Ozias Oliver Adkins (24 May 1911–23 October 1987), Chickahominy chief, was born in Charles City County, one of three sons and a daughter of Ozias Westmore Adkins and Susan Henry Adkins. His parents were members of the Chickahominy Indian tribe when the tribal organization was revived in 1908, and from 1918 to 1939 his father served as the second chief of the Chickahominy. Adkins grew up in Charles City County and attended the Samaria Indian School. He married Juliet Oleta Adkins, a member of the Chickahominy tribe. Like many other Virginia Indians, the couple married outside the state to avoid discriminatory racial classifications assigned in its vital records. The chaplain of the House of Representatives performed the ceremony in Washington, D.C., on 1 April 1937. They had three daughters and also raised a nephew in their home.

O. Oliver Adkins worked with heavy machinery in his father's Charles City County lumber business and as a cabinetmaker in Richmond. He also had a long career as a historical interpreter, beginning at the Syms-Eaton Museum in Hampton and continuing for many years as an interpreter at the Jamestown Festival Park, where he was popular with visitors. He particularly enjoyed teaching visitors about the resiliency of the native culture of Virginia.

Known as Lone Eagle within the tribe, Adkins succeeded his father as chief of the Chickahominy in 1940 and was reelected without interruption until 1986. He worked to improve educational opportunities for the children of the tribe but was best known for his work on behalf of Indian rights at the state and national levels. He attended out-of-state meetings of Indians while his father was chief, and he continued to travel throughout his own terms as chief. In 1972 Governor Abner Linwood Holton Jr. appointed him to the Virginia Minority Economic Development Commission to serve as a consultant on economic problems facing the state's native population and to act as a liaison between the Indian community and the state government. In 1983 Adkins became a member of the State Commission on Indians. He wholeheartedly supported the commission's efforts to encourage research about Virginia Indian history and culture in order to increase public awareness of Indian contributions to Virginia's heritage and to dispel misunderstandings about Native American cultures. His efforts culminated in February 1983 when the General Assembly granted official recognition to the modern Chickahominy Indian tribe. He retired in 1986 and became chief emeritus.

O. Oliver Adkins, Chief Lone Eagle, died at his home in Charles City County on 23 October 1987 and was buried in the cemetery at Samaria Indian Baptist Church, to which he had belonged for most of his life.


Sources Consulted:
Family records and papers in possession of Brenda Kay Adkins Montez; interviews with Adkins, Jan., May, Aug. 1984; tribal registers in possession of Adkins, 1984; other data provided by Claude Evans, Charles City Co.; gravestone inscriptions, Samaria Indian Baptist Church, Charles City Co.; obituaries in Richmond Times-Dispatch, 25, 26 Oct. 1987, Richmond News Leader (portrait), 26 Oct. 1987, and Williamsburg Virginia Gazette, 28 Oct. 1987.

Written for the Dictionary of Virginia Biography by Michael J. Puglisi.

How to cite this page:
Michael J. Puglisi,"Ozias Oliver Adkins (1911–1987)," Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Library of Virginia (1998– ), published 1999, rev. 2018 (http://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/dvb/bio.php?b=Adkins_Ozias_Oliver, accessed [today's date]).


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