The October 2012 issue of Virginia Living explores the intersections of the modern and the traditional in the lives of Virginia’s Indians. Writer Ben Swenson interviewed VFH’s Karenne Wood and discussed the work of the Virginia Indian program in his article “A Proud Legacy”.
The excerpt is below:
Shining light on Indians’ deep historical connection to the government, the people and the land has been facilitated by a number of Indian-led initiatives in recent years, including the Virginia Indian Program, headed by Karenne Wood, a 52-year-old Monacan poet and author.
Wood’s demure demeanor belies her hard work on behalf of Indians. Before her current job, Wood worked to repatriate religiously significant native artifacts that somehow made it into the hands of private collectors. She is currently pursuing a PhD in anthropology at the University of Virginia and working to revive native languages.
She is the editor of The Virginia Indian Heritage Trail, a region-by-region guidebook to the Commonwealth’s extensive Indian resources published by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. VFH has sponsored traveling exhibits and a digital online archive for historic Indian photographs and documents and, with the help of grants from state agencies, has so far distributed 100,000 copies of the publication.
“Most people were not even aware of the state-recognized tribes,” says Wood. “They knew Pocahantas and John Smith, and that’s it. I’m happy to say we helped change that.”