Governor Bob McDonnell is keeping some long-standing Thanksgiving traditions alive.
Wednesday morning, he welcomed members of Virginia's Native American tribes at the Executive Mansion. It's a ceremony dating back more than 300 years. He accepted an annual gift of wild game.
The ceremony finds its roots in colonial times, when the government agreed to accept the tribute in lieu of taxes.
Office of Governor Bob McDonnell Press Release
Governor and Mrs. McDonnell today welcomed Chief Carl Custalow of the Mattaponi Tribe, Chief Kevin Brown of the Pamunkey Tribe, and other tribal members to the Governor's Mansion to observe the 335th tax tribute ceremony. The ceremony is the oldest continuing nation-to-nation ceremony in the United States.
After Bacon's Rebellion, the British Crown concluded a peace treaty with the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian tribes in 1677. In it, the British reserved certain lands for the tribes, "confirming to them their just Rights." In return, the Indians and their posterity were to pay the royal governor a token every year in lieu of taxes.
In the tribute ceremony, tribal members honor their ancestors who negotiated the Treaty of Middle Plantation to preserve Virginia Indian lands and the rich heritage they enjoy to this day.
In this year's ceremony, Chief Carl Custalow presented the governor and first lady with a piece of pottery decorated with fish and turtles, a beaded feathered medicine bag and an eight point buck deer. Chief Kevin Brown presented them with a drum made by a Pamunkey artisan, a beaded barrette, and a deer. Drumming and dancing followed the presentation of gifts, led by Assistant Chief Mark Custalow.
Governor McDonnell also announced that as soon as next year, there will be a new monument on Capitol grounds – a tribute to Virginia Indians. The Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission recently voted on a design submitted by a Canadian Indian artist and fundraising has begun for the new monument here on the capitol grounds.