Monacan Indian Nation celebrates tribe history and recent economic development
AMHERST COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - November is Native American heritage month, and the tribe with the most members in Virginia has a rich history in Amherst County. WDBJ7′s Brittany Morgan sat down with tribe leaders to find out more about their values and traditions.
November is Native American heritage month, and the tribe with the most members in Virginia has a rich history in Amherst County.
“We are the largest tribe in Virginia,” says Kenneth Branham, Chief of the Monacan Indian Nation. “We have a little over 2,600 people, and we are the largest of the ten tribes that are state and federally recognized in the state of Virginia Today.”
A people recognized by the state in in 1989 with a history that dates back thousands of years.
By the time the colonists came, the Monacan Tribe was prevalent in the Piedmont region.
“Most of us are very family oriented,” continues Chief Branham. “The ones here in Amherst, we have a small church here on Kenmore Road. That church is the center of our existence.”
Chief Branham says that church was fundamental to keeping the tribe’s presence in the county.
This year, the has made multiple land purchases where they intend to build multiple facilities to improve the quality of life of their people.
“God has been good to us,” notes Herbert Hicks, overseer of economic development. “We are going to try to make the best of the land. We’re going to try to be good neighbors with people. Eventually some of the things that we put on that property, we will share with the outside community.”
“We try to blend in and work with these people because this is where we live, this is our home,” adds the Chief. “We’ve been here for thousands of years, and we have no intention of leaving. I always joke and say when the last person leaves Amherst County, it’ll be a Monacan and we’ll cut the lights out.”
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