Senate Joint Resolution No. 152

Offered January 18, 2006

Extending State Recognition to the
Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe.

Patrons– Lucas, Blevins, Norment, Quayle, Ruff and Stolle; Delegates: Barlow, Jones, S.C., Oder, Spruill and Tyler

———- Referred to Committee on Rules ———-

WHEREAS, the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe (the Cheroenhaka) made first ethno-historic contact with the English during 1608 in what is now Nottoway County, Virginia; and

WHEREAS, in 1608, the Cheroenhaka were called Man-goak or Men-gwe by the Powhatan Confederation’s “Algonquian Speakers” and further listed on John Smith’s 1607 map of Virginia by the same name; and

WHEREAS, the Colonials gave names to other Indian tribes based on what the Indians they had first contact with called other tribes and as such, the Algonquian speakers called the Cheroenhaka NA-DA-WA or Nottoway, as perceived by the Colonials; and

WHEREAS, in the seventeen century, Virginia Indians were divided into three language groups:  Algonquian speakers, Siouan speakers and Iroquoian speakers. During this period, the Iroquoian-speaking tribes occupied lands east of the Fall Line on the inner coastal plains of Southeastern Virginia, and these tribes were the Cheroenhaka, the Meherrin and the Tuscarora; and

WHEREAS, in 1650, according to the diary entries of James Edward Bland, the Nottoway Indians were called NA-DA-WA by the Algonquian speakers, which the Colonials interpreted as to Nottoway. Also in 1650, Bland encountered two Cheroenhaka villages, one in Sussex County near present-day Homeville and the other in Drewryville, Virginia, in Southampton County; and 

WHEREAS, the true name of the Tribe is Cheroenhaka (Che-ro-en-ha-ka), which means “People at the Fork of the Stream,” based on the Tribe’s lodging area, which was where the Nottoway River forks with the Backwater River to form the Chowan River; and

WHEREAS, the Cheroenhaka were signers to the Treaty of 1647 and the Treaty of 1677; and

WHEREAS, the tribal warriors of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe joined forces with Nathaniel Bacon in what became known as Bacon’s Rebellion of May 1676; and

WHEREAS, in the mid 1680s, the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, due to encroachment by the Colonials and to avoid war with other tribes, moved from the Nottoway Town of Ta-ma-hit-tion in Sussex County to the mouth of the Assamoosick Swamp in what is now present-day Courtland and Sebrell in Southampton County, Virginia; and

WHEREAS, in 1705, the House of Burgess granted two tracks of land to the Cheroenhaka – the Circle and Square Tracks consisting of some 41,000 acres of reservation land. The tracks of land fell within the confines of what was then Isle of Wight County and what is now Southampton and Sussex Counties; and

WHEREAS, in 1711, Colonial Lieutenant Governor Spottswood met with the Cheroenhaka offering forgiveness of treaty tribute if the Cheroenhaka would send their sons to the “Brafferton,” a school for Indians at the College of William and Mary; and

WHEREAS, though the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) were fearful that their sons would be sold into slavery, ethno-historic records document that Colonial Lieutenant Governor Spottswood reported in November 17, 1711, that two sons of the Cheroenhaka Chief’s men were, in fact, attending the Brafferton school. Cheroenhaka “Surnames” continued to appear on the enrollment roster of the Brafferton school throughout the 1750s and 1760s; and

WHEREAS, the Treaty of 1713-1714, a third treaty signed by the Tribe, included a “Successor Clause,” which has the effect of continuing the relationship that the Tribe had with the Colonials from 1713 to 1775 and with the Commonwealth beginning in 1776 to the present time; and

WHEREAS, on February 7, 1713, Colonial Lieutenant Governor Spotswood signed a treaty that included a Successor Clause with the Cheroenhaka’s Chief Ouracoorass Teerheer, who was also known as William Edmund/Edmond; and

WHEREAS, on November 24, 1735, the “first” of many land transfer deeds for the “Circle Tract of Land” transpired between the Colonials and the Cheroenhaka Chief and would continue until the 1880’s until both the Circle and Square Track of Lands, totaling 41,000 acres of reservation lands, were in the hands of the Europeans; and

