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The Americas

North American Native Tribes

 

Kauwets'a:ka / Meherrin (North American Tribes)

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Generally speaking, the European settlers in North America coined the phrase 'Indian' or 'Red Indian' to describe the North American tribes they found while they were settling what is now the USA. To the north of this vast collection of varying regions and climates were the native settlements of what is now Canada, while to the south were the various peoples of modern Mexico, most especially the Aztecs. The Meherrin were located in modern North Carolina and the Piedmont area of Virginia, with their neighbours being the Tuscarora to the south and Cheroenhaka to the north (fellow Iroquoians and allies), although the Choptank had intruded to their immediate south and the Moratok were to the south-east (both Algonquian-speaking tribes).

The Meherrin were also known as the Kauwets'a:ka (Kauwetsaka or Kauwetseka), Akawěñtc'ākā' (Akawenchaka or Akawetsaka), with Kauwets'a:ka being the name by which the Meherrin know themselves, meaning 'People of the Water'. One of the early chiefs - Maharineck - seems to have given rise to a multitude of names by which the European colonists usually knew the people, including Maharim, Maherin, Maherine, Mahering, Maherrin, Maherring, Maherron, Meherine, Meherins, Meheron, Meherries, Meherring, Meherrins, Meherron, Menchserink, Menderink, Mendoerink, Mendwrink, Menherring, Menheyricks, and Meterries, almost all direct variations of the same word. The have also been included under the banner of Mangoak or Mangaog. Oberg states that 'the Mangoags, also known as the Mangoaks, were an Iroquoian-speaking community, probably Meherrin and perhaps Nottoway, with powerful trading connections...'. The term 'Mangoak' translates as 'rattlesnakes, adders, real snakes, treacherous', or even 'stealthy' depending upon the source. In other words it means 'enemy'.

MapThe Meherrin were (and still are) an Iroquoian-speaking nation who shared allegiances, culture, traditions, and language with the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois confederacy), who became their protectors in the nineteenth century. The Meherrin shared their spoken language (Skaru:re) with the Tuscarora. As Iroquois-speaking people they dwelt in Iroquois-style longhouses and shared pottery styles and burials. According to the tribe's oral history, and supported by archaeological evidence, Meherrin ancestors lived in what is now North Carolina and Virginia by at least AD 800. About this time, along with the ancestors of the Tuscarora and Cheroenhaka, the Meherrin diverged from the core proto-Iroquois group, who were also the common ancestors of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Susquehannock. When clans and nations grew too large, they would split and move to new hunting grounds or farm lands. (More information about this people is available via the compendium link, right.)

(Information by Mick Baker, with additional information from Everyday Life of the North American Indian, Jon Manchip White (1979), from The Encyclopaedia of North American Indian Tribes, Bill Yenne (1986), from The Native Tribes of North America - A Concise Encyclopaedia, Michael Johnson (1993), from the Atlas of Indians of North America, Gilbert Legay (1995), from The Head in Edward Nugent's Hand: Roanoke's Forgotten Indians, Michael Leroy Oberg (Philadelphia, 2007), from The Indian Tribes of North America, John R Swanton (US Government Printing Office, 1952), and from External Links: First Nations: Issues of Consequence, Lee Sultzman, and Legends of America, and Meherrin Tribe (Access Genealogy),  and Nationmaster, and Meherrin Nation, and Archaeology (University of North Carolina), and Wayne Mackanear Brown, Principal Chief of the Meherrin Nation, dies at age 70 (Indian Country Today), and Edward Bland (Encyclopaedia Virginia).)

AD 1 - 800

According to linguistic evidence, during this broad period the larger proto-Northern Iroquoian group (the ancestors of the 'Five Nations' and of the Meherrin, Nottoway, and Tuscarora) migrates into the Ohio River region, gradually progressing along it towards the Great Lakes. They eventually settle and spread throughout the region. As bands grow larger they divide and separate to make use of resources.

Later tradition also locates the ancestors of the Meherrin, Nottoway, and Tuscarora in the Ohio valley following that migration, and states that they have been there for some time. When they decide to divide it is according to custom, something they do whenever a hunting ground becomes too thickly populated to feed all the people. In fact this seems to be part of a larger separation, with the Cherokee possibly also moving southwards at this point. Both archaeological and lexical evidence support the idea of the Cherokee breaking away much earlier than the other Iroquois tribes becoming separated. The ancestors of the Meherrin, Nottoway, and Tuscarora eventually settle in eastern North Carolina and Virginia.

