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Pocahontas & The Virginia Indians Online Course

Class #6 - Pocahontas- Ambassador of Cross Cultural Understanding

Over the next 3 classes (6/7/8) the main course content will revolve around the three sessions of a symposium held at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) on November 14, 2018 titled Pocahontas: Her Life, Legend & Legacy.  Here is how the VMHC press release described the symposium:

"Few figures from the American past are better known than the young Powhatan woman we call, “Pocahontas.” Her fame began in her own lifetime and has endured for more than 400 years. Pocahontas: Her Life, Legend, and Legacy is a half-day symposium that will take place at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) on Wednesday, November 14, 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Virginia Indian Tribal Leaders will join nationally renowned scholars and a representative from Pocahontas’ final resting place in England to tell the remarkable story of this Indian Princess from both English and Native American perspectives. Distinguished national and international panelists will lead discussions on what Pocahontas has come to represent as a cross-cultural ambassador, the role of religion and faith in her story, and the myths and realities that surround her. This groundbreaking program not only honors the Virginia Indian Tribes who played a key role in establishing the foundation of our country, but also acknowledges the heritage and identity of indigenous peoples who have often been overlooked in history. The symposium is cosponsored by the Virginia Museum of History & Culture and the 2019 Commemoration, America Evolution"

Class #6 offers the 1st session of the symposium titled Pocahontas - Ambassador of Cross Culture Understanding , moderated by Stephen R. Adkins, Chief of the Chickahominy Tribe. Students will see several familiar faces throughout the 3 sessions, including John Pagano from Henricus as one of the 1st session panelists. Class #6 will also offer more information about the VMHC, which has been telling the story of Pocahontas for a long time and is a favorite of the Pocahontas Project. For all the info on the VMHC, please click here.

The Class #6 Shout Out video from a place named after Pocahontas comes from Superintendent Nate Clark and Pocahontas State Park , located just up the road from Henricus Historical Park in Chesterfield County, Virginia. The park is Virginia's largest State Park and is a proud standard bearer of the name Pocahontas. For all the info on the park, please click here.


Rick Tatnall

Shout out Video from a place named for or connected to Pocahontas- Superintendent Nate Clark at Pocahontas State Park, Chesterfield, Virginia

Formal Class Content

Class #6 presents the 1st session of the 2018 VMHC Pocahontas Symposium. When it comes to the subjects of Pocahontas and the Virginia Indians, the 2018 VMHC Pocahontas Symposium offered a star-studded lineup of participants who will be presented over the next 3 classes. Here is how they were described by the VMHC in the Symposium program: 

Chief Kenneth Adams

Chief Kenneth Adams is Emeritus Chief of the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, serving as Chief from 2001 to 2016. From the early beginnings of the effort, he worked consistently for federal recognition of six of Virginia’s tribes, which culminated in success in January of 2108. During Ken’s tenure as chief, he also served as chairman of the board of trustees of Bacone College, which has a primary goal of educating Native Americans. Also, Chief Adams initiated a process in 2009 to establish a tribute to Virginia. The Mantle was completed on Virginia’s Capitol Square in the spring of 2018 as a tribute and memorial to Virginia Indians.

Chief Stephen R. Adkins

Chief Stephen R. Adkins was elected Chief of the Chickahominy Tribe in 2001. He also served on the school board for Charles City County, where he became aware of a void in the way the story of Virginia Indians was told in Virginia history classrooms. As chief, he has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Virginia Indian Tribes to gain federal recognition and to assure that America’s leadership includes a Native American voice.

Rt. Rev. Carol Gallagher

The Rt. Rev. Carol Gallagher, PhD, is a member of the Cherokee Tribe and serves as Canon for the Central Region of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and as Bishop Missioner for the Bishop’s Native Collaborative. She is the first American Indian female bishop in the Episcopal Church and the first Indigenous female bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion. She is the author of Reweaving the Sacred (2008) and Family Theology (2012). She has served as Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Newark and the Diocese of Montana and as Bishop Suffragan in the Diocese of Southern Virginia.

