RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Ralph Northam hosted a small delegation from the Mattaponi Indian Tribe and the Pamunkey Indian Tribe for the 343rd annual Indian tax tribute ceremony.
This ceremony dates back to 1677 when a group of Native American tribes and the Virginia Corporation, the predecessor to the Commonwealth, signed the Treaty of the Middle Plantation. This established the first reservation in the country.
Every year, chiefs of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey tribes honor the spirit treaty with a symbolic tax of wild game and handcrafted items “in return” for possession of their tribal lands, according to the governor’s office. They added this is the oldest continuing nation-to-nation ceremony in the U.S.
This year’s ceremony did not include all of the traditional songs and dances to protect the health and safety of participants during the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, Northam issued a proclamation designating November as Native American Heritage Month in Virginia.
“Virginia’s native people enrich our Commonwealth with their vibrant heritage, traditions, and continuing contributions,” Northam said. “Native American Heritage Month is a celebration of the resilience of our tribal communities, and an opportunity to reflect on how we can better address the unique challenges they face and recommit to cultivating strong government-to-government relations with Virginia’s Indian tribes.”