Virginia Native Americans like to refer to the English settlers who landed on these shores in 1607 as the “first boat people.” In the native Algonquian, the English were Tassantasses, or King James’ people. The river the English sailed up was known as Powhatan, after the Powhatan Paramount Chiefdom. The land on which the English built a fort was known as Tsenacomacah. The tribe living in villages along the river that forms the northern and eastern borders of Charles City County was known as the Chickahominy, or course-ground corn people.
Today the Chickahominy Tribe is the second largest of eight Virginia Indian tribes with 800 enrolled members. Most of the Chickahominy live on a high ridge in the vicinity of the river. The heart of the tribal community is the Tribal Center and the adjoining Samaria Baptist Church. The tribe also owns a farm in the vicinity of the Tribal Center which has been subdivided into 5-acre lots for sale to tribal families.
The Tribe is led by a chief, two assistant chiefs, and a Tribal Council comprised of both men and women. Council members earn their positions by election rather than by heredity. The culture and traditions of the tribe are passed from parent to child, including traditional dances which are performed by the Chickahominy Tribal Dancers. On the occasion of the Pow-Wow many members don their handmade regalia (traditional dress) and dance with dancers from other tribes. The Chickahominy Pow-Wow, held annually the last weekend in September, draws 3,000 to 5,000 visitors who travel from all over the United States to attend. Miss Chickahominy, Junior Miss Chickahominy and Little Miss Chickahominy are crowned at the Pow-Wow. The Tribe also hosts a Crab Feast in October and the Six Nations Pow-Wow the first weekend in May.
Chickahominy Tribal Coucil
- Stephen R. Adkins, Chief
- Wayne Adkins, First Assistant Chief
- Reggie Stewart, Second Assistant Chief