Ornamental Separator

American Indian

American Indians were a political and economic force in 18th-century Williamsburg, and a constant presence in the colonial capital. Their activities, influence and perspectives have not been fully reflected in the Historic Area. The American Indian Initiative supports research, programs, demonstrations, interpretation and a permanent encampment site that educate guests about the often-overlooked role of American Indians in early American history and illuminate their still-thriving governments, traditions, culture and languages.

The American Indian Initiative helps the Foundation tell a fuller, more inclusive history of Williamsburg and Colonial America by exploring and sharing the lives and viewpoints of American Indian people.

The four current interpreters embody the stories, roles and interactions of diverse indigenous people in the 1700s through stage programs, informal interpretation, trade demonstrations, online programming and tours. They also illuminate the modern lives of American Indian nations from across the country, dispelling stereotypes and fostering a greater understanding of their diverse cultures.

Although they can be seen throughout the Historic Area, the interpreters regularly gather at the recently designated American Indian encampment at the intersection of Nicholson and Botetourt Streets. The prominently located site allows interpreters to better connect with visitors through discussions on topics such as clothing, food and trades.

Beyond the encampment, staff also interpret on the Palace grounds and around the Market Square, and are working to revitalize the Indian Trader program. American Indian Life Series presentations are regularly performed on the Charlton Stage, exploring a variety of topics including the Brafferton Indian School. Part of William & Mary’s original charter, the school was one of the first in English North America dedicated to the education of American Indian children.

The American Indian Initiative seeks funding to hire more staff and purchase additional supplies and materials for the encampment site. By expanding its staffing, programming, visibility and impact, community connections and outreach, the Initiative will ensure that American Indians and their stories are fully woven into the complex tapestry of 18th-century Williamsburg.

For additional information about the American Indian Initiative, contact: vpdevelopment@cwf.org.