917 Showalter Rd.
Yorktown, VA 23692
April 21, 2009
VCI Vice-chair Earl Bass and VCI Members,
I, Paige Archer, chaired the VCI State Recognition Committee from June, 2007, to
November, 2007. During my tenure, Assistant Attorney General Jack Kotvas informed
the committee that the State Recognition Criteria are guidelines, not law. The information
in the Nottoway Indians of Virginia, Inc. State Recognition Petition was to be examined
in a manner that is analogous to a civil case, meaning the information presented is “more
likely than not.”
Committee members and consultants were to sign conflict-of-interest statements, to the
effect that he or she will not serve in a recognition case if he or she has a bias for or
against the petitioning organization. If Committee members identify a fellow member or
consultant having a conflict-of-interest in the recognition case currently being evaluated,
that person must resign or may be removed by the chair or a majority of the VCI.
According to the State Recognition Procedures, the contents of the petition should not be
discussed outside the open public forum committee meetings. I also requested guidance
from Mr. Kotvas concerning the circulation of narratives outside the process that
expressed slanted opinions which could alter the process and involved a discussion of
petition content. My intention was to be fair and have the Committee function within the
Criteria guidelines and State Recognition Procedures.
On July 9, 2007, Dr. Helen Rountree e-mailed unsolicited comments to Committee
members, another consultant, and VCI legal consul regarding the ancestry of the
Petitioners’ Nottoway lineage with her caption, “Here are my reasons for questioning the
Nottoway-ness (I invented a word) of the majority of ancestors the petitioners trace to, as
presently documented.”. This violated the Recognition Procedures and possibly FOIA.
This illegally forwarded e-mail was not taken under consideration at the following
Recognition Committee meeting as the Petitioners were not previously included in the
distribution of the e-mail and had not had the opportunity to explain their own
documentation prior to the distribution. Dr. Rountree did not resubmit any written
commentary or documents on these subjects for review at later meetings.
In the two draft Reports and final Report to the VCI, she attempted to negate the
unanimous validity votes of the Committee members related to the Petitioners’
genealogical lineage without presenting copies of any resource documents previously to
the Committee. In my opinion, her comments are biased, malicious, and intended to
discredit the valid documents presented by the Petitioners.
Her accusations in the draft and final Reports to the VCI that she was not allowed to
present documents to prove her “contentions” regarding two Nottoway ancestors are
unfounded. If she had requested to present copies of documents for review in the open
public forum Committee meeting, I certainly would have honored her request. In the case
of the validation of one Nottoway ancestor, Dr. Rountree referred to her notes only as she
spoke to the Committee and did not offer any copies of documents to the participants. It
was absolutely necessary that the Committee Members have copies of original documents
to study and evaluate in order to make objective decisions.
I observed Dr. Rountree’s actions closely as the Committee participated in the review
process. When Chief Lynette Allston gave her copies of documents for review, Dr.
Rountree laid them on the table, ignored and dismissed them while she knitted
continuously, which in my opinion, was unprofessional and was an insult to the
Petitioners. In my opinion, this was only one of Dr. Rountree’s intentional actions to
manipulate the process.
As chair, I also reminded Dr. Rountree and the other Committee members at the
beginning of the process that the 1808 special Nottoway census of the last area of
Nottoway reservation land was not the only definitive document for validation of
Nottoway ancestry. The Nottoway Reservation previously consisted of 40,000 plus acres
located in what is now present Sussex County and Southampton County which was
historically part of Surry County and Isle of Wight County. The Petitioner’s Nottoway
ancestors lived on land that was within their original territory. Some resided within
households as servants. Some became wives of the male heads of households. In addition,
responses to James Mooney’s (an anthropologist connected to the Smithsonian
Institution) 1889 Virginia questionnaires, by health officials and others, cited the
existence of Nottoway families, other than those listed on the 1808 census, still living in
Also, one petitioner had to provide additional information not related to his ancestral line
in order to debunk the misinformation circulated outside of the review process by
consultant, Dr. Rountree. In addition in the January and March draft reports and the final
report to the VCI, Dr. Rountree submitted comments about one of the Petitioner’s
paternal ancestral lines that were not a basis for his enrollment in the Nottoway Tribe of
Virginia. This petitioner is Nottoway on his mother’s side and Meherrin on his father’s
side. Dr. Rountree was not a participant in the discussion at that meeting.
