Northam signs land trust agreement with Mattaponi Tribe
Gov. Ralph Northam today announced the signing of a land trust agreement with the Mattaponi Indian Tribe.
The agreement will formally transfer over 100 acres of land to the Mattaponi Indian Reservation, located in King William County, Virginia, almost doubling the size of the current reservation. Governor Northam visited the reservation yesterday to commemorate the occasion and joined tribal members at their annual Homecoming and Revival.
A land base was granted to the Mattaponi in 1658 by King Charles of England, and today the Mattaponi Reservation is held in perpetual trust by the Commonwealth of Virginia for exclusive use by the Tribe. Over the past decade, the Mattaponi have purchased and re-acquired over 100 acres of private land that had once been part of the reservation. With the signing of this agreement, these land parcels will now be held in trust for the benefit of the Tribe. By formally returning the parcels to the reservation, the Mattaponi will have permanent right of possession and complete control over the land.
“Expanding the Mattaponi Indian Reservation through this land trust agreement will help preserve the sustainability of the Tribe and its unique history and culture,” said Northam. “I look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationship with the Mattaponi as we grow the friendship that connects the Tribe and the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
The newly annexed parcels will play a key role in the Mattaponi’s cultural preservation, including opportunities for hunting, fishing, and trapping, as well as increasing the amount of available land for new housing construction on the reservation. The Mattaponi Indian Reservation is currently approximately 150 acres in size and houses around 75 residents and hosts a church, a museum, the Minnie-Ha Ha Educational Center, the Hatchery and Marine Science Facility, and a community building.
“It has been an honor to work with Chief Custalow and the Mattaponi Tribal Council to finalize this land trust agreement,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson. “By putting this additional acreage back into trust, the Commonwealth is taking a step towards rectifying the past when we allowed their reservation land to be encroached upon.”
“The Mattaponi people and myself worked hard in getting this land put into trust for future generations to enjoy,” said Mark Custalow, Chief of the Mattaponi. “We appreciate the Governor’s support in making this truly a monumental day in the history of our people.”
The Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth serves as the Governor’s liaison to Virginia’s Indian tribes. For additional information and resources about Virginia’s Indian tribes, please visit the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.