The Nansemond Indian Nation Joins the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance

nansemond-indian-nation-nikki-bass-1171x593

Nansemond Indian Nation members celebrate their federal recognition at Werowocomoco on October 4, 2018.

Nansemond Indian Nation

Along the banks of Virginia’s Nansemond River lies the land of the Nansemond people. The Nansemond people lived on both sides of the Nansemond River, a tributary of the James River with a name that means “fishing point“ in Algonquian, harvesting oysters, hunting, and farming in fertile soil. The tribe was once part of the Tsenacomoco (or Powhatan paramount chiefdom) which was a coalition of approximately 30 Algonquian-speaking tribes distributed throughout the northern, southern, and western lands surrounding the Chesapeake Bay.

When the English arrived in Powhatan territory in the early 1600s, they came to the Nansemond River in search of resources. Several decades of violent conflict ensued with the Anglo-Powhatan Wars between 1610 and 1646. During this time, the English forced the Nansemond from their ancestral land into the region surrounding the Great Dismal Swamp and beyond.

Despite being pushed from their land, the Nansemond people preserved their identity. In 1985, the Nansemond Indian Tribe gained state recognition, and in 2013, the tribe came to an agreement with the City of Suffolk to have approximately 75 acres of riverfront land along the Nansemond River returned to the Nansemond people to reconstruct part of their ancestral territory. Finally, in 2018, the Nansemond people were federally recognized, with many members still living in Suffolk, Chesapeake, and surrounding cities.

Aerial view of riverfront property.

The Nansemond Indian Nation has reconstructed Mattanock, a town of their ancestors, along the banks of the Nansemond River.

Nansemond Indian Nation

This year, the Nansemond Indian Nation became a part of the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance—a coalition of nonprofits, community organizations, oyster growers, and others committed to adding 10 billion oysters in the Bay by 2025.

The Nansemond people have always had a respect for nature. “The environment is the foundation of our identity. Today, we are racially diverse, we are socially diverse, we are economically diverse—what unites us is our environment, our community, our culture, and our shared ancestry in this region,” said tribal representative Nikki Bass on a recent webinar on equity and environmental justice around the Bay. The Nansemond people also recently completed a fundraiser raising $3,000 from tribal family and friends to focus on Nansemond River restoration efforts.

By joining the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance, the Nansemond Indian Nation will help restore the oyster population of the Bay that has been decimated from decades of overharvesting, disease, and pollution. By growing oysters in the Nansemond River through our oyster gardening program, the Nansemond people will help bring back a thriving oyster population in the Bay—one that will help filter and clean the Bay’s waters and provide habitat for a variety of Bay critters.

Rebecca Long_90x110

Rebecca Long

Digital Engagement and Social Media Manager, CBF

rlong@cbf.org

Issues in this Post

Chesapeake Oyster Alliance   Community   Eastern Oysters  




DISCLAIMER

PLEASE READ OUR TERMS OF USE

The views and opinions expressed in the media, articles or comments on this site are those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by CBF and the inclusion of such information does not imply endorsement by CBF. CBF is not responsible for the contents of any linked Web, or any link contained in a linked Web site, or any changes or updates to such Web sites. The inclusion of any link or comment is provided only for information purposes. CBF reserves the right to edit or remove any comments and material posted to this website and to ban users from the site without notice. Partisan, pornographic or other inappropriate content, product or service promotion, foul language or bad behavior is expressly forbidden and will be removed.


The Bay Needs You

The 2018 State of the Bay Report makes it clear that the Bay needs our support now more than ever. Your donation helps the Chesapeake Bay Foundation maintain our momentum toward a restored Bay, rivers, and streams for today and generations to come.

Donate Today

Volunteer

Do you enjoy working with others to help clean the Chesapeake Bay? Do you have a few hours to spare? Whether growing oysters, planting trees, or helping in our offices, there are plenty of ways you can contribute.

Volunteer
x
This website uses cookies to tailor and enhance your online experience. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information, including details on how to disable cookies, please visit our Privacy Policy. Close