Native Village
Youth and Education news
 APRIL 1, 2010 Volume 1


3 Virginia Tribes Earn State Recognition
By Vincent Schilling

Condensed by Native Village

Virginia:  It's been 21 years since Virginia granted state recognition to a Native American tribe.  The drought ended when the state recently granted recognition to:

The Virginia Indian Patawomeck Tribe
The Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia
The Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe

Each will gain a seat on the Virginia Council of Indians.

One witness who testified before the official voting was Wayne Newton. Newton had canceled his Las Vegas performance to appear. He brought a portrait of his grandfather wearing an Indian headdress and peace medal given to his distant grandfather by George Washington.

“When my dad was working, my grandfather had to take care of me because I had bronchial asthma," Newton said. "When the other kids went out and played they didn’t want me along because I was a little too slow for them, so I had a chance to spend that time with my grandfather.

Patawomeck Tribal Members

 He was proud of his Indian heritage, and he talked about it to me and taught me things that I never would have learned, had I not been sick and had been able to go out and play with the other kids.”

Newton talked about the day he told his daughter about her Native heritage. “I sat her down on the steps because it was a very important day for me – and a very emotional day. I explained to her that she was part Indian, and part American – she looked at me as only a 7-year-old could and said, ‘does this mean I am half Indian and half human?’

I realized our heritage had to be documented more than ever before,” Newton said.

Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Tribal Members

Patawomeck Chief Robert “Two Eagles” Green also spoke to House Committee members. He said state recognition would enable tribes to protect sacred sites and burial mounds.

“If I appear nervous it’s because the heritage of my father and grandfather and their father and grandfather rest on your decision," he said.  "Some people say that Indians can survive without recognition, but in this day and age, they can’t.”

The Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia and the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian

Tribe also spoke. While both tribes are Nottaway, each has it's own tribal structure and chief, and each applied for state recognition on its own.

Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia

Committee members asked the Nottaway tribes if they join efforts as one tribe. But the Nottaways denied the request.  Chief Lynette Allston reminded the committee that two Chickahominy tribes were recognized by the state.

The committee approved both resolutions.

“It’s been a long journey,” Allston said. “Now is an appropriate moment in history to advance an accurate and truly balanced cultural exploration of all the relationships of all people in Virginia. We have much to gain from reaching out to share our cultures.”

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