Our Present

Many Upper Mattaponi people live in King William County. The Tribe has strong ties to Christianity and their community is centered around The Indian View Baptist Church, built in 1942.

Next door to the church is the Sharon Indian School. Originally built in the early 1900’s, it was replaced with a more modern structure in the 1950’s. As the only public Indian school building in the state of Virginia, it now serves as the Tribal Center.

The Tribe sponsors an annual Spring Festival and Pow-Wow to promote the culture and history of Indian people.

Today the Upper Mattaponi own 32 acres of land and are a proud and humble people of strong character and values, with much optimism and hope for the future. The tribe was officially recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia on March 25, 1983, but continues to struggle for Federal acknowledgement:

  • S.2694 Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2002, introduced to the 107th Congress on June 27, 2002.
  • S.1423 Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2003, introduced to the 108th Congress on July 17, 2003.
  • S.480 Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2005, introduced to the 109th Congress on March 1, 2005.

Chief Kenneth Adams was the first Indian to graduate from King William High School in 1965. He has served in the U.S. military and fought in Viet Nam in 1967. Today, he is an active spokesperson for the Tribe and instrumental in their efforts to achieve Federal recognition as evidenced by his testimony at the S.2694 hearing on October 9, 2002.

Nearby Reservations

The Mattaponi Indian Reservation sits on the banks of the Mattaponi River, one of the most pristine rivers in the Eastern United States. Facilities on the reservation include living quarters, a small church, a museum, the Fish Hatchery and Marine Science Center and a Tribal building that was formerly the Reservation school.

The Pamunkey Indian Reservation is situated on the Pamunkey river adjacent to King William County Virginia and contains approximately 1,200 acres of land — including 500 acres of wetlands with numerous creeks. Thirty-four families reside on the reservation and many Tribal members live in nearby Richmond, Newport News, other parts of the States and all over the United States. Today, the Pamunkey Indians are deeply involved in preserving their surviving culture and natural resources. Much of the surviving Pamunkey culture is indebted to a subsistence lifestyle centered around pottery making, fishing, hunting and trapping. Now as the old ways are passing, the Pamunkey Indians are still looking to their natural resources as a way to make a living. The reservation is the home of the Pamunkey Indian Baptist Church; built in 1866, it is the oldest Indian Church in the state of Virginia.


  1. Julia Beaty
    Posted December 5, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m trying to figure out if any members of the Upper Mattaponi Tribe ever harvested river herring. I am working with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service on a phone survey of people who have harvested river herring. I am surveying people throughout the east coast who fished commercially, recreationally, and for personal use. I want to be sure to capture the Tribal perspective as part of this survey. The survey questions are mostly about things observed while fishing (like run timing, abundance, etc.). The goal of the survey is to get a better idea of what’s happening out on the water, how river herring populations are doing currently, how they have changed through time, and what threats they face. We want to use the results of this survey to help us in our efforts to restore river herring throughout their range.
    The link below explains more about the survey and explains how to get involved. If you have ever fished for river herring, I would love to talk with you! And if anyone has any advice for other ways to reach out to Upper Mattaponi fishermen and women, please let me know!

    • bbell
      Posted December 5, 2014 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      You might want to also see if you can contact someone from the Pamunkey. They are avid fishermen and have been operating a shad hatchery for quite a few years.

  2. Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    does any one know what language this is; Ogema web-mei-mei hoetuwa nquid. it was written on the back of my grandmothers picture.

  3. David Benner
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    My family can be traced back to Rebecca Rolfe and her father, Powhatan. After the American Revolution the our family line left Virginia and moved West. In the mid-1960’s we returned to the Commonwealth of Virginia where will stay. I am a retired firefighter living in the Shenandoah Valley. What is required to be recognized as a descendant and maybe even a member of the Matiponi?

