Upper Mattaponi establishes tribal court, a historic first for Virginia
At the historic Sharon Indian School, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe celebrated their new Tribal Court. Tribes in Virginia, are in various phases of adopting their constitutions and forming their branches of government.
Melissa Holds the Enemy, an Apsáalooké tribal citizen from Crow Agency Montana is now the Upper Mattaoni’s Chief Justice. "So, when you have your own court system in place for a Tribe, that system is going to keep the culture in mind, their own laws in mind, and the history."
Two other justices are Jack Trope and tribal citizen Dr. Brian Cameron. The Tribal Court will consider civil matters including divorce and child custody and hear criminal misdemeanor cases involving the Indigenous community that occur within Tribal jurisdiction.
"Our challenge will be to get the county and the King William County General District Court and all to recognize our court system," Chief Frank Adams admits. "Since we do not have a police force or a jail, we will sign a pact with the sheriff’s department for assistance, invitation only by the Tribe."
The tiny school was packed. In a front row reserved seat, newly-elected Sheriff Donald Lumpkin. "I look forward to working with them in the near future and any way that the sheriff’s office and King William County can help them," Lumpkin says.
Also attending the ceremony, Nansemond Chief Keith Anderson. His Tribe will be swearing in its Tribal Court officials later this year.