On November 30, 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) publicly announced its acquisition of Werowocomoco, the site along the York River in Virginia that was the center of the Algonquian Indians for centuries prior to European settlement. Following is an excerpt from the Virginia governor’s office news release on the NPS announcement, Governor McAuliffe Celebrates National Park Service Purchase of Werowocomoco, 11/30/16:
“Governor McAuliffe today celebrated the National Park Service’s acquisition of Werowocomoco, the former capital of the Powhatan Chiefdom and the presumed site of Captain John Smith’s first meeting with the leader Powhatan and his daughter, Pocahontas. When opened to the public, the 264-acre property, located on the bank of the York River in Gloucester County, will be the crown jewel of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
“…The announcement was made today during the recognition ceremony at the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., and also served as an opportunity for tribal representatives to share their knowledge of the site’s significance with state and federal officials. The private discussion among tribal leaders before the public announcement offered invaluable insight into the town’s sacred nature and affirmed the project’s historical and archeological significance.
“…Only about 1 percent of Werowocomoco’s 50-acre archeological core has been investigated to date, but initial findings suggest the extensive settlement was occupied as early as 1200 CE and functioned as a spiritual and political center for the region’s Algonquian Indians. At its peak, the Powhatan Chiefdom spread across much of eastern Virginia and may have included 30 tribes with an estimated population of above 14,000.
“…Since 2003, Virginia’s Indians have worked with archeologists from the College of William and Mary to study and excavate the ancient town. Their efforts led to Werowocomoco’s 2006 listing on the National Register of Historic Places and spurred a conservation easement to be signed in 2013 by then-Governor Bob McDonnell, covering the site’s 50-acre archeological core. Werowocomoco is managed by the National Park Service through their Chesapeake office and their staff on the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.”
For more on the site:
National Park Service, “Werowocomoco Planning,” online at https://www.nps.gov/cajo/getinvolved/werowocomoco-planning.htm.
Werowocomoco National Park? It would benefit both tourism and scholarship, William & Mary News, 5/21/14