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Colonial Williamsburg Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

WILLIAMSBURG — Celebrate National Native American Heritage Month this November with Colonial Williamsburg’s American Indian Initiative. The month will include two livestream events and a series of unique performances highlighting the diversity of American Indian experiences in 18th-century Williamsburg in addition to the American Indian Initiative’s continued research, programming, demonstrations, and interpretation in Colonial Williamsburg’s historic area and art museums.

“Too many people just don’t know that American Indian programming exists at Colonial Williamsburg,” said Martin Saniga, supervisor of Colonial Williamsburg’s American Indian Initiative and member of the Sappony Tribe, as stated in a press release. “That needs to change. We have this incredible opportunity to tell stories about the 18th century that no one else can tell.”

American Indians were a political and economic force in 18th-century Williamsburg. While most didn’t live in the city, they traveled to the area to trade, negotiate, and study at the Brafferton, a school for Native Americans at the College of William & Mary. Because various tribes met in the city for varied purposes, Colonial Williamsburg has the exceptional opportunity to offer a broad range of information related to 18th-century Native American life.

“Most of us are fairly comfortable thinking about the founding of our nation through the eyes of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson,” said Beth Kelly, vice president of Education, Research, and Historical Interpretation at Colonial Williamsburg. “But what happens when we start to think about this pivotal time in our country’s history through the eyes of American Indian people? How does that broaden and enrich the stories we tell our children and our grandchildren, or the stories they tell us?”

Experiences and perspectives of American Indians in 18th-century Williamsburg can be seen throughout Colonial Williamsburg’s campus. Currently on display at Colonial Williamsburg’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum is Navajo Weavings: Adapting Tradition, an exhibition of brilliantly colored, boldly designed pictorial blankets and rugs crafted by Navajo women on hand looms.

Guests are invited to attend one of the following special programs featuring American Indian stories. Programs at the Hennage Auditorium located within the Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums are free with admission. Online livestream events are free of charge.

Hennage Auditorium programs:

From Freedom to Slavery (Nov. 3, 10, 17)
Lafayette and Kayewla: The Marquis and the Oneida (Nov. 4)
Sam’s War (Nov. 11)
Captives to Citizens (Nov. 18)

Livestreams:

Trades Tuesday: The Indian Trade (Nov. 2)
CW Conversation: American Indian Heritage Month (Nov. 20)

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