RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Ralph Northam met with the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Native American Tribes this morning at the Executive Mansion for the annual Virginia Tax Tribute.

Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virgina Kelly Thomasson kicked off the event as the official liaison between Governor Northam and the Native American tribes located in Virginia.

Gov. Northam said that the ceremony began in 1677 and has taken place annually for 344 years.

“We, as an administration, have really tried to build on the relationships that we have with the Native Americans,” Northam said. “I think we all should remember and remind ourselves that when the Europeans came to this country many years ago, these lands already had people on them. And that was your ancestors. And we need to make sure that we honor and recognize that.”

According to officials, a treaty signed in the 1600s calls for the tribes to make an annual offering to the Governor of Virginia, traditionally the day before Thanksgiving, in lieu of paying taxes.

The giving of gifts began with First Lady Pam Northam receiving a handmade friendship bracelet.

Some of the other gifts given by the tribes included a ceremonial rattle, two deer, a corn husk doll and a quilt decorated with masks the tribes said symbolize all that Gov. Northam has done to keep Native Americans safe during the pandemic.

Throughout the event, songs were sung and instruments were played to give thanks and celebrate Thanksgiving.

Northam stated that he is “confident” Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin will lead Virginia well in the tradition.