Shenandoah Valley home to Monacan Native American Tribe

Native Americans roamed this country long before the Europeans made their voyages to “the new world”.  Almost half of present-day Virginia, specifically, the Piedmont Region and much of the Blue Ridge (including the Shenandoah Valley), has been home for the Monacan Indian Nation for about 10,000 years! In the twenty-first century, about 1,600 Monacans belong to the Tribe making it one of the oldest groups of indigenous people still inhabiting their ancestral homeland.

The Monacan Indian Nation is now recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia as a Native American Tribe. They are one of eleven tribes noted by the state and one of six in Virginia recognized by the federal government. The Monacan’s ancestral museum is located in the building that once an Episcopal  Church designed to serve the indigenous people.  In 1995 the Episcopal Diocese returned 75 acres of land to the Monacan Indian Nation and the museum began collecting artifacts to preserve their culture and history.

A Monacan Living History Exhibit is located at Natural Bridge State Park – just 30 minutes from our B&B. The exhibit shows a typical Monacan Indian Settlement. See how this primarily agrarian group built their homes, raised and harvested crops, and moved for the hunting season. The exhibit exists with the cooperation of the Monacan Indian Nation, the Virginia State Parks, and the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund and is open daily (in season) from 10am to 4:30pm. Daily activities at the exhibit change with the season – just as life would have been different for the natives with the change of seasons.

For the past 25 years, the Monacan Indian Nation has hosted a Powwow. This year’s event will take place on May 19 & 20, 2018 in Elon, Virginia. There will be drumming contests, Men’s Fancy and Women’s Jingle dance competitions. Native Americans from all across North America will participate. Enjoy special performances by Native American singers and dancers. See and learn about Native American crafts and food. Admission is just $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and children 5-12 years old, free for children under 5. This is an event you will not want to miss.

Make a reservation to stay at Steeles Tavern Manor B&B and Alpine Hideaway Cottages for this weekend. Plan to visit the Natural Bridge State Park exhibit then attend the Powwow.  “Mecoure mechin kihoe” – You are very welcome here!

(Photography by Sandra Berry)

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