April 22, 2007

Pocahontas overshadows Virginia's Indians

Adkins:  Virginia tribes deserve federal recognitionThe story of Pocahontas that is widely known today is largely a myth, a romantic legend that plays to those who fantasize about the exotic nature of exploration and first contact. That myth has overshadowed much of the true story, a story that is much less romantic but far more compelling. It is about a people that have a unique place in the foundations of a modern nation but who have not been recognized for that. We feel that history has not accurately reflected what we have experienced, who we are or who we want to be. VITAL has persisted in the Congressional process because we feel the need to fill in the details, to get past the legends, to reclaim our history. Jamestown 400 years later brings all this history together for us in one time and place.

We owe our survival to more than our own strength. We owe it to reporters like Peter Hardin, who wrote a key story at the right time about Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, making public the sad truth of the racial discrimination directed towards the Indian people in Virginia. It is also a story which most Virginians outside of the Tribal communities knew nothing of. We don’t like to tell that story but it explains why we have stayed quiet, and how we have survived.

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