  4. Kim Taylor
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    It’s difficult to trace your roots here in Virginia due to the wars inwhich documents were destroyed and the laws and ofcourse Walter Plecker. The Pamunkey tribal enrollment is closed for now and there are certain criteria that needs to be met which I don’t think most meet. The Pamunkey at this time don’t have the resources to hire someone for any position. Once we get federal recognition maybe we will.

    • shirley boyd
      Posted July 31, 2014 at 4:50 am | Permalink

      I too have traced my family tree to the Mattaponi tribe do you want me to send you the list.I want to help you all any way I can.I want to help your Church too.I live a long way in Texas.I come through my grandmother lida moore.please let me know if i can help in any way.You have my love and Prayers

  5. Michael Tervail
    Posted November 6, 2013 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    Yea that is her. She moved to the Philadelphia area in the late 30’s or early 40’s. My father was born in 1944 and given to a couple she knew. We were told just a few years ago that she had married Mr. Fong around 1945 or 46. I would love to know more about her. Thank you

  6. Posted August 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink


  7. Michael Tervail
    Posted August 4, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Looking for information on my grandmother. She was born in this area and was Native American. Her name was Nancy E. Adams and she was born in 1919. Any help would be great. Thank you

    • Alisha H.
      Posted October 14, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Permalink


      My grandmother was Nancy E. Adams. She married my grandfather, Kee Fong, but was originally from Kill William area. She was born Sept 30, 1919.


  8. Amy Russell Watson
    Posted November 8, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    I am a graduate of King William High School, and am currently working for the United States Marine Corps as a Family Readiness Officer for a unit at Marine Corps Base Quantico. As we celebrate Native American Heritage month, our base Sergeant Major mentioned in a meeting, yesterday, that she would have liked to have some Native American cultural event (they had dancers for Hispanic heritage month), but that no one had any Native American contacts who were close enough to come to Quantico.

    I grew up in King William County, and my mother was a schoolteacher in the area for many years. I remember well my friends from elementary and high school who were proud of their heritage and members of the local tribes. I was stunned to realize that many of our Marines did not have any idea that there were tribes in Virginia and the history of those people. For me, it was such a familiar part of my life.

    At any rate, I wondered if I might have some points of contact I could share with our leadership, so that they could make contact and truly honor the local heritage. I offered to see what I could do to make this happen, and the Sergeant Major was very interested.

    Respectfully yours,

    Amy R. Watson
    Marine Corps Embassy Security Group
    Family Readiness Officer
    <email address hidden – available to authorized responders upon request>
    Office: 703-784-4907

  9. Posted October 18, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    are you going to allow people to visit your 32 acres any time soon?

  10. Jennifer McLaughlin
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Good Morning, I was wondering if the reservation is open for visitors during certain times. I have just started learning about your amazing history, quite by accident. I live in Virginia and am sure I could learn something from a visit to your community. I can not imagine what it feels like to have that history in my family as most of mine is scattered.


    Jen McLaughlin

  11. Michael Wright
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I am also a descendant of the Pamunkey and of the Chowanoke which are located in North Carolina. Two sides of my mother’s ancestors trace back to Powhatan (one through Trader Hughes and the other through John Rolfe) and one of my father’s traces back to Chief Japasaw (I believe Chief Powhatan’s brother who split and formed the Patawomeck Tribe). My Chowanoke lineage traces through my mother again to their Chief’s daughter Tabitha Hoyter. I constantly struggle with finding a “home” amongst the tribes. Enrollment with documented ancestry should not be as difficult as it is made. I fear that through attempts to purify a tribe, many eligible individuals capable of contributing more than just a name are being shut out. I fight for the rights of Natives in the college setting; however, being turned away from my own people soon becomes so disheartening that full assimilation offers the better option.

