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Monacan tribe considers possibilities for new property

October 1, 2021 GMT

MONROE, Va. (AP) — The Monacan Indian Nation recently purchased nearly 1,300 acres (about 526 hectares) in Monroe for $5.5 million, and the Amherst County-based tribe’s chief said their plans for development will benefit the tribe and the county.

Chief Kenneth Branham confirmed the purchase and said the tribe is considering development ideas including a retirement home community and rehabilitation center for alcohol and drug addiction, The News & Advance reported. The Monacans became a federally recognized tribe in early 2018 after a two-decade push. Last year, the tribe bought property that now serves as the tribe’s headquarters with space for offices, classes, a food bank and a future clinic site.

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The 1,292 acre property has three houses, two of which are being rented out. One of the homes could eventually be developed to be used as a wedding venue destination with beautiful scenic views, Branham said.

“It’s a big piece of property,” Branham said. “It will be years in the making for a lot of the stuff, but we’re very fortunate to acquire it.”

The site could also host the Monacans’ powwow, a major event that brings thousands to the county in the spring. The Monacans’ dream has been to own the land where the powwow is held each year, Branham said.

The land is largely agricultural in zoning and for any development, the county would have to consider utilities like water and sewer and traffic impact, Community Development Director Jeremy Bryant said. A retirement home development would help meet a housing need in the county, he said.

With the county’s aging population, senior living opportunities are a major need, according to Jimmy Ayers of the Amherst County Board of Supervisors.

“Our population is a little toward the senior side. Our youth retention is very low,” Ayers said. “As folks age, they have to make housing adjustments. They look to find more of a maintenance-free style living. If that works out for (the tribe) to develop a senior living sector on that property … that’s a great thing if they can bring that to fruition.”