Map of the Powhatan confederacy AD 1600
The Meherrin, Nottoway, and Tuscarora tribes were unusual in being Iroquoian speakers in a sea of Algonquian speakers, having intruded into the region from the west at some point in the millennium prior to the arrival of European settlers, and being able to resist integration into the Powhatan confederation probably due to their size (click or tap on map to view full sized)

c.800

Archaeology confirms that the ancestors of the Meherrin are living in the North Carolina and Virginia region by this time. The pottery style that is shared with other North Carolina Iroquois people is labelled 'Cashie', which provides an umbrella term for their culture and way of life. Cashie people bury their dead in ossuaries (shared graves) and include grave goods alongside them. The Meherrin specifically grow corn and beans, and also eat hickory nuts, turkey, deer, raccoon, bear, possum, and rabbit, as well as fish, turtle, and mussels. Some of their villages are surrounded by stockades, while others have no walls at all.

1550s

Following the great expeditionary journey made by Hernando de Soto between 1539 and 1542 - covering Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas - the Meherrin are shown on an early Spanish map of eastern North America.

Apachancano

An 'emperor', possibly of the 1550s-1580s period.

No dates are given for Chief Apachancano, but a quote which mentions him would suggest that his rule is not far beyond living memory, if at all: '...the great men and Inhabitants came, and performed divers ceremonies, and dancings before us, as they used to doe to their great Emperour Apachancano...'.

1584 - 1590

FeatureBy this time, three distinctive native North American tribes of the Eastern Woodland dominate the territory now known as Virginia. These tribes speak three different languages - Algonquian, Siouan and Iroquoian - and live in organised villages along the banks of the coastal waterways, in woodlands and mountain valleys. When Europeans begin arriving in the region, they meet Indian people of the coastal plain which is inhabited by an Algonquin empire, today collectively known as Powhatan. The south-western coastal plain is occupied by Iroquois, Nottoway, and Meherrin. The Chickahominy and Eastern Chickahominy occupy the Chickahominy River in New Kent County. The Piedmont is home to two Sioux confederacies: the Monacan and the Manahoac.

In conjunction with other Iroquois-speakers - the Tuscarora and Nottoway - the Meherrin are referred to as Mangoag or Mangoak throughout this period and into the next century. The Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca (all members of the Iroquois confederacy) are also referred to as Mangoak and Mingoes, by their coastal Algonquian-speaking neighbours from Carolina to what is now Canada. The Meherrin are also identified by John White on an early map as 'Mangoack' in 1590.

Iroquois natives
The Iroquois, shown here in the 1800s, settled the eastern areas of the Eastern Woodlands in large numbers in the first millennium AD, but gradual eastwards encroachment into Algonquian lands saw the Iroquoian Meherrin and Nottoway living amongst them in eastern Virginia and North Carolina by the time the Europeans arrived

1606

The Seneca attack the Massawomeck in the northern Lake Erie area. The campaign continues and eventually the Massawomeck suffer major setbacks in 1634. Refugees flow to the south-eastern portion of their territories. They also enter into Susquehannock territories and became known as the 'Black Minqua'. Ultimately, the Massawomeck and Susquehannock are defeated and are absorbed into the Seneca. However, some remaining Massawomeck (and Susquehannock) do manage to escape southwards and merge with the Iroquoian-speaking Meherrin. When Europeans finally enter central Massawomeck territory in the mid-1660s, the land is found to be unoccupied.

1612

While most of the men of the fledgling British Colonies are distracted by the First Anglo-Powhatan War (1609-1614), Captain John Smith puts 'Mangoags' on the south-western section of his new map of Virginia, indicating Meherrin territory.

fl 1650

Maharineck

Listed as 'Old King Maharineck'.

 

Edward Bland in 1650 states; 'This day in the morning the Maharineck great men spake to heare some of our guns go off: Whereupon we shot two guns at a small marke, both hitting it, and at so great a distance of a hundred paces, or more, that the Indians admired at it: And a little before night the old King Maharineck came to us, and told us, that the people in the Towne were afraid when the guns went off, and ran all away into the Woods. This night also we had much Dancing'.

