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Virginia Indian Cultural Program to showcase past, present

When English settlers landed in Jamestown in 1607, many believed that Virginia Indians were primitive and savage. Aside from the story of Pocahontas, Indian life was overlooked when history books were written.

But the Indian tribes had rich and robust cultures refined over generations, brimming with arts and traditions including dancing, singing and crafts.

Though they weren’t always appreciated by white settlers, these arts continued to evolve.

“So many times, people expect our culture to be exactly like it was 400 years ago,” said Wayne Adkins, assistant chief of the Chickahominy Indian Tribe.

“Yes, people are doing traditional things like leatherwork, beadwork and pottery, but we have younger artists working in other materials.”

Modern creations incorporating centuries-old skills will be presented at the Virginia Indian Cultural Program March 19 at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. It is part of Henrico County’s 400th Anniversary observation.

History and contemporary culture of Virginia Indian tribes will be presented through art, dance and exhibits. Indian artisans will display their pottery, beadwork, leatherwork, and painting, demonstrate their creative processes and discuss their work with the public.

History told through dance
One of the most spectacular – and most popular – components of the program will be the dancing.

The Virginia Indian Intertribal Drum and Dancers will tell stories of native history and culture by performing traditional and contemporary tribal dances. Dancers will explain the regalia they wear as well as the meaning and significance of each dance they perform.

“We have dancers from several different tribes,” said Adkins. “We’ve taken the dances that we have as individual tribes and taught them to one another. Plus, we have dances we’ve learned from other tribes at Powwows and other events. “

“So often, the general public thinks dances are just people jumping up and down, and they don’t realize most dances have a purpose. So while we’re entertaining, we’re educating.”

Celebrating 400+ years
The Virginia Indian Cultural Program was an initiative of the Commemoration of the Henrico 400th Anniversary Commission, said Karen Perkins, history manager for Henrico County’s Division of Recreation and Parks.

The program also will incorporate part of the “Beyond Jamestown” exhibit displayed at the state Capitol.

In The Cultural Arts Center’s Gallery, the exhibit, “By Our Hands: Virginia Indian Cultural Arts” will be on display through May 8.

The exhibit incorporates the artwork of contemporary Indian artists and artisans, including beadwork, leatherwork, wood carving and painting.

Also, a photography exhibit titled, “Family Portraits: Virginia Indians at the Turn of the 20th Century,” which features formal and informal portraits, will be on view.

Teaching Virginians about Native American culture is an ongoing process, said Adkins. He and other tribal elders work with Henricus Historical Park and other museums, the Indian tribes and Virginia educators to prepare materials for students. They want to ensure that Virginia schoolchildren are exposed to accurate information.

Eight tribes
Historians estimate that people lived in Virginia for more than 15,000 years before European contact.

Today, there are 11 tribes officially recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia. They include: Mattaponi; Pamunkey; Chickahominy; Eastern Chickahominy; Monacan Indian Nation; Nansemond; Rappahannock; Upper Mattaponi; Cheroenhaka (Nottoway); Nottoway of Virginia; Patawomeck

Two tribes, the Pamunkey and the Mattaponi, have small reservations in King William County, dating back several centuries.


Community

Garden tails

The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.

Western Henrico Rotary helps fund Midwives For Haiti Jeep


Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.

The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.

Agencies combine on new entry point to Chickahominy


Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.

The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Take in a show at several locations this weekend! West End Comedy will provide laughs at HATTheatre; the production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” will close Sunday; and the youth theatre company CharacterWorks will present “Footloose” at The Steward School. Another show perfect for the kids – “Despicable Me 2” is playing at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center tonight. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Is there an Echo in here?

‘Earth to Echo’ aims to become this generation’s ‘ET’
It’s no secret that all found-footage genre movies are the same. Grab a couple of characters, give one of them a camera, and expose them to something supernatural that’s content to lurk just off-screen until the last five minutes. Everything else will just fall into place.

But that formula isn’t particularly family friendly, if only because that thing waiting a few feet to the left of the cast is usually plotting their violent doom.

That’s what sets Earth to Echo apart from the pack. It, too, follows a group of characters armed with a camera and a tendency to encounter unknown life forms. But all those familiar parts have been rearranged just enough to make it suitable for a much younger audience. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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