Tribe recognition gets support of anthropologist
The Tidewater News, Thursday, February 2, 2006
By Don Koralewski
FRANKLIN -- Howard MacCord, a distinguished anthropolist, has added his voice to those in support of Sen. Louise Lucas' Joint Senate Resolution for official state recognition of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe.
"Mr. MacCord is the most published and renowned archeologist in the Commonwealth. He has more expertise and knowledge of the ethno-historic and current history of my people and the current members of our tribe than Helen Roundtree could ever dream of."
The Joint Resolution was introduced to the General Assembly last week, and has been stalled in the Senate Committe on Rules since Jan. 18. The resolution seeks to grant state recognition to the tribe. As presented to the senate, tribe members can trace their history to well before the Colonial days in Southside and other areas of Virginia.
The resolution, however, is on hold while senate staffers and senators gather more information on the issue. The hold was initiated by objection to the resolution from Anthropoligst Helen Roundtree, who, through e-mail correspondence last week, told Sen. Lucas and other senators that recognition of the tribe through the General Assembly would "soil" the recognition of other tribes.
The resolution, as well as efforts to get the tribe recognized by the federal government, is backed by the effort of Walt Brown, descendent and elected chief of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) and Southampton County supervisor.
Brown supplied the historical information for Lucas' use in putting together the resolution. As presented, the resolution traces the history of the tribe from pre-Colonial days to the present.
According to Brown, and other supporters of recognition, the documentation provided by the tribe supports the move for recognition, more so than that information provided by any other tribe that has been recognized by the state so far.
Currently, there are eight Native American tribes recognized by the state of Virginia:
- Chickahominy -- Charles City County, recognized in 1983;
- Eastern Chickahominy -- New Kent County, recognized in 1983.
- Mattaponi -- Banks of the Mattaponi River, King William County, recognized in 1983;
- Monacan Indian Nation -- Bear Mountain, Amherst County, recognized in 1989;
- Nansemond -- Cities of Suffolk and Chesapeake, recognized in 1985;
- Pamunkey -- Banks of the Pamunkey River, King William County, recognized in 1983;
- Rappahannock -- Indian Neck, King & Queen County, recognized in 1983; and,
Upper Mattaponi -- King William County, recognized in 1983.
In adding his voice of support to the resolution, MacCord wrote. "I see recognition by the state of the Nottoway tribe as fully justified. Their history is known, and there is a historic and genealogical continuity which is scant for some of our recognized tribes."
MacCord, 90, is an eminent figure in mid-Atlantic and Virginia archeology. "Mr. MacCord is the most published and renowned archeologist in the Commonwealth. He has more expertise and knowledge of the ethno-historic and current history of my people and the current members of our tribe than Helen Roundtree could ever dream of," said Brown in correspondence this week to Lucas.
MacCord is also intimately familiar with the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway), as he was the director of the "Hand Site" excavation dig here in Southampton County in the 1960's, where some 131 skeletal remains were dug up and taken to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.
In his support for state recognition of the tribe, MacCord wrote Senator Walter A. Stosch, (R) Glen Allen, "I am in full agreement with the appeal by today's Cheronehaka (Nottoway) Indian descendants to confirm their historic relationship with the state. SJ 152 is a good beginning."
MacCord added, "In my opinion, the Nottoways qualify for recognition, and I strongly recommend passage of SJ 152 this year in time for similar action by the House."
In addition to MacCord, several others have weighed in with their support for recognition of the tribe.
"I encourage you to support the Senate Joint Resolution 152," wrote Debora Littlewing Moore, of the Powhatan Nation, in correspondece to a member of the Senate Rules Committee. "I was made aware that the Senate Rules Committee may be influenced by certain scholastic writers, namely one Helen Roundtree - This woman is known to write and speak from her perspective only."