The use of Maharineck as a name can be misleading to modern researchers. The 1705 reservation that is granted to the Meherrin by the Virginia Assembly is also labelled a 'Maharineck'. It would seem to be this word which is translated by the colonists to 'Meherrin Neck', now Manley's Neck in North Carolina. It is unclear whether the term originates with this chief and later becomes synonymous with the principle Meherrin settlement and even the Meherrin name as it is known by the colonists (their own name for themselves is Kauwets'a:ka). An alternative possibility is that 'the old King Maharineck' should in fact read 'the old king of the maharinek', which would mean that his actual name has been lost.

1669 - 1670

The Virginia census of 1669 lists the Meherrin as the 'Menheyricks'. Unfortunately they are not immune to the diseases that have unknowingly been imported by the European settlers, and in 1670 several Meherrin communities are ravaged by a smallpox epidemic. This is the same epidemic that devastates Susquehannock numbers during their war against the Iroquois.

1675

Defeated and besieged Susquehannock abandon an old fort on the Susquehanna River, but launch a series of retaliatory raids on the Virginia and Maryland frontier. Most of the blame for these raids falls on the Virginians' Pamunkey and Occaneeche allies and leads to their near annihilation by the colonists during Bacon's Rebellion the following year. Afterwards, the Susquehannock move north but are attacked by Maryland militia near Columbia, Maryland, where many are killed. Some manage to reach safety with the Meherrin in North Carolina.

Bacon's Rebellion
Nathaniel Bacon refused to follow Governor Berkley's accommodation-not-annihilation approach to dealing with the native Americans - instead he was happy to support the dissatisfied settlers who had suffered from poor crops and high taxes and wanted the natives punished and pushed out

fl 1677

Harehannah / Horehonnah

Listed as paramount (head) chief. Signed the treaty of 1677.

fl 1677 - 1710s

Ununtequero / Vnuntsquero

Listed as a Meherrin chief. Signed the treaty of 1677.

1677

Queen Cockacoeske of the Pamunkey signs the Middle Plantation Treaty, which brings the Third Anglo-Powhatan War to a close. By this treaty all of the tribes submit to the British Colonists, and are confirmed in their tribal lands, subject to an annual peppercorn rent of three arrows and a tribute of beaver skins. Cockacoeske is recognised in certain special dignities.

The signatory tribes are: the Appamatuck, Nansemond, Nantaughtacunds, Pamunkey, Portabaccoes (one of the late-appearing tribes in the confederacy which may be a new formation or the amalgamation of previous units), and Weanoc of the former Powhatan confederacy, plus the Meherrin, Monacan, Nottoway, and Saponi. This treaty marks the end of the Indian period. The Indians along the coast lose their remaining land and are confined to small reservations.

The Meherrin sign their treaty with the Virginia colony, with it outlining the boundaries of Meherrin territory and bringing the Meherrin under the colony's jurisdiction. At this time areas of North Carolina are also claimed as Meherrin territory. The two chiefs who sign the 'Treaty of Middle Plantation' are named as Ununtequero and Harehannah, The latter's signature symbol resembles a snipe.

1680 - 1690

The Meherrin abandon Cowonchahawkon near Emporia in Virginia in 1680 as a result of the treaty of 1677. Abandoning Cowonchahawkon is a strategic move on the part of the Meherrin to avoid conflict with the colonists as the latter attempt to subjugate them. During the next decade a village at Tartara Creek is founded by the Meherrin, at what is now Boykins, Virginia. This area, far from any colonial settlements, is occupied by the Meherrin so that they can isolate themselves from the colonists.

1696 - 1699

The Meherrin begin moving down the Meherrin River in 1696, entering the area near 'Meherrin Neck' - today's Manley's Neck. The Meherrin are noted as being at 'Meherrin Indian Town'. In 1699 Virginia orders its official interpreters to take steps to influence the outcome of peace treaties between the Indians who are residing within the colony (including the Meherrin) and other native North American tribes which are seeking peace with Virginia nations. They order Indian 'Great Men' to turn their wampum belts (peace treaty belts) over to the colony rather than present them to one another, thereby directly interfering in native peace agreements and sovereign affairs.

1703 - 1705

Carolina colonists complain to the Virginia government in 1703, accusing the Meherrin of 'destroying their stocks and burning their timber and houses, refusing to pay tribute or render obedience to that Government'. These reports are never substantiated, and Virginia states that it will handle any further complaints against the Meherrin. The Meherrin themselves deny ever harming colonist homes or property.

