The Official Site of The Commonwealth of Virginia

Native American Heritage Month in Virginia

Native American Heritage Month Logo

Virginia.gov puts the spotlight on Native Americans in Virginia during the month of November in honor of national Native American Heritage month.

State Recognized Tribes

State recognition is the formal declaration of recognition by the Commonwealth of an American Indian tribe. Throughout the month of November, different state-recognized tribes of Virginia will be featured. Learn more!

Upper Mattaponi Tribe Logo

Upper Mattaponi

The Upper Mattaponi Tribe

For centuries the ancestors of the Upper Mattaponi People have lived in villages along the waterways of Virginia, the land known as Tsenacomocco. They lived in union with the land, the first farmers of America, harvesting corn, beans and squash and hunting deer in ways still employed today.

Learn More about the Upper Mattaponi tribe

Pamunkey Tribe Logo

Pamunkey

The Pamunkey Tribe 

The Pamunkey Tribe has been recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia as an Indian Tribe since colonial times. The reservation was confirmed to the Tribe as early as 1658 by the Governor, the Council, and the General Assembly of Virginia. The treaty of 1677 between the King of England, acting through the Governor of Virginia, and several Indian Tribes including the Pamunkey is the most important existing document describing Virginia's relationship towards Indian land.

Learn More about the the Pamunkey tribe

The Chickahominy Tribe Logo

Chickahominy

The Chickahominy Tribe 

The Chickahominy tribe is a state-recognized Indian tribe located on 110 acres in Charles City County, midway between Richmond and Williamsburg. Early in the twenty-first century its population numbered about 875 people living within a five-mile radius of the tribal center, with several hundred more residing in other parts of the United States.

Learn More about the the Chickahominy tribe

Rappahannock Tribe Logo

Rappahannock

The Rappahannock Tribe

The Rappahannock first met Captain John Smith in December 1607 at their capital town "Topahanocke" on the banks of the river bearing their name. At the time, Smith was a prisoner of Powhatan's brother, Opechancanough. He took Smith to the Rappahannock for the people to determine if Smith was the Englishman who, three years earlier, had murdered their chief and kidnapped some of their people.

Learn More about the Rappahannock tribe

The Monacan Indian Nation Logo

Monacan Indian Nation

The Monacan Indian Nation

The Monacan Indian Nation is a state-recognized Indian tribe whose tribal area is located near Bear Mountain in Amherst County. The original territory of the Siouan-speaking tribe and its allies comprised more than half of present-day Virginia, including almost all of the Piedmont region and parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Learn More about the Monacan Indian Nation

Patawomeck Tribe Logo

Patawomeck

The Patawomeck Tribe

In 1607, the Patawomeck Tribe was settled in the areas we now know as Stafford and King George counties.  The English pronounced the name of the tribe as “Potomac,” from which the Potomac River derived its name. Their chief, called the “Great King of Potomac” by the English, appears to have married the sister of the Great Chief Powhatan.

Learn More about the Patawomeck

The History and Facts

The History of Native American Month

Native American Heritage Month has evolved from its beginnings as a week-long celebration in 1986, when President Reagan proclaimed the week of November 23-30, 1986 as "American Indian Week." Every President since 1995 has issued annual proclamations designating the month of November as the time to celebrate the culture, accomplishments, and contributions of people who were the first inhabitants of the United States.

Historical Origin in Virginia

Native Americans have lived in the area now known as Virginia for thousands of years. Their histories, ancestral connections, and traditions are intertwined with the 6,000 square miles of Tidewater land the Algonquian-speaking Indians of Virginia called Tsenacomoco.

What's the word?

The use of Native American or native American to refer to Indigenous peoples who live in the Americas came into widespread, common use during the civil rights era of the 1960s and 1970s. This term was considered to represent historical fact more accurately (i.e., "Native" cultures predated European colonization).

Native Americans in Virginia

Learning Resources

Check out the resources below to learn more about Native Americans in Virginia.