Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday declared Monday (Oct. 12) as Indigenous People’s Day in Virginia – the first such proclamation in the state’s history.
Virginia is home to 11 state-recognized Indian tribes, which include the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Chickahominy Indian Tribe, Chickahominy Indians Eastern Division, Mattaponi Indian Tribe, Monacan Indian Nation, Nansemond Indian Tribe, Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia, Pamunkey Indian Tribe, Patawomeck Indian Tribe of Virginia, Rappahannock Tribe, and the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe. Seven of these tribes are federally recognized.
“For the first time in Virginia history, we are recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day—this year on Monday, October 12. As a country and as a Commonwealth, we have too often failed to live up to our commitments with those who were the first stewards of the lands we now call Virginia—and they have suffered historic injustices as a result,” the governor said in a prepared statement. “Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrates the resilience of our tribal communities and promotes reconciliation, healing, and continued friendship with Virginia’s Indian tribes. In making this proclamation, we pay tribute to the culture, history, and many contributions of Virginia Indians and recommit to cultivating strong government-to-government partnerships that are grounded in mutual trust and respect.”
Last year, Northam announced a land acquisition by the Chickahominy Tribe and signed a signed a land trust agreement with the Mattaponi Indian Tribe, two significant actions in rectifying the past when the state allowed their reservation land to be encroached upon and ensuring the sustainability of Virginia’s Indian tribes for future generations.
Later this month, Virginia will open Machicomoco State Park, the Commonwealth’s 40th state park and the first devoted to interpreting the experiences and history of Virginia’s Indian tribes and the Algonquin nation.
“This represents an important step forward in our work to build an inclusive Commonwealth, and I hope all Virginians will join me in honoring Virginia’s native people,” Northam said about the proclamation.
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