and Jilliann, his brothers and sisters Joseph (Maxine), Kitty Woldman (Glenn), Donald, Kelly (Sunaya), Patrina, Patricia Reynolds (Maurice), Sylvia Caudill (*Jonathan), Sharron Skala (Steve), Denise McAuly (Darrell), Arnold (Stephanie), Marcus (Allison), and Patrick, along with a host of beloved nieces and nephews who he also considered his children.
Visitation will be held 7:30 -8:30 pm on Saturday, February 09, 2019. Memorial service, organized by Garrett-Sykes Funeral, home will be held on February 10, 2019 at 2pm.
Garrett-Sykes Funeral Service – Ahoskie Chapel is handling the arrangements for the Brown family and online condolences can be directed to the family by visiting www.garrettsykesfs.com.