Members of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian tribes allege racism and sexism in tribal leadership | State and region news


ERIC KOLENICH Richmond Times-Dispatch

Jasmine Anderson has applied three times to be listed as a member of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe. His mother is Pamunkey and Mattaponi, and his father is a type of Chippewa. She has the same ancestors as the leaders of the tribe.

But she was turned down each time, she says, because her ancestors helped newly emancipated black people in the 1860s.

“It’s outright racism,” Anderson said.

Members of both tribes, and others who have been excluded, gathered outside the Capitol on Wednesday, alleging racial and gender discrimination in the two tribes, saying leaders banned free and fair elections that would end prejudice.

Members of Pamunkey and Mattaponi who married, had children or socialized with black people were kicked out, Anderson said.

Gloria Custalow, a resident of the Mattaponi reservation, accused tribal chief Mark Custalow, her first cousin, of running a tribal council that prohibits women from voting or joining the council leadership. Leaders of the two tribes did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

The Pamunkey and Mattaponi Reserves are located on either side of King William County, along the respective rivers named after their tribes. Membership is small – there are approximately 75 residents of the Mattaponi reserve and approximately 300 registered members. There are hundreds more who should be members, Anderson said.

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