Sacred land returned to Native Americans after 400 years

Brooklyn Muse

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"With eagles being prayer messengers, this area where they gather has always been a place of natural, cultural, and spiritual importance," said Rappahannock Tribe Chief Anne Richardson.

The Rappahannock Native American Tribe of Virginia has now regained ownership of 465 acres of land at Fones Cliff, Virginia. This reacquisition on April 1, 2022, was made possible by the William Dodge Angle Family. They provided the funds to purchase for The Chesapeake Conservancy. The Conservancy then donated that fee title to the Tribe. This project has taken a number of years to come to completion. There was an additional grant funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through Walmart’s Acres for America

The significance of the re-establishment of Native American land cannot be negated. This is seen as a major step in reparations for the tribe and the incredible savage history it has endured. In addition, the lost culture, heritage, and language will be brought to the forefront once again. The environmental impact of protecting these lands as a safe haven for eagles and wildlife brings a sense of intense Native American spirit back to a forsaken space.

The Rappahannock Tribe of Virginia defended their sacred land in 1608 against English settler John Smith. The first permanent English settlement in America at Jamestown was commissioned by this same John Smith. By the 1660s, the Rappahannock Tribe was permanently displaced according to The Chesapeake Conservancy. These specific cliffs were important to wildlife, culture, and of historical significance to the tribe itself. According to The Department of the Interior, this area is the home of the largest nesting site of bald eagles in the United States of America.

The Rappahannock Tribe will use the land to focus on the education of the public on their history, culture, and the past use of wildlife in their area. The plans include the construction of a 16th-century village and a “Return to the River” campaign to incorporate the history of their people into our modern world with specific youth education. The youth of today and tomorrow will forever be a part of the living history of America. We, as Americans, will step forward--acknowledge our faults, and move forward to ensure a truthful rendition of our past history.

“ And so

with no warning, no last goodbye

In the dawn of the morning sky

the eagle will rise again”

“The Eagle will Rise Again” The Alan Parsons Project

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