JAMES CITY COUNTY-The Exhibit “FOCUSED: A Century of Virginia Indian Resilience” is currently on display at Jamestown Settlement. Visitors to the museum have an opportunity to experience this exhibit as part of Native American Heritage Month, a time to honor the history and culture of Virginia Native American Indians.
The exhibit displays the work from various photographers’ collections. In the early 1900s, anthropologist Frank Speck did extensive research of some of the Virginia Indian tribes and took many photographs. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian collections are also a part of the display. In addition, A. Aubrey Bodine, an award-winning photographer for the Baltimore Sun, captured the lives in the 1940s and 1950s of Virginia Indians in their daily lives.
FOCUSED highlights the resiliency of the Indian population during the passage and repeal of the Racial Integrity Act in 1924, pursuits of eleven tribes to receive state and federal recognition, and the establishment of reservations and tribal lands. A lot of change and upheaval took place for these Virginia Indian tribes in the way of education, fishing and hunting, their crafts, and their cultural heritage.
There are eleven state recognized tribes in Virginia, with five of those are under federal recognition. A tribe must meet qualifications to be recognized and validate its official status with the commonwealth of Virginia.
Speck photographed the Pamunkey Indian – Miles family in 1919, as well as the Mattaponi – Adams family. He captured Mollie Adams creating a turkey feather mantle hand-woven in the1930s, which is among the featured objects in the special exhibition. The mantle, still retaining the iridescence and glow of countless turkey feathers, is in the permanent collection of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and was last on public display in 2007. Mollie Adams was a leading member during that time and her grandson, Kenneth Adams, serves as chief of the Upper Mattaponi today.
One of only two Indian Reservations in Virginia, the Pamunkey Indian Reservation is where 43 families reside on approximately 1,200 acres. The Mattaponi is the other reservation still in Virginia. Both are among the two oldest reservations in the United States today.
“FOCUSED: A Century of Virginia Indian Resilience” highlights pottery, fishing, schooling, pottery making, pow-wows, dancing, and daily life for Virginia Indian tribes. The exhibit runs through March 25, 2022. For more information, click here.