Native Americans gather in Surry

Published 11:35 pm Monday, September 22, 2008

SURRY—The Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia celebrated its heritage Saturday and Sunday with two days of native dancing, drumming, crafts, demonstrations and food.

The powwow was held at Surry County Parks and Recreation Center and was a draw for Native Americans from several tribes — some as far away as Mexico City.

“This is a like a reunion for us,” said Chief Lynette Allston.

People from the Nottoway tribe were mostly from a 44,000-acre reservation known as the Circle and Square, in the vicinity of present-day Sebrell, Capron and Courtland.

In 2007, the Virginia Nottoway Indian Circle and Square Foundation was incorporated to support educational and cultural American Indian and community initiatives.

During the powwow, artisans from the Intertribal Women’s Circle demonstrated crafts such as beading, pottery and regalia making.

Other trades that were demonstrated included arrow making, deer hide processing, basket-making and face painting.

In an effort to reclaim it cultural history, the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia submitted a petition for state recognition in October 2006 to the Virginia Council on Indians. There are six criteria to be fulfilled.

In June 2007, criterion two was validated that the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia is a historic tribe in the Commonwealth of Virginia. From June 2007 to November 2007 criterion four was reviewed, validating 10 Nottoway descendant lines. This included the kinship groups for every member of the Tribal Council of the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia Inc.

The remaining four criteria have been voted on with mixed opinions of both positive and negative votes.

The Virginia Council on Indians will make the final decision and give its recommendation to the Commonwealth and the Virginia legislature regarding the tribe’s status.