Nansemond Indian Nation Regains Ancestral Land From Suffolk

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Supports Tribe’s Vision for Conservation & Education

The Suffolk City Council voted 7-1 Wednesday to transfer a 71-acre site to the Nansemond Indian Nation, ending a decades-long effort to regain what is considered the Tribe’s cultural heart. 

The site known as Mattanock Town never left the spirits of the Nansemond Indian Nation even after centuries of displacement that date back to the arrival of colonists in the 1600s, according to the Tribe. The Tribe’s name means "Fishing Point," which comes from the Coastal Algonquian language spoken by their ancestors, who lived in settlements along the Nansemond River for thousands of years.  

In 2018, after receiving federal recognition, the Tribe presented a renewed vision to Suffolk City Council to restore the land through conservation and education. The Nansemond Indian Nation has focused efforts to heal and deepen their physical connection to their ancestral riverfront land through a variety of projects including oyster gardening, community events, and tree plantings. 

Earlier this year, the first tree planting in Mattanock Town took place. On March 1, the Tribe, volunteers, and representatives from the Department of Forestry and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation planted dozens of native trees along the Nansemond River. This kicked off a multi-day project where a total of 450 native trees are expected to be planted.

For more information on the Nansemond Indian Nation and their vision for cultural revitalization through river stewardship, check out the Tribe’s story map, Indigenous Life On The Nansemond River.  The public is encouraged to visit the site in August for the Tribe’s annual Powwow. 

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Hampton Roads Director Christy Everett issued the following statement: 

“This is an incredibly exciting time for the Nansemond Indian Nation, an exceptional steward of Mattanock Town. We applaud the Suffolk City Council’s return of the native land of the Nansemond Indian Nation to the Tribe, a critical member of our community. The Tribe and so many partners have worked hard for years to restore the heavily damaged site, and we look forward to continue to work with the Tribe to make their conservation vision a reality.”

Nansemond Indian Nation Chief Keith Anderson issued the following statement: 

“The sacred land where our ancestors once thrived has finally returned back to us. We celebrate this day and look forward to continue conserving and deepening our physical and spiritual connection to the land.”


Vanessa Remmers

Virginia Communications & Media Relations Manager, CBF

[email protected]

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