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Capitol Square's Thanksgiving Tradition

Anita Kumar

In Virginia, we have many traditions. This one dates back more than three centuries.

Members of Virginia's Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian tribes came to Capitol Square this morning to offer Gov. Timothy M. Kaine their annual tribute of wild game in lieu of paying taxes on their reservations in King William County.

Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, greeted members of the tribes in front of the Executive Masion while hundreds of members of the public braved the cool morning to watch the ceremony.

Each tribe presented the Kaines with a dead deer, placed on the brick walkway in front of the mansion, as well as other handmade gifts, including pottery and a peace pipe. Female tribe members danced around the animals.

"What do you think?" Kaine asked his wife when they were presented with the first deer.

"I don't think we'll be hungry,'' she quipped.

In a 1677 treaty, the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indians agreed to deliver to the governor of the colony "at the place of his residence, wherever it shall be," 20 beaver skins.

Since then the tribute has included deer, geese and other animals.

This year, Sen. James Webb and Reps. James Moran and Rob Whittman attended the ceremony with their wives. All three support legislation that would grant Virginia Indian tribes federal recognition.

The tribes have been seeking recognition, which would enable them to apply for federal health, education and housing benefits, for more than 15 years. The House passed the bill but it failed in the Senate.

By Anita Kumar  |  November 26, 2008; 12:07 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , James P. Moran Jr. , James Webb , Timothy M. Kaine  
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