Giving Back to the River: The Pamunkey and Mattaponi Fish Hatcheries


Native people traidionally recognize the need to give back to their environment rather than to simply take from it. When a man killed a deer, he thanked the Creator and left cornmeal at the spot. The Native peoples of Virginia have lived on its rivers for thousand of years, and they too reciprocate, returning and sustaining life in gratitude for the fishing and hunting in which they still engage.


For almost 100 years, the Mattaponi and Pamunkey tribes have operated separate hatcheries on the rivers that bear their names, helping American shad to spawn and returning hatched fry to the rivers.