“Mantle” – Virginia Indian Tribute on Virginia’s Capitol Square Completed

“Mantle” – Virginia Indian Tribute on Virginia’s Capitol Square Completed

Virginia Indian Tribute – A monument for Capitol Square Now Complete

The centerpiece of "Mantle" is a fountain inscribed with the many Virginian native tribes names and the rivers associated with their names.
The centerpiece of “Mantle” is a fountain inscribed with the many Virginian native tribes names and the rivers associated with their names.

Mantle is now complete. Located adjacent to the Bell Tower on Capitol Square, Mantle serves as the first monument to honor the important heritage and history of the Virginia Tribal Communities. Designed by Alan Michelson, a member of the Mohawk Tribe and a renowned New York-based installation artist, this remarkable monument serves as a meditation space where visitors can either walk the labyrinth or sit and contemplate. It is also a gathering spot where groups can formally or informally assemble. We hope you will visit soon!

Past Events for Virginia Indian Tribute

Billy Mills addressed attendees at the Virginia State Capitol.
Billy Mills addressed attendees at the Virginia State Capitol.

On Saturday, June 24, 2017, the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission and the Virginia Capitol Foundation hosted the groundbreaking ceremony for the Virginia Indian Tribute. This monument, entitled “Mantle”, recognizes the lasting legacy and significance of American Indians in the Commonwealth.

The featured speaker at the groundbreaking was Billy Mills, member of the Oglala Lakota (Souix) tribe and the Olympic gold medal winner of the 10,000 meter run in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The groundbreaking ceremony took place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 24 in Capitol Square, located at 1000 Bank Street in Richmond. The public was invited to join in the groundbreaking ceremony.

The groundbreaking celebration was made possible by the Running Strong for American Indian Youth Foundation, co-founded by Billy Mills to help American Indian people with their immediate survival needs and strengthen American Indian communities across the nation.

The total cost for the monument was nearly $900,000. Thanks to our many contributors and sponsors in seeing the project from concept to completion. Important donations to note are; $100,000 matching grant from the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation and a 2:1 matching grant from the Cabell Foundation, plus donations from NewMarket, Dominion, the Windsor Foundation, Titan America, and the Running Strong for American Indian Youth Foundation.

See the Richmond Times-Dispatch Story.

See the Indian Country Media Network Story.

Read an article from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

See photos from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Download the Press Release for this past Event.

Download the ceremony invite which was open to the public.

Photos from the Groundbreaking ceremony at the new monument site can be seen below.

 

More about “Mantle”

Native peoples have lived in this land we know as Virginia, for thousands of years. Despite hardships brought about by the loss of their land, language, and civil rights, many Virginia tribes persisted and their members have continued to contribute to the Commonwealth through agriculture, land stewardship, teaching, military and civic service, the arts, and other avenues.

Concept Illustration of the "Mantle" monument ©Alan Michelson
Concept Illustration of the “Mantle” monument ©Alan Michelson

In recognition of their lasting legacy and significance, as well as to ensure that the rich and inspiring stories of our native peoples will endure, the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission was established by the General Assembly and the Governor with the purpose of erecting a permanent monument on Capitol Square. Following a competition that attracted artists from across the country, Alan Michelson’s design, Mantle, was chosen to represent the Virginia Indian Tribes, past and present.

Oriented to the earth and incorporating existing trees in the area, Mantle combines four integrated spiral elements to create the shape of a Nautilus, a shell which represents strength, knowledge of the past, continuous growth, and beauty. The inspiration for the shape originated with the embellishments on a ceremonial robe, or mantle, worn by Powhatan, the paramount chief. A five-foot wide winding footpath following the outline of the monument will serve as a labyrinth which in some Indian cultures represents a sacred path to the home of an ancestor. In addition to the path will be a continuous, smooth stone wall, which also serves as a bench.

slide3In the communal center of the monument in honor of the river culture of the tribes will be a circular waterfall with a shape inspired by the “peak” shells which were highly prized by Virginia Indians. The Indian names of Virginia rivers will be arranged in a spoke pattern radiating from the center. Natural landscaping throughout the monument will consist of a selection of perennial native plant species, including wildflowers.

Mantle's "labyrinth" leads visitors its waterfall centerpiece.
Mantle’s “labyrinth” leads visitors its waterfall centerpiece.

Mantle will serve as a meditation space where visitors can either walk the labyrinth or sit and contemplate. It will also be a gathering spot where groups can formally or informally assemble. As a communal area, Mantle creates a respectful relationship with the surrounding natural world, reflecting the positive values, which set the Indians apart from other cultures. Finally, through state-of-the-art educational programs developed, Mantle will serve as a vehicle to educate the community by bringing awareness of the history and culture of the Virginia Indians.

To see more details about the Monument and please visit the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission Website.

