Thank you, Daily Progress, for the recent articles and editorials covering the pumping station controversy at Rassawek/Point of Fork.
For those unfamiliar with the topic, Rassawek was the capital of the Monacan Indian Nation several centuries ago. Located at the confluence of the Rivanna and James rivers, the site still bears traces of the civilization that occupied it: pottery, cracked quartz, graves.
The James River Water Authority has targeted this site because it is the cheapest option for a water intake and pumping station. While the desire to save taxpayer dollars is understandable, it should be outweighed by Rassawek’s historic and modern significance, especially to Monacan residents of the area today.
In the light of this issue, my privilege as a settler of European descent is palpable. Imagine the impossibility of a permit being under review to build a pumping station or similar construction at Jamestown or at Monticello.
Some people might argue that the remnants of the Monacans’ height of power are so subtle and represent so little of what once was that we as a community should be content to let the JWRA make use of its burial permits and construction plans to irreparably damage what is left of Rassawek. But imagine the consternation and horror that would rise up if a project were proposed, God forbid, on a site significant to the long-defunct Confederate States of America!
I am simply trying to point out the double standard applied to sites of historical value in this country.
Of course, nearly everywhere has history and so we must make some sacrifices to provide for the living. But that statement cannot stand on its own, as a pure and unbiased truth, until we move beyond a system in which it seems that every sacrifice is Rassawek; is Union Hill; is the homes, history, graves of those who have been oppressed — and yet is never a threat to white comfort.
If you are interested in advocating for construction of the pumping station to be moved to an alternative location, I urge you to sign the “Letter Supporting the Monacan Indian Nation,” found on its website, or to contact Gov. Ralph Northam directly.