In the Media

June 13, 2017

Groundbreaking Celebration for Indian Tribute on Capitol Square with Special Guest Olympic Medalist Billy Mills

Press Release

On Saturday, June 24, 2017, the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission and the Virginia Capitol Foundation will host the groundbreaking celebration for the Virginia Indian Tribute being constructed on Capitol Square. This monument, entitled Mantle, recognizes the lasting legacy and significance of American Indians in the Commonwealth. The featured speaker at the groundbreaking celebration is Billy Mills, member of the Oglala Lakota (Souix) tribe and the Olympic gold medal winner of the 10,000 meter run in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The groundbreaking ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 24, in Capitol Square, located at 1000 Bank Street in Richmond. The public is invited to join in the groundbreaking ceremony.

Press Release (pdf)
Media Advisory (pdf)

May 8, 2014

Continuing the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission

Executive Order

In recognition that the courage, persistence, determination, and cultural values of Virginia's Indians have significantly enhanced and contributed to society, the General Assembly approved House Joint Resolution 680 (2009), requesting the creation of a commission to recommend an appropriate monument in Capitol Square to commemorate the life, achievements, and legacy of American Indians in the Commonwealth. On October 22, 2009, Governor Kaine issued Executive Order 100 that established the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission. Since then, the Commission has met regularly and developed a plan for execution of the monument, but there is more work to be done. Accordingly, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor under Article V of the Constitution of Virginia and under the laws of the Commonwealth, including but not limited to §§ 2.2-134 and 2.2-135 of the Code of Virginia, and subject to my continuing and ultimate authority and responsibility to act in such matters, I hereby continue the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission.

2014 Executive Order #59 (pdf)
2015 Executive order #10 (pdf)

December 1, 2013

Peace: Virginia honors Indian Culture

Times Dispatch Op-Ed

First designated in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush, November is National American Indian Heritage Month. As the president correctly noted in his proclamation, “each of the many tribes that have inhabited this great land boasts a long and fascinating legacy of its own. This month, we honor those legacies. We dedicate ourselves to learning more about Native American history — both the conflicts and the accomplishments — and about Native American culture and customs.”

Virginians recognized the commonwealth’s Indian heritage and history last week in Capitol Square. Virginia’s governor accepts tribute from members of the state’s native tribes at an annual ceremony. A treaty signed in 1646 calls for the tribes to make an annual offering to the governor, traditionally the day before Thanksgiving. The Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian tribes are the original signatories of the 1646 treaty, and make the tribute at the governor’s mansion every year.

Beyond this, we know that native peoples have lived in this land for thousands of years. Despite hardships brought about by the loss of land, language and civil rights, many indigenous tribes persevered and their members continue to contribute to the commonwealth through agriculture, land stewardship, teaching, military and civic service, the arts and many other avenues.

The Virginia Indian Heritage Program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities is helping to redress centuries of historical omission by creating opportunities to learn about the history and cultures of American Indians. You can learn more about this program and the Indian Heritage Trail at virginiahumanities.org/virginia-indian-program/.

I consider myself fortunate to have learned about these wonderful people as their representative in the House of Delegates. For almost eight years, working together with the Mattaponi, Pamunkey and Upper Mattaponi Tribes of my legislative district, better friendships have been built between state government and the tribal centers.

As a result of these relationships and with a sincere respect for the Virginia Indian culture and people, Govs. Tim Kaine and Bob McDonnell created by executive order the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission. This commission, in partnership with the General Assembly, recently completed a national search for an artist. Alan Michelson, a Mohawk member of Six Nations of the Grand River and an award-winning artist, was selected based on his unique design for Virginia’s tribute monument.

The artist attributed his ultimate inspiration to Chief Powhatan’s “mantle,” which was a deerskin ceremonial cloak decorated with shell-beads sewn in spiral clusters. The tribute’s design takes on this distinctive spiral shape, which for Powhatan would have symbolized his pre-eminence and authority.

Mantle, the monument, will be installed in the gently sloping southwest portion of Capitol Square in Richmond, just north of the Bell Tower, with an eastern facing entrance. As the “front door” of the commonwealth, historic Capitol Square provides a dramatic setting with historic significance and a multitude of visitors. The square is a premier place to recognize outstanding Virginians and events, including our Virginia Indians.

