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Queen of Pamunkey Frontlet Tells History of Native Americans in Virginia

December 13, 2017

JAMESTOWN - The original Queen of Pamunkey frontlet will soon be back on display at Historic Jamestowne. Preservation Virginia is repatriating the frontlet to the Pamunkey Indian Tribe to recognize their achievement of federal recognition in 2016. The Tribal leaders have agreed to allow the frontlet to remain on display in the Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium at Historic Jamestowne on long-term loan. They will also be loaning the frontlet to other museums in the future.

Ashley Atkins Spivey, director of the Pamunkey Indian Museum and Cultural Center explained, “The Queen of Pamunkey frontlet is an invaluable part of Pamunkey history. It is the physical representation of our last treaty negotiated with England in 1677; a treaty that has been the cornerstone for upholding our rights over the past three centuries. It is unbelievable that the frontlet survived, and we are honored that this piece of Pamunkey history has made its way back home. We are truly honored by Preservation Virginia’s decision to repatriate the frontlet to the Pamunkey Indian Tribe.” 

The frontlet was presented to Cockacoeske, Queen of the Pamunkey, in the Court of King Charles II in observance of the 1677 Treaty of Middle Plantation between Great Britain and several Virginia Indian tribes. The frontlet is thought to have originally been attached to a crown presented to the Queen. A relative of paramount chief, Powhatan, Cockacoeske was known for her leadership and political acumen. During her 30 years of rule, there were peaceful relations between the Pamunkey tribe and English government.

“Understanding the history behind the Queen of Pamunkey frontlet gives us a glimpse into the complexity of the early years of the colony and this nation,” says Elizabeth S. Kostelny, CEO of Preservation Virginia. “The story of how the frontlet left the Tribe’s possession reflects a more difficult history. We are glad to bring that full circle and return the ownership of this piece of history to the Pamunkey Tribe. We are grateful for the loan that will allow our visitors a continued opportunity to explore this history.”

The frontlet will help visitors from around world learn about the history and culture of the Pamunkey tribe in 17th-century Jamestown. The artifact was one of the very first objects acquired by Preservation Virginia (then known as APVA) in the late nineteenth century.

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About Pamunkey Indian Museum and Cultural Center
The Pamunkey Indian Museum and Cultural Center is a tribal museum located on the Pamunkey Indian Reservation in King William, Virginia. The Museum and Cultural Center welcomes visitors during April through November to learn about the history and culture of the Pamunkey people from 10,000 years ago to the present day.

About Preservation Virginia
Preservation Virginia is a private, non-profit organization and statewide historic preservation leader founded in 1889 that is dedicated to preserving, promoting and serving as an advocate for Virginia's cultural and architectural history.

About Historic Jamestowne
Preservation Virginia’s Historic Jamestowne is jointly administered by the National Park Service and Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation and preserves the original site of the first permanent English settlement in the New World.

Press Contact

Brittney Jubert
bjubert@preservationvirginia.org
804.648.1889, x304