Meherrin Indians work with preservation

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 4, 2005

WINTON – There’s an old saying, &uot;You’re never too old to go home.&uot;

That phrase fits perfectly for the Meherrin Indian Tribe, since it has been 300 years since the Native Americans set foot on their known beginnings in a place named Fort Christanna in Lawrenceville, Va.

When most local folks think of the Muddy Water People, a named derived from the Meherrins, they think of a tribe of Native American who made their home along the Banks of the Meherrin and Chowan rivers.

As a matter-of-fact, the reservation grounds once covered the area where the two rivers meet.

As history shows us, the Meherrin Tribe moved along the banks of the Meherrin over 200 years ago, coming down from the southern edge of what is today known as the state of Virginia.

But what many may not realize, is that this Tribe once resided in a large area that is today known as Lawrenceville, Va.

With archeological digs taking place since 2000, artifacts of the Indian tribe have been uncovered and as state and historical authorities got together, the site will now take on a permanent stand in history as Fort Christanna, the home place of the Meherrin Indians.

Fort Christanna dates back to at least 1714, and in 1924 was recognized with a Virginia state marker.

An organization known as the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in Virginia are credited with stepping in an effort to preserve the central three-acres where the fort in located.

Brunswick County owned approximately 22 acres that surround the fort and now county and national historic authorities have signed the land over to be preserved.

The Rev. William Reid, a representative of the Meherrin Indian Tribe, when to Lawrenceville during the end of August for a special dedication ceremony.

While there, he blessed the grounds that will now be forever seen as sacred grounds to, not on the Meherrin Indians, but to the Saponi Occoneechee Tribe as well.

The Saponi Tribe moved into the fort for protection after it was abandoned by the Meherrin Indians as they made their way further east along the Meherrin River.

Members of the Meherrin Indian Tribe are excited about the events that have unfolded thus far and just as excited about the future.

The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald is planning a more in depth look at the birthplace of the Meherrins and what lies ahead in an upcoming feature that will be part of Progress 2005, the Crossroads edition.