The Monacan Indian Nation is working to open a new office in the town of Amherst in early 2019.
The office is on South Main Street near the Amherst Public Library in a building formerly used by Acres of Virginia, a local surveying firm.
Assistant Chief Pam Thompson said the new office is an addition to the tribe’s headquarters at the Monacan Ancestral Museum at 2009 Kenmore Road in Amherst County.
“That will be our working office,” Thompson said of the new location.
The tribe is in the process of setting up the workspace, and four employees will begin working out of the office the second week in January, Thompson said. The office comes after the tribe received its long-awaited recognition from the federal government in January, according to Thompson.
Ken Branham, an Amherst tribe member and former chief, said the unofficial start date for the new office is Jan. 7.
Branham said the tribe has worked throughout the year to set up the new office so it can take advantage of the offerings federal recognition affords. Health care offerings tribe members can tap into, grants young people are eligible for and federal housing assistance are examples, he said.
“They will take care of the paperwork needs,” Branham said of the office’s employees.
The office also will help members with other needs such as renewing membership cards, he said. A key component of the new office is internet access to help meet those needs, he said.
“It’s something we’ve tried to do,” Branham said.
About 100 tribe members celebrated the milestone of the tribe receiving federal recognition at a Dec. 15 event in Lynchburg. Thompson said in addition to the new office helping Monacan members with any assistance they need it will open up the door for economic development opportunities.
“The location is perfect,” Thompson said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
The tribe is renting the office with the possibility of purchasing it in the future, she said. An administrator, assistant administrator, enrollment clerk and accountant are among employees who will work there, she said.
Thompson said the office is set to operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Justin Faulconer covers Amherst County for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5551.