Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe; extending state recognition thereto, representation on VCI. (SJ127)

Introduced By

Sen. Frank Ruff (R-Clarksville)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate


Recognition of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe.  Extends state recognition of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe of Southampton County, Virginia. Read the Bill »


03/14/2010: Passed the Senate


01/22/2010Presented and ordered printed 10104033D
01/22/2010Referred to Committee on Rules
02/01/2010Assigned Rules sub: #1
02/12/2010Reported from Rules
02/15/2010Reading waived (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/16/2010Read second time
02/16/2010Reading of amendments waived
02/16/2010Amendments by Senator Whipple agreed to
02/16/2010Engrossed by Senate as amended SJ127E
02/16/2010Printed as engrossed 10104033D-E
02/16/2010Reading waived (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/16/2010Agreed to by Senate by voice vote
02/18/2010Placed on Calendar
02/18/2010Read first time
02/18/2010Referred to Committee on Rules
02/23/2010Reported from Rules (12-Y 3-N) (see vote tally)
02/26/2010Taken up
02/26/2010Amendment by Delegate Tyler agreed to
02/26/2010Engrossed by House as amended
02/26/2010Agreed to by House with amendment (89-Y 7-N)
02/26/2010VOTE: --- ADOPTION (89-Y 7-N) (see vote tally)
03/02/2010House amendment agreed to by Senate
03/14/2010Bill text as passed Senate and House (SJ127ER)


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 1 clip in all, totaling 38 seconds.


Deborah writes:

We are the original Tribe "Cheroenhaka(Nottoway)Indian Tribe of Southampton County Virginia. It was reorganized in February 2002 with an elected Tribal Chief, Walt "Red Hawk" Brown and an elected Council.

Ben Little Bear writes:

I am of Nottoway descent. I live in Indian Country spending most of my time on the Reservation and local area. The Nottoway Indian Tribe and the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) are of one people and one tribe. I think that the acknowledgement of either would be an embarrassment to both unless together they were recognized. The only reason for the two towns (camps or communities) to emerge was due to politics of the VCI and its "Experts" on Indian Culture and not that they were separate in the first place. I too am Nottoway but by the very language in the recognition criteria required by VCI eliminates me, my family and cousins born outside the current boundaries of the state. In spite of this, my family and I together stand behind both communities of Nottoways to be restored and affirmed their acknowledgement as the Nottoway Tribe. With direct acknowledgement by the state, the TRIBE determines who and where its citizens originate, not the VCI. Under the VCI, the North Carolina Nottoway Tribal Community is eliminated from the acknowledgement, yet they are Nottoway descendants, and of whom petitioned not the State of North Carolina to incorporate with as an entity of the state, but a Federal Indian Tribe who incorporated the Nottoway Community in North Carolina s an organized tribal community called the "North Carolina Nottoway Tribal Community." It is an Entity of the Federal Tribe, not the state. It is a Federal Tribal Incorporated Community of Nottoway Tribal Citizens. It is part of the Nottoway Tribe just as are the Nottoway tribal communities of Ohio (Sheila Payne Chief), the Ani Skala Li Band of the Cherokee Indians of Robeson County, as are the Cheroenhaka Tribal Community in Wisconsin, as are the Mashapaug Pond Nodawa Tribal Community in Rhode Island, as are the Tuscarora-Nottoway community (under the protections of the Mohawk) on the Grand River Reserve Canada.

The Nottoway Tribe exists as a composit of a number of Nottoway descended communities. However, under the current scheme of acknowledgement by VCI created in consultation with the first and only person to declare the Nottoway both terminated and extinct, carefully crafted the acknowledgement procedure to eliminate the very proofs of culture, identity, and continued existance within an identified Indian community by limiting the area of consideration to the current boundaries of the state of Virginia. We of the external Nottoway (outside the state of Virginia) are fullly supportive of the acknowledgement of the Nottoway Tribe within the state of VIrginia. Both the Cheroenhaka and Virginia Nottoway Indian Tribe and Corporation should and aught to be reaffirmed as acknowledged because there is NO LEGAL OR HISTORIC RECORD prior to the article "Termination and dispersal of the Nottoway Tribe," that dissolves the legal status of the tribe. NOT ONE. And for the Record, only the US Congress can change the status of an Indian Tribe.

It is sad to say that many of the current acknowledged tribes in Virginia were historically declared to be extinct prior to the formation of Virginia as a State and only the Nottoway-Meherrin Tribes were acknowledged as existing as a Tribe within Virginia in the George Washington Papers. These same Tribes extinct previous to the State of Virginia are now sitting in judgement over the Nottoway Tribe do determine its status as an Indian Tribe. That is, unless the legislature approves the acknowledgement of both the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Tribe as well as the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia, Inc. What I think is a failure on the part of VCI is that it does not acknowledge that the Nottoway was recognized as a "tribe" in the 1850's by the Court Records in Southampton, and that in the 1830's, U. S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall stated that "tribes possess a nationhood status and retain inherent powers of self-government." This ruling has never lost its standing even to this day! The Nottoway Tribe did not loose a war with the United States, in fact it fought a war as an ally of the Colonists. The Nottoway Tribe is not a conquered nation and therefore not subject to dissolution by the state or the federal government. It remains in a nationhood status even today. The tribe is not extinct, terminated, or detribalized. The tribe is, as Dr. Louis Binford stated, comprised of autonomous towns.

