Celebrating American Indian Heritage Month

Virginia Indian Program

Theodor de Bry, “Negotiating Peace with the Indians,” Virginia Indian Archive

Karenne Wood, a member of the Monacan Nation and director of Virginia Indian Programs at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH), has been busy across Virginia and beyond this November, making thirteen presentations to groups ranging from universities to businesses to government agencies.

November is National American Indian Heritage Month. First celebrated in 1990, the month is timed to coincide with Thanksgiving and the end of the traditional harvest season, but its focus is on American Indians’ achievements and contributions to culture and history in the United States.

Wood recently spoke at Mary Baldwin College about the role that American Indians have played in the process of peacemaking—particularly the Iroquois Confederacy and their Great Law of Peace, which some historians believe influenced the Founding Fathers’ principles and the documents they created to govern their own nation.

In addition to the presentation at Mary Baldwin, Wood spoke at Virginia Tech, Liberty University, and the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School. At these educational institutions, Wood hopes to fill in the gaps about American Indian life and history. She has found that her audience is often shocked by how little they knew beforehand, and they begin to realize how important it is to correct the omissions of the past and to include all perspectives in the story that we tell about the history of the United States.

In Durham, North Carolina, Wood spoke about the intersections of memory and exile as the featured poet at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association Conference. (Jill McCorkle, a past participant in the Virginia Festival of the Book, was the conference’s featured fiction writer).

Wood has also spoken to groups that include the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Credit Union Association, and the National Ground Intelligence Center. She met with Governor Bob McDonnell and dignitaries from Virginia tribes at the Virginia State Capitol to consult about initiatives that include VFH’s Virginia Indian Archive.

Karenne Wood

Karenne Wood is a member of the Monacan Nation and Director of Virginia Indian Programs at VFH.