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Sign On: Letter Supporting the Monacan Indian Nation
Dear Governor Northam and Commander Patrick Kinsman of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:
On behalf of the undersigned organizations, representing thousands of taxpayers, we ask you not to allow the James River Water Authority (JRWA) to proceed with constructing a pump station and pipeline project at Point of Fork. If permitted in its current form, this project would destroy the historic Monacan capital of Rassawek, first identified by Captain John Smith in 1612, in addition to several other significant historical and archaeological sites.
It is not in the public interest for the Army Corps of Engineers to issue a permit to JRWA to destroy our shared history, especially when JRWA can construct its project at an alternate location and still provide water to Zion Crossroads for speculative economic development. JRWA has argued that locating the project at Point of Forks is the least expensive option, and unfortunately one way the project budget is being trimmed is through proposing archaeological approaches that do not reflect the significance and sensitivity of the site and will result in Monacan history being lost forever. This project is poorly designed and contrary to the public interest, and the Corps should not permit it in its current form.
Human remains, the bones of Monacan ancestors, have been found multiple times at the Rassawek site. JRWA now seeks a legally required burial permit so it can proceed with the disinterment and relocation of Monacan people. The Commonwealth of Virginia should not permit the disturbance of Monacan ancestors and force the tribe to endure the traumatic and somber process of repatriating and reburying their ancestors. At a time when the Commonwealth and the nation are working to preserve and interpret the historic capital of the Powhatan Confederacy, Werowocomoco, it is disturbing to see such willingness to destroy the Monacans’ capital.
We urge you not to permit this project, which will continue the mistreatment of indigenous Virginians using the excuse of economic progress that may never come to pass. We ask that the leadership of Virginia and the Army Corps conduct a systemic review to identify other options for the water intake and pump station project that do not destroy this irreplaceable history.
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