On Saturday, March 11, brisk winds swept Church Hill’s Libby Hill Park from the James River. But the two dozen people gathered there to discuss the March 16 departure for London of a local delegation to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Pocahontas didn’t seem to mind.
The famous Indian princess (c. 1595-1617) was the daughter of Powhatan, who once reigned from the hills of what became Richmond. A few years after her marriage to English tobacco farmer John Rolfe, not John Smith, as a certain Disney musical would have us believe, Pocahontas and Rolfe sailed from Jamestown to England where she was received as American royalty by the king and queen. She never returned, however, since she died of smallpox in 1617 and was buried at Gravesend near London.
Replenish Richmond, a nonprofit organization, is sponsoring the cultural exchange that includes educators and students from the Richmond Public Schools’ Franklin Military Academy, representatives of the Virginia’s Native American tribes and environmentalists. In addition to taking part in formal ceremonies honoring Pocahontas, Richmond’s ambassadors will explore the Thames River. They will consider how the tributary that runs through Richmond-upon-Thames, which 280 years ago inspired the name of Virginia’s capital city, is being protected, managed and interpreted.
Headed for England: seated from left: Megan Scott, a teacher at Franklin Military Academy; Joanne Howard of the Eastern Chickahominy tribe; and Lil’meal Boyd, a Franklin student. Second row: Alyssa Brown, Franklin student; Dennis Bussey, founder of the James River Hikers; Saki Nowacki, a Franklin student; Danielle Bowers, a Franklin teacher; Michael Burton, trails manager of the James River Park System; Nathan Burrell, superintendant of the James River Park System; and Rick Tatnall, Replenish Richmond and delegation leader.