In the following year  the Virginia colony again interferes in the sovereign affairs of the Indian nations by preventing them from conducting their own peace treaties. In 1705 Virginia establishes the first reservation in what is now North Carolina for Meherrin who are living at Maharineck or Meherrin Neck (now Manley's Neck), but ownership of the land is disputed by the Carolina colony. Carolina eventually secures control and the Meherrin's Neck reservation is reduced by the Carolina government in 1726, only to be 'reshaped' again in 1729.

Meherrin home
As opposed to the colonial homes they were accused of burning, Meherrin houses were typical of those of all Iroquoian stock which shared the same otherwise unique building style

Virginia also establishes laws which deprive all non-white persons, including Indians, of legal rights including the right to testify in court. The Meherrin are now unable to use the courts to settle land disputes or collect debts against colonists who are stealing their land and food.

1706

Meherrin Town's residents are ordered to 'remove all their effects to the other side of the Moherrin River'. The Meherrin, who are already paying tribute to Virginia, are also ordered to pay tribute to the colony of Carolina under threat of violence should they refuse. The Meherrin beg for more time and are given permission to stay until the following spring.

1707

The Meherrin are told by Carolina to relocate immediately. However, they request compensation for their fertile, cleared fields and remind the Virginia colony that the Meherrin are to be treated as a sovereign nation, having always recognised Virginia's sovereignty. Virginia informs Carolina that the Meherrin are 'entitled to her Majestys protection'.

In August of the same year, Meherrin Town is attacked and destroyed by one Thomas Pollock and a troop of sixty men. Thirty-six natives are held captive for two days, while their farms and belongings are destroyed. In September, the Virginia militia meets with the 'Great Men' (the Meherrin chiefs) and plead with them not to retaliate against Carolina, promising that Virginia will 'protect them'. The Virginia council's president, Colonel Edmond Jennings, later sends a chastising letter to Carolina's leading officials accusing them of being the aggressors.

1711 - 1712

Henry Briggs, official interpreter to the Meherrin and Nottoway, testifies that there are two Meherrin villages named 'Cowinchehoccauk' and later 'Tawarra' at the mouth of the Meherrin River. In the same year, 1711, the Virginia colony prohibits the Meherrin from communicating with the Tuscarora during the Tuscarora War. However, the Meherrin still aid the Tuscarora. In 1712 two Meherrin Indians visit Tuscarora Chief Thomas Blount to procure ammunition. Their names are Tut-sech and Basqueat. However, the Meherrin are still noted as being tributary Indians to the Virginia colony. Several of the colonists transport the Meherrin to pay tribute, and then petition to be reimbursed for their expenses.

1713 - 1714

In March 1713, by order of the British Colonial colonial council at Williamsburg, the Cheroenhaka and Meherrin Indians are incorporated into a single tribe, while the Nansemond and Saponi are incorporated into another single tribe. This is done in order to facilitate the Christian instruction of the children at the two settlements, but it probably also reflects the diminished status of all four groups in the face of territorial encroachment and disease.

A tract of land is laid out on both sides of the Meherrin River in 1714 as a reservation for 'friendly Indians'. Named Fort Christanna or Christiana, it stretches to six square miles (23,040 acres). The Siouan nations - the Occoneechee, Saponi, Stuckanox, and Tutelo - are assigned the south side of the river. The Iroquois nations - the Nottoway and Meherrin - are told to settle on the north. As the Iroquois and Siouan Indians are age-old enemies, conflict is anticipated. The Meherrin refuse to move there and remain in their villages.

Iroquoian speakers
Try as they may to retain the old ways of living in the woodlands of Maryland and Virginia, Iroquoian speakers were gradually being forcibly 'civilised' by their European neighbours

1716

The Indian school at Fort Christanna operates under Charles Griffin, with seventy-eight Indian children held there. The sons of native North American leaders in Virginia and North Carolina, including the Meherrin, are included in that number as hostages to ensure that native nations do not attack the colonies.

Two of the children of the Chief Ununtequero are taken and held by the Virginia colony at William and Mary in Williamsburg. The children are held as leverage to prevent the Meherrin from attacking colonists. This also happens at the same time with the Pamunkey queen's children, as well as children from the Nottoway and Nansemond nations. They are often kept in poor conditions and many die, while those who are returned to their homes soon shed European attempts to educate and Christianise them.

1717

The Meherrin are 'given a reservation in what is now Colerain', now in Bertie County, North Carolina. Governor Charles Eden thinks that the reservation contains around ten thousand acres, but surveyor Colonel Edward Moseley later discovers that in fact it consists of over forty thousand.

