The Tribe resides close to the upper reaches of the Mattaponi River in present day King William County. Read more…
There is archeological evidence that an extensive Indian culture has existed in this region for thousands of years. Read more…
Virginia Voice would like to interview Chief Custalow as part of our new Discovering Virginia series, hosted by Lou Dean. Please visit our website and see other interviews we’ve done — http://www.virginiavoice.org/programcategory/discovering-virginia/
I would like to able to contact Chief Custalow about this. I can be reached by email or phone at Virginia Voice 804-266-2477.
I come from a family where my father was once in foster care along with his brothers and sisters. I have tried contacting and no reply. I have always been interested in finding out about my family’s heritage and tell my son. This means so much to me to know more about the upper mattaponi tribe. I still have family that lives on the same street as the upper mattaponi. We just do not know much of anything and I’ve been looking into it for years, please if you can, anything helps. I greatly appreciate any information
My great grandmother was Mattaponi but not sure which. Her name was Nellie McCray. She married a white man named Preston Grammer. Does anyone know anything about her or her family. Thanks….
Looking for beadwork patterns
I am doing a research essay on American-Indians’ reactions when their cultural images and symbols, or racists titles used to refer to American-Indians, are used by professional, collegiate or high school sports teams. I also would be interested in interviewing a member of the Upper Mattaponi Tribe. Can you direct me to any members of the Upper Mattaponi Tribe who may be willing to participate?
Beginning family history, and would like to know who to contact that can help me.
You’ll need to perform genealogy research. There are several such service available on the Internet.
Is your Spring Festival and Pow Wow this weekend?
Thank you, Faye Crenshaw
Yes. You’ll find the details on the pow-wow page.
Today, most Native nations seek to achieve federal recognition. When the U.S. recognizes a tribe, it affirms the tribe’s status as a sovereign nation and acknowledges the distinct powers that only that tribe has. Recognition validates who the nation is. It clarifies the nation’s identity, not within the nation but as the nation relates with those around it. The right to be recognized, to be accepted as oneself, is a vital need that every Native American nation needs and deserves.
Native nations have been exterminated, relocated and every conceivable means have been used to pressure them to abandon, deny, and hide their identity. This extended even to census records in which they were not even allowed to list “Indian” as race but had to be listed as malato, or white, or black. Many were listed as Portuguese, as though they originated in Portugal by some miracle. Therefore, if by no other means, the nation would cease to exist. Once record of them were obliterated, those same officials required the nations to prove their continued existence. For example, the Tolowa Nation, another northern California tribe, recently had its petition rejected after a 30-year effort because they didn’t have enough evidence that they existed as a “distinct community” from 1903 to 1930. By the early 1970s, about 10,000 Indians were leaving their reservations each year to live in cities. In all, over 100,000 Indians migrated into these urban centers.
This had several effects:
1) Decimating reservations of able, productive working men and women;
2) Compounding poverty and unemployment on reservations;
3) Luring young people away from traditional lifestyles and teachings;
4) Breaking the link between elder and younger generations so traditional roles and teachings would not passed on;
5) Acculturating younger Native people to mainstream society;
6) Encouraging assimilation into mainstream culture, including marriage outside the tribe;
7) Further diluting blood-quantum and tribal rights and membership.
The United States is dotted with “unrecognized tribes,” particularly along the Eastern Seaboard, the Southeast and the South. Rather than “unrecognized” tribes, implying that the BIA System is in some way legitimizing, perhaps these groups and individuals should be called “broken” tribes or “unseen tribes,” or, perhaps, “forgotten people.” Called by the “fake and wannabe” folks as “white Indians,” or “pink Indians,” or “frauds” and “fakes,” these federally unrecognized groups quietly living in small enclaves and sometimes quite expansive regions still hold to their traditions freely. Unrecognized tribes are no less indigenous than recognized ones, they practice their culture and try to hold onto whatever is left of their language and identity.
