Where Are the Native Americans in Virginia Today?

As a result of the demographic changes since the Europeans arrived (and the Racial Integrity Law of 1924), the Totero, Gingaskin, and many other tribal groups have disappeared as organized communities - but Native American tribes and individual Native Americans are still part of Virginia today.

As one member of the Chickahominy tribe has mentioned, "We never left."1

What happened to the 50,000 Native Americans in Virginia in 1607, including the 15,000 Algonquians living under Powhatan's control on the Coastal Plain?

Many died from disease and direct conflicts with the English. Small-scale murder and skirmishes were interrupted by large-scale, open warfare triggered by uprisings in 1622 and 1644.

Others migrated as individuals or family groups to the north, west, or south, away from the encroaching English. They joined the Iroquois, Shawnee, and Cherokee, losing their distinct identity as members in Virginia tribes.

In 2009, the Virginian-Pilot published a series of articles on the status of Native Americans in Virginia. It noted that Virginia's recognized tribes (eight, at that time) had 5,000 members. The Pamunkey tribe had just 200 members on its tribal role. The 36 families living on its 1,200-acre reservation in King William County included 80 people, but nearly 30 were non-native spouses who were not entitled to vote on tribal matters.2

The only other reservation in Virginia was 80 acres owned by the Mattaponi tribe; clearly most Native Americans in Virginia lived "off the reservation." The 2010 Census counted 29,225 people in Virginia in the "American Indian and Alaskan Native alone" category, but that included people not associated with the state-recognized tribes.3

In 2012, according to the 5-year projection of the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the Virginia jurisdiction with the highest percentage of "American Indian and Alaska Natives" in the population was Charles City County with 8.3%. Second-highest was King William County, with 2.6%. No other jurisdiction exceeded 2%.4

Total population is different from percentage. While Charles City County and King William County had the highest percentage of Native Americans in their population, those two counties were not in the top 20 jurisdictions for total number of American Indian and Alaska Natives.

Most Native Americans in Virginia live in Northern Virginia, especially Fairfax County. The concentration of Native Americans in the densely-populated regions of the state reflects the migration of non-Virginians into those fast-growing communities, rather than remnant populations that survived from colonial times.

only two counties in Virginia have more than 2% of the population who identify as American Indian and Alaska Native
only two counties in Virginia have more than 2% of the population who identify as "American Indian and Alaska Native"
Source: Bureau of Census - 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Demographic And Housing Estimates

Native American Reservations in Virginia

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Charles City and King William counties have a high percentage of Native American residents - but are not in the list of Virginia jurisdictions with more than 1,000 people who identify as American Indian and Alaska Native
Charles City and King William counties have a high percentage of Native American residents - but are not in the list of Virginia jurisdictions with more than 1,000 people who identify as "American Indian and Alaska Native"
Source: Bureau of Census - 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, American Indian And Alaska Native Alone Or In Combination With One Or More Other Races

the Virginia jurisdictions with the highest percentage of Native Americans/Alaskan Natives in their population include Amherst County (home of the Monacan tribe), plus several Tidewater counties that were once part of Powhatan's paramount confederacy
the Virginia jurisdictions with the highest percentage of Native Americans/Alaskan Natives in their population include Amherst County (home of the Monacan tribe), plus several Tidewater counties that were once part of Powhatan's paramount confederacy
Source: Bureau of Census, Census Data Mapper

References

1. "Out of Jamestown's Shadows," Washington Post, April 29, 2007, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/28/AR2007042801083_pf.html (last checked September 22, 2008)
2. "Virginia's Indian heirs cling to sliver of native soil," The Virginian-Pilot, June 10, 2009, http://hamptonroads.com/2009/06/virginias-indians-heirs-cling-sliver-native-soil (last checked March 5, 2014)
3. "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Census American Indian and Alaska Native Summary File," American Fact Finder, Bureau of Census, http://factfinder2.census.gov (last checked March 5, 2014)
4. "DP05 - Demographic And Housing Estimates," 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Bureau of Census, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_5YR_DP05

only the three urban centers in Virginia - and the City of Roanoke - have jurisdictions with more than 1,000 people who identify as American Indian and Alaska Native
only the three urban centers in Virginia - and the City of Roanoke - have jurisdictions with more than 1,000 people who identify as "American Indian and Alaska Native"
Source: Bureau of Census - 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, American Indian And Alaska Native Alone Or In Combination With One Or More Other Races


"Indians" of Virginia
Virginia Places