Va. tribes present deer, gifts to governor in tax tribute ceremony

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — On Wednesday, people filled the front lawn at the Executive Mansion on Capitol Square to witness a ceremony that dates back 340 years.

Two of Virginia’s Indian tribes presented a tribute to Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

“We’re really here to celebrate what we call the original Virginians — those that were here many, many, many years ago,” said McAuliffe.

There are 11 tribes in Virginia. Wednesday, the Mattaponi and Pamunkey tribes delivered their traditional tax payment — an 8-point buck and a 4-point buck.

It’s part of a peace treaty from 1677.

“Keeping the treaty keeps our people involved in their culture,” Pamunkey Tribe Chief Robert Gray.

The treaty states they give the first thing they hunt from their forest or catch from their waters around Thanksgiving time.

“Luckily we’ve been getting deer here lately. We’ve given turkeys before, we’ve given rockfish,” said Mattaponi Tribe Chief Mark Fallingstar Custalow. “In the past, native people were taxed 20 beaver skins per year. Since the beaver has gotten a little scarce, now it’s the first thing taken from the forest or waters.”

The tribes also presented the governor with other traditional gifts, including a song and dance.

“It’s always great seeing the kids. I know they enjoy it and it teaches people a little bit,” said Gray. “I just hope they leave here and try to learn more about the Virginia natives.”

The deer meat will be used to feed the homeless on Thanksgiving.

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