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Nansemond Indian Tribe awarded federal grant

The Nansemond Indian Tribe of Suffolk was one of several Virginia tribes awarded more than $1.4 million in federal grants by the Department of Housing and Urban Development this week.

According to a Thursday press release from the office of Virginia Congressman Donald McEachin (D-04), the Nansemond Tribe was awarded $171,502 for HUD’s Indian Housing Block Grant. The Chickahominy Indian Tribe and its eastern division, Monacan Indian Nation, Pamunkey, Rappahannock and Upper Mattaponi Tribes were also awarded IHBG funds.

These federal funds are allocated for housing activities on Indian reservations and areas. Eligible uses include housing development, services and assistance developed under the Indian Housing Program, per hud.gov.

“Our Native American brothers and sisters have struggled for a very long time and we want to ensure they have the resources to live, thrive and preserve their culture,” McEachin stated in the press release.

This is the first federal grant awarded to the Nansemond Indian Tribe since President Donald Trump signed a bill on Jan. 28 that granted federal recognition to the Nansemond and five other Virginia tribes.

For Nansemond Chief Lee Lockamy, it’s another sign of progress in the tribe’s partnership with HUD, which include plans to build a community center on the tribe’s 70 acres in Chuckatuck with federal assistance.

“We’re just getting into all of this,” Lockamy said in a phone interview Friday. “We have 10 different federal organizations beating on the door and wanting to meet at the same time. There’s a lot going on.”

The tribe met with City Manager Patrick Roberts and Chief of Staff Debbie George on Friday to talk about securing its rights to the land. An agreement signed in 2013 has a five-year clause that will allow the city to retake the land this August if it chooses, but the conversations are going well for the tribe, Lockamy said.

“We’re going to propose to sign another five-year extension so we can get more stuff done,” he said.

Sitting on the tribal land is Mattanock Town, an authentic village in development that already contains dwellings, walking trails and more. There are also other documented Nansemond sites along the river within 1/8 of a mile in both directions.

The tribe will hold its 30th annual powwow at Mattanock Town site this August for a weekend of festivities in cooperation with the city of Suffolk.

“We’re going to try to make it a really big powwow this year, and Suffolk is going to help us with that,” Lockamy said.

Longhouses that were damaged last winter are being repaired at Mattanock Town, and the lodge has been fashioned into a museum with various artifacts. The village and its walking trails are open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For volunteer opportunities and other information, visit nansemond.org.