400 Years On

This weekend marks the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement. Jamestown, if you don’t know, was the first successful English settlement in the New World and was the basis of the Virginia colony. Named after King James VI and I, the settlement went through some very tough times early on and relied heavily on the Powhatan Indian tribes to survive in those lean years. That reliance didn’t last for long for with reinforcements coming from across the Atlantic, the English colonists were able to dominate the region. Colonists’ ambitions turned from their naive dreams of picking up gems and gold from the ground to more pragmatic schemes of farming and planting.

We’re heading down to the region for a holiday and will be taking in the sites yet again. Join us, virtually, through these website:

(Note: some of my current research has to do with the subject of historical memory and commemorations of non-Columbian discoveries. So far I’ve confined myself to Canadian events but I have a feeling that after this latest trip, I, too, will have to take a kick at the can for Jamestown. What fun!)

3 Responses to “400 Years On”

  1. Ozymandia Says:

    I have, sitting beside me, the May 2007 National Geographic which has a wonderful article on Jamestown, and how the settlers altered the landscape (literally). I look forward to hearing about your trip! :)

  2. Horace Says:

    Any opinion on the Native American and African American protests scheduled to demonstrate at Jamestown? Their contention, generally, is that while Jamestown may be worth celebrating for white Americans, it is really the commemoration of the beginning of what amounts to multiple genocide. An interesting counter-narrative…

  3. ancarett Says:

    Horace, I’m all about race and commemoration in my research, actually, so I find those protests fascinating! Of course, as I’ve been reading the park literature and visiting these sites for years, I’ve seen the tenor of the presentation change from unalloyed jingoism to more thoughtful and nuanced consideration of race, environment and culture.

    The expanded gallery at Jamestown actually devotes a great deal of space and discussion to the African and First Nations communities before and during the early colonial period. And, as you noted, Ozymandia, the environmental studies are fascinating (particularly since they’ve uncovered what looks like Powhatan’s settlement as well as more of the original Jamestown site).

    It heartens me that there’s genuinely new material as well as new approaches to the old history. Now if we can only come up with something as much fun for when Henry VIII’s quincentenary celebration starts in 2009.