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Posted on: March 3, 2021

“FOCUSED: A Century of Virginia Indian Resilience,” at Jamestown Settlement through March 25, 2022

Frank Speck photograph collection, N12730; National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center

In collaboration with Virginia Indian tribal communities, Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia, is now presenting “FOCUSED: A Century of Virginia Indian Resilience,” a contemporary exhibition through March 25, 2022.

“FOCUSED” is principally a photographic exhibition drawing from collections held by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, as well as images from anthropologist Frank Speck from the 1910s to 1930s, the work of award-winning Baltimore Sun photographer A. Aubrey Bodine in the 1940s and 1950s and portraits by contemporary American Indian photographers.

The special exhibition focuses on the resiliency of the Virginia’s Indian population, from the passage and repeal of the Racial Integrity Act in 1924 to the contemporary efforts of 11 Virginia tribes to receive state and federal recognition. The exhibition highlights themes central to Virginia Indian daily life, including the establishment and maintenance of Virginia Indian reservations and tribal lands, education, fishing and hunting and traditional crafts and cultural heritage.

Turkey Feather Mantle Made in 1930s by Mollie Adams, Upper Mattaponi

A turkey feather mantle hand-woven in the 1930s by Mollie Adams, a leading member of the Upper Mattaponi Tribe in the 1930s, is among the featured objects in the special exhibition. The mantle, still retaining the iridescence and glow of countless turkey feathers, is in the permanent collection of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and was last on public display in 2007.

Anthropologist Frank Speck undertook extensive research of some of the Virginia Indian tribes, including the Upper Mattaponi community in King William County, where he met Mollie Adams (1881-1973) and her family in 1918. Speck’s written field notes included descriptions of feather work which correspond to the turkey feather mantle to be featured in the exhibition.

Mollie Adams, was an Upper Mattaponi tribal leader with her husband, Jasper Lewis Adams, who served as chief of the Upper Mattaponi from 1923 to 1973, followed by her son Andrew Washington Adams in 1974-1985. Her grandson, Kenneth Adams, serves as chief of the Upper Mattaponi today. Mollie and Jasper Adams raised 12 children in King William County and faced similar hardships as her neighbors, including poverty, difficulty in attaining education, as well as bigotry and segregation in the wake of the 1924 Racial Integrity Act. The Racial Integrity Act, created through the Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics, reclassified all Virginia Indians as “negro” or “colored,” a law that was eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967. For Mollie Adams, she obtained a certified statement of her Indian ancestry, and worked to build a strong foundation for the Upper Mattaponi through her church and tribal activism.

For more information about the special exhibition including a video, please visit the Jamestown Settlement website.

About Jamestown Settlement

Jamestown Settlement is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Jamestown Settlement is located in James City County on Route 31 just southwest of Williamsburg. The gift shop is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking is free.

Operations have been adapted for everyone’s health and safety with protective protocols. Admission tickets can be purchased online on the eStore or in person.

Jamestown Settlement admission is $18 for adults and $9 for ages 6-12. Children under 6 are admitted free. Residents of James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg, including William & Mary students, receive free admission with proof of residency.

For more information, call 757-253-4838 or visit their website.

Photo credit: Frank Speck photograph collection, N12730; National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, Smithsonian Institution. 

Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Media Contact:
Tracy Perkins, Media Relations Manager
757-253-4114, tracy.perkins@jyf.virginia.gov

James City County Media Contact:
Laura Messer, Tourism & Marketing Coordinator
757-253-6607; laura.messer@jamescitycountyva.gov

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