What a tragedy this is, this guilt, this burden that has been handed Native peoples. It is an intergenerational shame, a blaming-the-victim that continues back and forth today. How can any human being judge the horrors of the “Sophie’s Choice” asked of Native peoples two or more centuries ago, that resulted in this Diaspora and the fragmentation that the blood-quantum distinction brings?
The brutalities witnessed upon Native peoples for four centuries are indisputable. Countless stories of peaceful tribes massacred, men shot on sight, women raped and murdered, children killed or carried away, people hunted down with dogs, lynched, captured and sold into slavery. Even those who adopted European ways, having their lands seized, their rights taken away, herded like cattle and forced to march to a distant, barren land.
The choice? Being forced to choose life and reject your blood or accept your blood and risk death, suffering, and total, merciless inhumanity with no hope or future for you, your family, or your descendants. Survive by hiding or deception, or live and accept destruction. Being forced to choose for your children and your children’s children, to abandon their birthright, when to choose their birthright meant certain suffering for those you love?
Both – those “officially” Indian, and those not, on the reservation, and not – suffer from this intergenerational sorrow. Both face what the sociologists call anomie – loss of purpose, identity and meaning in life. Only the most cruel and inhumane would condemn their relations for either choice – loss of rights, or loss of birthright – forced upon their ancestors, and willingly carry it on to vilify those who strive to hold on to some shred of their ancient traditions, seeking to follow, practice and deepen them.
As I am sure you agree, recognition of Native American nations is extremely important to the nations.
Just as recognition is important to the nations, it is also just as important for individuals being recognized by the nations themselves.
Most of the indigenous peoples of the Americas (and all in Canada and the U.S.) faced a very serious reality. In their country, the invaders outnumbered the indigenous, sometimes by hundreds to one. They were not going to go back home. In addition, their stated goal was the eradication of the indigenous nations as nations by eroding all of the elements that make a distinct people a people: their history, their languages, their laws and customs. It took quite a while and a lot of boarding schools, missionaries, and corrupt public officials but the process – being colonized – has had an impact. When an individual loses his or her memory, they cannot recognize other people, they become seriously disoriented, and they don’t know right from wrong. Sometimes they hurt themselves. Something similar happens when a people become colonized. They can’t remember who they are because they are a people without a common history. It’s not that they don’t have a history, it’s just that they don’t know what it is and it’s not shared among them. Colonization is a kind of spiritual collapse of the nation. This is one result of a colonial education based on canonical “great books” texts. Indigenous peoples’ histories and cultures are not in those texts, and the life of the nation is not there, either. Identity is important. The colonists were very successful “radicalizing” indigenous identities such that people talk about being 25 percent of this or 40 percent of that, but one does not belong to a nation based on one’s blood quantum. Belonging to an indigenous nation is a way of being in the world.
I can trace my native ancestry through my father, back to 1700. Yet I cannot identify the tribes that they came from. I am attempting to discover those connections and become involved in whatever way possible with that community.
I am not seeking for monetary gain. I am not seeking to be “cliché”. I am seeking, as an individual, the same thing you are seeking as a tribe. No, I am not a “full-blooded” Indian who has lived on a reservation all my life. Yet few in this area are. As far as I know their names are not on any list, since their assimilation occurred before the lists that I have found were made. However, I have not found list for most of the tribes that I think they would have belonged to.
My ancestors did assimilate. And they survived. Do I wish they would have held to their identity? Yes, but it is not something I can change, and if truth be known, if any of us had been in their exact situation we do not know what we would have done.
In traditional ways, being Indian was never so much a matter of blood, but a way of belief and practice. And it has always been so, such as in the traditional belief and practice has always been: the making of a relative, to make bonds stronger and increase the circle of relations Those who say otherwise are only playing into the hands of those who would divide and conquer until extinction. It is spiritual power that matters, that endures, the one thing that unites Native America. The differences that have been strategically and successfully used in the past are against Native America today by the same forces that continue to do so with the BIA System.
