Virginia Indians Discuss 400 Years of Survival

Conference to Feature Nationally Known Speakers on Indian History and Culture Williamsburg, VA—Virginia’s Indian tribes are hosting a three-day conference this October to showcase their culture and discuss the laws and policies that have affected Virginia Indians and Indians nationwide. “Virginia Indians: 400 Years of Survival” will be held Oct. 5-7 at the Williamsburg Lodge and at tribal centers throughout Virginia. It will feature representatives from Virginia’s eight-state recognized tribes as well as nationally known speakers and dignitaries. The conference will include panel discussions on “Indian Law and Culture Through History,” “Government Policy as it Relates to American Indians,” and “Preserving History and Culture.”

“The first laws concerning Indian tribes originated in Virginia, and the first forced displacement of Indian tribes to reservations occurred in Virginia. Those termination and reservation policies went on to affect Indians across America, and are not properly taught as part of Virginia or United States history,” said Upper Mattaponi Chief Kenneth Adams. “This symposium gives us an opportunity to educate the public on parts of our culture and history, and review these laws and policies in an educational environment.”

Dr. Robert Duncan, president of Bacone College in Muscogee, OK, will address conference attendees during a luncheon being held at the lodge. Many Virginia Indians attended Bacone College from the 1940s through the 1990s. At times Bacone was the only high school education available to Virginia Indians. Tex Hall, chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara) in North Dakota, will deliver a keynote speech during a banquet that evening. Hall is the former president of the National Congress of American Indians. In appearances before congressional committees and in many other venues, he has lobbied on behalf of all Native Americans on such issues as housing, education, and discrimination in employment.

The conference then takes to the road for a two-day tour of Virginia’s tribal lands. On Oct. 6, the Chickahominy, Mattaponi, Pamunkey, Rappahannock and the Upper Mattaponi tribes are inviting the public to their tribal centers to participate in special events and programs showcasing their culture and history. The tour will conclude with a special dinner, traditional music and dancing at the Chickahominy tribal center. On Oct. 7, the Monacan Indian Nation will host its annual Homecoming in Amherst County. Transportation and a guided tour will be available for conference attendees wishing to attend.

“As we visit the tribal centers, hopefully participants will learn first-hand about our past and the hopes we have for our future. We have never before had this opportunity to tell our own story in our own words on such a comprehensive level,” Adams said.

The panel discussions are free to the public. Separate fees will be assessed for individuals attending the banquet functions on Oct. 5, for individuals interested in the bus tour to the various tribal centers on Oct. 6 or for transportation to the Monacan Indian Nation’s homecoming on Oct. 7. The conference agenda is attached.

For Immediate Release Contact: Kevin Crossett, Jamestown 2007 August 30, 2006 (757) 253-4534

Chief Kenneth Adams, Upper Mattaponi (804) 370-5249