Capitol Square Landscape

Capitol Square Landscape

Capitol Square’s nationally-recognized historic landscape is an essential element of the Capitol experience. The monuments throughout Capitol Square represent specific eras and iconic Virginians associated with them. With the completion of an important restoration of the Capitol and the Executive Mansion in the last decade, restoration of the surrounding park is the next logical step, readying the complex for the 2016 bicentennial celebration of Capitol Square. The plan will rehabilitate one of the oldest enclosed public parks in our nation by reclaiming components of early and mid19th-century landscape designs, including the John Notman picturesque style, which predates New York’s Central Park by more than a decade. The Square’s preservation is fundamental to the Capitol’s integrity as an historic resource.

Capitol Square Map, circa 1876, highlighting the John Notman landscape design
Capitol Square Map, circa 1876, highlighting the John Notman landscape design

Educational Programs and Exhibits

Educational Programs and Exhibits

Educational exhibits on display in the Capitol extension
Educational exhibits on display in the Capitol extension
This campaign will fund the development of programs and interactive experiences aimed at educating current and future generations on the ideals of liberty, representative government, and civic engagement. In addition, the projects will remind visitors of the pivotal role Virginia has played in the founding of America’s form of government. Focus areas will include significant milestones in Virginia history, representative government in action, and the compelling stories of influential, though often less celebrated, individuals.

Jefferson’s State Capitol and Poplar Forest Named as Sites On “U.S. Tentative World Heritage List”

The Virginia State Capitol, recently restored, and Poplar Forest, Jefferson’s rural retreat in Bedford County, are among 14 sites in the U.S. selected for inclusion on a new U.S. World Heritage Tentative List, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced earlier this year. Inclusion on the U.S. list is “the necessary first step” toward being considered for inscription on the United Nations World Heritage List, “the most prestigious international recognition accorded to properties of global importance,” Kempthorne said in his announcement.

Heritage List Press Release

 

Civil Rights Memorial Unveiled on Capitol Square

On July 21, 2008, The Virginia Civil Rights Memorial was unveiled on Capitol Square. The Memorial is a privately financed, $2.6 million granite and bronze statue. It is the first statue on the grounds of the historic Capitol to include depictions of blacks and women in prominent roles.

Many citizens and speakers attended the unveiling of the Civil Rights Memorial on Capitol Square.
Many citizens and speakers attended the unveiling of the Civil Rights Memorial on Capitol Square.
The 18-figure sculpture called a “living memorial” by sculptor Stanley Bleifeld is meant to represent a key moment in the history of the civil-rights movement in Virginia. The new Memorial spotlights the African-American students in rural Prince Edward County whose 1951 walkout to protest their run-down school led to a lawsuit that was folded into the challenge that triggered the 1954 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court banning segregated public schools.

Among the figures on the Memorial is Oliver W. Hill, Sr. holding a rumpled legal brief aloft as he stands shoulder to shoulder with law partner Spottswood W. Robinson III. They took on the case of the Prince Edward County students who protested the shabby condition of their school. Barbara Johns was the one who called the school strike in 1951 and she is also featured. The student protests garnered support from the local community, benefiting from the moral leadership of the Rev. L. Francis Griffin, who is also a part of the memorial.

 

Thomas Jefferson Statue

Thomas Jefferson: Architect of Liberty
Thomas Jefferson: Architect of Liberty
The Board of Trustees of the Virginia Capitol Foundation announced that the long-anticipated statue of Thomas Jefferson was dedicated on Friday, May 4, 2012. The Executive Committee of the 2007 Virginia Capitol Restoration and Extension Project charged the Virginia Capitol Foundation with the task of commissioning an original work of art representing Thomas Jefferson, the architect of the Virginia Capitol. Three distinguished Virginians – Tom Farrell, Bill Goodwin, Brent Halsey and their families – stepped forward to fund the project which has taken just over a year to complete. Ivan Schwartz, co-founder of StudioEIS, was tapped by the Foundation to create the original full-length bronze image. The statue, on permanent display in the Capitol Extension, serves as a guidepost, beckoning the more than 100,000 annual visitors to enter America’s first monument to democracy.

Read the full press release.
 

Keepers of the Flame available on YouTube

Capitol visitors can learn more about Virginia’s central role in American history, thanks to a film, Keepers of the Flame, produced by the Virginia Capitol Foundation with assistance from actor, filmmaker, and Virginia native Tim Reid. The 20-minute visually-interactive film is available in the Virginia Capitol Visitor Extension for viewing seven days a week during regular tour hours. For visitors that can not view the film at the Capitol, it is also presented below via YouTube.

Keepers of the Flame Activity BookA new Keepers of the Flame student activity book has been developed and is available for download. The film and Student Activity Book correlate with the 2008 History and Social Science Standards of Learning for Virginia Studies. The activity book was created by Tanya Siwik, a Fairfax County Public Schools teacher, in collaboration with Betsy Barton, Specialist for History and Social Science for the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Education.

Download the new Activity Book here