I am making an honest effort to reconnect with my ancestry. I have been on this path for the past 15+ years. I am asking for you to help me in determining if they were from your nation so I can reconnect with my nation and learn from them. Below are the details.
The family oral history says that the Driggers were Indian and the historical records are mixed, with some places having them listed as white, some places as black, some places as malato and some places as Portuguese. However, repeatedly they are found in associate geographically and physically with Indian nations.
Johnson2 Driggers, born say 1716, was taxable in 1732 in Norfolk County, Virginia [Wingo, Norfolk County Tithables 1730-50, 55]. He was listed in the 8 March 1754 muster roll of Captain Casson Brinson’s Craven County, North Carolina Company [Clark, Colonial Soldiers of the South, 701]. On 21 December 1760 he was called “Johnson Driggers, free negro, son of Johnston Driggers” in the deed by which he bought 75 acres in Craven County on the east side of the head of Lower Broad Creek. In 1764 he was taxed in Beaufort County on himself and his wife.
He was living near the Bay River when he sold 60 acres of his Lower Broad Creek land on 31 August 1793 [DB 32:301]. Since he was not living there when he sold it, he may have been the subscriber who placed the following ad in the 10 April 1778 edition of the North Carolina Gazette of New Bern:
Broad Creek on Neuse River, April 9. On Saturday night, April the 4th, broke into the house of the subscriber at the head of Green’s Creek, where I had some small property under the care of Ann Driggus, a free negro woman, two men in disguise, with marks on their faces, and clubs in their hands, beat and wounded her terribly and carried away four of her children, three girls and a boy, the biggest of said girls got off in the dark and made her escape, one of the girls name is Becca, and other Charita, the boy is named Shadrack … [Fouts, NC Gazette of New Bern, I:65-66].
He was head of a Craven County household of 4 “other free” in 1790 [NC:134]. On 20 January 1800 he and (his son-in-law?) Joshua Lindsey sold his 40 acres on the south side of Bay River [DB 34:361], and he moved to Beaufort County where he was head of a household of 10 “other free” in 1800, called “Johnston Griggers Senr” [NC:8]. On 28 November 1801 he and his wife Mary sold 80 acres in Beaufort County on the north side of Bay River [DB 2-3:209].
Johnson1 Driggers, born say 1686, appeared in Northampton County, Virginia court on 8 November 1702 when he, his brother John, and Samuel George were convicted of stealing a hog and then abusing and threatening several whites “in an insolent manner” [Orders 1698-1710, 102, 106]. He probably left the county shortly afterwards as he was not listed as a taxable in the 1720-29 Northampton County lists. He purchased 40 acres in Norfolk County on the north side of the Northwest River known by the name of Horse Pool Point on 15 May 1718 [DB 10:18a, 34]. He was taxable in the Norfolk County district between Great Bridge and Sugg’s Mill, called Johnson Drigus, Senr., and in the same district in 1731 with his son Johnson, taxed together as one tithe
His son was Mark Driggers
Mark Driggers, born say 1723, received a grant for 100 acres in Craven County, North Carolina, joining a branch of Gum Swamp and Jumping Run on 11 October 1749 [Hoffman, Land Patents, II:256] and sold this land on 18 December 1760 [DB 2:126]. He moved to South Carolina where he was a landowner on the Little Pee Dee River [Brown, The South Carolina Regulators, 29]. He was counted as white in 1790, head of a Cheraw District household of one male over 16, one under 16, and one female [SC:49] and counted as white in Marlboro County in 1800, born before 1755, head of a household of 7 persons [SC:59]. He may have been the father of
i. Ephraim, born before 1755, a “Molato” taxable in Bladen County in 1776 [Byrd, Bladen County Tax Lists, I:64, 77], head of a Liberty County, South Carolina household of 14 whites in 1800 [SC:798].