1720s

The Meherrin conclude a peace treaty in 1720 with a number of tribal peoples in what is now Pennsylvania, including the Susquehannock. In 1723 they send a petition to the governor of Virginia pleading for protection from colonists who have illegally taken their land, and threaten to take their corn.

Two more petitions are submitted in 1726, this time to North Carolina - one from the Meherrin, and one from colonists who have settled in Meherrin territory. Needless to say both claim the territory and the Meherrin claim is the older of the two. The Meherrin are assigned a new reservation tract by North Carolina's general assembly. This reservation is much smaller than the one established by by Virginia in 1705.

In 1727 the Meherrin are attacked by a group of Saponi Indians. The Meherrin allies, the Tuscarora, have also attacked a group of Saponi, and several reports of murders are made between the Cheroenhaka (also allies) and Saponi. It is also reported that a group of Catawba (allies this time of the Saponi) have attacked Meherrin Town. A report is filed by colonists which wrongly claims that the Meherrin have attacked the Cheroenhaka.

In the following year, 1728, the North Carolina and Virginia colonies are divided into two separately administered regions. At the same time, a small group of Meherrin are documented as living among the Cheroenhaka, seeking refuge from the Catawba who have attacked them. In 1729 yet another new reservation is established, this time at the confluence of the Chowan and Meherrin rivers. This is an expansion of the reservation at Parker's Ferry. This time all colonists are firmly ordered to evacuate or avoid the area.

Meherrin River at Murfreesboro NC
The Meherrin River, named for the tribe that originally dominated its banks when Europeans first came into contact with them, flows into North Carolina before joining the Chowan River to the east of Murfreesboro, NC (shown here actually passing through that town)

1731 - 1733

Twenty Meherrin families are documented in 1731 as living to the east of the Chowan River in North Carolina, near Bennett's Creek. This could equate to over a hundred individuals. Meherrin are again documented as inhabiting land to the east of the Chowan River in 1733. Meherrin Indians now feature on both sides of the river, with the Tuscarora on the Roanoke. The Meherrin still reside there in the late eighteenth century (see 1781).

1757

'King Blunt and the thirty-three Tuscaroras, seven Meherrins, two Saponies, and thirteen Notoways' enlist at Williamsburg with George Washington’s regiment to aid in the French-Indian War. The Tuscarora and Meherrin contingent say that they have 'buried their weapons' and will only use them to fight a true enemy. As the colonists are their friends, they will fight for them until the enemy is defeated at which time they will rebury their weapons.

The superintendent of Indian affairs, Edmund Atkins, cites an example of brotherhood between the Meherrin and Tuscarora. He states that there had been a party of Cherokee who had wanted to take the scalp of a Meherrin, and that if this were to happen it would cause 'another National Quarrel with the Tuskeroras' and that this would threaten alliances with the British crown.

1761

Twenty Meherrin warriors are documented as living on a North Carolina reservation of ten thousand acres of land that has been allotted to them near the Roanoke River. They are noted as living in 'perfect friendship with the Inhabitants'. Two years later, in 1763, a group of Meherrin are noted as still residing peacefully in Virginia, and still without any of the trappings of colonialism.

1776

On 15 June, in anticipation of coming events, the colonial assembly of Delaware declares itself to be separate from British rule. On 4 July 1776, Britain's remaining twelve eastern colonies in North America make a public declaration of independence. In the same year approximately fifteen Meherrin fight on the side of the revolutionaries while other tribes fight on the side of the British.

Siege of Yorktown 1781
French forces were present in large numbers at the Siege of Yorktown in 1781, but what is less often shown is the many native tribes which sided with the main participants and fought a war within a war against each other as well as the various uniformed troops who opposed them

1781 - 1795

According to John R Swanton, Meherrin Indians are living on the Roanoke River in 1781 with the southern bands of Tuscarora and Saponi, plus the Machapunga. The 'Meherrin Ville Indienne' (Meherrin Indian Village) is indicated on a 1782 French map of North Carolina and Virginia, and on several other maps that are produced during this period. The Tuscarora are directly south in Indian Woods. Some Meherrin reside there as well in 1781, while the Samuel Lewis map of North Carolina in 1795 identifies Meherrin Town just to the south of the Potecasi Creek.