Oriented to the land and incorporating existing trees in the area, the tribute combines four integrated spiral elements to create the shape of a Nautilus, a shell that represents strength, knowledge of the past, continuous growth and beauty. A five-foot wide winding footpath following the outline of the monument will serve as a labyrinth, which in some Indian cultures represents a sacred path to the home of an ancestor.

Complementing the path will be a continuous, smooth stone wall, which also serves as a bench. Natural landscaping throughout the monument will consist of a selection of perennial native plant species, including wildflowers. A meditation area, at the center of the spiral, will feature an infinity pool made to resemble the pottery associated with Virginia tribes.

The water within the pool will reflect the river culture existing within our native tribes. Decorating the sides of the sculpture are frieze-like, life-size reliefs of corn, squash and beans (the Three Sisters) as well as oyster shells from the Chesapeake and other objects significant to the region and its native inhabitants.

As visitors make their way through the path, their movements will evoke the circular dance formations found in the American Indian culture. This new communal area will create a respectful relationship with the surrounding natural world, reflecting certain spiritual values that set Indians apart from other cultures. Finally, state-of-the-art educational programs will be developed with the assistance of the Virginia Capitol Foundation to educate the community in this revered place.

The Commission will enlist private support to secure the resources required to celebrate the presence and contributions of our Virginia Indian tribes, with our hope for a 2015 unveiling. To help the commission complete this story of Virginia on Capitol Square, visit indiantribute.virginia.gov/ for more information.

(See alsowomensmonumentcom.virginia.gov/ for more information on efforts to recognize the genius and creativity of Virginia women and their presence and contributions to every aspect of the commonwealth’s history.)

Christopher K. Peace, a Hanover Republican, represents the 97th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. Contact him at DelCPeace@house.virginia.gov.

http://www.timesdispatch.com/opinion/their-opinion/peace-virginia-honors-indian-culture/article_eec9aed9-d7c7-57c4-9945-79a87f540671.html

 

February 5, 2013

Continuing the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission

Executive Order

In recognition that the courage, persistence, determination, and cultural values of Virginia's Indians have significantly enhanced and contributed to society, the General Assembly approved House Joint Resolution 680 (2009), requesting the creation of a commission to recommend an appropriate monument in Capitol Square to commemorate the life, achievements, and legacy of American Indians in the Commonwealth. On October 22, 2009, Governor Kaine issued Executive Order 100 that established the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission. Since then, the Commission has met regularly and developed a plan for execution of the monument, but there is more work to be done. Accordingly, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor under Article V of the Constitution of Virginia and under the laws of the Commonwealth, including but not limited to §§ 2.2-134 and 2.2-135 of the Code of Virginia, and subject to my continuing and ultimate authority and responsibility to act in such matters, I hereby continue the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission.

2013 Executive Order #59 (pdf)
2011 Executive Order #37 (pdf)

October 31, 2012

Press Release

Citizens of Virginia are one step closer to having a permanent monument on historical Capitol Square, celebrating the legacy of the Commonwealth's Indian tribes. Last Wednesday evening the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission approved by acclamation the final design to commemorate the many contributions of the Virginia Indians.

The consensus proposal, titled Mantle, consists of spiral elements, a winding footpath, a wall that doubles as a bench for seating, native plant species indigenous to Virginia, and at the center a reflecting pool containing the names of Virginia's Indian tribes. Alan Michelson, a Mohawk member of Six Nations of the Grand River, is an award winning artist, living in New York City. "(Mantle) requires the visitor to neither look up nor look down, but invites one to enter—from the east—and participate in it. It is not conceived as a static monument to be venerated but an active one to be experienced by moving off the everyday grid and into the American Indian circle."

Images of the model may be found at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/107566899293098.

Full Press Release (pdf)

July 20, 2010

Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission Welcomes input of CultureWorks and VCU

Press Release

CENTRAL, VA- Virginia Indians will soon be recognized at the State Capitol for their contribution to the Commonwealth. Patroned by Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) and passed during the 2009 session, House Joint Resolution 680 expressed the General Assembly's support for and called upon the Governor to establish a commemorative commission to honor the life, achievements, and legacy of Virginia Indians on the grounds of Capitol Square.

Full Press Release (pdf)