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U.Va., Monacan Indian Nation Leaders To Discuss Collaborative History During Public Discussion Oct. 23

October 17, 2003 -- A University of Virginia anthropologist and four leaders of the Monacan Indian Nation will discuss ways that the university and the tribe can work together to accurately and fully tell the history of the Monacan people.

The discussion, open to the public, will be held Thursday, Oct. 23, from 4-6 p.m. in the Dome Room at U.Va.’s Rotunda.

Panelists include U.Va. anthropology professor Jeff Hantman, Monacan Chief Kenneth Branham, and Monacan leaders Karenne Wood, Daniel Red Elk Gear and George Whitewolf.

“This open discussion is a first step toward creating a full relationship between the university and the tribe,” Hantman said. “We’ve been collaborating on telling the Monacan story for several years now through our joint archeological work, but we are interested in exploring new ways to work together to advance understanding of Monacan life and history.”

Hantman noted that the Grounds of the University of Virginia are located on ancestral Monacan land, as are many important landmarks of American history in western and central Virginia, such as Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. The Monacans once inhabited all of Virginia between the fall line at present-day Richmond to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

“We need to write Monacan history into its rightful place in the history of this region,” Hantman said.

There are more than 1,400 members of the Monacan Indian Nation, which is recognized as a tribe by the Commonwealth of Virginia, but has not yet received federal recognition. The tribe is headquartered on ancestral lands in Amherst County and its members are actively seeking to restore their traditional rituals and language, which were suppressed after hostilities with European colonists. U.Va. archeologists and the Monacan people are excavating and reconstructing ancient Monacan sites.

“We are working with the scientific community in ways that are beneficial to the tribe and the university,” said Wood, who is a Monacan leader and repatriation coordinator with the Association on American Indian Affairs. “We want to express the whole of Monacan culture and to reconstruct aspects that have been lost.”

Last year the university joined a major telescope consortium in Arizona located at a site considered sacred to the Apache peoples in that area. To show respect for native peoples who were opposed to the university’s desire to join the telescope project, U.Va. agreed to develop an outreach collaboration in Arizona with the San Carlos Indian nations and two partner institutions—the University of Arizona and the University of Minnesota. The University of Virginia also resolved to build collaborative relationships with Virginia Indian nations. The University began conversations with Virginia tribes last spring and the panel discussion is one of several projects which started to take shape last spring.

“One of our goals is to increase awareness of Native American issues and cultures on Grounds,” said Gene D. Block, vice president and provost. “This event helps us make progress toward that goal. We are deeply grateful to the leaders of the Monacan Nation for accepting our invitation to speak with us.”

The Oct. 23 discussion is part of U.Va.’s free public lecture series, Engaging the Mind. The series is coordinated by U.Va.’s Office of the Vice President and Provost and sponsored by Virginia National Bank. This academic outreach program hosts University of Virginia faculty members in communities across the state. The series creates opportunities for the university’s top scholars and teachers to engage with the citizens of Virginia and to extend the intellectual life of a nationally ranked research university.

Contact: Fariss Samarrai, (434) 924-3778

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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