The American Indian Unity Dinner held at the Richmond Marriott West Hotel in Glen Allen, Virginia on February 12, 2011 was a resounding success. Around 80 guests gathered in the Commonwealth Ballroom for the event dressed in buckskins, business attire and ribbon shirts.

Planning Committee Chair, Sid Turner (Nottoway), introduced Mitchell Bush (Onondaga) who served as the emcee. Mitchell began by welcoming everyone and then thanking the various tribes and organizations which helped make the evening come about – the Cheroenhaka Nottoway, Nottoway Tribe, Patawomack Band, Appalachian Cherokee, Intertribal Women’s Circle (IWC), and the American Indian Society (AIS).

Just before dinner, Beverly Yazzie (Delaware-Cherokee) sang “Amazing Grace” in Cherokee, followed by Ray Couch who said grace. Then dinner was served. The food was delicious without exception. After dinner, Robin Guthrie (Iroquois, flutist), Denise Walters (Nottoway, traditional singer), Beth Roach (Nottoway, storyteller), Christine Ortiz (Cheroenhaka, traditional singer), and Mildred Moore (Pamunkey potterer) entertained.

The NaMaWochi drum from Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, took the floor and sang for around an hour. Many of the ladies, both dressed in buckskins and street clothes, joined in the dancing. Beth Roach distributed gifts of thanks to the planning committee and gave pieces of wampum shell to all present to represent a part of a unity belt that was formed this evening. Later, Purnell Richardson, (Haliwa Saponi), sang an Indian song. NaMaWochi closed the evening’s entertainment. Robin Guthrie played the final song of the evening.

Mitchell announced the evening’s formalities were concluded and invited guests to remain in the ballroom to socialize.
Among the guests were Doug Domenech, Secretary of National Resources, and members of the Nottoway Tribe, Chereonhaka Nottoway, Patawomack, Delaware, Appalachian Cherokee, Saponi, Pamunkey, Mattaponi, Oklahoma Cherokee, Iroquois, Chickahominy, Haliwai Saponi, Intertribal Women’s Circle and American Indian Society. Michael Nephew, President of the American Indian Society was enthused with the gathering, and he suggested the Unity Planning Committee, might be interested in hosting a Unity PowWow at Indian Pines in Ruther Glen later in the year.

February 14, 2011