AHOSKIE, NC – Wayne Mackanear Brown, Principal Chief of the Meherrin Nation, age 70, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on Thursday, February 2019 at Select Specialty Hospital Duke Regional.
He was born on July 02, 1948 in Ahoskie, North Carolina, a son of the late *Joseph Mackanear and *Arlene Melton Brown. He attended Calvin Scott Brown School. In 1967 he attended Fayetteville State University (FSU) earning a B.S. degree in Political Science and Social Studies in 1970 and was a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and Who’s Who. In 1972 he attended University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNC-G) earning a Master’s degree in Social American History. In 1972 he married Evelyn Jean James, and together they had one child, Pierre F. Brown. They divorced in 1978. He taught history and geography at Ahoskie High and was one of the first teachers to teach European, Native American and African American history. In 1977 he began a career with the Virginia Department of Corrections serving as Operations Manager and then as a Administrative Assistant to the Chief Warden. He was the primary spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Corrections and liaison between the Institution and the Virginia Attorney Generals Office. He was the first Native American to serve a high-ranking role in Virginia government and served with distinction until retiring in July 2007.
Wayne loved his family, and served his tribe passionately. In 1975 he placed an ad in the local newspaper-seeking Meherrin Nation descendants. He re-organized the Meherrin Nation in 1975 and became the first chief under the newly formed government since the 1800s. This led to the endeavor of gaining state recognition in 1986 and the pursuit to obtain federal recognition for the tribe. In 2008, following a notable career in Virginia, Wayne Brown was elected Principal Chief in a general election by Meherrin Nation tribal members. Chief Brown instituted many beneficial programs for the Meherrin Nation and facilitated the return of traditional Iroquois cultural practices to our community. Working with tribal members and medicine society members from the Haudeonosaunee, Chief Brown restored ceremonies and the Great Law of Peace in the Meherrin Community, which shares a history with the Tuscarora Nation. These have grown among the community in the time since.
Throughout his life, Chief Brown put the interests and needs of his family and nation above all else. He will be greatly missed.
It is written "Deganahwideh said that a chief must always speak the truth. A chief, must be kind, considerate, generous, and must always consider the welfare of his people. He must give freely of what he owns to his people, especially the poor and less fortunate. He must always be ready to help those of his people who are in want or need. His aid must be given willingly and he must recieve no pay or reward for his services. He must even be willing to give away his own personal belongings, even skins and meat, if it will better his people by doing so. A chief must never forget the Creator of Mankind. He must even ask the Great Spirit for help and assistance. He must always remember the Laws of the Great Peace. They must come before every other thought."
To this day, we have remained in small communities near the North Carolina and Virginia border, in Hertford, Gates, North Hampton and Bertie Counties, within the state of NC
Meherrin people refer to ourselves as Kauwets'a:ka, meaning "People of the Water." We are an Iroquois nation- close relatives of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) with whom we share deep historical and cultural ties. Please explore our website and learn about our rich culture and unique history!