ii. ii. Matthew2, counted as white in 1790, head of a Cheraw District household of one male over 16 and 4 females [SC:49] and head of a Marlboro County, South Carolina household of 12 “other free” in 1800 [SC:59].
iii. iii. Naomi, head of a Marlboro County household of 9 “other free” in 1800 [SC:59]. Administration on her estate was granted to Gilbert Sweat on 3 May 1815 in Marlboro County court on $250 bond, Benjamin and Solomon Sweat bondsmen [Minutes of the Court of Ordinary, 123].
iv. iv. Thomas5, taxable on one “Mullators & free Negroes & other slaves” in Prince Frederick Parish, South Carolina, in 1784 [S.C. Tax Returns 1783-1800, frame 45], counted as white in 1790, head of a Cheraw District household of 2 males over 16, 4 under 16, and 5 females [SC:49] and head of a Marlboro County household of 8 “other free” in 1800 [SC:59].
v. v. John2, head of a Marlboro County household of 7 “other free” in 1800 [SC:59].
Mark Driggers, [Drighous, Drigus], born 1723: was a cousin of Winslow Driggers.
Winslow2, born say 1739, number 12 in the Muster Roll of Captain Alexander McKintosh’s Company of Colonel George Gabriel Powell’s Battalion of South Carolina Militia “Serving in the Late Expedition Against the Cherokees from October 11, 1759 to January 15, 1760, inclusive …” [Clark, Colonial Soldiers of the South, 892]. He was a notorious leader of one of the outlaw, back-country communities which were said to be composed of both white and mixed-race men. In the Fall of the year 1770 he escaped from jail in Savannah, Georgia, and returned to the area of the Little Peedee River in North and South Carolina where he continued his outlaw career. He was described as: about six Feet; Complexion, black; Visage, pale; Hair, black and long, generally cued. The following year a band of ex-Regulators captured him at his hideout near Drowning Creek and used the provisions of the Negro Act as an excuse to hang him on the spot [Brown, South Carolina Regulators, 29-31, 103; Saunders, Colonial Records of North Carolina, IX:725, 771].
William Hodges of Marion Co. SC – possibly this William. Saunders, Colonial Records of NC vol. 9, p. 725: “Gentlemen of His Majestys Honorable Council, This House have resolved that Joseph Hughes be allowed the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds proc money for pursuing, apprehending, money expended, and conveying under Guard to Hillsborough nine robbers, for pursuing Winslow Driggers, James Johnston and William Hodges who robbed the wagon of the said Hughes of goods to the amount of four hundred and thirty six pounds and for apprehending and conveying Winslow Driggers under Guard to the Cheraws in the year 1771. That the public Treasurers or either of them pay the same and be allowed in their accounts with the public, and desire your Honours concurrence thereto. John Harvey Speaker In the Assembly 18th December 1773 By order. James Green Junr Clk. note: Winslow Driggers was from the Little Peedee River area; he was hanged.”
Ephriam’s son was Moses Isaac Driggers, 1790-1860, Marion SC.
In 1828, Moses Driggers, living in Marion, SC married an Indian woman named Elizabeth “Scatchwah” Rodgers, daughter of Grey Wolf Rodgers. Daniel himself was listed as white on census, though others in his family were listed a malato.
There were several Native American nations in that area at the time. I do not know which Scatchwah and Grey Wolf belonged to. I have just her name in the genealogy and her tombstone.
However, Scatchwah and Daniel soon moved to the Sumter area and the family was not listed on any role that I can locate.
I have attached a more thorough genealogical table, if you would look at it.
I do not know if these names, or surnames appear among your people. I am not asking to see the roles. I am just asking if these were part of your nation, or if you know which nation they belonged.
