Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe Peake Belt and Pipe Ceremony

Bales of hay were arranged in a circle and covered with American Indian Blankets along the bank of the Nottoway River on the grounds of the Southampton County Courthouse.  Old Glory and the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribal Flag waved in the breeze, as more than 150 participants and spectators; to include, Native Americans from others tribes watched Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown, Vice Chief Ellis “Soaring Eagle” Wright and War Chief William Lamb “Spread Eagle” Howell smudge and bless the circle at the beginning of a recently held Peake (wampum/peace) Belt and Pipe Ceremony.

The Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County Virginia, conducted the ethno-historic Peake (Wampum / Peace) Belt and Pipe Ceremony at the Southampton County Courthouse Grounds, on the banks of the Nottoway River (Na-da-wa Jo-ke), Courtland, Virginia.  It was a celebration of the historic ties that the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe has with the Commonwealth of Virginia and the surrounding counties of Nottoway, Sussex, Surry, Isle of Wight and Southampton; to include its neighboring Meherrin Indian Tribe. Meherrin Indian Chief Thomas “Two Feathers” Lewis and Board of Supervisors representing the government of their respective counties took part in the ceremony as a symbol of their ethno-historic relationship with the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe beginning in 1607/08 in Nottoway County, and pass the Sacred Peace Pipe.  The Peake Belt and Pipe Ceremony featured native dancers in full regalia, drumming and singing all arrayed along the banks of the Nottoway River – as Chief Red Hawk Brown referred to in his native tongue (dar-sun-ke) calling the Nottoway River, “Onos-chi-oke” or great river. The ceremony parallel the ethno-historic Thanksgiving relationship of exchanging gifts that Native People had with the Colonials.

As part of the Ceremony Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown and other tribal leaders of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County, Virginia presented to the Board of Supervisor Chairmen from Nottoway, Sussex, Surry, Isle of Wight and Southampton Counties  a Peake (Wampum) Belt as a symbol of the peaceful relationship that the tribe has had with state governments throughout history.  The Peake Belt consisted of 500 Wampum Shells depicting the tribe’s colors, Red, White and Cobalt Blue.  Chief Brown gave credit to George Whitewolf of the Monacan Indian Tribe for the outstanding job he did in making the Wampum Belts. On behalf of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe Council, Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown presented Meherrin Indian Chief Thomas “Two Feathers” Lewis with a peace arrow marked with three rings of color bearing the symbol of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe.  The peace arrow had an “Eagle Feather” attached to it.  After the Wampum Belts were presented, all of the participating government officials were invited to take part in the sacred Pipe Ceremony.   After passing of the sacred pipe, the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe was presented with “Proclamations of Official Tribal Recognition” from the five counties in attendance.  The five  “Proclamations of Official Tribal Recognition” recognizing the each counties historic relationship with the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe were signed by the Board of Supervisor Chairman and bore the seal of their respective county.

The Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe has a rich historic relationship with the counties of Nottoway, Sussex, Surry, Isle of Wight and Southampton.  The relationship / interaction with said counties began in 1607/ 08 in what is not Nottoway County.  On / about 1643 the tribe relocated to what is now Sussex County and lived at two villages – Rowanty or Chounteroute Town and Tonnatorah.  On/about 1684 the tribe moved to the mouth of the Assamoosick Swamp in what is now Surry County to a town call Cattashowrock, and in 1694 they moved further down the Assamoosick Swamp in to what was then Isle of Wight County – Old Nottoway Town – in the area of Sebrel and Courtland, Virginia. Of course the relationship with Isle of Wight County lasted until Southampton County was annexed in 1749. 

Of special note the Peake Belt and Pipe ceremony was Co-hosted by the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe and Southampton County, as a lead in for Jamestown 2007 activities, an offered a wide range of opportunity for other counties to starlight similar events as part of their Jamestown 2007 Activities; such as, Public Marts or Fairs as authorized in Section VIII of LT. Gov. Spotswood’s Treaty with The Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indians done and signed at Williamsburg the 27th of February 1713, Quote:

“For the conveniency of the said Indians and for the more regular carrying on the trade, there shall be a public Mart or Fair at their Settlement, as lest Six Times in a year, where it shall be free for all her Majesty’s Subjects to resort with their wares and merchandizes, and to exchange the same with the Indians for their skins, Furrs, and other Commoditys: and Magistrates shall be appointed to attend a the said fairs to see the trade justly managed to enquire into any abuses or injurys offered to the Indians by any of the English residing among them and to administer justice in al Controversies that may arise between either party, concerning the same..”

The Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County Virginia will celebrate its 6th Annual Powwow and Gathering, “A Celebration of the Green Corn Harvest –Key-to-ok-ney,” on Saturday and Sunday, July 21st and 22nd, 2007 at the Southampton County Fairgrounds, Courtland, Virginia. For additional information call Chief Brown at (757)562-7760.