Casino proposal prompts tribes to clash over ancestral lands

Conceptual rendering courtesy of Pamunkey Indian Tribe
Conceptual rendering courtesy of Pamunkey Indian Tribe.

NORFOLK — As one Native American tribe seeks to open Virginia’s first casino, another tribe has lodged an objection over claims to ancestral lands.

The Nansemond tribe objects to the Pamunkey tribe’s claim that its ancestral lands stretched as far south as Norfolk. That’s where the Pamunkey have proposed building a $700 million resort and casino.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs would have to approve the casino. Among the things it would consider is the Pamunkey’s claim that it had a presence in what is now Norfolk. The Nansemond tribe claims it inhabited that land, not the Pamunkey.

The Pamunkey’s reservation is about 40 miles east of Richmond. The tribe greeted English settlers at Jamestown in the early 1600s and claims Pocahontas among its lineage.

RELATED STORY: Pamunkey tribe seeks to build Virginia’s first casino in Norfolk

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.