Nansemond tribe continues celebration of heritage today

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 17, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Eight-year-old Lacey McCoy wore a blue-feathered headdress and a string of beads that bounced in rhythm with her walk.

A piece of white fur, tucked into the waist of her shorts, flapped as she moved.

Email newsletter signup

The Chesapeake girl, whose father is a full-blooded Cherokee, looked like an Indian maiden – at least, until you got to the lavender sneakers on her feet.

&uot;I need to get some moccasins,&uot; she said. &uot;And I want to learn to dance.&uot;

McCoy was one of thousands of Hampton Roads residents who spent Saturday at Chuckatuck’s Lone Star Lakes, the native stomping ground of the Nansemond Indian tribe. The tribe’s annual two-day powwow continues today, with the grand entry celebration beginning at 1 p.m.

The powwow features demonstrations of how the Nansemonds once lived, including tribal music and dances and survival skills. Other tribes are on hand, selling crafts, foods, beads and the like.

For the Nansemonds – as well as the other tribes who attend- the powwow is a way of sharing their history and future with both younger generations of Indians and the general public.

It’s also about celebrating the coming together of a nation of people, said Floyd Tate of Keysville, a part-Cherokee, part-Pumankey Indian.

Tate – whose Cherokee grandparents gave him the name, Kee-ah-ka, or &uot;Little Fox&uot;, when he was 12 – goes to as many powwows as he can.

&uot;I at least try to go to all of them in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and North Carolina.,&uot; said Tate, who doesn’t remember his father ever speaking much about his Indian heritage.

&uot;But I’ve lived it since I was 18 and on my own. I believe in the Native American way of life,&uot; he continued. &uot;It is a way of living that instills trust and believing in where your heart takes you.

Like Tate, Nansemond Indian Phyllis DeLong of Matoaca tries to take her children, Jimmy Jr., 7, and Rachel, 5, to several powwows a year.

&uot;This is a way to give back to Mother Earth that which she has given to us,&uot; DeLong said. &uot;And it’s a way of bringing the whole Indian family together.&uot;

Attendees also had the opportunity to sign a petition gaining support for the tribe’s efforts to establish a village where people can see how the Nansemonds lived centuries ago.