Nansemonds thank supporters

Published 7:52 pm Monday, January 10, 2011

The Nansemond Indian Tribe held a reception Sunday to thank supporters of its quest to receive part of its ancestral land back to build a tourist attraction called Mattanock Town. From left, Chief Barry Bass, Assistant Chief Earl Bass and Mattanock Town project facilitator Dot Dalton present friendship feathers to former City Councilman Joe Barlow and current Councilman Robert Barclay.

The Nansemond Indian Tribe welcomed dozens of supporters to its ancestral land for a “thank-you” reception on Sunday.

The invited guests crammed into Lone Star Lakes Lodge for food and fellowship with members of the tribe and other supporters. The tribal association recently won its 10-year quest to get the city to transfer part of its ancestral land back to the tribe.

“I had so many people that I had to thank,” said Chief Barry Bass. “They’ve stuck with me about 10 years.”

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The tribe plans to use the land to create an authentic replica of an American Indian village, called Mattanock Town, with displays and attractions, nature trails, a museum and gift shop, a tribal center, powwow grounds and reburial grounds. The tribe envisions the village as an educational resource and tourist attraction.

Outside the lodge, small wooden stakes with orange flags stand at intervals around the property, indicating that surveying work already has begun. Assistant Chief Earl Bass said he anticipates a deed-signing ceremony within the next few months.

“We’ll have the deed-signing, and that will kick it up a notch,” he said.

During short speeches, the tribe honored special supporters who are working on the project, and presented friendship feathers to City Councilman Robert Barclay and former councilman Joe Barlow, who recently retired and was on council when it voted to transfer the land. Barlow represented the Chuckatuck borough, where the plot of land is located.

“I wanted to support this group in their effort to bring a great new attraction to the city of Suffolk,” Barclay said. “It’s going to be important culturally, historically, and it will be a great complement to Williamsburg and Jamestown.”

Attendees included some faculty from Regent University, where the law and business schools are working on the project. Dr. Douglas Cook, a professor of law and associate dean for academic affairs, is working on the project because of his specialty in land tax-exemption for nonprofit organizations.

“I was able to answer some questions for [the tribe],” Cook said at Sunday’s event.

Various other supporters included former mayor Andy Damiani, anthropologist and author Helen Rountree, tribe members, Chuckatuck residents and local business owners.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Barry Bass told the gathered supporters Sunday. “This is a thanks for you and all y’all have done for us.”