VIMS to help protect key Native American site

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Werowocomoco Aerial photograph from Virginia Department of Historic Resource
Werowocomoco Aerial photograph from Virginia Department of Historic Resource

Summary from VIMS to help protect key Native American site

A recent grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will give researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science the funds to begin protecting the site of Werowocomoco from shoreline erosion and sea-level rise. The is along eroding headland on the north side of the York River  between the towns of Yorktown and West Point. The current land owners have created a conservation easement and allowed archaeological excavations on the 57 acres of their property that form the core of the historic village.  The site of Werowcomoco is considered to be one of the most important Native American sites in the Eastern U.S., especially historically. While the land has been occupied for 10,000 years, and likely occupied as an important site since A.D. 1200, it is most significantly known as the seat of power for the Algonquian Chief Powhatan when English colonists settled Jamestown in 1607. It is here that Captain John Smith is said to have been saved by Powhatan’s daughter Pocahontas.

[quote_center]William & Mary Professor Martin Gallivan, head of archaeology at Werowocomoco, said, “The archaeological research at Werowocomoco has been conducted in partnership with Virginia Indian tribes who have expressed a special connection to the site and its long history as a landscape of Native power. This shoreline project will provide critical protection for Werowocomoco’s richest archaeological deposits. The shoreline was the residential core of the town, and the archaeology in this area includes artifacts, food remains, and the footprints of Powhatan houses. My colleagues and I in the Werowocomoco Research Group agree that this project will provide immeasurable benefits for the site…”[/quote_center]

The effects of sea level rise in the area are clear. Analysis shows an erosion rate of 1.5 feet annually, totally nearly 100 feet since the 1930s. VIMS will create the conceptual plan for managing and restoring the shoreline. The main feature of the restoration project will be two or more long piles of rock place just offshore and parallel to shore. Sand and March grasses will be added to restore habitat, in total creating 15,000 square feet of marsh that should keep 900,000 pounds of sediment and 500 pounds of phosphorus and nitrogen out of the York river annually.

[quote_center]Scott Hardaway, Director of VIMS’ Shoreline Studies program, says the ultimate goal of the restoration is “a diverse coastal habitat that supports marine life, land animals, and birds, while protecting the shoreline and archaeological resources from storms and sea-level rise.”[/quote_center]

Summary from VIMS to help protect key Native American site

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