RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Governor Glenn Youngkin hosted the Mattaponi and Pamunkey tribes on Wednesday at the Governor’s Executive Mansion for the 345th annual tax tribute ceremony.
The tax tribute tradition dates back to the Treaty of the Middle Plantation in 1677, in which tribes agreed to recognize the British government with offerings of beaver skins instead of taxes. In exchange for these offerings, the British government acknowledged the land use and hunting rights of the tribes.
Over 300 years later, Virginia tribes still make an annual offering to the governor instead of paying taxes. This ceremony usually takes place the day before Thanksgiving.
Before the tribute ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 23, Youngkin met privately with the Chief Mark “Falling Star” Custalow of the Mattaponi tribe and Chief Robert Gray of the Pamunkey Tribe. Then, dozens of tribal citizens joined the ceremony, where Youngkin was presented with tributes, including a deer from each tribe.
“Upholding the trust and treaty responsibilities in our relationship is critical to honoring the past, present and future of our Commonwealth,” Youngkin said. “Today we were reminded that the Spirit of Virginia was present long before it was a Commonwealth. It is critical to emphasize the deep appreciation we hold for our cherished relationships and long history together.”
This is Youngkin’s first year participating in the tradition. Last year, Governor Ralph Northam joined the ceremony, which was accompanied by protests from Mattaponi women demanding representation and voting rights.