Imagery of Regent people and campus

Regent Helps Nansemond Indians Receive Land

| November 18, 2010

Dr. Greg Stone and Nansemond Assistant Chief Earl Bass.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Greg Stone

After persevering for a decade, Virginia's Nansemond Indian Tribe will be receiving about 70 acres of ancestral tribal land in the city of Suffolk, following an historic vote by the Suffolk City Council on Wednesday, Nov. 17. Regent University has been working alongside the tribal leaders, assisting them throughout the long process.

Since 2000, faculty and students from the School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship (GLE) and Regent Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) have worked with the Nansemond tribe conducting feasibility studies, developing a marketing plan, and creating a business plan for Mattanock Town, an authentic Native American educational resource and tourist attraction that the tribe plans to develop on their newly acquired land.

Faculty members and students have also provided leadership training for tribal elders, and professors from the School of Law have assisted with document review.

Regent's involvement with the tribe began when the son of GLE's Dr. John Mulford, then dean of the School of Business, was mowing the lawn of Dot Dalton, facilitator for the Nansemond project. She had been seeking assistance from other schools in the region, and Mulford's son Andrew suggested she call his father. That phone call led to the strong, enduring relationship between Regent and the Nansemond tribe.

"I knew the importance of having a major university behind our project," Dalton said. "Regent has been an integral part of this process and will continue to be as we move forward."

What was originally envisioned as a six- to nine-month process turned into a decade, as Suffolk city leaders kept requesting additional information and conditions. According to Virginia law, the tribe needed six votes from the city council to receive their land. A vote in 2007, with only five council members supporting the request, put a halt to the project until a few months ago when the city council provided another opportunity to review the project and vote again. Regent representatives assisted with preparation of materials for the council, and several attended the meeting in support of the Nansemond's request.

The Suffolk City Council's action this week is the first time in Virginia that a municipality has returned land to a Native American tribe without a lawsuit, and it's believed to be one of about five other instances in the nation.

"This has been a long process of relationship-building with the Nansemond tribe and many here at Regent have supported us over the years," said Dr. Greg Stone, GLE professor and SIFE advisor. "Many SIFE teams have worked on this, and many of the students who have graduated have kept in touch with me, asking if the tribe ever received their land. I'm sending out email updates today to let them know we finally succeeded."

One of those students, Angel Ferrell, '03 (GLE) graduated from Regent several years ago, but has returned to Regent as a doctoral student and SIFE advisor. Justin Taylor, SIFE president, and Connie Tynes, SIFE project manager, also played key roles. Dr. Bruce Winston, current GLE dean, has also been a major supporter.

Moving forward, Regent will continue to assist the Nansemonds by providing additional leadership training with new members of the tribal council, as well as helping leaders organize the first stage of construction on the site — building a traditional Nansemond longhouse in spring 2011.

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Mindy Hughes, Public Relations

Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888

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