Join the Monacan Indian Nation Wednesday morning in Zion Crossroads, Virginia to save Rassawek

The site of Rassawek, capital city of the Monacan Indian Nation in Virginia.(Photo: Gov. Ralph Northam - Flickr)

Press Pool

James River Water Authority poised to vote to proceed with destroying Rassawek, the capital city of the Nation documented by John Smith in 1612

News Release

Monacan Indian Nation - Save Rassawek Campaign

The James River Water Authority, a joint venture of Louisa and Fluvanna Counties in Virginia, has recently concluded their analysis of alternative locations for their water pump station and pipeline. They are poised to vote to proceed with destroying Rassawek, the capital city of the Monacan Indian Nation documented by John Smith in his 1612 map of Virginia.

Pictured: John Smith recorded the existence of five Monacan towns, including the capital Rassawek John Smith at the confluence of the James and Rivanna rivers in 1612 (Library of Congress). A Smithsonian researcher confirmed the site in the 1930’s and Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources acknowledged the site in the 1980’s.
Pictured: John Smith recorded the existence of five Monacan towns, including the capital Rassawek John Smith at the confluence of the James and Rivanna rivers in 1612 (Library of Congress). A Smithsonian researcher confirmed the site in the 1930’s and Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources acknowledged the site in the 1980’s.(Image: virginiaplaces.org/nativeamerican/rassawek.html.
Pictured: The James River Water Authority (JRWA) proposed to construct a pump station at the site of the Monacan capital, Rassawek (ESRI, ArcGIS Online).
Pictured: The James River Water Authority (JRWA) proposed to construct a pump station at the site of the Monacan capital, Rassawek (ESRI, ArcGIS Online).(Image: virginiaplaces.org/nativeamerican/rassawek.html)

James River Water Authority's alternatives analysis fails to consider seriously more than a dozen alternative sites and routes identified.

Pictured: The James River Water Authority (JRWA) concluded in 2020 that eight feasible alternatives were cost-prohibitive (James River Water Authority, Individual USACE Permit Supplemental Information and Alternative Analysis, February 2020).
Pictured: The James River Water Authority (JRWA) concluded in 2020 that eight feasible alternatives were cost-prohibitive (James River Water Authority, Individual USACE Permit Supplemental Information and Alternative Analysis, February 2020).(Image: virginiaplaces.org/nativeamerican/rassawek.html)

Tomorrow, March 11, the James River Water Authority is holding a public meeting and we need our supporters to be on the record opposing locating the pump station at Rassawek. We need you, and anyone you know who supports the preservation of Rassawek, to go to the meeting to show the James River Water Authority, the local government, the media, and the community the strength of our opposition.  

Here are the details: 

Who: You and any Monacan Indian Nation supporters you know, especially Fluvanna and Louisa County residents. 

What: A public meeting of the James River Water Authority.

When: Wednesday, March 11 at 8:45 a.m. for a 9 a.m. meeting.

Where: Spring Creek Clubhouse, 181 Clubhouse Way, Zion Crossroads, VA 22942.

Why: The James River Water Authority plans to vote to proceed with locating the pump station on top of Rassawek. We need to be on the record opposing this decision, and show them, the Boards of Supervisors, the media, and the community the strength of our opposition.

The Nation can provide you with talking points that reflect the latest developments by this evening. Please tell us how many people we may expect in your party

Pictured: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam discussed Rassawek with Monacan Indian Nation leaders July 1, 2019.
Pictured: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam discussed Rassawek with Monacan Indian Nation leaders July 1, 2019.(Photo: Gov. Ralph Northam - Flickr)

Additional information

  • James River Water Authority has announced that tomorrow morning it plans to vote to pursue its original path for construction of its water pump station, destroying Rassawek and rejecting more than a dozen alternatives the Army Corps of Engineers ordered them to explore seriously.
  • Last week counsel for James River Water Authority and lawyers for Fluvanna and Louisa counties stated that the primary obstacle to their clients' willingness to consider alternatives was that the Monacan Indian Nation had not identified a specific preference for an alternative route, and therefore James River Water Authority's hands were tied.
  • The Monacan are calling James River Water Authority's bluff by identifying a specific alternative the Nation would collaboratively explore with James River Water Authority. The key property owner whose cooperation would facilitate this alternative has also stepped up to agree to work with James River Water Authority.
  • Thus, James River Water Authority's vote tomorrow is a test of whether they are or were ever serious about exploring a solution that would bring water to Zion's Crossroads while respecting Native culture and burials and avoiding years of contentious and costly litigation.
  • The letter the tribe sent to James River Water Authority and County attorneys proposing collaboration on this alternative can be read HERE. 
  • A map showing the alternate route can be found HERE.
  • The meeting tomorrow is 9:00 a.m. — Spring Creek Clubhouse, 181 Clubhouse Way, Zion Crossroads, Virginia.

Questions? Email Marion Werkheiser, attorney for the Nation, at marion@culturalheritagepartners.com. 

Thank you for standing with the Monacan Indian Nation. We welcome contributions to our GoFundMe campaign, and please contact us for information on making a formal expression of support.

Monacan Indian Nation - seal
(Image: Monacan Indian Nation)
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