    • Kelly Chappelle
      Posted October 19, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      I find this difficult as well, I’m confused, which tribe I should be affilliated with, if any, when I have roots in many different directions. I am related to Hughes, McDaniels, Wooten, Venable, Lewis, Davis, Adams, Wood, Lee, Anderson, Manning,Williams, and Hoppers to name a few. I thought I might find some info. here, please let me know which direction to jump, as I have all my descendency records and proof put can’t figure out where to go from here. I think the Upper Mattaponi are one or two of my directions.

    • Linda Lanham Summitt
      Posted December 6, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      I agree it is extreemily diffiicult being turned away or shut out from our own people when some of us are not lookong for recognition as members but simply wanting to share the teachings that our grand parents and parents tried to share with us and help keep those teachings alive in our children. As the world becomes more crowded and rushedit is very difficult for our young people to learn the old ways and the old stories are NOT taughtin schools. Even if we and our families keep our small lands and try to teach our young people they need to be around some elders to here the old stories that we cannot remember as well and to experience our ways of society.

  12. Posted June 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    my mother is Princess Irene Custalow. Her uncle Curtis Custalow was chief at one point. Her mother was Hylar Custalow and her father was Enoch Custalow if I remember correctly. My understanding is since my mother married a white man I am not entitled to anything related to her indian heritage. I am attempting to send my son to college at Longwood University in Farmville, VA and am desperatley searching for money or financing to help. I have given up a long time ago on the state or federal governemnt helping in any way. Blacks have special programs at every turn but it seems we are forever to be kicked to the curb. I wish that just once the “world” would acknowdlege how the country has treated US, the “first americans”

  13. Charles Dyer
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    My distant great, great, great, great, etc, grandfather once operated a tavern near there from 1737 to 1755. Was wondering if there were any local recollections of his time in that area.

  14. Bill Reisfeld
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Dear Chief Kenneth Adams,

    I was wondering if your nation has a Home Delivered Meal Program for your seniors that receives funding from the Federal Government under Section VI C of the Older American Act. The reason I am asking is my company works very closely with non profit meal programs through out the country. I look forward to hearing back from you.

    Bill Reisfeld

  15. D Emerson
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Sir or Madame,
    As a Virginian and a history buff, I’d like to thank you for the website. Maintaining it is probably tough. My query is about First Nations craftsmen -women. Is there a registry, website or organization that maintains a list of craftsmen -women, of Virginia tribal descent? Although many websites purport to be “Native-American”, and I suppose many are, it is very difficult to find any who are descended from the clans and tribes of Virginia, or ply their crafts here in the Commonwealth. Specifically, I seek a leathercrafter to create a custom pair of mocs in the tradition style of the Virginia tribes. Any help, guidance, or suggestions is greatly appreciated. Even the Virginia Council on Indians doesn’t produce one. I should think that they, of any state organization, would compile that list as a way to promote and advance recognition of the First Nations tribes. Thank you. I look forward to your powwow if held.

  16. Linda Lanham Summitt
    Posted January 3, 2012 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    I would like to here the story about what happened with Mattachanna and Uttamattamakins after their return. I went to Europe and visited my husbands family after being married a year ( I did not speek the language at all). I know that this can be quite a life changing experience. I think that the stories of Mattachanna and Uttamatamakins and others that went to Europe and returned and how they reacted and how their descendant may have been raised differently would tell a great deal about the experiences that they had and their outlook about the coming of the Europeans. This always seems to be overshadowed by the story of Pochantas. Is there a way to get the true histories of these historic people and their desendants?

  17. bbell
    Posted May 22, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Hi Melani.

    Thanks so much for your interest in Pocahontas and the Upper Mattaponi.

    While i’m not a spokesperson for the tribe in any capacity, I can tell you that some of us were pleasantly amused when a maternal relative was chosen as the model for Disney’s version of Pocahontas. Although Disney’s portrayal of my curvaceous blue-eyed cousin as a young woman was relatively authentic, I think your research will lead you to a significantly different truth. My Pocahontas was a tom-boyish adolescent during the era I believe you’re most interested in.

