Created: May 10, 2022

“A cultural value of ours is that we work collaboratively.”

Nottoway tribal citizen Rufus Kelly III describes how the tribal value of collaboration shaped the writing of the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia entry on Encyclopedia Virginia. This entry is part of Encyclopedia Virginia's long-term approach to content development that prioritizes collaboration with Virginia Indian tribes. Entries providing overviews of recognized tribes and recent tribal history will be written by tribal members or by scholars with a record of positive collaboration with tribal communities. The Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia entry was collaboratively written by four tribal citizens, including Kelly. This interview was recorded by Miranda Bennett.

Let me start with saying that Nottoway people are Iroquoian. That is the language group that we belong to. Our customs, our traditions are closely related to other Iroquoian tribes. And depending on how much you know about Iroquoian tribes, you know that the United States Constitution is based upon Iroquoian writings and traditions: the Great Law of Peace, I believe. Part of that tradition also is of collaboration. A cultural value for us is that we work collaboratively to solve our problems and to deal with tribal issues. That’s very important that we’re able to reach consensus when we work together as a group. Our leaders are democratically elected and we work together. So, it’s not particularly alien to us to work together on a project like this. Like any group of people, tribes have values: things that are important to them. And that, I think, should be expressed in anything that you share about us. And so, on my list of things that were important were that we really expressed some of our tribal values in the entry, or that came through clearly to people.