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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


December 15, 2001 - Issue 51


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Nansemond Indians Approach Suffolk Council About New Facility


Powhaten Chiefdom MapSUFFOLK -- The Nansemond Indian Tribal Association is taking another step toward fulfilling its dream of a permanent tribal cultural center.

At Wednesday's City Council meeting, Nansemond Chief Barry Bass and others will talk about the tribe's heritage and its role in the city's history.

At a December council meeting, the tribe will reveal its plan for Mattanock Town, a cultural center, museum, tribal village display and powwow facilities for 10,000 to 15,000 people. In the plan, the tribe is asking for 140 acres of municipal waterfront land in Chuckatuck's Lone Star Lakes park.

"One of our key objectives is retaining our culture for our people and to educate the community to our heritage,'' Bass said. "We have a basic vision that takes time, thought and work to put into place.''

Although almost two-thirds of the site is marshland, creeks and lakes, Mattanock Town -- named for one of the original Nansemond settlements -- would be built on the remaining acreage. If given the land, the tribe would solicit money to complete the $5.3 million project by 2007, the date of Jamestown's 400th anniversary.

The tribe has the support of councilman E. Dana Dickens III, in whose borough the project would be built. "The whole project would benefit the city as well as the tribe,'' Dickens said.

"To the best of my knowledge this is one of the first times a municipality has given a sizeable piece of land back to a tribe,'' said Jean Steffenson president and founder of the Native American Resource Network. "Suffolk could lead the way as a community taking steps to restore lands to native people.''

The Nansemonds have not owned waterfront land since 1650. The tribe will forbid the building of casinos or gambling facilities on the property, which overlooks tribal sacred grounds at Dumpling Island and will return it to the city should the tribe absolve.

In the early 1600s, the Nansemonds had four villages spread along the Nansemond River, including one near Lone Star Lakes. All were part of Powhatan's empire. The current Nansemond tribe members trace their ancestry to Elizabeth and John Basse. Elizabeth's father was Powhatan, her sister Pocahontas. She married Basse, an Englishman, in 1638.

At the time of the Jamestown Settlement in 1607 the Nansemond tribe was located in the general area of Reeds Ferry, near Chuckatuck, in the current city of Suffolk, Virginia.

Suffolk VA Map

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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