I am unable to change the fact that my family stepped away from the Native traditions and Nation from which they came. However, for the past 35 years I have sought to learn as much about my heritage as I could find, learning from Catawba, Lumbee, Tuscarora and Cherokee acquaintances, attending and dancing in powwows, and studying anything that I can find. I am not a wannabe that just wants to be “chiche” by saying that my great great grandmother was a Cherokee princess or something. I know who I am and I’m determined to be who I am whether I can connect and give back to my people or not. I’ve known all my life, though I could not prove the ancestry until the ‘90s. However, there is still a longing in my heart to find MY people and reconnect with them; to belong.
I would really appreciate a response. If you are not the right person to respond to this, please forward it to the appropriate person or let me know the email address I should use.
Hi! Janet Booker. I read your message and if you could email me I need help.
@Note from administrator: We do not display email addresses in comments to prevent spam. Janet, if you’re interested in contacting this commenter, please respond here and I’ll make sure the two of you get connected.
Hello, I have an ebook coming out in a few weeks. It’s a fantasy, young adult, paranormal romance. In my prologue I briefly reference the Mattaponi Indians and wanted to know if someone can read it. I went off news articles and things I’ve read from the internet, and well, that’s not always true. I want to represent the tribe in the correct manner.
I’d suggest you contact the Mattaponi Indian Tribe to see if they can refer you to someone who might be able to answer your questions. You might also be intterested in reading The True Story of Pocahontas: The Other Side of History.
P.S. This site is for the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe. While they two tribes live is close proximity, they are not the same tribe.
I am trying to find out more about my land on the Mattaponi river in King William. It was said to have been a summer fishing ground for the tribe. Does anyone have any knowledge of this? It am located in Aylett/ Beaulahville, about 7 miles west on rt.628 Dorrell rd. Thanks, Matt
Found your site while trying to locate a friend; so happy to have located it. As a child, I used to visit the reservation, along with my family, this was in the mid ’40’s to early ’50’s. At the time the Chief was Chief O.T. Custalow. Some of my fondest childhood memories were spending my summers on the reservation. Chief Custalow’s youngest daughter was Marie, who died a tragic death around 1955-56. My last visit to the reservation was about 8 yrs. ago. I have many newspaper articles of the tribe. The son’s and daughter of Chief Custalow attended my Mother’s funeral in 1990. Would love to hear from any of the family. I am also outraged over the fact that the Upper Mattaponi and the other Virginia tribes petitioning for Federal recognition, have not been granted this status. I will contact Jim Webb, Mark Warner and Tom Coburn to express outrage .
Charlotte (Catlett) Gerlach
I am so happy to find your website. My family roots are in the Mattaponi tribe. The women specifically. I am hoping you have any information on them or any of their relatives that I may be related to today. They are Emma Almond, mother of Mary Ann (Molly) Stroup Horath of the Pocahontis tribe. Molly married Conrad (Coon) Horath. I have a picture of Molly. Any information you may have would be very helpful. I’d really like to meet any relatives. Thank you!
I think you might be confusing the Upper Mattaponi with the Mattaponi. While they are very close friends and often related by marriage, they are not the same tribe. All of the Almonds I know were from the Mattaponi: Virginia Indian Affairs
I was at the Womans Club in Richmond, Virginia, when Chief Kenneth Adams spoke. I was moved by what he said, to contact Eric Cantor, Jim Webb, Mark Warner and Tom Coburn to express outrage over the fact that the Upper Mattaponi and the other Virginia tribes petitioning for Federal recognition, have not been granted this status.
I have ancestors that were Adams and believe I may be part of the Upper Mattaponi or Pamunkey tribe. How do I find out about becoming a tribal member of these tribes?
Preparing an updated edition of our 2003 book NATIVE AMERICAN FLAGS. Still available on amazon.com
Do the Mattaponi have a flag? If so, what is it’s history and symbolism and how may we obtain a high-definition image of it?
If not, my company has grants available for designing a first tribal flag — if interested please call 860-354-0686
President TME Co., Inc.
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