What is: The Pamunkey Reservation and Railroad Tracks

What was: The 1677 Treaty of Middle Plantation created an 6-mile wide, 18,000-acre exclusive Native American zone by prohibiting colonists from living within three miles of the settlement on Pamunkey Neck.

In 1693, the colonial government allowed the Pamunkey to sell 5,000 acres of their land. That helped them pay debts and relieved some pressure to extinguish the reservation completely.

Starting in 1836, the Pamunkey were threatened by an effort to terminate their reservation for various reasons and on numerous occasions. It could have led to sale of the lands and dispersal of the tribe.

Over time, more slices of land were transferred out of Pamunkey control, leaving the tribe with an inadequate land base for subsistence by hunting and gathering. Today, the Pamunkey Reservation consists of 1,200 acres. That is 7% of the land originally granted by the 1677 Treaty of Middle Plantation.

The railroad tracks that run through the reservation are a reminder of the effects of modernity and how the indigenous peoples have been disrespected.  The tracks were first laid in 1855, across 22 acres of the Pamunkey reservation, without permission from the Pamunkey and with no compensation to the Pamunkey for this unsolicited and unwanted use of their land.

In 1975 the Pamunkey began a suit against the Southern Railroad Company which in 1979 resulted in reparations of $100,000 being paid to the Pamunkey for the location of these tracks. The terms of their settlement also required that the railroad continue regular rent payments for use of that land in the future, and determined that if the railroad should at any point discontinue use of the tracks, the land will be returned to Pamunkey.

Among one of the most important sacred sites to Native Americans. The tribal village would have been along the shore, with the community leaders, temples and civic buildings further at the back of the site.
What is: Werowocomoco. It is today United States Government Property. No Trespassing. In 2016, Werowocomoco was permanently protected by the National Park Service and is administered by the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
What was: Werowocomoco (wayr-uh-wah-koh-muh-koh) is believed to have been a place of leadership and spiritual importance to American Indians as early as circa AD 1200.  The village served as the headquarters of Chief Powhatan, a Virginia Algonquian political and spiritual leader when the English founded Jamestown in 1607. The name Werowocomoco comes from the Powhatan werowans, meaning “leader” in English; and komakah, “settlement”.
When Englishman Captain John Smith explored the Bay in 1608, he documented hundreds of American Indian communities. Today, sites on his map are archeological treasures and sacred sites for tribal citizens. At Werowocomoco, Powhatan, the leader of many Algonquian tribes, lived and subsequently met on several occasions with Captain John Smith in 1607 in the earliest recorded meetings between a Native leader and the English. On one visit in 1609, the English forced Powhatan to bow so they could crown him as a ruler in Virginia.
The Native Americans were increasingly unwilling to trade and wary of English intentions. Attempts at cooperation steadily led to conflict, and Powhatan moved his headquarters farther inland. Werowocomoco soon fell silent. The land at Werowocomoco was cultivated for crops and timber from the early days of colonial Virginia, either by a single family or small cluster of neighbors. There is no indication that they maintained any direct association of the land with Werowocomoco or its importance to native and colonial history.
Nothing above ground remains of the Indian community that lived here. The rural landscape is largely intact. However, clues to the past still lie in the earth. Fields and forests at the site surround a private, single-family home, situated at the end of a long gravel road with a view of Purtan Bay and the York River beyond. Indians moved away from Werowocomoco in 1609. In the centuries that followed, Indian heritage was both neglected and suppressed. Source: National Parks Service.





What is: Historic Jamestowne, VA

What was: In 1607, Jamestown is where the English established their first permanent in the New World. For a long time the actual site of Jamestown was believed to have washed into the James River by erosion and tides.

The winter of 1609-10 is known as the “Starving Time” caused by drought and a fear of leaving the fort. The colonists ate anything they could: various animals, leather from their shoes and belts, and sometimes fellow settlers who had already died. By early 1610, 80-90% had died due to starvation and disease.

It was here that Captain John Smith explored the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries making overtures and enemies with various Indian Tribes. In 1612, John Rolfe helped turn the settlement into a profitable venture with the successful planting of tobacco seeds he had brought from elsewhere, making it the long-awaited cash crop for the Virginia Company and underpinning of American economic growth. It was also the site of glass making, considered the first manufacturing business in the New World.

The first representative assembly in English North America convened in the Jamestown church on July 30, 1619. Also, in 1619, the Virginia Company recruited and shipped 100 women to the colony to become wives and start families. It was also the year of the first documented African slaves arriving, adding the human resources needed for labor intensive tobacco crops. In another first, in 1624 Richard Cornish, a ships master, was executed for an alleged sexual attack on one of his male stewards, the first recorded sodomy prosecution in American history.