Pamunkey Indian Reservation


Evidence found by archaeologist, anthropologists, and historians date back 10,000 to 12,000 years when the Pamunkey tribes settled on a river in Virginia. This land to which they settled was rich with diverse plants and animals that the tribe had used but not abbused. But as soon as the “white man” came to try to take over the land, two treaties were made by the king of England: the Article of Peace, and a land base for the Tribe which is now referred to as the reservation. Both sides agreed on where the reservation would be located because it was a place where the tribe Chiefs gathered to rest and restore their spirits. Some of which these chiefs were buried on.


Coming to an end to our first Journey, we make a stop on the Pamunkey Indian Reservation in Virginia. This reservation is home to 44 Pamunkeys who are still actively using the land; out of the 206 members in the tribe. There, we met with our tour guide, Ashley. She is an archeologist and a member of the Pamunkey tribe, who works with the state to restore the reservation and turn it into an educational landmark. On the reservation, aside from the homes, there is a museum that holds all the artifacts which were excavated on the reservation and surrounding areas. There, we found multiple cutting tools made from stones, headings made from jewelry, and articles of the clothing made from leather they would wear. One of the coolest pieces we saw, in my opinion, was a coat that a tribal member would have to wear if they were to step off the reservation and go into a town. This was part of the agreement made by the King of England. If a Pamunkey were to be caught without the coat, they were at risk of being killed for not identifying themselves. Other than this article of clothing, everything else we saw was exactly what I predicted to find at a reservation.

Besides the museum, we had gotten a chance to go to a fish hatchery on the reservation. There we met up with Warren Cook, Ashley’s grandfather. He taught us about how the hatchery worked by replenishing the shad population back into the Pamunkey River. He showed us the large tanks that you would put the fish eggs into to let them grow for a few weeks. The time the eggs spent in these tanks depended on the size of the eggs they received from a fertile female. The point of the hatchery was to make sure that the shad population never depleted because shad was there main food source from the river. This made me appreciate the Pamunkey tribe because their theory was if they were going to take something from the earth for themselves, they had to replace. I believe that if the Pamunkey people were to share their beliefs with other residence on the Chesapeake, there wouldn’t need to be as much of a demand for farm raised fish and the ecosystem would be able to return to self sufficiency.


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