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Rassawek makes National Trust's list of most endangered places

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has included Rassawek in its annual America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list.

The James River Water Authority has proposed to build a water intake and pump station near Point of Fork at the confluence of the Rivanna and James rivers. The site played a role in the Revolutionary War and was home to Rassawek, the capital of the Monacan Indian Nation.

“The history of more than 5,000 years of Monacan people is written in the soil and landscape of Rassawek, providing a tangible connection to ancestors, many of whom did not survive the arrival of the English and are buried there,” Katherine Malone-France, chief preservation officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said in a news release.

Earlier this year, Preservation Virginia included Rassawek in its Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places program. According to the release, the statewide historic preservation organization successfully nominated the Monacan capital site to the National Trust’s list to raise awareness.

“Our capital city was a contemporary of Jamestown, but much larger and more complex, and it lasted as a community far longer,” Tribal Chief Kenneth Branham said in the release. “It is for us a sacred place of great cultural significance, and it is for all Americans a place of historical importance.”

In August, the JRWA board sent a letter asking that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers temporarily suspend processing of the pending application to give further consideration to possible alternative project configurations and locations.

“The Monacan Indian Nation is glad JRWA is taking the time to fully evaluate alternative routes,” Marion Werkheiser, attorney for the Monacans, said after the board’s vote in August. “Their first step should be to survey those routes to find out whether there are archaeological sites or burials they would destroy.”


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