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article imageVirginia's tax tribute with Indigenous tribes dates back to 1677

By Karen Graham     Nov 27, 2019 in World
On Wednesday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam hosted leaders of some of the commonwealth’s Native American tribes at the executive mansion for the 342nd annual tax tribute. The tradition dates back to 1677 and the Treaty of Middle Plantation.
The paying of the tribute, usually a deer and a turkey, is quite different from the original tribute of beaver pelts and arrows required over three hundred years ago. Now, the ceremony is steeped in tradition and not just a political alliance originally formed between the tribes and the colonial governing body.
This year, Governor Northam was presented with a deer and several other gifts from the Mattaponi and Pammucky tribes on Wednesday at the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond reports WTVR Richmond.
"I was proud to welcome Mattaponi and Pamunkey tribal members today for Virginia's 342nd annual tax tribute ceremony," Virginia Governor Ralph Northan said. "As we celebrate Native American Heritage Month and Thanksgiving tomorrow, let's all pause to honor the rich history and contributions of our native Virginians."
Virginia has 11 officially recognized Native American tribes, however, only the Mattaponi and Pamunkey tribes live on reservation lands assigned by the 1646 and 1677 treaties with the English colonial government. Members of the Pamunkey tribe were the first native Americans British settlers made contact with after they set foot on the shores of what is now Virginia in 1607.
Artist depiction of Pocahontas saving the life of Capt. John Smith. MEDIUM: 1 print : chromolithogra...
Artist depiction of Pocahontas saving the life of Capt. John Smith. MEDIUM: 1 print : chromolithograph, color. B size.
New England Chromo. Lith. Co.
The Pamunkey were part of the much larger Powhatan paramountcy, made up of Algonquian-speaking tribes, and numbered about 15,000 members. And Virginians are very familiar with the Pamunkey people through the story of Pocohantas, daughter of the great Chief, Powhatan. She is said to have saved the life of settler John Smith by coming between her father and Smith, stopping her father from bashing Smith with his war club.
Treaties set up tax tribute
As for the tax tribute still being symbolically paid today - that evolved out of two separate treaties made between the tribes and Jamestown colonists.
A 1628 woodcut by Matthaeus Merian published along with Theodore de Bry s earlier engravings in 1628...
A 1628 woodcut by Matthaeus Merian published along with Theodore de Bry's earlier engravings in 1628 book on the New World. The engraving shows the March 22, 1622 massacre when Powhatan Indians attacked Jamestown and outlying Virginia settlements.
Matthaeus Merian - 1628
The treaty of 1646 ended the Anglo-Indian war. The words of the treaty required the Powhatan Indians to pay a tribute of 20 beaver pelts to the colonial government yearly. In return, they would be protected from their enemies. The treaty set up boundaries between lands set aside for the Virginia tribes and those that were now considered English-owned, reservations lands.
In 1677, the Treaty of Middle Plantation was signed. This treaty set the tribute at 3 Indian arrows, a mere formality. More important was the political alliance that was formed between the tribes and the colonial governing body. Some readers may remember reading about Bacon's Rebellion.
Pamunkey presentation of annual tribute to the Governor of Virginia  circa 1928. Pictured from left ...
Pamunkey presentation of annual tribute to the Governor of Virginia, circa 1928. Pictured from left to right are Walter Bradby, Theodora Dennis Cook, Chief George Major Cook, Governor Harry Byrd, Pocahontas Cook, Willy Bradby, James Bradby, and Duckie Page.
University of North Carolina/School of Education
Bacon's Rebellion was an armed rebellion that took place between 1676 and1677 by Virginia settlers led by Nathaniel Bacon against the rule of Governor William Berkeley. The treaty was signed in Virginia on May 28, 1677, between Charles II of England and representatives from various Virginia Native American tribes including the Nottoway, the Appomattoc, the Wayonaoake, the Nansemond, the Nanzatico, the Monacan, the Saponi, and the Meherrin tribes.
The English sent gifts to the various tribes after the signing of the treaty, including a special gift sent to Queen Cockacoeskie of the Pamunkey tribe. It was a red velvet cap that was fastened with a silver frontlet and silver chains. Today, she is still honored as the first signatory of the Treaty.
While the original treaty of 1677 required that "each Indian King and Queen visit the Governor every March at the place of his residence to pay the accustomed rent," over the years, the date to pay the tribute was moved to the day before Thanksgiving, coinciding with Native American History Month.
More about Virginia, annual tax tribute, native american tribes, Pamunkey tribe, Mattaponi tribe
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