Chickahominy people

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Chickahominy)
Jump to: navigation, search
Total population
(Enrolled members)
Regions with significant populations
Charles City County, Virginia (Chickahominy) 840
New Kent County, Virginia (Eastern Chickahominy) 132
English, Algonquian (historical)
Christianity, Native
Related ethnic groups
Piscataway, Yaocomico

The Chickahominy are a tribe of Virginia Indians[1] who primarily live in Charles City County, located along the James River midway between Richmond and Williamsburg in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This area of the Tidewater is not far from where they lived in 1600.[2]

The Eastern Chickahominy split from the main tribe in the 1900s. They live in New Kent County, which is about 25 miles (40 km) east of Richmond.

Both tribes are among the 11 officially recognized by Virginia. Neither has received recognition from the federal government.


The Chickahominy ("The Coarse Ground Corn People"[3]) were an autonomous Algonquian-speaking tribe when the first permanent English settlement was founded at Jamestown in 1607. They were led by mungai ("great men"), who were part of a council of elders and religious leaders. The Chickahominy's original territory consisted of the land along the river that was eventually named after them, the Chickahominy River, from the mouth of the river near Jamestown to what is now New Kent County.[2]

English depiction of the negotiation of the 1614 treaty

The tribe's proximity to Jamestown meant they had early contact with the English. The tribe helped the English during the first few winters by trading food for other objects.[2] They also taught them how to grow and preserve crops in local conditions.[4] By 1614 the tribe had signed a treaty with the colonists that said the tribe would provide 300 warriors to fight the Spanish.[5]

Over time, the English began to expand their settlements and crowded out the Chickahominy from their homeland.[2] Following the Anglo-Powhatan War of 1644-46, the tribe were forced to cede their land to gain a peace treaty. The tribe resettled on reservation land set aside by the treaty in the Pamunkey Neck area, alongside another Virginia Algonquian tribe, the Pamunkey, between the Mattaponi and Pamunkey rivers.[2] They stayed there until 1661, when they moved to the headwaters of the Mattaponi, where their reserved holdings continued to be encroached on. In 1677, the Chickahominy were among the tribes signing a peace treaty with the King of England.[6]

Treaty of Middle Plantation (1677)

The people lost title to the last part of their reservation lands in 1718,[5] but continued to live in the area for some time. Those who did not merge with the Pamunkey and other tribes, migrated to New Kent County and Charles City County, closer to their original homeland. Descendants of these people formed the current Eastern Chickahominy and Chickahominy tribes, respectively.[5] The migrations happened before the end of the eighteenth century. Few records survive that enable defining the date of the migration.

The Chickahominy were at times allied with Chief Powhatan, and his paramount chiefdom, a confederacy of 30 or so Algonquian-speaking tribes. There is indication via records found within The National Archives (TNA) at Kew, West London; that the Chickahominy tribe may have served to some capacity in a Police role, being put to use by Powhatan to quell rivalries and bring an end to infighting amongst other confederacy tribes and in return they were to have enjoyed, amongst other concessions; trading with the confederacy tribes. It further appears that part of the agreement of allignment between Powhatan's Confederacy and the Chickahominy tribe was to have the Chickahominy act as a buffer warrior force between the confederacy tribes and other less friendly or hostile tribes in the event of an attack, thus giving Powhatan's forces time to mobilize. [7] Some sources say the Chickahominy joined the Powhatan Confederacy in 1616.[8] Others contend they did not become tributaries of the paramount chiefdom until 1677, when Cockacoeske signed the Treaty of Middle Plantation. The treaty acknowledged her as leader of the Chickahominy and several other tribes.[2]

Chickahominy today[edit]

Today, the Chickahominy tribe consists of approximately 840 people who live within a five-mile (8 km) radius of each other and the tribal center, in an area known as Chickahominy Ridge.[4] Several hundred more live in other parts of the United States,[2] including California, New York, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. Current tribal lands of about 110 acres (0.45 km2) are in the tribe's traditional territory, present-day Charles City County.[4] The tribal center on the land is the location of an annual Powwow and Fall Festival.[2]

Wayne Adkins, a member of the Chickahominy Tribe, representing the tribe in the UK.

