Jamestown Series

Jamestown: Looking Back 400 Years

Photos Courtesy of APVA Preservation Virginia/Historic Jamestowne

Visit www.historicjamestowne.org


A “new” Jamestown is about to be unveiled to the world in spectacular fashion. After a decade of planning, hundreds of millions of investment dollars and research that

has reshaped history, the world will be re-introduced to our nation’s earliest days when international attention turns to Jamestown , Virginia , for America ’s Anniversary Weekend.


 Anniversary Weekend is the centerpiece of America ’s 400th Anniversary, an 18-month international commemoration honoring the 1607 founding of the first permanent English settlement in the Americas .


“When most Americans hear ‘ Jamestown ,’ they think about John Smith and Pocahontas,” says Tommy Norment, co-chair of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and chairman of the Jamestown 2007 management committee. “Through revealing archaeological discoveries and illuminating new scholarship, the people, politics and importance of Jamestown have come into focus like never before. We’re being re­mind­ed that the founding of Jamestown really was a world-changing event, and America ’s Anniversary Weekend will showcase that fact.”


While Anniversary Weekend offers a number of special events and patriotic performances, above all it connects Americans to the nation’s earliest days in surprising ways. Details about how Jamestown made democracy and cultural diversity defining characteristics of American society are brilliantly conveyed at the newly opened world-class facilities at Historic Jamestowne — the site of the original fort, at  James­town Settlement — an AAM-accredited 17th-century living history museum, and at Anniversary Park — a complementary site developed solely for America’s Anniversary Weekend that features interactive events, children’s activities and inspiring performances.


In preparation for the 400th anniversary, Historic Jamestowne has opened new facilities to showcase the original site of the first permanent English settlement in North America (see related story on pg. 30). The recently opened visitor center offers an overview of Jamestown ’s 92-year history as capital of Virginia through exhibits and a multimedia presentation.


Jamestown Settlement, which opened for the 1957 commemoration as “ Jamestown Festival Park ,” has made dramatic investments to reflect changes in our understanding of the Jamestown story. A new documentary film and 30,000-square-foot galleries offer fresh insight, including an emphasis on cultural interaction featuring dioramas, re-created structures, small-theater presentations and more than 500 artifacts. The museum’s re-created James Fort and Powhatan Indian village have been transformed, and visitors will find new replicas of Godspeed and Discovery ready to board. A new exhibit assembled expressly for the commemoration, “The World of 1607,” features artifacts loaned from collections around the world and places Jamestown in global context by highlighting events on many continents in the early 1600s.


Throughout Anniversary Weekend, Jamestown Settlement will offer an array of interpretive demonstrations, military drills, and historical dance and musical performances. The museum’s Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery will sail in the James River and dock at the museum pier on May 12 amidst pageantry and cannon salutes.


A one-day, date-specific Anniversary Weekend ticket provides parking, continuously running shuttle transportation and admission to all three Jamestown sites. Tickets sales have been limited to 30,000 per day, ensuring guests a comfortable visit 400 years in the making. No annual passes or other tickets to Jamestown Settlement or Historic Jamestowne will be valid on these days.

Anniversary Weekend tickets and accommodations are available through Colonial Williamsburg, the official hotels of the commemoration, and may be reserved by phone at (866) 400-1607 or by visiting www.Americas400thAnniversary.com. Guests may purchase date-specific, single-day tickets at $30 for adults and $15 for children 6-12. Children 6 and younger will be admitted free. The call center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Callers outside of regular operating hours will be prompted to leave a message, which will be returned the next day.


Looking Back From a Native Perspective


Among the many groups involved in years of intense planning that have culminated in Jamestown 2007 is the Virginia Indian Advisory Council. The primary mission of the Council has been to provide leadership, guidance and direction in the planning and production of signature events and programs in a way that educates the public on the significant contributions of Virginia Indians to the Jamestown settlement. The Council also seeks to educate the public in the history of Virginia Indian government and to showcase historical and contemporary Virginia Indian culture through the arts.


Six Virginia Indian nations will gather on the Chickahominy Tribal Grounds in Charles City on May 5-6 for their 6th Annual Joint Spring Pow-Wow. On this historic occasion, members of the Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Monacan, Nansemond, Rappahannock and Upper Mattaponi tribes will give honor to their past and future, as they recognize the historic impact of Jamestown 1607 in this anniversary year.  Visitors will have an opportunity to begin their Jamestown 2007 experience with the tribes that were here to meet the settlers in 1607. Grounds open at 10 a.m. on both days, with the Saturday Grand Entry at  noon and Sunday’s Grand Entry at 1 p.m. For more information, visit www.vitalva.org. Tribes also holding individual pow-wows during the month of May are Monacan (May 19-20; details at www.monacannation.com) and Upper Mattaponi (May 26-27; details at www.uppermattaponi.org). 


The American Indian Intertribal Cultural Festival, which will be held at Hampton Coliseum July 21-22,  is open to the public free of charge from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. Hosted by the eight state-recognized tribes of Virginia , the festival will include a wide variety of cultural experiences, dancing, music, craft demonstrations, storytelling and children’s activities. Vendors will offer Native foods, art, jewelry and crafts. A series of exhibits will showcase the history of Virginia tribes and guest speakers will discuss issues facing American Indians today. Visiting tribes from around the country will participate in dances and cultural demonstrations, highlighting the similarities and differences among American Indian nations.


Anniversary Weekend

May 11-13


Friday, May 11

Among the day’s performance highlights will be diverse cultural pageantry, including Native American drummers, dancers and singers, and an all-star chorus featuring Native American, African American and English voices. The Virginia Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of JoAnn Falletta, and Richmond Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Mark Russell Smith, will play separately and then combine — for the first time ever — to premier new works by John Corigliano, John Duffy, Adolphus Hailstork and Jennifer Higdon written especially for the commemoration.


Saturday, May 12

Three-time Grammy winner Bruce Hornsby & The NoiseMakers lead an evening of rock, R&B and progressive bluegrass. Bruce will be joined by legendary funk and R&B artist Chaka Khan, as well as progressive bluegrass master Ricky Skaggs and his band Kentucky Thunder.  Their performances cap “400 Minutes of Music,” an afternoon-long program featuring contemporary rock infused with Native American musical traditions from Brulé, a mix of folk, world, blues and soul music from South African artist Vusi Mahlasela, folk-roots music from Michael Seeger, poetic urban folk from Jen Chapin, and alternative country from Scott Miller & The Commonwealth.


Sunday, May 13

Anniversary Weekend concludes with the performance of a 400-piece orchestra and a 1,607-voice choir created especially for the commemoration and representing most of the United States . The individual choral and orchestra groups performing at Anniversary Park throughout the weekend join for a powerful concert worthy of America ’s 400th Anniversary. Native American and African American representatives will participate in a “Celebration of Culture,” and a Virginia Native American intertribal drum and dance ensemble will perform. A fireworks finale completes the evening.


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