WHEREAS, in 1808, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia mandated a Special Nottoway Indian Census to be taken of those Indians living on the remaining lands of the Nottoway Indian Reservation in what is now Courtland, Virginia, which then totaled approximately 3,000 acres; and

WHEREAS, the Special Census was conducted by non-Indian Tribal Trustees Henry Blow, William Blow, and Samuel Blunt; and 

WHEREAS, in 1820, President Thomas Jefferson recorded the language of the Cheroenhaka; in the same year he stated in a Petersburg newspaper that the only remains in the state of Virginia of the formidable tribes are the Pamunkeys and Nottoways and a few Mattaponies; and

WHEREAS, between 1823 and 1824, William Bozeman, also know as Billy Woodson (the name listed in the Special Nottoway Indian Census of 1808) filed a petition in the Southampton County to have remaining Nottoway reservation lands divided “free and simple” between the Nottoway Indians; and

WHEREAS, in 1849, the Cheroenhaka filed suit in Southampton County against Jeremiah Cobb over a land dispute. The lawsuit was filed by the tribe’s non-Indian Trustees, James W. Parker, G.N.W. Newsom, and Jessie Parham; and

WHEREAS, on November 8, 1850, Judge Rich H. Baker ruled in favor of the Cheroenhaka and awarded them $818.80 with interest from June 1, 1845.  This successful lawsuit is further indication of the recognition of the tribal status of the Cheroenhaka by the Commonwealth of Virginia; and

WHEREAS, in the 1850’s, as the final bits of reservation lands disappeared into the hands of Europeans, many tribal members relocated to what became known an “Artist Town,” near what is now Riverdale Road in Southampton County. These tribal members continued to live there as a tribal communal group up until the late 1990s sharing their Native American traditions and customs – hunting, trapping, fishing the Nottoway River, farming, and raising livestock; and

WHEREAS, the excavation of the Hand Site Settlement in Southampton County, Virginia, between 1965 and 1966 and in 1969, resulted in the skeletal remains dating back to 1580 of approximately 132 graves of Cheroenhaka Indians being removed and taken to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.; and

WHEREAS, in February 2002, the historic Cheroenhaka Indian Tribe reorganized by bringing together family clusters of Cheroenhaka Indian descendants still living in Southampton County, Virginia; and

WHEREAS, in May 2002, a tribal government was in place with the election of a chief and council members and the first Pow Wow and Gathering took place on July of the same year; and

WHEREAS, this Pow Wow and Gathering has continued since then on the fourth weekend of July each year as a celebration of the “Green Corn Harvest”; and

WHEREAS, on December 7, 2002, the Cheroenhaka Indian Tribe filed a letter of intent with the Bureau of Indian Affairs announcing that it would be filing for federal recognition; and

WHEREAS, on July 29, 2003, the Circuit Court of Southampton County, Virginia, issued a license to Chief Walter David “Red Hawk” Brown III of the Cheroenhaka, with all rights to perform the rites of matrimony for the Tribe in accordance with its customs and traditions; and

WHEREAS, in February 2004, the Cheroenhaka Tribal Shield and Heraldry was copyrighted with the Library of Congress; and

WHEREAS, on July 24, 2004, the elected official body of Southampton County, Virginia, the Southampton County Board of Supervisors, issued under its seal, a Proclamation of Recognition of the Cheroenhaka proclaiming July 24 of said year as “Cheroenhaka Day”; and

WHEREAS, on June 3, 2005, the Waccamaw Indian tribe of South Carolina enacted a Joint Resolution recognizing the sovereignty of the Cheroenhaka; and

WHEREAS, in June of 2005, the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribal Heritage Foundation was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation titled the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe; and

WHEREAS, the Cheroenhaka of Southampton, Virginia has an ongoing documented and continual relationship with the Commonwealth of Virginia dating to the first ethno-historic contact with English settlers in 1608; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the Senate, the House of Delegates concurring, That the General Assembly of Virginia recognize the existence within the Commonwealth of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe.

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the Senate transmit a copy of this resolution to the Chief Walter David “Red Hawk” Brown III, requesting that he further disseminate copies of this resolution to his constituents so that they may be apprised of the sense of the General Assembly of Virginia in this matter.