If Congress agrees, descendants of Virginia’s original forebears will finally get their due. Power to them.
After all, they legitimately lay claim to a lot of history here. A young Pocahontas graced StaffordCounty’s shores centuries before anyone can recall. She was an original example of what eventually became racial intermarriage, as she soon high-tailed to merry old England with her Brit hubby, John Rolfe, who had lived in Jamestown village. That was some 50 years before StaffordCounty was born.
Believe it or not, that sort of intermarriage still sparks support and ridicule.
While I have no personal stake in the outcome of the pending federal law approving and benefiting half a dozen of Virginia’s tribes, I remember that an early relative on my dad’s side did get scalped, according to family lore, in an Oklahoma raid on settlers there.
In contrast, Virginia’s Colonists should have thanked their lucky stars that the tribes they encountered at Jamestown and vicinity were mostly friendly and supportive of the visitors.
Personal biases aside, my wife and I have visited public tribal functions nearby where genuine products were displayed, and on sale. One event held in Falmouth on a sunny summer afternoon attracted a large crowd, and cost me quite a sum before we escaped with some nice jackets and such.
I have one (ahem) reservation though. I fear that Virginia’s tribes getting federal recognition might get the green light to go for some real green, like other tribes in the northeast that have built huge gambling casinos on their lands and garnered the earnings of multitudes.
True, I understand that the law to establish the Virginia tribes under federal oversight and benefit specify no gambling operations permitted. Maybe so, but regulations can change once implemented. So we’ll see.
Which reminds me, when I first moved to the D.C. area for a government job, I never considered living in Maryland. Its numerous slot machines made me think it was poorly governed. In contrast, Virginia politics looked clean. I never regretted choosing Falls Church and much later, Aquia Harbour.
Here I soon learned of the Indians’ major influence way back when in the area. Way back. My home is on a ridge where definite signs of ancient Indian activity were unearthed: Stone artifacts such as dart points, spear points, arrowheads and other tools dating as far back as 8,000 B.C.
Fast forward to 1607 A.D., when Jamestown was settled by the English on the James River. Soon Capt. John Smith would journey up the Potomac River and discover an Indian tribe, the Patawomecks, and their settlement on nearby Potomac Creek.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Ben Blankenship, a columnist here since 1995, lives in Aquia Harbour. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.