The Annual Indian Tax Tribute Ceremony

Check out this blog to learn about the annual Indian Tax Tribute Ceremony, a Thanksgiving tradition at the Executive Mansion for more than 300 years.

Each year members of several Native American tribes present gifts to the Governor of Virginia right before Thanksgiving. This annual tradition, observed for more than 300 years, is part of the Indian Tax Tribute Ceremony that dates back to the Treaty of the Middle Plantation in 1677. According to the original treaty terms, tribes like the Pamunkey, Nottoway, and the Appomattoc recognized the authority of the British colonial government by paying them with beaver skins in lieu of taxes. In return, the colony recognized the property, land use, and hunting rights of the tribes.

This coming Wednesday, November 23, the 339th Tax Tribute Ceremony will take place in front of the Governor’s Mansion. Chiefs from the Pamunkey and Mattaponi tribes will present gifts and perform ceremonial dances while wearing their traditional dress. The offerings typically consist of bird, deer, fish, and handcrafted items. The event is open to the public and family-friendly.

The following photographs from the Valentine’s Richmond Times-Dispatch Collection highlight some of the tributes made in the 1970s and 80s.

Mattaponi Indians present Virginia Governor Mills Godwin a gift of fish and quail on the steps of the Virginia State Capitol. One member holds a deerskin canvas with a peace pipe attached to it, which reads: Mattaponi Indian Reservation / 1658-1976 / Mills E. Godwin / Governor of Virginia / 1776-1976 /Presented by Chief Curf.
November 24, 1976
Richmond Times-Dispatch Collection

Virginia Governor Charles S. Robb shakes hands with Tecumsuh during the ceremony.
November 22, 1985
Wallace Huey Clark
Richmond Times-Dispatch Collection

Virginia Governor Gerald  Baliles presents framed photographs to Pamunkey Chief William Miles and Mattaponi Chief Webster Custalow.
November 22, 1988
Lindy Keast Rodman
Richmond Times-Dispatch Collection

Stephanie Trujillo
PR & Marketing Intern
The Valentine