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Indian Tribes Pay Tribute Taxes to Governor Baliles, Photograph, 1989


The annual payment of tribute by Virginia's Indians attests to their continuing presence. In 1646 Necotowance, “the King of the Indians” as the English styled him, signed a treaty to end the third major Anglo-Indian War. Annual payment of tribute to the colonial governor—20 beaver skins “att the goeing away of Geese”—made clear his submission to the English Crown and made contact between the two groups less spontaneous and more ritualized. Thirty-one years later Cockacoeske, the weroansqua, or chief, of the Pamunkey, signed the Treaty of Middle Plantation, which recognized the authority of the colonial government, but also acknowledged property, land use, and hunting rights of the Indians.

More than 300 years later, those treaties continue to shape and govern the relationship between the Commonwealth and the eight state-recognized Indian tribes—the Mattaponi, the Pamunkey, the Monacans, the Nansemond, the Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Eastern Chickahominy, and the Rappahannock. The Mattaponi and Pamunkey, representing the original treaty signers, also continue to pay tribute to the Commonwealth's government.

This photograph from December 4, 1989, shows Governor Gerald L. Baliles accepting a tribute of wild turkey from Herman A. Dennis (left) and Tecumseh Deerfoot Cook (right) of the Pamunkey Indian tribe in a ceremony on the steps of the Virginia Executive Mansion in Richmond. On Thanksgiving that year, Baliles hosted the chiefs of Virginia's eight state-recognized tribes at a dinner at the Executive Mansion.

Citation: Indian Tribes Pay Tribute Taxes to Governor Baliles, 1989, Prints and Photographs, Special Collections, Library of Virginia.


VS.I, VS.9, USII.1, USII.8, USII.9, VUS.1, VUS.15

Suggested Questions

Social Media Spin: If Facebook and Twitter had been around in 1989, what hashtags and posts would you have created to explain this event?

Up for Debate: Do you think this tradition is a positive concept, or does it reinforce negative historical facts from early treatment of Virginia's Indians?


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