George L. Nelson, chief of the Rappahannock

Rappahannock Tribe

The northern divisions of the Confederacy are represented by descendants on Potomac creek in King George county, also in Wicomico County and by a fairly large body scattered through parts of Essex and King and Queen counties. The latter living south of Rappahannock River were considered by Mooney to be, in all probability, the remnant of the Nantaughtacund tribe; but they now bear the name Rappahannock (figs. 38, 39). It is possible that there are as many as 500 of this classification, though in 1923 the number forming the body known as the Rappahannock Indian Association embraced only some 200 who were carrying over the name and tradition of the old tribe. They were led by Chief George L. Nelson, who was very active in matters of Indian reconstruction in Virginia. Prior to their renaissance they were not prominent in colonial literature. The Rappahannock Tribe unit shows evidence of slight divergence in custom from the Pamunkey and Mattaponi, with whom there has been hitherto only an irregular contact. It is quite unnecessary in this place to give further details of the results of research in the history and ethnology of this community as the subject is treated in a separate memoir. 1

George L. Nelson, chief of the Rappahannock
Fig. 38 – George L. Nelson, chief of the Rappahannock and of the reorganized Powhatan Confederacy (1923)
R. H. Clark, Rappahannock
Fig. 39 – R. H. Clark, Rappahannock



  1. Speck, F. G., The Rappahannock Indians of Virginia, Indian Notes and Monographs, vol. v, no. 3, 1925.[]

Speck, Frank Gouldsmith. Chapters on the ethnology of the Powhatan tribes of Virginia. Indian Notes and Monographs, vol. 1, num. 5, pp. 225-455. Editor: Hodge, F. W. Heye Foundation, Museum of the American Indian. 1928.

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