Powhatan Artifacts and Stories at the Varina Library

15 May

We asked Anthony Burcher if he would like to write a short description of his Powhatan artifacts and stories program at the Varina Library this Tuesday.

His response: “300 to 500 word description of my program.  Sure, why not?”

“IF HISTORY WERE TOLD AS STORIES, IT WOULD NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.”
Rudyard Kipling

Anthony Burcher is a professional storyteller and professional historian.  For the past 15 years he has been an educator for the Jamestown/Yorktown Foundation.  His main job is to travel to area schools and talk about John Smith and Pocahontas, or what the world was like in 1607 when the English and Powhatan met.  Anthony has also served as a costumed historical interpreter in the recreated Powhatan Indian village at the Jamestown Settlement Museum.  It was there he learned the everyday skills of a Powhatan Indian and demonstrated those skills to the public.

Every Powhatan Indian had to have certain skills to survive in the woods of Virginia.  Each Powhatan had to make the tools he or she needed to succeed in the coastal plain region of this area.  Anthony brings replica tools and artifacts, talks about how they were made, invites participants to touch and hold them, and demonstrates how they were used.  A special focus is made on the resources used to make these tools.  Participants soon see the presence of one particular Virginia animal in the farm implements, the hunting tools, the food and clothing.

Once everyone is on board with the idea of the importance of the White-tail Deer to the Powhatan world, we move into the Powhatan’s story of how the Earth was created and how the deer would become so important to the people of that world.  This creation story from the Eastern Woodland Indians is then compared to another tale from the Plains Indians.  The final tale is a historically accurate telling of what actually happened between John Smith and Pocahontas.  The presentation is concluded with questions and answers after which everyone is invited up to carefully handle and further examine the reproduction artifacts.  The actual program should take around 45 minutes with Anthony remaining as long as anyone has questions or comments.

Anthony Burcher

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