Pamunkey Indians consider our tribe to consist of individuals who have a common Pamunkey ancestry AND social contact to the Pamunkey tribal body residing on our centuries-old traditional lands.  

There are two avenues to trace ancestry: 1) lineage traced (and verified by the Tribe) to a specific group of Pamunkey tribal Citizens identified via various federal and tribal censuses conducted between 1900 and 1910 OR, 2) lineage traced by a qualified genealogist (approved by the tribe) to a historical list of Pamunkey Indians dating from 1787 to 1842.  This second avenue can be directly used by an applicant though bear in mind that a certified genealogist must be approved by the Tribe.  If an individual cannot afford to retain a certified genealogist, the Tribe may award up to $2500 to retain a genealogist from a Tribal-approved list upon the Tribe’s genealogist reviewing all documentation the individual may have regarding their ancestry to ensure there is a reasonable basis to believe the individual may trace back to this earlier list.

Social contact requires pre-existing mutual socialization with existing Pamunkey tribal Citizens, especially those residing on the reservation, to a level determined satisfactory by the Pamunkey Chief and Council.  These criteria may surprise individuals who assume that ancestry and/or a particular blood quantum are all that is required.

As a sovereign nation, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe reserves the right to decide its own membership and we have chosen these criteria to ensure a focus on the social aspect of what it means to be a tribe versus simply being a family tree.

There may be individuals who possess now-outdated membership cards given by former tribal chiefs.  Such cards are considered obsolete and do not denote tribal membership because they were given without any enrollment documentation and the tribal government never knew who received such cards or when.  The tribe reached out to known members and those members who submitted requested documentation and were approved for membership should now have new cards that include issue/expiration dates and an enrollment number.  If you did not receive one, it is likely that you are not on our roll or we did not have a good address.   If you believe you were missed, please reach out to family members residing on the reservation for more information.

The Pamunkey Tribe does not provide ancestry research assistance.  We do not provide telephone and e-mail contact information for individual membership inquiries simply because we don’t have the paid staff to manage the task.  Do not call the Pamunkey Indian Museum with such inquiries because the staff members have been instructed to ignore such inquiries.  Please reach out to family members residing on the reservation if you have questions. The Pamunkey Tribe reserves the right to choose whether or not to respond to membership inquiries it does receive.  Unsolicited documents will not be returned.  Unsolicited monies will not be returned and will be donated to the Pamunkey Indian Museum and Cultural Center.


The individual known and/or self-proclaimed as Crown Prince Emperor El Bey Bigbay (or other variations of this name) and also known as William McRae, is not associated in any manner with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe nor the Pamunkey Tribal Government, despite statements made by this individual and/or others, either spoken or written, to include the Facebook identity, “Pamunkey Nation” and the Internet domains “”, “”, “”, “”, “” and “”.  This individual’s use of images and other copyrighted material associated with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe/Nation is not approved by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe.  The Pamunkey Tribe also does not recognize as members other persons who claim association with this individual.  The public is encouraged to research this individual’s history on the Internet to learn more.