WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – November is Native American Heritage Month. It pays tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of indigenous people. This month, Colonial Williamsburg is holding a series of events examining Native American history and culture. The popular tourist attraction is presenting some stories you probably didn’t hear in history class.
“We have not fully represented American Indians in our telling of the story here in Williamsburg. We started a little over a decade ago with making sure that we we’re bringing forward those stories but we have a stronger more concerted effort underway right now to ensure that those stories of the people that were here first and who were populating the land making sure that we tell those stories in a full and complete way,” said Beth Kelly with the American Indian Initiative.
When colonists hit the shores here in 1607, they were met by tribes in what would eventually become Virginia, but those Native Americans were not always included in the narrative.
“The stories that aren’t often told are those that were already here, and what the impact was they had contributions towards our revolution in towards our new nation but we often story so that’s why it’s so critical that we bring those forward,” said Kelly.
Martin Saniga of the Saponi Tribe of North Carolina is an interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg.
“A lot of the history here predates America, a lot of so when we teach American history here we usually start with the Declaration of Independence and kind of move forward from there. There’s a whole slew of treaties, negotiations, alliances that are made before America is even a country,” said Saniga.
He said they not only want to educate, but also change the visual in Colonial Williamsburg. “Indian people are in and throughout the city constantly. It would’ve been absolutely normal for the subject of Williamsburg to see different groups of Indians doing their business around town around town and that’s really where we’re trying to get to see where our visitors get to see Indian folks everywhere. They can come to the encampment come and see you; they can come and see our street performances, they can come to see our performances over on the coffeehouse stage and get that kind of the same feel that would’ve been there historically that Indian people are just a normal part of Williamsburg society.”
Click here for the list of special programming offered at Colonial Williamsburg for American Indian Heritage Month.