- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 8, 2005

RICHMOND (AP) — Virginia tribal leaders accepted an invitation to stage an American Indian celebration next year in England, one year before the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown.

The festival will take place in Gravesend, not far from the grave of the 17th-century Indian princess Pocahontas, a key figure in sustaining North America’s first permanent English settlement. The British Jamestown 2007 Committee is organizing the celebration.

For Steve Adkins, chief of the Chickahominy Tribe, the visit is an opportunity to portray American Indians in a more accurate, complete and positive picture.

“This gives us an opportunity to tell people who we are today and also give folks a glimpse of what we were like back in the 17th century,” Mr. Adkins said.

Mr. Adkins and representatives of other Virginia tribes had two meetings recently with a representative of the British committee before accepting the invitation.

Rebecca Casson, executive director of the British committee, said the agreement brings the tribes into decision-making on the activities they will present at the festival, and for civic leaders in Gravesend and on the committee to start working on the festival.

Mr. Adkins said an invitation to participate will be extended to Virginia’s eight tribes. The early plan is for a varied program in England that will include demonstrations of Indian arts and crafts, symposiums aimed at discussion and education, and visits by Indian representatives to English classrooms.

Officials said the event likely will take place in the spring or summer of 2006.

Miss Casson, who attended a gathering of six tribes Saturday on Chickahominy tribal grounds in Charles City County, said her countrymen will be captivated by a chance to meet American Indians who lead modern lives and also keep alive their tribal traditions.

The location has resonance with the Jamestown anniversary because Pocahontas, the young daughter of the Indian ruler Powhatan, was friendly with the English settlers who founded Jamestown in 1607.

Pocahontas later married Englishman John Rolfe and came with him to England in 1616. In March 1617, she died in Gravesend, where she was brought ashore after falling ill on the ship she had boarded for the return to Virginia.

In addition to the Indian festival, the British 2007 committee is planning events to commemorate the 2006 anniversary of the incorporation of the Virginia Co., which financed the Jamestown adventure, and the departure of the original Jamestown settlers in 1606 from what is now part of London.

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