Indigenous Peoples’ Day reminds us to celebrate Native cultures and learn about the Indigenous history of Alexandria and the enduring, diverse Indigenous identities throughout the nation. This year on October 11 and beyond, find ways to recognize the holiday in Alexandria, from viewing the oldest artifact ever found in the city to purchasing artwork from today’s Indigenous creators.
Calendar of Offerings (Note: Gallery and museum not open on Monday, October 11)
- Interpretive signs and markers: Anytime
- Intertribal Creatives gallery: Open Wednesdays to Sundays
- Virtual lecture: Tuesday, October 12
- Alexandria Archaeology Museum: Open Thursdays to Sundays
Explore Wayfaring Signs Throughout the City
For thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans and the founding of Alexandria in 1749, members of Indigenous nations seasonally lived in and traveled through the lands that would become the City of Alexandria. Just upriver from Alexandria, the river tumbles over a series of cataracts known as Great Falls, its last obstacle to the Chesapeake Bay. These falls form a barrier to fish traveling upstream to spawn each year, which in turn makes the area just downstream a good fishing and camping ground, used by Indigenous people for millennia. Learn about the daily lives of Alexandria’s original inhabitants at various wayfaring signs throughout the City, from trail signs at Potomac Yard to interpretive signage at Jones Point Park to Fort Ward’s display highlighting Native Americans’ involvement in the Civil War.
Visit Intertribal Creatives
Located on ancestral Tauxenent and Pamunkey land in Old Town, Intertribal Creatives is a new free and fair-trade gallery and shop showcasing the artistic, creative and entrepreneurial spirit of Indigenous artists across North America. The gallery features an “Elder’s Spotlight,” highlighting the work of knowledge keepers in Native communities who were deeply impacted by the pandemic. While not open on Indigenous Peoples’ Day itself, Intertribal Creatives welcomes visitors from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Attend a Virtual Lecture
On Tuesday, October 12, learn about Indigenous cultures across the Americas with a virtual lecture from Dr. Lisa Breglia of George Mason University, hosted by Alexandria’s Duncan Branch Library: “Lives in Ruins: Life in the Archaeological Site of Chichén Itzá.” While millions of international tourists a year visit the World Heritage site of Chichén Itzá in southern Mexico and eagerly bask in its ancient wonder, few people appreciate the contemporary significance of the archaeological site. Using archival and ethnographic research, Dr. Breglia will discuss how modern science and modern Maya people came to view this “ancient Maya” site, the role of the heritage site in contemporary community life and the heated debates over who has the rights to benefit from the enormous incomes that such “wonders of the world” generate from international tourism.
Check Out the Clovis Point
Visit the Alexandria Archaeology Museum to view the Clovis Point, a tool similar to an arrowhead that is over 13,000 years old, making it the oldest artifact ever found in Alexandria. The Clovis Point, discovered in Alexandria’s Freedmen Cemetery site in 2007, is about four inches long and served as a multi-purpose tool for Indigenous inhabitants, like a Swiss-Army knife. You can learn more about the Clovis Point and other artifacts at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, located on the third floor of the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
Find more things to do in Alexandria this fall here.
Header Image Credit: Walter Lamar