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Lionel "Wise Spirit" Custalow


I am honored to have been elected as the Chief of the Mattaponi tribe. As a lifetime reservation resident, being Mattaponi was a way of life for me from my earliest memory. Descending from both sides of the Custalow families, I learned from the Elders. As a young boy, I sat on my father’s lap in Council meetings, and then as a young man, I held a seat on the Council for many years. As a traditional Mattaponi man, I net fish, bow hunt and I made our tribal drum. It is the heartbeat of our tribe. For the last 25 years, I have owned and operated Custalow’s Cabinets on the reservation and have employed many tribal members. I have recently finished construction on another reservation business that will open soon bringing tourism and more jobs to tribal members.

As your Chief, I will create economic opportunities without relying on government handouts. We do not have the time to wait for more handouts that never benefit tribal members. I am ready to work for the Mattaponi people in creating a transparent government where all members have access and equality while preserving our culture and strengthening our community. Our children and grandchildren’s future hinge on the path we walk today. I am humbled by your nominations and consider it an honor to serve. Please share your ideas and concerns with me at:

Lionel "Wise Spirit" Custalow
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