The Chickahominy are led by a tribal council of twelve men and women, including a chief and two assistant chiefs. These positions are elected by members of the tribe, by vote.[2] The current chief is Stephen Adkins. He served as Director of Human Resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia in the administration of Governor Tim Kaine. Wayne Adkins, pictured left, is an assistant Chief, along with Reggie Stewart.

Most members of the Chickahominy Tribe are Christian; many attend Samaria Baptist Church, formerly Samaria Indian Church, in Charles City County. The church was built upon tribal grounds and used to serve as a school for the children of the tribe. The church sits directly across from the tribal headquarters.

Eastern Chickahominy[edit]

The Chickahominy Tribe Eastern Division shared a history with the Chickahominy until the 1900s, when the former group decided to organize their own tribal government. The reason for the split was travel difficulties going to Charles City County for tribal meetings, according to some.[2] Others say the split happened because of disagreements over religious practice and land use. Family ties keep the two tribes intertwined.[4]

Today, the Eastern Chickahominy have about 132 members and own about 41 acres (170,000 m2) of land. Tribe members have served in the United States military as far back as World War I.[4] The tribe serves the needs of its community as a non-taxable organization. This is supported through contributions and from members who pay dues.[3]

Efforts at recognition[edit]

The Chickahominy were recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1983, but have not been federally recognized.[9] Since the 1990s, the tribe has been seeking federal recognition through an act of Congress.

In March 2009, Representative Jim Moran sponsored a bill to grant federal recognition to six Virginia Indian tribes: the Chickahominy Tribe, Eastern Chickahominy Tribe, Nansemond, Rappahannock Tribe, Upper Mattaponi Tribe, and the Monacan Nation.[10] By June the bill had passed the House of Representatives. A day after it was voted on in the House, a companion bill was sent to the Senate. The Senate referred this bill to their Committee on Indian Affairs, who approved the bill on October 22, 2009. On December 23, 2009 the Senate added the bill to its Legislative calendar. This is the farthest the bill has gotten in the Congressional process.[10][11] The bill was opposed by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), citing "jurisdictional concerns". The Senator believes requests for tribal recognition should be processed through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a process the Virginia tribes cannot utilize because of The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 and the dictates of Walter Plecker, the controversial state registrar for the Bureau of Vital Statistics at the time.[12]

The two state-recognized tribes that still maintain reservations, the Pamunkey and Mattaponi, are not part of this bill. As of June 2009[dated info], they are trying to gain federal recognition through the Bureau of Indian Affairs' administrative process, believing their ongoing residency on and control of their reservations demonstrates their historical continuity as tribes.[4]


  1. ^ "A Guide to Writing about Virginia Indians and Virginia Indian History", Virginia Council on Indians, Commonwealth of Virginia, updated Aug 2009, accessed 16 Sep 2009
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Wood, Karenne (editor). Virginia Indian Heritage Trail, Charlottesville, VA: Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 2007.
  3. ^ a b Waugaman, Sandra F. and Danielle Moretti-Langholtz, Ph.D. We're Still Here: Contemporary Virginia Indians Tell Their Stories. Richmond: Palari Publishing, 2006 (revised edition).
  4. ^ a b c d e f Kimberlain, Joanne. "We're Still Here", The Virginian-Pilot, June 7–9, 2009
  5. ^ a b c Egloff, Keith and Deborah Woodward. First People: The Early Indians of Virginia, Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1992.
  6. ^ "Why Queen recognises a US tribe but US government does not". BBC News Magazine. BBC. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  7. ^ Template:The White letters, The National Archives (TNA) at Kew, West London - access=2014-06-07
  8. ^ Rountree, Helen C. (editor). Powhatan Foreign Relations: 1500-1722. University of Virginia Press, 1993
  9. ^ Virginia Tribes, Virginia Council on Indians, Commonwealth of Virginia
  10. ^ a b "H.R. 1385, Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act",
  11. ^ "Statement of Governor Kaine Submitted to the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs". Governor of Virginia. Archived from the original on 2009-10-24. 
  12. ^ Dilday, Robert (August 19, 2010). "Baptist executives urge federal recognition of Virginia tribes". Associated Baptist Press. Archived from the original on 2010-08-20. Retrieved 2013-07-15. 

External links[edit]