November offers us an opportunity to commemorate the Indigenous peoples of Virginia, and nationwide, whose contributions and abilities are a significant part of the foundation of the Commonwealth and the United States at large. Old Dominion University (ODU) is situated on the ancestral lands of the Powhatan peoples, a once might confederacy of over thirty Native American tribes whose territory occupied a substantial portion of Eastern Virginia. Indigenous peoples have thrived in America since time immemorial, cultivating vibrant and diverse cultures—safeguarding land, languages, spirit, and traditions across the generations. During Native American Heritage Month, we celebrate the richness of their many customs and histories, acknowledge the important contributions of Indigenous peoples, and raise awareness about the unique challenges Indigenous peoples have faced both historically and in the present day.

The Commonwealth of Virginia is home to seven federally recognized tribes, including:

  • Chickahominy Indian Tribe
  • Chickahominy Indian Tribe—Eastern Division
  • Monacan Indian Nation
  • Nansemond Indian Nation
  • Pamunkey Indian Tribe
  • Rappahannock Tribe
  • Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe

There are also four state-recognized tribes:

  • Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe
  • Mattaponi Indian Tribe
  • Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia
  • Patawomeck Tribe of Virginia

Indigenous peoples have an often contentious relationship with American history. For generations, Federal and state policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native peoples and eradicate indigenous cultures. Today, we honor and recognize Indigenous people’s resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society. To honor the original inhabitants of the space on which ODU sits, the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, as well as other campus stakeholders are working diligently to establish a land acknowledgement recognizing the Powhatan people’s enduring relationship to the land while raising awareness to their rich, but often suppressed histories.

Please join us, the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, on behalf of Old Dominion University, in observing Native American Heritage Month. To learn more about the culture of Indigenous peoples, you may explore the 21 Days of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice listed below.

21 Days of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice
Honoring Indigenous Identity and Culture