There are two positions taken by the VCI, one that the Nottoway were terminated (that position now recinded), and that they are extinct as a tribe (that one created by the same person that was erroneous with the termination statement). However, we can find not one reference by the state or the federal government that lists the Nottoway as either terminated or extinct as a tribe... until we come to the same person (not an official representative of the state) who erroneously stated the tribe to be terminated and/or extinct. Such reference did not occur until 2002. What about us, the Nottoway, who were under the protections of the Mohawk, or the Five Nations, or the Oneida? We are not extinct, nor terminated by an act of the US Congress? What about self governing Nottoway communities outside the state of Virginia who still recognize they exist as part of the greater whole, the Nottoway Tribe? What about us, the Nottoway who are included in the Treaty with the Iroquois Nations as other Indian nations residing and allied with the Iroquois? Being an allied with does not diminish our capacity as a Nation... unless the US being Allied with England means that the US is restored to being a colony of England. We still exist VCI and nothing will stop us from existing as the Nottoway Tribe.

Again, I and my family, cousins and friends, fully support the Nottoway Tribe in its quest for respect from the great state of Virginia through acknowledging our existence as a Tribe, with nationhood status and we will retain our enherent powers of self-government.

With respect to your ancestors,

Ben Little Bear (the name inscribed on my Birth Certificate since it was written)

Charleen Suter writes:

The Cheroenhaka Nottoway Indian Tribe has been and is still here. We continue to exist. It is proven by Documented history. We feel that the Commonwealth of Virginia is long over due in granting the Cheroenhaka Nottoway Indian Tribe formal State recognition.

Jade Buffalo Heart Woman writes:

I am a decendant of John Archer (Cheroenhaka) whose life was changed when he was taken from the Nottoway reservation as a child to be used as an Indian slave by a man whose name was Plummer. His name was changed to Plummer but he has passed on our traditions to all generations in our family. I am proud to be a member of the Cheroenhaka Indian Nation..and I do mean nation because we are a soverign nation. It would be a disgrace and a disrespect to our ancestors if we are once again dismissed as a tribe as we were so many years ago when the our lands were taken and our identities were dismissed as non existent. We are still here and will always be. We are "unbound" walls. Unbound.

Bernard Rhodes writes:

The Commonwealth of Virginia is long overdue in granting the Cheroenhaka Nottoway Indian Tribe formal State recognition. Please pass this bill.

Ellen Turner-Walker writes:

We are the CHEROENHAKA (NOTTOWAY) INDIAN TRIBE and at the same time we are the NOTTOWAY TRIBE OF VIRGINIA, INC. The NOTTOWAY INDIAN TRIBE, INC. are composed of the same TRIBAL members and Council members who VOTED my sister, NANCY J. TURNER (HEART FLOWER) and myself, ELLEN L. TURNER-WALKER (FOUR WINDS) into the CHEROENHAKA (NOTTOWAY) INDIAN TRIBE many years ago. The many misunderstandings in the CHEROENHAKA (NOTTOWAY) INDIAN TRIBE OF VIRGINIA led to these CHEROENHAKA NOTTOWAY INDIANS to request to be let out of the tribe. Among these were the now CHIEF LYNETTE ALLSTON of the NOTTOWAY INDIAN TRIBE OF VIRGINIA
Yes, we are one people! Yes, we can still be one tribe. We are the entire state of Virginia Indian Tribe! Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown, as well as Chief Lynette Allston have both worked long and hard to have "US" NOTTOWAY OF VIRGINIA" be a recognized tribe which we have always been. Let's let by gones be by gones. Form one tribe.....Take a tribal name you can both agree upon. How about taking the ( ) off Nottoway. Just an idea.....Share being Chief of our great NOTTOWAY INDIAN TRIBE. After all we are VIRGINIANS, even if some of us live out of the state we were born in like me. We are Virginians first and always. How about it!! Yes, Commonwealt of Virginia have these two tribes become one as they are meant to be. Why split our people? We as Native People and as the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County, Virginia, here in the Commonwealth, for “WE ARE STILL HERE!” and “WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HERE!” and "WE ARE NOT GOING AWAY!" Ellen L. Turner-Walker ...Four Winds of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe

Donnie Hunte Wenk Rag writes:

The Cheroenhaka Nottoway Indian Tribe is The Original Tribe. The Nottoway Of Va a Splinter Group Or Band Of The Original Tribe The Cheroenhaka Nottoway.Lynette Allston Was A Member Of The Original Tribe The Cheroenhaka Nottoway Indian Tribe Before She Started The Nottoway Of Va.