What’s the hold-up for the Indians?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 21, 2002

Nobody has reported it, but I’ve learned what the hold-up is on the Nansemond tribe’s proposed authentic 17th-century Indian village in Chuckatuck.

According to my sources, it’s not, as has been reported, that the city wants to build a marina at that site.

That’s merely a ruse, and when you think about it, it’s obvious.

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After putting hundreds of thousands of dollars to its incipient tourism attraction effort, why would the city try to put the kibosh on such a potentially lucrative tourist draw as Mattanock Town just to build a marina? There are miles upon miles of shoreline in Suffolk and a stupid marina could be put anywhere.

No, my source tells me the opposition runs much deeper than that and centers on the Unified Development Ordinance.

The Nansemonds, it seems, are unwilling to comply with stipulations regarding the number of windows in teepees.

Not only that, but the UDO calls for interconnecting game trails, not ones that simply come to an end at the banks of the river.

&uot;You’ll have Indians chasing deer down these trails running head on into others who are carrying their kill back,&uot; assistant city manager Steve Herbert said. &uot;There’s hardly room for two people to pass on these things. It’ll be chaos.&uot;

In their plans, the Nansemonds have also failed to set aside any land for commercial development such as a trading post.

But the biggest stumbling block is the tribe’s insistence that all pathways into the village end in cul-de-sacs.

Seventeenth-century Nansemonds were insistent that their teepees sit on these huge lots on cul-de-sacs.

That’s true. You can look it up.

&uot;Our forefathers were stripped of their cul-de-sacs by the white devils,&uot; Nansemond Chief Barry Bass told the News-Herald. &uot;On this point we do not bend.&uot;

The city has said it will allow Mattanock Town to be built only if the Nansemonds will rework their plans, erecting 30 teepees per acre with adequate green space in the center and proffer land back to the city for a library and public safety building.

&uot;If we allow this thing to be built as presented, we’ll have Indian tribes flocking to Suffolk from Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach building similar authentic replicas of villages, putting tremendous stress on our schools, services and buffalo herd,&uot; Herbert said. &uot;Page 63 of the UDO speaks specifically to the issue of Indian sprawl. Seventy-five teepees a year, that’s it. We can’t set that precedent.&uot;

Anyway, it appears the joint task force established by City Council on this issue will have a tough time hammering out a peace treaty. Personally, in the interest of righting past wrongs, I think the city should let the Nansemonds build their town where and how they see fit. It’s a small plot of land and would be a grand gesture.

After all, if it turns out later on that we desperately need the land, we can always drive them off it and send them back where they came from.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald.