Re: “Officials: Archaeological consultant on Fluvanna water project falsifies resume,” The Daily Progress, Sept. 29:
I am not sure which is more disturbing: the vigorous defense by the James River Water Authority of its consultant or its apparent failure to verify her credentials for overseeing the disturbance of one of the Monacan Indians’ most important sites as it plans to locate a water intake station there on the James River.
Rassawek is well known. This Indian village was first noted in recorded history by Cap. James Smith as located at the confluence of the Rivanna and the James rivers (approximately at the Town of Columbia). It also is known as Point of Fork, which played a role in the Revolutionary War.
In Virginia, we have systematically worked to destroy Native American or first people’s culture since we landed on these shores more than 400 years ago. Through shady land “deals” and other shameful acts, we have taken over the lands of the first residents of this land. The Monacan still live around here; some are my neighbors and friends.
We can judge the actions of our forefathers through a different lens today, with a greater understanding of what it means to erase a culture. Yet here we are today, with a choice. Do we desecrate the archaeological site and home place of the tribes whose land we took, or do we take a moment to pause, think and then do the right thing? The right thing is to leave this site alone. It likely contains the remains of Monacan people.
Would we run a water main through Oakwood or Riverview cemetery in Charlottesville if it meant digging up the ancestors of Charlottesvillians? Of course not. We would find that appalling and take every measure to avoid this, even if we had to spend five times more money. Why are Native American burial sites any different?
Now is the time to take a stand for what is right. The citizens of Fluvanna should ask their governments not to run roughshod over the history, dignity and culture of our first residents.