1802

By now the Meherrin tribal structure seems either to be on the verge of collapse or has already collapsed. This century soon sees the end of the last paramount chief until 1975 and other tribal members may now be viewed as direct citizens of the North Carolina government. Tribal Meherrin are taken under the protection of the Haudenosaunee (the Iroquois confederacy). Some Meherrin migrate to Canada and join the Six Nations on the Grand River Reserve. Some Tuscarora join them.

1822

A number of Meherrin in Hertford County sign their names (demonstrating literacy) to a petition to the North Carolina government complaining that slaves are now able to testify against 'Free Persons of Colour' (Indians, mulattos, and free Africans).

1838

Sallie or Sally M Lewis born. From her many present-day Meherrin are descended. She sells several tracts of reservation land before her death in 1904. According to Meherrin oral history, as a child Sallie had escaped from an attack on the Meherrin reservation. This had, essentially, saved the tribe. Now, in 1838, Meherrin elders 'take her in', leaving her miles away from the reservation to protect her from harm as an assault against the Meherrin ensues. With Lewis' survival, a large extended family along with other Meherrin survivors continues to thrive in their North Carolina community.

1851

Pleasant Plains Church is founded by members of several Meherrin families. Many of their descendants attend the church in the present day and are enrolled as members of the modern Meherrin nation.

Pleasant Plains Baptist Church
Pleasant Plains Church was photographed for a hundredth anniversary souvenir programme in 1951, despite apparently closing down just two years before it reached that anniversary

1885

North Carolina passes a constitutional amendment which prohibits Indians (and Afro-Caribbeans) from voting, serving on juries, testifying against whites, bearing arms, or learning to read and write. The Meherrin and neighbouring tribes try everything possible to disguise their true identity, passing themselves off as other races, including black, white, or mulatto. For most of the nineteenth century, as colonists continue to trespass on Meherrin land, the Meherrin retreat into the neighbouring swamps and less desirable areas. In order to protect their remaining territory, they parcel out tribal property into individually-owned pockets of land. They continue to operate their own native North American churches. They also have their own Indian schools throughout the segregation period.

1949 / 1969

Pleasant Plains School closes down in 1949, just two years short of a century after being opened by the Meherrin nation. In 1969 over six hundred Meherrin descendants are recorded as residing on the Six Nations Grand River reservation in Canada.

1975 / 1986

Wayne Brown works towards reorganising the Meherrin tribal government in 1975, with the assistance of Fred Hedgepeth. The Meherrin people continually maintain a degree of self-governance through Indian churches and schools. This demonstrates that the severe racial attitude in this region has mellowed somewhat for them. Soon the tribe turns its energy towards electing tribal officials and planning for the future. Wayne becomes the first Meherrin chief, under the aegis of the tribe's newly-formed government, since the 1800s. In 1986 North Carolina grants state recognition to the Meherrin nation.

1975 - 2019

Wayne Mackanear Brown

Born 1948. First modern paramount chief. Died 7 Feb 2019.

2003 - 2013

Since gaining state recognition the Meherrin have worked to revive aspects of traditional Iroquois culture within the tribe including language, ceremony, and dances. In 2003 a law is enacted regarding the Meherrin people now residing in small communities in Hertford, Bertie, Gates, and Northampton counties - descendants of those who had been included in the 1726 treaty. They are to be designated and officially recognised as the 'Meherrin Tribe of North Carolina', with full rights as such.

Meherrin Chief Wayne Brown
Chief Wayne Mackanear Brown was the first paramount chief of the Meherrin for at least a hundred and fifty years, having helped set up a reborn tribal government and gaining state recognition for the people

A traditional Iroquois ceremony is held in Meherrin territory in 2008, for the first time in over two hundred years. In the following year a 'Gayanashagowa Review' ('Great Law of Peace Review') is conducted by the Onondaga Wolf Clan's Chief Billy Lazore and Mike Jock of the Mohawk. Many Meherrin attend this ceremony and renew the Meherrin to uphold the Gayanashagowa and Iroquois traditions. The Meherrin also receive an honorary medal and plaque from Colonel West of the United States Army at Fort Bragg Army Base for participating in a native North American heritage celebration.

Over the next three years, Meherrin members are named grand marshals at the Emporia Peanut Festival, where they demonstrate traditional Iroquois social dances. In 2012, following the conclusion of a five year-long court battle within the Meherrin nation, tribal members re-elect Wayne Brown as chief, along with a new council which can ensure that the leadership of the Meherrin can be properly decided in the future. As a distinguished guest, Chief Wayne Brown attends the inauguration ceremonies in 2013 for North Carolina's Governor Pat McCrory.