Vincent Schilling
A Mattanock Town sign sits outside of the Nansemond Powwow grounds in Suffolk, Virginia, indicating the future site of a Nansemond Indian Village, Cultural Museum and Tribal Center.

A 77 Acre Land Donation Presents Nansemond Tribe With $5 Million Challenge

Vincent Schilling

After a 77-acre tract of land was granted to the Nansemond Tribe in February by Suffolk, Virginia, the tribe held its 26th Annual Nansemond Indian Tribal Powwow, marking the first time they celebrated the event on land they own.

But hosting pow wows is not the only aspiration they have for their newly acquired land. Nansemond tribal officials told ICTMN they plan to construct a full-fledged Indian village called Mattanock Town, complete with a tribal center and Nansemond cultural museum.

“The process to get this land certainly has been an educational experience in terms of working with city officials and all the things we have had to overcome,” Assistant Chief Earl L. Bass II told ICTMN.

In February, reported that Suffolk and the Nansemond tribe had signed an agreement that would clear the way for a transfer of Suffolk city park land to the tribe to build the Mattanock Town. .

According to Bass, the city had originally released about 100 acres, but when the plans were redrafted, the tribe only received about 77 acres. He said that although there had been some differences between the tribe and the city, their relationship is now a positive and agreeable one.

Bass also said that though the gift of land to the tribe was generous and the Nansemond tribe is grateful, they face a challenge of raising an estimated $5-6 million dollars to complete the Mattanock Indian village, tribal center and museum on time.“We have a five year stipulation, if we don’t build it, it could go back to the city,” Bass said. “But in all honesty, the city manager has been very supportive and we would most likely only have to file an extension.”

Nansemond Chief Barry W. “Big Buck” Bass also weighed in, simply saying, “We are going to build this Village.”

“It’s obvious we have received this land in order to build an authentic Indian Village which will be similar to the Indian Village at Historic Jamestowne,” Earl Bass said. “We even have the support of Jamestowne. They have an English version of an Indian Village, we will have the Nansemond version.”

Bass says the tribe is already taking steps to secure funding: they have hired a grant writer and are taking suggestions from the Chickahominy and other Virginia tribes.

“We also want to reach out to legislators, so we can learn the proper steps to take,” he said.

Overall, Earl Bass says the tribe has a positive outlook. “We feel optimistic and we are determined to see this through. This process died several times over the past ten years, but we never stopped. Our dream is to see school busses lined up ready to visit Mattanock Town; we want to have Boy Scout campouts and … be good stewards of this land.”



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