Archived Story

Let it go

Published 10:32am Monday, December 10, 2012

To the Editor:

In clarification, nowhere in my response to Wayne Brown’s article do I state Meherrins are extinct. “Historical documentation noting Meherrin descendants cannot be found” means documentation connecting modern tribal members to person’s identified as historic Meherrin cannot be found. That does not mean they do not exist.  Historical records linking Chowanoke descendants to their Indian ancestors do exist. That statement is fact.

I won’t comment too much on the commission’s review of the petition submitted for state recognition other than to say one only needs to read the technical assistance letter Wayne received from the BIA to make a judgment on the difference in the standards applied.  In fact, that letter is public record and can be reviewed by anyone on the BIA’s website.

To address “tearing the tribe apart”, in today’s democracy when one does not agree with an elected official, you try to effect change in cooperation with that leader or governing body. If that is not possible, you simply wait and vote, if eligible, for another candidate.  To overthrow leadership because you do not like a person creates chaos. Most would agree our society would become unstable if this were permissible.

Likewise, when an organization’s governing body deems that a person’s actions are not warranted or legitimate, the proper thing to do is concede. However, rather than concede, Wayne Brown and his family chose to sue and subject the tribe to a five year lawsuit when a quorum of the Meherrin tribal council did not concur with his challenge to overturn the leadership of Chief Lewis. He tried legal means to force a union of two separate governing bodies in order to correct his petition for Federal acknowledgment, a petition that had many technical problems because it was biased according to the BIA. His governing body, formed by the Brown family as a separate group 20 years ago, submitted their intent to petition in 1995 after the Meherrin governing body had previously submitted one in 1990. He took advantage of a flaw in the Meherrin constitution to legally pursue control of the tribe.  He sued individual tribal members, which included the elderly and those who held no governing positions, but had volunteered many hours to benefit the tribe. They never understood why they were sued. In my opinion, this was wrong. Those actions are what led to further divide in the tribe. Where was the integrity?

Even though the lawsuit was deemed over by the Judge, Mr. Brown still persists in more litigation. He just can’t seem to let it go. Whether it’s engaging in his personalized versions of court results, or alternate versions of historical facts, he can’t seem to move forward and lead his group toward whatever future exists for them without continuing in his routine rituals to the courthouse.

He has a federal petition pending a decision that he should be more focused on.  After all, Hertford County’s rich Native American history is not limited to just one person.

Duvonya Chavis


  1. sallygirl1954

    The story that I am being told is there were at least 4 mediations set for the meherrins to resolve the issues. Thomas’s group attended the meetings but brought forth no proposals in resolving the dispute. They wanted nothing to do with the other group. They probably thought they were going to win so why even bother compromising.

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  2. lion king25

    native, dirty laundry has been hung out from the lewis side for the public to see for many years. I agree with you 100%. The browns did not hang it. The business was brought out in public by the other group. Is this not fact? I will help to clean it up for you. Lies were told for many years and they were never challenged until 5 years ago. People became so enthralled with their devious activities that the truth was no longer evident by your group. You all spread gossip about the opposing group only. I guess it would mean something is wrong upstairs if you did not believe your own garbage spoken. I have always heard the old saying: if you lie with dogs,you wake up with fleas. Your lies became your truth and it was published all over. Unfortunately people believed all the things that was said about the other group and they had the daunting task to clean it up after all that trash spoken against them. Do not come off as if you are an upstanding citizen and a pillar of good standing within your community.

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  3. native

    I read the article. It makes a lot of sense. Reread it with comprehension then you will understand what she is actually wrote. Truth of the matter, if Wayne really cared about the tribe, he would have waited his turn to run for Chief instead of putting the tribe through this. All he had to do was wait a little over a year. Instead he chose litigation for 5 years to become Chief. It took him longer plus it cost everyone a lot. Not only financially but emotionally…look at the bitterness that it caused. Look at the division it caused.
    You are too hung up on being controlled yourself, your eyes are clouded “lion king”. A “king” acts like a king. Do not stoop down and respond in ignorance!
    Everyone has choices in life. Forget about the choices that anyone else has made and focus on becoming better yourself. No need to talk down or bad about anyone else. I dont think anyone in Thomas’s group has regrets about staying with him. If so they knew how to join the other group.

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  4. lion king25

    duvonya chavis needs to see her shrink. she talks a lot of nonsense in this article. the meherrin indian tribe followed its constitution and by-laws that govern the tribe, just as the united states is governed by its constitution. You wont tell the people to read the courts transcript. That is were the truth of the matter lies. Not one person on browns side tried to force a union between the two opposing forces. You people were controlled by someone. You and others signed allegiance to thomas whether you lost or won the case. Living with regrets now? Tell me, how does a handful of browns control the tribe? You need to read your by-laws because you have not a clue. One of your sons attend the meherrin tribal meetings, he knows the truth.

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  5. native

    The dirty laundry has been hanging and wagging in public view for over 4 years. Sadly enough the public has been looking at the dirt and no one has bothered to try and clean it up a bit. Why do we assume if we do not address the issue, it will go away or if you ignore it, no one will know about it… get real. A lie left unchallenged becomes the truth and while most probably don’t care, it will be what they remember because no one corrected it. Had someone stood firm enough to face the real issue head on when this started years ago, perhaps the tribe would be intact today. Of course one can’t predict a person’s behavior, but boundaries have to be set and ADHERED to. That’s why we have laws, rules, and law ENFORCEMENT…to have a more civil society. What good would laws be without the enforcement.
    Sometimes dirty laundry needs to be aired out before it can start to smell a little better so it can be washed. You just have to know when and how to do it. To cover and ignore a badly soiled spot does nothing but eventually decay and ruin the fabric.

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  6. TheOnlyOne

    What this boils down to, folks, is $$$. Seems to me it be could resolved by investing into DNA testing, and some conflict resolution therapy. Then you could figure out who gets the money. And maybe even a casino.

    Airing your dirty laundry here does NOTHING to help and everything to harm — your heritage and your reputation.

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