Chief Robert Gray

Chief Robert Gray has been chief of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe since 2015 and had previously served on Tribal Council for more than twenty-five years. He served thirty-two years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a chief master sergeant, and then he worked for the Air Force as a civilian for another six years. His current focus is ensuring the P successfully moves forward after federal recognition for the benefit of the tribe and its members.

John D. Pagano

John D. Pagano is the Historical Interpretation Supervisor at Henricus Historical Park. He has worked as a special education teacher for eight years and as a historical advisor and military consultant on approximately thirty historical films and documentaries. Additionally, John is the author of approximately twenty articles about museum methodologies, military history, and American history. He was a member of the Chesterfield County and Henrico County delegation that participated in the 400th anniversary of Pocahontas’ death in Gravesend, England in 2017.

Dr. William M.S. Rasmussen

Dr. William M.S. Rasmussen is Senior Curator of Exhibitions and Lora M. Robins Curator of Art at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture. Before coming to the VMHC in 1991, Bill was the assistant curator of American Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. He is the author and co-author of many articles and books on a variety of historical subjects, including Pocahontas: Her Life and Legend; George Washington: The Man Behind the Myths; Lee and Grant; and most recently, The Story of Virginia: Highlights from the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

Chief G. Anne Richardson

Chief G. Anne Richardson is the chief of the Rappahannock Tribe. She was elected in 1998 after serving as assistant chief to her father. In 1989, she helped organize the United Indians of Virginia, which was established as an inter-tribal organization represented by all eight tribal Chiefs in Virginia. In 1991, she became executive director of the Mattaponi-Pamunkey-Monacan, Inc., a consortium of Virginia tribes formed to advocate in higher education programs for Native Americans. VA Governor Terry McAuliffe appointed her to serve on his Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commission in 2017.

Dr. Helen C. Rountree

Dr. Helen C. Rountree is Professor Emerita of Anthropology at Old Dominion University, where she began researching the Powhatan Indians in Virginia, both modern and historical, in 1969. She expanded her research to Algonquian-speaking Indians in Maryland and North Carolina. Helen is the author of numerous articles and books, including The Powhatan Indians of Virginia: Their Traditional Culture; Pocahontas’s People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries; and Pocahontas, Powhatan, and Opechancanough: Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown.

Rev. Chris Stone

The Reverend Canon Chris Stone is the retired rector of St. George’s Church, Gravesend, in the United Kingdom, where he served from 2007 to 2018. St. George’s is recognized as the final resting place of Pocahontas. Before his time at St. George’s, Chris worked closely with the Bishop of Rochester, starting in 1996. After graduation, Chris spent more than 20 years working for the BBC, where he was a BBC Radio documentary maker, with historical topics as one of his specialties.

Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) Pocahontas Symposium

Session 1: Pocahontas

Ambassador of Cross Culture Understanding (2018 / 62 minutes)

The VMHC has been a tremendous partner and resource for the Pocahontas Project, both because of its collection of Pocahontas paintings and images as well as its ongoing interpretation of the life and legend of Pocahontas as a critical component of Virginia’s history. The Pocahontas Project owes its start to the 2017 400th anniversary of the death of Pocahontas in Gravesend, England. In 2018, VMHC CEO Jamie Bosket joined Chief Anne Richardson in Gravesend and St. George’s Church for the 401st anniversary of Pocahontas’ death. Below are two links describing that trip – the first from the Gravesend point of view and the second from the VMHC point of view (pages 4, 5 + 6 of the newsletter)

Class #6 Thoughtwork

(to be done after reviewing all class content)

  • History has seen many cross cultural ambassadors whose lives and positive impact were cut short – Pocahontas and Princess Diana to name two. What does it mean to be an ambassador? Do you have any historical ambassador-like heroes who left us too early? What features and characteristics do they share with Pocahontas?

  • Who are the current (living) cross cultural ambassadors that inspire you? What features and characteristics do they share with Pocahontas? Could you be a cross cultural ambassador?

  • The panelists of the first session have spent a good portion of their lives thinking about the life, legend and legacy of Pocahontas. What did you learn from them that inspired you and what surprised you?

Statue of Pocahontas in Gloucester, 

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