Governor and Mrs. McAuliffe on Wednesday welcomed Assistant Chief Mark Custalow of the Mattaponi Tribe, Chief Kevin Brown of the Pamunkey Tribe, and other tribal members to the Patrick Henry Building to observe the 337th tax tribute ceremony. The ceremony is the oldest continuing nation-to-nation ceremony in the United States.
“Virginia is home to the some of the richest historical beginnings of our nation, and the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian Tribes exemplify what it means to be Virginians,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I also would like to recognize the Hunters for the Hungry organization for their exceptional leadership in helping families around the Commonwealth receive quality meals.”
The traditional Indian taxpaying ceremony traces its legal antecedents to a treaty signed on May 29, 1677 between Governor Herbert Jeffreys, Esq., and several Indian leaders representing the Pamunkey, Nansemond, Nottoway, Appomattox and other tribes.
Today, Chiefs of the Pamunkey and Mattaponi tribes honor the spirit of Article 16, which required each Indian King and Queen to visit the Governor every March “at the place of his residence to pay the accustomed rent,” yearly by bringing wild game and hand-crafted gifts for the Governor and First Lady at their official place of residence on Capitol Square. Traditional Indian music and dancing are part of the tax ceremony, held each November on Capitol Square in honor of American Indian history month.
In the tribute ceremony, tribal members honor their ancestors who negotiated the Treaty of Middle Plantation to preserve Virginia Indian lands and the rich heritage they enjoy to this day.
In this year’s ceremony, Assistant Chief Mark Custalow presented the Governor and First Lady with a pair of handmade earrings, a traditional Indian dancing stick with a turkey claw at the tip and an eight point buck deer. Chief Kevin Brown presented them with a handmade necklace and a deer. Drumming and dancing followed the presentation of gifts, led by Assistant Chief Mark Custalow.