- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2006

NORFOLK — The site of the village where Jamestown leader Capt. John Smith met the powerful Indian chief Powhatan — and where Smith said the chief’s daughter Pocahontas saved his life — has been approved for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, officials said yesterday.

Werowocomoco, on Purtan Bay along the York River in Gloucester County, was Powhatan’s headquarters when Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America, was founded in 1607. Powhatan ruled a chiefdom of about 15,000 people.

“Werowocomoco is a place of native history that becomes part of American history during the Colonial period,” said Martin Gallivan, assistant professor of anthropology at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg and a member of the Werowocomoco Research Group, which has been studying the site.

Although listing on the national register is honorary, it is important because it means the federal government formally recognizes the site as the location of Powhatan’s village, said Randolph Turner, director of the Tidewater Regional Preservation Office of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and a member of the research group.

“There is no doubt” this is Werowocomoco, Mr. Turner said.

Smith and Powhatan met several times at Werowocomoco, the only place in Virginia where Smith and Powhatan were at the same location at the same time, Mr. Turner said.

The village also is where Smith said that, after Indians kidnapped him in December 1607, Pocahontas threw her body over his to save him as Powhatan was about to club him to death.

Some have questioned the veracity of Smith’s account.

“There is no way we’re going to prove one way or another that that story is true,” Mr. Turner said.

Werowocomoco was about 15 miles from Jamestown. Pow-hatan, seeking distance from Jamestown, abandoned Werowo-comoco in 1609 and moved farther west.

Today, the 45-acre site is on private land. The property owners invited archaeologists to investigate after they found a lot of Indian artifacts, including arrowheads and pottery shards.

A comprehensive archaeological survey in 2002, following the leads of historians and others, confirmed the site’s identity.

The research group was formed by a partnership of the property owners, Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources, William & Mary and an advisory board of Virginia Indians and has been conducting archaeological excavations at the site since 2003.

Those excavations have found additional evidence corroborating the site’s identity, Mr. Gallivan said. That includes copper pieces that are a chemical match for copper trade goods brought to Virginia by the Jamestown Colonists — a sign of direct contact between the site and Jamestown, he said.

Mr. Gallivan and group member Danielle Moretti-Langholtz, who is director of the American Indian Resource Center at William & Mary, also noted there are indications that a complex society lived at the site long before Powhatan was born.

Two parallel ditches found at the site date to the first half of the 15th century.

“The place is important not only for us for events in 1607 but what our team is finding, it may have been important as a place for hundreds of years before then,” Mrs. Moretti-Langholtz said. “That’s what’s significant for native people.”

Werowocomoco was placed on the Virginia Landmarks Register in December.

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