Raising her twelve children, Adams faced the bigotry of Walter A. Plecker's management of the Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics. Plecker systematically worked to reclassify all Virginia Indians as negro or colored and therefore relegate them to the same racist laws to which African Americans were subject. In a counter move to Plecker's claims against the Indians, several white men signed a statement certifying Adams's Indian ancestry. Despite this adversity, Adams was a tribal elder and passed on the almost-lost skill of feather weaving. She aided anthropologists by allowing her picture to be published in one study and by explaining her herbal remedies to researchers. Adams built a strong base for the modern Upper Mattaponi through her church and tribal activism. Her son Andrew Washington Adams was chief of the Upper Mattaponi from 1974 to 1985, and her grandson, Kenneth Adams, is the current chief.
Nominated by Arlene Milner, Keysville.
Reprinted with permission of the Library of Virginia.