Original log cabin schoolhouse, built ca. 1870, used by Christian evangelists to minister to Monacan Indians; now a National Historic Landmark Photo: Tes Thraves
Monacan Indian Homecoming Festival
In 1969, St. Paul's Church, which has a number of
Monacan Indian church members, began holding its annual homecoming
festival and bazaar as a needed fundraiser. In 1980, the mission
added a parish, now used as the Tribal Center, which is used during
the festival for the goods and crafts sale and lunch buffet. The
festival's focus is to sustain the community, monetarily support
the church, and spiritually nurture the tribe as a whole. To
document the importance of the homecoming to the Monacan community,
a group of Monacan youths completed 45 oral histories during the
1999 30th Annual Saint Paul's Church Bazaar. The homecoming is
particularly important for the children to learn about their
heritage and maintain their culture. Former community members also
return to the area and reconnect with the legacy and culture of the
For more than 10,000 years, the Monacan Native
American people have lived in the Piedmont and mountain areas of
Virginia and West Virginia. About 10,000 Monacans, which were
actually a confederacy composed of several major tribes, lived in
the area around 1607 when John Smith and the colonists founded
Jamestown. Monacans were enemies of the Powhatans, and had little
contact with early colonists.
In 1908 Arthur Gray began an Episcopal mission
program for the few hundred Indians who lived on Bear Mountain
location, near Amherst. The following year a chapel was built for
the tribe. By the 1920s, about 500 Monacans were living in the
mission community. Episcopal minister, John Haraughty, who came to
the Bear Mountain community in 1968, took particular interest in
the Monacan people and helped them secure additional land and build
new homes. The Monacan Tribe incorporated as a nonprofit
organization in 1988, and was officially recognized by the
Commonwealth of Virginia in 1989, some 380 years after the tribe's
first encounter with European colonists.
Documentation includes the legacy report, which
describes the festival which includes drumming and dancing, a
booklet on the history of Monacan Indians, and photographs.
Originally submitted by: Bob Goodlatte, Representative (6th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.