The Mattaponi are one of the few tribes in the country to prevent women from voting or being in the leadership, she said. The management consists of Chief Mark Custalow, a Deputy Chief and three advisers. Gloria Custalow said they were “self-proclaimed” and that there had been no elections since the 1970s.
If women cannot participate, the number of registrations will decline, threatening the existence of the tribe, she said. She has been pushing for change on booking since 2016.
“If we don’t do something now, I don’t see a good future for the Mattaponi tribe,” said Gloria Custalow.
Recently, Gloria and other members delivered letters to Mark Custalow’s home saying they did not recognize him and the tribal leader. Mark Custalow called the police. The 12 protesters were not arrested, but Mark Custalow filed a lawsuit against the protesters for trespassing and mob assault, the Virginia Mercury reported.
Under the terms of a 1677 peace treaty, members of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey tribes deliver slaughtered animals to the governor before each Thanksgiving in exchange for not paying taxes. Tribal leaders, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment, met with Governor Ralph Northam on Wednesday, the 344th time the ritual has been performed.
Wednesday’s protest by tribal members took place immediately after the tribal leaders met with Northam.