Federal cash applauded

Published 10:07 pm Wednesday, January 26, 2022

We are anxiously awaiting the results of a new infusion of cash to the Nansemond Indian Nation.

Since the Nansemond received federal recognition about four years ago, they have made many strides on a number of fronts.

The latest development is that the nation has received $998,250 through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Indian Community Development Block Grant program, extended under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

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The money will be used to expand its community center at Mattanock Town, the tribe’s land in Chuckatuck. The community center there has been used to distribute COVID-19 tests, vaccines and food during the pandemic. Even before the pandemic started, the community center sorely needed expansion and renovation.

Tribe Chief Keith Anderson told reporter Jimmy LaRoue last week that the money will be used to enlarge the lodge, which currently holds just 50 people safely, create a commercial kitchen to provide meals, add food storage spaces, conduct medical services and install solar panels and battery storage for energy efficiency. He credited interim tribal administrator Tom Badamo, tribal historian and cultural preservationist Nikki Bass, grant writer Joel Haspel and chief emeritus and Mattanock Town groundskeeper Sam Bass with making the grant award a reality.

In a joint statement, Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner said the money going to the Nansemond Indian Nation, and the $1 million going to the Chickahominy Eastern Division to rehabilitate homes to improve air quality is instrumental for Native American communities hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As the Omicron variant continues to create challenges for people across the Commonwealth, we’re glad to see that these federal dollars will provide critical relief for communities hit hard by the pandemic,” the senators said in a joint statement. “This funding will help provide these tribes with services necessary to protect their health and safety.”

The Nansemond Indian Nation, its people, its heritage, and its cultural education and events are vitally important resources for Suffolk. We should protect them at all costs going forward. That’s why we applaud this monetary award and look forward to its results.