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Werowocomoco is dedicated

Gov. Bob McDonnell recently joined Virginia Indians and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR) in a formal and public dedication to conservation of the site where a legend took shape—the story of Paramount Chief Powhatan, Captain John Smith and Pocahontas, who first met in December 1607 at the Indian town of Werowocomoco in Gloucester County.

That meeting found a home in story, song and film during the course of more than 400 years, gaining world-wide popularity and centering on Smith’s claim that Pocahontas appealed to her father Paramount Chief Powhatan to spare the Englishman’s life. But Werowocomoco, the place itself, was lost to history until 2003 when archaeologists with VDHR and the College of William and Mary announced its rediscovery, identifying its location on private land along the York River in Gloucester County.

“The preservation of Werowocomoco and today’s dedication ceremony embodies the special relationship the Commonwealth has with Virginia’s living Indian community,” Governor McDonnell said during the early-evening ceremony. “Together, these efforts serve as tangible evidence of our ongoing commitment to that community and to its rich history and culture.”

Preservation of the nearly 58-acre Werowocomoco site was formally recognized with a ceremonial signing of a conservation easement between the property’s owners Bob and Lynn Ripley, and Kathleen S. Kilpatrick, director of VDHR, the agency that has spearheaded efforts to conserve Werowocomoco and that will hold the easement on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

After the ceremonial dedication of the land to conservation, Pamunkey Indian Chief Kevin Brown spoke in solemn response and presented strings of quahog wampum and copper beads to the Ripleys, Kilpatrick, and Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Douglas Domenech, in a gesture of gratitude for the partnership to preserve the Werowocomoco site, the secular and spiritual seat of power of Paramount Chief Powhatan and the Powhatan Chiefdom when Jamestown was settled in 1607.

posted 06.26.2013

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