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Our Tribes & Their History

VTEC is comprised of all federally recognized Tribes in Virginia:​ Chickahominy Indian Tribe, Chickahominy Indian Tribe Eastern Division, Monacan Indian Nation, Pamunkey Indian Tribe, Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe, Rappahannock Indian Tribe, and Nansemond Indian Nation. 

To learn more, read the summaries below that give explanation about our Tribes and their cultural history.

Click on the Tribal Seals to visit the homepage of each Tribe! 


Chickahominy Indian Tribe

The Chickahominy people originally lived in villages that were framed by saplings set into the ground, then bent over and tied at the top to form an arch. These longhouses were covered with mats woven from reeds and rushes found in abundance in the salt marshes along the Virginia River that still bears our name. The meaning of Chickahominy is Coarse-Pounded Corn People. Corn being the staple of their diet, along with pumpkins, squash, beans, and gourds of different kind, and supplemented by fruits, berries, nuts, pine seeds, and edible roots. The Treaty of 1646 displaced the Chickahominy people from this area and set aside land for them in the Pamunkey Neck area of Virginia. As the colonizers prospered, they crowded the Chickahominy out of this area well. Families began a gradual migration to the area called Chickahominy Ridge, where they now reside. The area between Richmond and Williamsburg, is only a few miles from one of our 1607 village sites. 


Chickahominy Indian Tribe - Eastern Division

The Chickahominy Tribe Eastern Division is located 25 miles east of Richmond in New Kent County, Virginia. European contact with the tribal ancestry of the modern-day Chickahominy Indians and the Chickahominy Tribe Eastern Division is recorded as early as 1607. They shared a history until the early 1900s, it was when it was decided by the Eastern Chickahominy to organize their own tribal government due to travel inconvenience to tribal meetings of the Chickahominy in Charles City County. In 1910, a school was started in New Kent County for the Chickahominy Tribe Eastern Division. Grades 1-9 were taught in this one-room school. In 1920-21, the tribe was formally organized as a separate tribal government, with E.P Bradby as the Chief. In September 1922 Tsena Commocko Indian Baptist Chruch was organized


Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe

The Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe, formally known as the Adamstown Band of Indians, is located in King William County. At the time of early contact, the Upper Mattaponi were living at a village marked on Smith's map of 1608 as Passauncack. They lived in longhouses, where farming, fishing, and hunting were a huge part of daily life. Corn, squash, and beans were grown. Native nuts, berries, and fruit supplemented their diets. Catching fish, hunting small game and deer provided the protein they needed. The community base is still residing within the boundaries of one their first reservation established in Tsenacomoco.

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Monacan Indian Nation

The Monacan people belonged to the Eastern Siouan Confederacy where they spoke Tutelo, an Eastern Siouan dialect. In the piedmont and mountain regions of this area lived Siouan the Monacan and Mannahoac tribes, arranged in a confederation ranging from the Roanoke River Valley to the Potomac River, and from the Fall Line at Richmond and Fredericksburg west through the Blue Ridge Mountains. They were an agricultural people who grew the “Three Sisters” crops of corn, beans and squash, and had domesticated a wide variety of other foods, including sunflowers, fruit trees, wild grapes and nuts. They lived in villages with palisaded walls, and dome-shaped structures of bark and reed mats. These Monacan ancestors hunted deer, elk and small game. They traded with the Powhatans to the east and the Iroquois to the north. They mined copper, which they wore in necklaces, and which the Powhatans prized greatly. The Monacans also buried their dead in mounds, a tradition that differentiates them from neighboring Indian nations. Throughout the piedmont and mountain regions, thirteen mounds have been identified and many excavated, yielding interesting information about the lives of these First Americans, whose ancestors inhabited this region for more than 10,000 years


Nansemond Indian Nation

The Nansemond people lived along the Nansemond River, a 20-mile-long tributary of the James River in Virginia. The Nansemond tribe was part of the Tsenacomoco (or Powhatan paramount chiefdom) which was a coalition of approximately 30 Algonquian Indian tribes distributed throughout the northern, southern, and western lands surrounding the Chesapeake Bay. Our people lived in settlements on both sides of the Nansemond River where we fished (with the name “Nansemond” meaning “fishing point“), harvested oysters, hunted, and farmed in fertile soil.


Pamunkey Indian Tribe

The Pamunkey People's lifestyle centered around pottery making, fishing, hunting, and trapping. Fishing, especially shad and herring are an integral part of the Tribe's economy. Because of the Tribe's foresight, the Pamunkey River shad runs have remained the healthiest of any of the East Coast rivers that are tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. The Pamunkey Indian Reservation, on the Pamunkey River and adjacent to King William County, Virginia, contains approximately 1,200 acres of land, 500 acres of which is wetlands with numerous creeks. Some families reside on the reservation and many Tribal members live in nearby Richmond, Newport News, other parts of Virginia and all over the United States. The Tribe has maintained its own continuing governing body, consisting of a chief and seven council members elected every four years. The Chief and Council perform all tribal governmental functions as set forth by their laws. The Pamunkey signed a few 17th-century treaties that established their reservation. Their land and that of the Mattaponi Tribe 10 miles north, are the two oldest reservations in the United States.


Rappahannock Indian Tribe

The Rappahannock People belonged to a vast Powhatan autocracy. They hunted deer and small game, gathered berries and herbs as well as corn, beans, and squash, being a staple for their diets. in 1607, The Rappahannock were the dominant tribe of the Rappahannock River valley, maintaining 13 villages along the north and south banks of the river named after them. The territory on the south side of the river was their primary hunting ground. Their capital town was Topahanocke (or Tappahannock). They were a peripheral group among the Algonquian speaking tribes of the Powhatan autocracy. They are made of up descendants of several small Algonquian speaking tribes who merged in the late 17th century.

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