Lawmakers Create Historic Preservation Fund – Kenbridge Victoria Dispatch

By Monica Alarcon-Najarro

Capital News Service

A new state fund could give the Patawomeck Tribe a chance to redeem tribal lands and help protect battlefield sites across the state where black soldiers fought and died.

“If there was a way to get anything back, we would want to see how to get a piece of that piece of land…where our main village was,” said Minnie Lightner, administrative assistant for the Patawomeck Tribe.

The tribe wants to acquire land in Crow’s Nest, Stafford County, Lightner said.

Of the. Delores L. McQuinn, D-Richmond, introduced House Bill 141, which lawmakers passed unanimously at every stage in every house. The measure establishes the Virginia Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Historic Preservation Fund. Money from the fund will go to eligible tribes, nonprofit organizations and localities recognized by the state and federal government. The fund will consist of state money, donations and donations.

Former Governor Ralph Northam proposed $10 million over two years in his outgoing budget to bolster the conservation fund. The final state budget has not been finalized.

The Historic Preservation Fund will protect cultural and historic lands. These lands range from hunting grounds to sacred sites and villages around the Chesapeake Bay. The bill also helps groups preserve schools, churches and archaeological sites. Grants from this fund will be administered by the Historic Resources Board, according to the bill.

“This will impact the tribe by allowing the tribe to protect sites that need to be protected, and that’s huge for the tribal people and future generations of these tribes,” said Chief G. Anne Richardson of the Rappahannock tribe, located on the tribe. land Indian Neck in King and Queen County.

A proposed water pumping station in Rassawek, the capital of the Monegasque tribe, was one of the catalysts for the creation of the bill, according to Richardson. The Monacan Tribe uses the land, located about an hour’s drive west of Richmond, for gatherings and ceremonies.

The James River Water Authority proposed the water pumping station at Rassawek in 2014. The organization this month announced plans to locate the station elsewhere after opposition from tribes, citizens and preservation organizations, according to the nonprofit National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The fund could be used to preserve sites where black people fought and died in wars such as the Civil War, Revolutionary War and War of 1812, according to Alexander Macaulay, a lobbyist for the American Battlefield Trust, an organization that preserves battlefields and educates the public. . The sites are not properly protected and much more needs to be done, he said, and the fund will help.

The state legislature does not have a dedicated grant to preserve historic cultural sites for communities of color, McQuinn said. The General Assembly has previously created similar funds regarding the preservation of farmland and outdoor spaces, including the Virginia Land Conservation Fund, the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation Preservation Trust Fund, according to McQuinn.

Sen. Ghazala F. Hashmi, D-Richmond, introduced an identical bill in the Senate, which was also approved by both houses and unanimously in the House. Thirty senators voted for the measure, while 10 opposed it.

McQuinn’s bill would help sites that can’t compete or don’t meet the criteria of many existing grant programs, according to Elizabeth Kostelny, CEO of Preservation Virginia, a group that seeks to protect historic communities.

The Patawomeck Tribe in Stafford County is currently building a tribal center and museum in Little Falls, which is a 20-acre leasehold farmland scheduled to open mid-July to late July, according to Lightner. The space will house artifacts for the community to view and allow for an experiential interpretation of history similar to that of Jamestown, Lightner said. The Patawomeck Tribe is grateful for the legislation but prioritizes the need for federal recognition, which took about four years, according to Lightner.

As chief, Richardson oversees the administrative, programmatic, political and social matters of the tribe. Richardson testified in favor of the bill before a House subcommittee. The archaeological and historical sites of her tribe’s villages and towns along the Rappahannock River have been plowed over and there is a need to preserve these lands as they are part of Virginia’s history, she said. declared.

The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has created Virginia’s Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan for 2022-2027, which outlines the department’s goals for the coming years for the preservation of lands of historic and cultural significance.

Richardson was grateful to lawmakers who helped push the bill through both houses.

“It shows that they respect us as people, that they honor the heritage and what we brought to this country and that our ancestors rest in these lands – their bones,” Richardson said. “It is a respect for them that we have long been neglected. They recognize this and they are ready to help us protect these places.

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