Monday, December 11, 2023

First time in state history: Northam issues proclamation on Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Jamestown Settlement's annual American Indian Intertribal Powwow will have a special focus on native women this year. (WYDaily/Courtesy Jamestown Settlement)
(WYDaily/Courtesy Jamestown Settlement)

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.


John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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