RICHMOND – House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith, who represents Salem and other parts of Roanoke County, and legendary Las Vegas entertainer Wayne Newton met at the Virginia General Assembly Building Feb. 2.
The Las Vegas entertainer who spent his early childhood years in the Roanoke Valley was in Richmond to testify in favor of state recognition for the Patowomeck Indian Tribe, also known as Potomac, of which Newton is a member. Griffith is vice chairman of the committee Newton testified before, the Rules Committee of the Virginia House of Delegates.
Recognition would allow the group to be known as a tribe, and, according to Chief Robert “Two Eagles” Green, would help the tribe protect sacred burial grounds. There are already eight tribes acknowledged by the state.
Carson Wayne Newton and his brother, Jerry, both learned to play musical instruments from the late Elmer Ridenhour, who taught thousands of students in 47 years and opened Ridenhour’s Music in Salem and several others throughout the Roanoke Valley.
Newton had a morning radio show on WDBJ before going to school at Garden City Elementary. His father, Patrick, had Powhatan ancestors and his mother, Evelyn, also had Native American relatives.
According to House Speaker Bill Howell from Stafford County, who sponsored the bill, Newton used to be a common surname in part of Stafford County, “and they used to be called the ‘Newton Indians.’ “