This is a two-part class taught by Dr. Martin Gallivan. Class one will take place on Thursday, June 22, and class two on Thursday, June 29. Learn about the American Indian past in Tidewater Virginia from the spread of forager-fishers to the colonial-era Powhatan chiefdom.
This class traces the American Indian past in Tidewater Virginia from the spread of forager-fishers to the colonial-era Powhatan chiefdom. We’ll start from the premise that scholars’ attention to the English colonial arrival at Jamestown has concealed a deeper history of Native communities. Native settlements along the area’s rivers oriented the ways Algonquian people lived in the Chesapeake estuary, initially around fishing grounds and collective burials visited seasonally and later within farming towns occupied year-round. Ceremonial spaces, including trench enclosures within the Powhatan center place of Werowocomoco, gathered people for centuries. Despite the violent disruptions of the colonial era, Native people returned to Werowocomoco and to other riverfront towns after 1607 for pilgrimages that commemorated the enduring power of place. For today’s American Indian communities in the area, the precolonial history represents a powerful basis from which to contest narratives and policies that have denied their existence. My goal with this class is to add to these conversations by offering a deeper history of coastal Virginia.
Martin Gallivan is an associate professor of anthropology at the College of William and Mary. His research focuses on the archaeology and culture history of Native societies in the Chesapeake.
Class participants should enter the VHS using the Carole and Marcus Weinstein Learning Center.