Billy Mills had the honor of being the keynote speaker at the June 24th groundbreaking celebration of “Mantle” - the Virginia Indian Tribute to be located on grounds of the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond.
As noted by the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission, established by the Virginia General Assembly and former Gov. Tim Kaine in 2009, Native people have lived in the land now known 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
In recognition of their lasting legacy and significance, as well as to ensure that the rich and inspiring stories of Virginia’s Native people will endure, the commission was established with the purpose of erecting a permanent monument on Capitol Square.
The monument “Mantle” by award winning artist Alan Michelson, a Mohawk member of the Six Nations of the Grand River, is oriented to the earth and incorporates existing trees into the area, combining four integrated spiral elements to create the shape of a nautilus. The monument will also include a meditation area at the center of the spiral which will feature an infinity pool made to resemble the pottery indicative of Virginia tribes.
The ceremony included a welcome by Master of Ceremonies Powhatan Red Cloud-Owen (Chickahominy) and a Blessing of the Grounds by the Virginia Indian Dancers and the Turtle Clan Drummers.
In his remarks, Billy stressed the importance of Mantle, not just to the Virginia Native Americans which it honors, but to all Americans.
“Mantle will tell a story that will empower our young people, that will empower America and give us opportunities, collectively to choreograph our future and build a country that we know we can become."
To read more about the project.
Indian Country Today; ‘Olympian Billy Mills Announces Historic Monument: The Virginia Indian Mantle’