On the last day of April, a group of about forty folks assembled to create a prayer bundle at the foot of one of the College's oldest buildings. Led by Department of Anthropology doctoral candidate Buck Woodard, each participant placed a pinch of sacred tobacco, imbued with good spirit and good wishes, into the bundle as Indian singers and drummers blessed the event with their music. This ceremony, reflecting the most ancient American traditions, embodies yet another step in the long path which the College and Indian people have walked together.
College President Taylor Reveley, Dr. Kathleen Bragdon, Department Chair, and Annette Saunooke-Clappsaddle (MA 2005), a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, and a graduate of the American Studies Program, made remarks before the prayer bundle was assembled. The RedEarth singers and drummers from North Carolina accompanied the ceremony, which was organized by Mr. Woodard, manager of the American Indian Initiative at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and Dr. Moretti-Langholtz, director of the American Indian Resource Center in the Anthropology Department.
The building where the event took place was the Brafferton, one of the oldest building fabrics on campus, and the site between 1723 and 1779 of the College's Indian School, a key component in both the original vision and the initial financial underpinnings of William and Mary's creation. Dr. Moretti-Langholtz, Mr.Woodard and former student Will Foster have been studying this aspect of the College for a number of years now, studies which have taken them as far afield as Lambeth Palace in London.
Recently, it was determined that the Brafferton will need substantial physical renovation and the College is beginning a campaign to address these needs. Our department has decided to use this opportunity to create the Brafferton Legacy Project, which seeks to explore and to celebrate the many and long-standing ties between William and Mary and the American Indian community, in particular those Native Americans whose ancestors attended the school and who are themselves alums of the College. More than 30 native groups and descendant communities have sent students to William and Mary to be educated over the years, a tradition which continues today in the persons of Buck Woodard, Ashley Atkins, Angela Daniel, and Berek Dore, American Indian graduate students in the Department.
Department of Anthroplogy archaeologists Dr. Martin Gallivan and doctoral student Mark Kostro, of the CW Department of Architectural and Archaeological Research, will lead a field school this summer which will excavate the original builder's trench around the Brafferton's foundations, laying bare both the history of the structure and the leaks and deterioration which currently plague it. With the completion of this project, the prayer bundle will be placed near the foundation and buried, in commemoration of the new life of this building, and of a new era of cooperation between Native Americans and the College.