Celebrate National Native American Day with the Patawomeck Tribe

Nov 24, 2021 | General, Recreational, Tourism

The Patawomeck Indians have lived in Stafford and King George since way before the English got here. They have a rich history and culture that is part of the fabric of our area. The three gentlemen pictured above are the first three chiefs since their reformation. The surnames of Newton, Finnall, Jett, Sullivan, Monteith so prevalent in Stafford and King George all have a connection to the tribe. The tribe survives to this day because of colonists marrying women from the tribe. It was a matriarchal society for heritage and succession. Did you know that Passapatanzy was once a Patawomeck village? Did you know that Pocahontas was married to Kocoum and tribal history states they had a daughter, Ka-Okee before she married John Rolfe?
It is the goal of the tribe to preserve the history of their ancestors for future generations. With that in mind, they are in the process of establishing a living museum at the new Tribal Center in Stafford County. You can check out their progress on their website. They are teaching the language, Native skills, like the eel basket pictured below, and telling the authentic story. For 15 years they had a mobile village that went many places to help educate the public, now that village will have a permanent home.

The history of the Native American tribes in this region had some very sad outcomes. While the Patawomeck tribe was one of the most supportive of the English, that courtesy was not returned. One of the most egregious indignities forced upon Native Americans in Virginia came with the 1924 Racial Integrity Act, not only did it strive to stop interracial marriages of any kind, but it did not even recognize Native Americans as existing. That law was repealed in 1964; the Chief credits the Loving v. Virginia (1967) case and Civil Rights Act of 1964 as spurs for the repeal.

I cannot begin to do justice to the history of the Patawomeck Indians. They are one of eleven state-recognized tribes and are working on their federal recognition. I do encourage you to check out one of their open house events.