New monument in Capitol Square pays homage to the native tribes of Virginia | Richmond Free Press

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By Ronald E. Carrington

The leaders of the Native American Indian tribes of Virginia joined Governor Ralph S. Northam, members of the Virginia Indian Memorial Commission, state legislators, dignitaries and residents of the state on Tuesday morning to dedicate a new monument on the Place du Capitole in honor of the first inhabitants of Virginia.

As a cool breeze blew through the crowd, G. Paul Nardo, Clerk of the House of Delegates and member of the committee, said it was appropriate to come together for the occasion “to show our respect, to show our gratitude and to show our constant admiration for the indigenous people who have lived in the country called Virginia for thousands of years.

As the ceremony speakers stepped onto the podium, they were presented with an eagle feather symbolizing respect, honor, humility, truth, love, natural power, strength, courage, wisdom and freedom.

The monument, called “Mantle”, is the culmination of an eight-year journey first envisioned to recognize the enduring heritage and significance of the state’s original people. Representatives of the 11 state-recognized tribes attended the ceremony which celebrated the culture, contributions and significance of Native Americans.

The monument site – next to the bell tower along the 9th Street side of Place du Capitole – was inaugurated in April 2013, with a groundbreaking ceremony in June 2017. The monument has a stone path that winds towards a small overflow fountain that is inscribed with the names of the tribes of Virginia.

“The pool water reflects the river culture that exists among native tribes,” said Alan Michelson, an award-winning artist who designed the monument. The winding path leading to the fountain and the stone wall that doubles as a bench invite quiet introspection.

Mr. Michelson, who is based in New York City, is a Mohawk member of the Six Nations of the Grand River.

“The cloak is a chief’s cloak / A path, water, a seat for the weary, / The memory of rivers and people, / Strong from the beginning of time, / To eternity, / A tribute to the first Americans, “said a member of the committee. Frances Broaddus-Crutchfield reading a poem she wrote for the dedication.

Governor Northam told the crowd of around 150 that the monument was “a long overdue recognition”.

“The memorial is a symbolic tribute to the past, present and future of the natives of Virginia and a magnificent creation,” he said. “I hope the progress and completion of this monument will begin our healing journey.”

Ken Adams, Chief Emeritus of the Upper Mattaponi Tribe of Virginia, concluded the ceremony by leading a prayer to God and blessing the monument.

“As we celebrate you and the heritage of Native Americans,” said Chief Adams, “as we place this memorial in your honor on these grounds, we cannot thank you enough for bringing us out of the dark ages we’ve known not so long ago. “

The money for the $ 675,000 project was raised largely by the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission and the Virginia Capitol Foundation.

Among those in attendance were former Governor George Allen and his wife, Susan; former Lieutenant Governor John H. Hager, Richmond Delegate Delores L. McQuinn and actress Daphne Maxwell Reid.

After the ceremony, delegate McQuinn was kissed by Carolyn “SunFlower” Talley and her daughter, Tawanda “Pretty Dove” Talley. Both claimed the event was a special and historic moment in their lives.

“We think it’s such an honor to be a part of the day,” said Tawanda Talley. “We, our tribe, appreciate this memorial. It’s much appreciated, but long overdue.

Yasmine Jumaa of Capital News Service contributed to this report.

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