Friday, December 8, 2023

Colonial Williamsburg to Celebrate Native American Heritage Month throughout November

Bob and Marion Wilson Teacher Institute “American Indian Experience.” Teacher’s visit Colonial Williamsburg’s American Indian Encampment for a Question and Answer session with Native American Interpreter Kody Grant. Pictured: Kody Grant (center) and teachers. (Courtesy of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

WILLIAMSBURG — The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (CWF) announced it is celebrating Native American Heritage Month by offering new programming from Colonial Williamsburg’s American Indian Initiative throughout November.

“As part of the Foundation’s work to tell an accurate and inclusive story of America’s origins, the American Indian Initiative will offer new and increased programming this month including the public debut of Colonial Williamsburg’s newest Nation Builder, Oconostota, a member of the Cherokee nation and a part of Cherokee delegation that came to Williamsburg in 1777,” CWF said in an announcement.

Nation Builder Oconostota behind the Governor’s Palace, portrayed here by Kody Grant. (Courtesy of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

CWF announced that Oconostota will be a regular participant in the Visit a Nation Builder program starting this month. Nation Builders and programming vary depending on the date. Up-to-date scheduling information can be found on CW’s Planner.

“I think most people underestimate the significant role that American Indians played in 18th century Virginia,” said Colonial Williamsburg’s Assistant Research Historian Fallon Burner in a CWF announcement. “Members of local tribes including the Pamunkey Mattaponi and Chickahominy as well as representatives from tribal nations from farther away like the Cherokee, Shawnee, and Wyandot had a profound influence on what we think as American culture and democracy today. Better understanding of those influences not only humanizes and honors the people of the past, but also brings us to a more accurate understanding of how our nation and culture were forged.”

The following is a list of programs that will be offered throughout the month of November (Descriptions, Dates, and Times courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation):

  • American Indian Life Series (Oct. 30, Nov. 2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 13, 16, 17, 20, 23 at 10:30 a.m., Charlton Stage) An exploration of the diversity of American Indian nations and their role in our collective story. Topics vary and include the role of captive-taking and citizenship in Cherokee society, the history of the Brafferton Indian School at William & Mary, and the population and adaptation of Virginia Indian tribes.
  • Washington and the American Indians (Nov. 2, 4, 9, 16, 18, 23, 25, 30 at 1:30 p.m., Hennage Auditorium) George Washington discusses his experiences with and views of various American Indian nations.
  • My Story, My Voice — Joseph Martin, Indian Agent (Nov. 7, 14, 21 at 2:45 p.m., Charlton Stage). Joseph Lynch Martin, agent of Indian Affairs, returns home to Virginia and is confronted by his teenage son about his new Cherokee wife.
  • My Story, My Voice — Sam’s War (Nov. 6, 13, 20 at 2:45 p.m., Charlton Stage) Sam, a formerly enslaved soldier, tells his heroic story of self-liberation including his encounters with the Shawnee — his supposed enemy — and those who enslaved him.
  • From Freedom to Slavery (Oct. 27, 29, Nov. 3, 5, 10, 17, 19, 24, 26 at 1:30 p.m., Hennage Auditorium) The story of Methotaskee, an enslaved woman who made a free life for herself as an adopted Shawnee Indian before being forced back into slavery.
  • Nation Builder at the Encampment (Nov. 1, 8, 15, 22 at 1:30 p.m., American Indian Encampment Site) A Nation Builder joins a small American Indian delegation in Williamsburg to discuss their relationships and interactions with Indigenous peoples.

The American Indian Initiative was established in 2002 with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The initiative was designed to give a voice to the untold stories of the native people of Eastern North America. CWF is currently seeking additional staff members to help grow this initiative. More information on careers with Colonial Williamsburg can be found on the careers page at CW’s website

For more information on upcoming programs and events at Colonial Williamsburg, visit its official website

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