    Contrary to what Hollywood would have us believe, most Native American women were and still are strong-willed, independent individuals (if you don’t believe me, just ask my husband) — and I’m confident that Pocahontas was no exception. I think you would be correct in assuming that she led a difficult life, but I’m sure she was quite the hand-full for Mr. Rolfe.

    I think your best source of information would be Helen Roundtree. She’s a highly regarded anthropologist and native american historian who has been researching the history of the Virginia tribes for quite a few years now. She’s written some wonderful books which will give you what I believe is an accurate portrayal of our history, current culture and how my ancestors’ lives were changed by the events that took place in Jamestown. Pocahontas, Powhatan, Opechancanough is one of my personal favorites.

    I don’t have her direct contact information, but you may be able to track her down through Old Dominion University where she is a Professor of Anthropology.

    • Thomas Jamerson
      Posted May 26, 2012 at 3:27 am | Permalink

      Hi im Thomas and im going to speak for my family……..we are of direct linage to the rolfe’s i am also interested to see if we are related in anyway. We know that they had a kid together but we are not sure if we are from one of rolfe’s other wives or from him and pocahontas child as we know she had one but are unsure what happened to him after she died .

      the side of my family that is directly related is my mothers side and her father mother’s maiden name was smith i believe im almost positive that is what it was do yall by chance have any info on this?

      • Thomas Jamerson
        Posted May 26, 2012 at 3:32 am | Permalink

        Hi im Thomas and im going to speak for my family……..we are of direct linage to the rolfe’s. I am also interested to see if we are related in anyway. We know that they had a kid together but we are not sure if we are from one of rolfe’s other wives or from him and pocahontas child. We know she had one but are unsure what happened to him after she died .

        The side of my family that is directly related is my mothers side and her father mother’s maiden name was smith i believe im almost positive that is. Do yall by chance have any info on this?

  18. Melanie
    Posted May 21, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    I am interested in the Mattaponi view on history of Pocahontas. What resources would you have most faith in? I am a member of the Houma Nation of the Louisiana recognized tribes. I have worked with native youth for many years. I am considering a project undertaking different famous indians. I am particularly interested in Pocahontas as children of all cultures and ages celebrate her additionally due to Disney. I recognize the likelihood that since she was abducted she was likely abused. However along with truth I would like to emphasis her representation of the joining of two nations and her desire for peace if possible. Any direction to what the Mattaponi view is on the best resources would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Melanie

  19. doug parslow
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    We are visting Williamsburg 29th May from England and want to come to the

    Pow Wow – do you have directions to the event


  20. Miljenko
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:13 am | Permalink


    I am interested in history, culture and languages of Southeast indian tribes.
    I am for preservation of native customs and languages.
    My proposal is that Native languages in Oklahoma should be made official, beside english.
    We here, in Europe are preserving our languages, even minority ones.
    I think that You should preserve Your languages through teaching languages in school, newspapers on native languages, radio and TV shows on native languages…etc.
    It would made revival of native languages.
    Also, I am for affirmative policy towards Indians.
    Today, what we need is affirmative action for Native americans.
    Native americans should have free of charge healthcare and better oportunities for finding a job.
    Also, government of particular state should encourage Indians to born more children, so they could become plurality in that state. That means that Natives in Oklahoma should become the largest ancestry group, not majority, but largest ancestry group.
    When they become that, that policy would be abolished.
    What is Your opinion?


  21. Roger Dickinson
    Posted December 21, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Good Morning, I have a framed copy of Chief Seattle’s Speech of 1855 that was published in the Seattle Sunday Star on October 29, 1887. The frame is 2′ widex 3′ tall. I will donate if school can use. 3701295

One Trackback

  1. By Thanksgiving, a Tradition for Virginia Tribes on November 22, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    [...] with a tradition dating back to the 1600s.   Each Thanksgiving  tribal members from the Mattaponi and Pamunkey  journey to the Executive Mansion in Richmond, Virginia – home of the [...]

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