"It took 418 years to get here" Interior Secretary Zinke recognizes 7 VA Tribes

Vincent Schilling

Gifts given, tears shared. Nansemond Chief Lockamy: “I’d like to thank Thomasina Jordan, it took 418 years to get here"

Tuesday at the Werowocomoco site in Gloucester, Virginia, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke hosted an event celebrating Virginia’s seven federally-recognized tribes.The Werowocomoco site in Gloucester is believed to have been a place of leadership and spiritual importance to American Indians as early as circa AD 1200 and served as the 1607 meeting place of Powhatan and Captain John Smith, the leader of many Algonquian tribes.

In addition to the tribal leaders and tribal members, Secretary Zinke was also joined by representatives from the two U.S. Senators of Virginia and a representative of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Governor’s Office

The event was celebrated with tears, gift-giving and emotional words by the leaders of the seven tribes who recently received federal recognition. The tribal leaders in attendance included: Chief Stephen Adkins of the Chickahominy; Chief Gerald Stewart of the Chickahominy, Eastern Division; Chief Dean Branham of the Monacan; Chief Lee Lockamy of the Nansemond; Chief Robert Gray of the Pamunkey; Chief G. Anne Richardson of the Rappahannock; and Chief W. Frank Adams of the Upper Mattaponi.

Chief Stephen Adkins of the Chickahominy is presented with his signed resolution indicating his tribe was federally recognized by U.S. Congressman Rob Wittman. Photo: Vincent Schilling

From top left to right: Chief Gerald Stewart of the Chickahominy, Eastern Division; Chief Dean Branham of the Monacan; and Chief Lee Lockamy of the Nansemond. Bottom left to right: Chief Robert Gray of the Pamunkey; Chief G. Anne Richardson of the Rappahannock; and Chief W. Frank Adams of the Upper Mattaponi. Photo: Vincent Schilling

“The perseverance of these Tribes to gain what they and their creator have always known is incredible,” said Secretary Zinke in a release. “As the champion of the sovereign nations, it was an honor to share this historic day with everyone. I welcome these tribes into the Federal family with open arms.”

Zinke told Indian Country Today, This really is an exciting day for Virginia tribes. There is a great hopeful feeling. As we look back at the past 400 years, we see the power of these nations who held confidence and power. These nations have come this far culminating in truly great moments. Now it is up to the Department of the Interior to deliver,” he said.

While addressing the crowd during his speech, Zinke told the crowd of a few hundred, “every tribe is different, with different cultures and traditions … my job is to ensure every tribe’s sovereignty. Sovereignty is important.”

When tribal leaders spoke, they thanked their ancestors, Thomasina Jordan, (the name behind the legislation that granted recognition to all of the tribes outside of the Pamunkey) and those chiefs who had worked hard before them.

Chief Lee Lockamy said, “I’d like to thank Thomasina Jordan, it took us 418 years to get here.”

Chief Lee Lockamy of the Nansemond tribe holds his tribal Nation flag. Photo: Vincent Schilling

During the celebration of the day, gifts were given to dignitaries and Secretary Zinke. Zinke received a miniature longhouse as a gift from Chief Stephen Adkins of the Chickahominy tribe. Tribal leaders also received framed copies of their legislation granting them federal recognition status.

Chief Stephen Adkins of the Chickahominy presents a miniature longhouse to Secretary Zinke. Photo: Vincent Schilling

Also participating were Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs John Tahsuda, Acting National Park Service Director P. Daniel Smith, representatives of the Virginia Governor’s and U.S. Senate offices, and many other dignitaries.

Secretary Zinke also received a belt of wampum as a gift which Zinke wore draped over his shoulders for the remainder of the day. Photo: Vincent Schilling

Six of the seven tribes received federal recognition in 2017 legislation signed into law by President Donald Trump on January 29, 2018, while the Pamunkey received recognition in 2016 through the federal BIA process.

In 2016, The Conservation Fund, a not-for profit 501(c)3 national conservation organization, purchased 264 acres of land in Gloucester County, Virginia, encompassing the historic site known as Werowocomoco. The Conservation Fund then sold the property to the National Park Service to ensure its permanent protection.

After the celebrations were over, dancers and drummers from the seven Virginia Tribes danced an honoring intertribal dance and then held a round dance for the public.

Here are additional photos of the day taken by Vincent Schilling:

Chief Robert Grey and members of the Pamunkey Tribe Ethan Brown, Ashley Spivey, Kim Cook and Asst. Chief Bradley Brown. Photo: Vincent Schilling

Nansemond members Nikki Bass and Keith Anderson. Photo: Vincent Schilling

Secretary Zinke speaks closely with Preston Adkins of the Chickahominy. Photo: Vincent Schilling

Dancers from the seven tribes at the event on Tuesday. Photo: Vincent Schilling

Chief G. Anne Richardson of the Rappahannock gave an opening blessing at the event on Tuesday. Photo: Vincent Schilling

Dancers at the event on Tuesday. Photo: Vincent Schilling

Dancers at the event on Tuesday. Photo: Vincent Schilling

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter -@VinceSchilling

Email -vschilling@indiancountrytoday.com

Are you using the new mobile platform? Get Indian Country Today on your phone.

Google Play (Android)

Comments (1)
No. 1-1
macblackwolf
macblackwolf

Him and his administration are enemies.


News

FEATURED
COMMUNITY