Contradictions and inconsistencies

Published 10:05 am Thursday, November 15, 2012

To the Editor:

I would like to comment on a response letter dated November 3, 2012 from Ms. Duvonya Chavis published in the News-Herald. In reading her response in the paper I found a lot of contradictions and inconsistencies.

First, I would like to commend all the families whom during the 1950’s spoke proudly of their Native American heritage. At least they knew who they were.

I would like to ask Ms. Chavis has she ever heard the words, oral history? My question to her is during the 1950’s when she was born, what was written on her birth certificate?

Ms. Chavis contradicted herself in the News-Herald when she stated, “historical records noting any Meherrin descendants cannot be found.” And yet she claims herself to be Meherrin.

Also, on page seven of her group’s Pow Wow book (Meherrin-Chowanoke), it was stated, “a great portion of our tribe descends from families of the historical Meherrin Tribe of Nick Major, Mister Thomas and Tut-sech Basqueat.”

She also stated in her response letter to the News-Herald, “while the two tribes did not exist in the 1700’s as one tribal entity, once the groups disbanded they became neighbors, intermarried and forged bonds. Again, archeological research proves this.”

Evidently, the archeological research had to say who the names of the Meherrins were and who they had intermarried, and therefore the Meherrin descendants can be found.

The Meherrins were still listed as a tribe in 1796. The Chowanokes disappeared as a tribe in 1755 as reported by Governor Dobbs, noting only two men and three women were left.

Ms. Chavis also claims that her mother and other Meherrin-Chowanokes worked so hard to get the Meherrin Indian Tribe as a state recognized group. And yet it now seems that Ms. Chavis is working so hard to tear the tribe down.

Ms. Chavis failed to mention in her response letter to the News-Herald that the Meherrin Indian Tribe had to send documentation to the State which includes historical documents in order to receive State recognition.

And, by the way, Duvonya’s family was not on the 1986 tribal roll for State recognition as being Meherrin or Meherrin-Chowanoke, but rather claiming Cherokee descendant.

I want to enlighten Ms. Chavis as to the “facts” – in order for any tribe to seek and to be granted State recognition they have to meet the requirements and/or criteria that is outlined in the State recognition procedures.

On June 19, 1986, the Meherrin Indian Tribe, not the Meherrin-Chowanoke Nation, after satisfying compliance with State criteria met those requirements and was granted State Recognition by the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs.

Again, let me repeat, the Meherrin Indian Tribe was granted State recognition.

Gwenette Melton