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Kaine greets tribes at mansion, celebrates Thanksgiving

Anita Kumar

Virginia's outgoing governor, Tim Kaine, presided over his final Thanksgiving ceremony this morning on Capitol Square in downtown Richmond.

And this one -- like all the ones before it -- included some wild game. Not to mention a host of traditions that date back more than three centuries.

Members of Virginia's Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian tribes were on hand to offer Kaine their annual tribute of wild game in lieu of paying taxes on their reservations in King William County.

Kaine and his wife, First Lady Anne Holton, greeted members of the tribes in front of the Executive Mansion while hundreds of people, including many children, crowded around to watch a unique Virginia tradition.

The tribes presented Kaine and Holton with two deers and a turkey that had been shot this morning, placing them on the brick walkway in front of the mansion. They also gave them handmade gifts, including a harmonica case for the harmonica-playing governor. Female tribe members danced around the animals.

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. (The deer and turkey presented today will be picked up by a Virginia organization that collects game to feed the hungry.)

"The tribes of Virginia were really the first in this new world that showed what our traditions of hospitality and welcome were,'' Kaine told the crowd.

Virginia's Indian tribes have long been seeking federal recognition, which would enable them to apply for federal health, education and housing benefits, for more than 15 years. Kaine has supported those efforts, and the bill is again pending in Congress this year.

"We're a little bit sad because we're going to lose a good friend,'' Pamunkey Chief Kevin Brown said.

Also on hand for the ceremony: U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, former governor Linwood Holton (the First Lady's father) and nearly 20 other members of Kaine's family, who are staying with him through the holidays.

Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told reporters later that he did not attend President Obama's first state dinner last night because he had so many family members in town. (Also, it was his 25th wedding anniversary.)

By Anita Kumar  |  November 25, 2009; 10:44 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Timothy M. Kaine  
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