Also included in the genealogical documents provided by the Petitioners were oral
history narratives, which is a key method in anthropological research. Oral history
narratives provide an understanding of the significance of documents. In addition, recent
testimony from a Meherrin elder validates much social involvement between certain
Nottoways and Meherrins from at least the 1930’s. Also, I advised Dr. Rountree to
become more cognizant of the terms “core” and “peripheral” as related to American
Indian Tribes. There are a number of Indian tribes even in Virginia and North Carolina
whose membership of the members is not diminished by living in other states other than
the core area.
Also, I would like to inform the VCI that Chief Ann Richardson did attend one
Recognition Committee meeting for a short time. I reminded her that only Committee
members could vote. There were no provisions in the Procedures for substitutes or
replacements of Committee members, and Frank Richardson, Rappahannock, did not
attend any meetings because of his conflicting job schedule.
At this time, I again request that all comments by Dr. Rountree be removed from the final
Recognition Committee Report. Her actions can be viewed, in my opinion, as a modern
era effort to deny the Nottoway their identity in a manner similar to Dr. Walter Plecker.
The VCI State Recognition Committee from June, 2007, to November, 2007, determined
that 10 descendant lines presented by the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia by
unanimous vote were valid Nottoway ancestral lines.
The Petitioners provided extensive documentation including:
1. Oral history narratives of family history
2. Affidavits from others including their oldest family members and neighbors
3. The oldest photographs available of their ancestors
4. Narratives about life styles and interactions between families
5. Census records from 1850-1930
6. Maps showing Nottoway enclaves, and
7. A copy of a 1983 study, conducted by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and
presented when four Virginia Tribes received State Tribal recognition which
acknowledged the presence of Nottoway descendants.
The VCI State Recognition Committee (June 2007 to November 2007) determined that
the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia, Inc. is:
1. A historical Tribe in Virginia, and
2. The petitioners are Nottoway descendants with many still living on or near
their ancestral land.
The State recognition process is not perfect, so we need to be fair. The Petitioners and
Nottoway Indian Tribe deserve to be State recognized as a Virginia Indian Tribe.
Paige R. Archer
January 29, 2009
Chairman Chief Miles and members of the Virginia Council on Indians:
I am requesting that all commentary submitted by those other than voting members of the
Recognition Committee, of which I was chair, be removed from the completed
Recognition Committee Report submitted by Recognition Committee Chairman Earl
Bass on January 27, 2009. I am dismayed and perplexed as to the reasoning for allowing
Dr. Helen Rountree and Chief Ann Richardson, who were not members of the Committee
I chaired, to submit their opinions and commentary after the fact, including Dr.
Rountree’s unsubstantiated accusations. I remind you again that Dr. Rountree was
appointed as a consultant at the time and was not an official voting member of the
I consider such action unjust and an affront to this former Recognition Committee Chair
and the other participating members, Chief Gene Adkins and Mitchell Bush, who spent
hours analyzing, studying, and examining the documentation submitted over a period of
approximately eleven months before reaching our conclusions in relation to the Nottoway
Indian Tribe of Virginia, Inc. meeting Criteria 2 and 4. Every opportunity was afforded
Dr. Rountree to address her concerns during the meetings.
I was asked by Chairman Bass to submit a report relating to the validation of Criteria 2
and 4 and the other voting members were also given the opportunity for commentary on
why they voted as they did.
I especially emphasize and remind the VCI at this time of the outstanding credentials of
Chief Gene Adkins and Mitchell Bush, and note that Mitchell Bush retired as Branch
Chief of Tribal Enrollment Services for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and served
previous years as Assistant Chief of Tribal Enrollment for the BIA.
Therefore, I again request, as former Recognition Committee Chair, that the final
Recognition Committee Report distributed by Chairman Bass not be attached to the
January 27, 2009 VCI Minutes until the commentary, opinions and accusations so
signified relating to Criteria 2 and 4 by Dr. Rountree and Chief Richardson be removed
from the Recommendation Committee Report.
Chief Gene Adkins and Mitchell Bush are to be commended for their credible input,
tireless commitment, and diligent endeavor during the review process of Criteria 2 and 4.
I would appreciate and thank you for your immediate response to my request.