Skip to content
2007 plans inclusive of blacks, Indians
Plans to involve African Americans and Virginia Indians into various parts of the Jamestown 2007 commemoration highlighted a recent presentation in Lane Auditorium at the Bruton Heights School Education Center. Panelists were:
Stephen Adkins, chief of the Chickahominy Tribe.
Frank Richardson, a member of the Rappahannock Tribe.
ex Ellis, vice president for the Historic Area at Colonial Williamsburg and co-chair of the 2007 African-American Advisory Council.
Liz Montgomery, treasurer of the Virginia African American Forum, who discussed plans to involve African Americans.
In addition, Jeanne Zeidler, executive director of Jamestown 2007 and chair of the host committee, gave the welcome and later moderated questions. Gloria Jackson-Warren provided an overview of 400th planning.
Planned key events involving Virginia Indians include a symposium this September and an intertribal cultural festival in summer of 2007. The latter event is tentatively set for the Hampton Coliseum.
Adkins recalled the late 1990s when the 2007 event was referred to as a "celebration."
He said Virginia Indians look at 1607 as a diminution of their culture and the loss of Indian lives, land and birthright.
When the decision was made to refer to the events of 2007 as a commemoration, he said the Indians could live with that.
"This commemoration provides a very unique and signal opportunity [for Virginia Indians] to step to the plate," he said. "We view this as an opportunity to tell who we are. It's not my goal to rewrite history. My goal is to make history right."
As part of the commemoration, a large group of Virginia Indians will go to Kent County, England, this coming July for a festival. In the festival there, the Indians will share their dances, prayers, and crafts, and take part in several national forums.
"This is the first time in 400 years we will be able to tell the world who we are, what we're about, and our contributions to what I think is the best country in the world," Adkins added. "You'll be glad you're part of Virginia, you'll be glad you're part of this commemoration."
Richardson said for the intertribal event planned for Hampton, Virginia Indians will invite representatives from 8-10 other tribes from around the country to discuss their experiences. The event will include educational programs and entertainment, booths for each Virginia tribe to showcase their history and culture, and more.
The list of events for the Indians could grow. "We're looking at everything that is on the plate," he said. He said he hopes Indians can be part of the National Teach-In and a planned webcast that are part of the commemoration's signature events.
Ellis said the commemoration is an "opportunity to showcase the journey of Africans and African Americans from Africa to the New World, but most importantly, from Jamestown and slavery to freedom and beyond."
The African American Advisory Council is working on three programs for the commemoration.
The first is a nationally broadcast symposium Feb. 9-10 to highlight 400 years of "African-American imprints on America." The group is seeking a nationally known moderator.
In conjunction, the state's five historically black colleges and universities will host events that include art and culture, politics, spirituality and religion and music.
Ellis said a "cultural and commerce exposition" is set for August 2007. The event will "showcase the significant contributions of Africans and African Americans in every area of American society over the past 400 years," Ellis said. Programs will look at education, pure and applied sciences, art, literature, culture, music, history and business.
The third event is a legacy project that will focus on African-American education.
"We want to produce a DVD that can be used in helping students understand the history of African-American education and the role the historically black colleges and universities have played in its development," Ellis said.
Montgomery talked about the Virginia African American Forum's plans for a "preview gala" at Jamestown Settlement Oct. 14, 2006.