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Youngkin hosts annual tribute ceremony for Pamunkey and Mattaponi tribes 

A deer is displaed before people as one speaks at a podium
The Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian tribes each presented a deer to Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin Wednesday as part of a centuries-old ceremony. (Photo: Scott Elmquist/VPM News)

Gov. Glenn Youngkin welcomed the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian Tribes to the Executive Mansion Wednesday for a ceremony. 

"Today looks a little different than what we had planned yesterday,” Youngkin said as he opened the annual day before Thanksgiving ceremony, in which the tribes deliver freshly killed game. In this case, it was two deer. 

Youngkin said the mass shooting in Cheasapeake is still being investigated and that there will be time for people to react.  

“But today, and in the next few days, is a time to support those that need us most,” the governor said. 

After a moment of prayer for the families affected by the shooting, he welcomed the Mattaponi and Pamunkey tribes, saying the ceremony is a time to honor the state’s relationships with the two tribes. 

“For 345 years, this treaty has been recognized, dating back to the earliest days of Virginia's history,” Youngkin said. “This is an important reminder of the enduring legacy that this relationship must play.” 

Each tribe gave personal gifts to the governor and his wife, Suzanne, then each presented a deer killed on their respective reservations.  

For Lois Custalow Morning Glory Carter of the Mattaponi Indian Tribe, the annual ceremony is an important ritual between two governments and a way to pay the state their taxes. She said it was an honor to be there and that the deer they presented to the governor was killed by her nephew in King William County on their reservation. 

“It's been a tradition for hundreds of years,” Carter said. “And our forefathers were the ones that started with a treaty back in 1646. We try to uphold the tribute each and every year.”  

After the gift giving, members of the Mattaponi Tribe held a traditional drum and dance in honor of the long-standing ceremony and for the victims of the mass shooting in Cheasapeake.  

Carter said her tribe is currently in their second year of trying to be recognized by the federal government. The Mattaponi are already recognized by the state. 

She also said it was great to see Native Americans in high places of the federal government. 

“It's wonderful that we have recognition up there at the top,” Carter said. “I think that will help us with getting out there to tell our story as far as Native Americans are concerned. It’s a great thing that we’re being recognized.” 

*In an earlier version of this story, we incorrectly identified Lois Custalow Morning Glory Carter as Gloria. We regret this error.

Ian M. Stewart is the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.