Can’t wait to cover this story

Published 7:33 pm Monday, January 17, 2011

Since the moment I first heard about the Mattanock Town project around four years ago, I’ve been anxious to cover it. For several years, however, it looked like that might not happen.

The Nansemond Indian Tribe has been on a mission for the last 10 years to regain a portion of its ancestral land, now owned by the city of Suffolk and used as part of the Lone Star Lakes Park. The tribe hopes to put a tourist attraction there that will include a replica of their ancestral village with exhibits and displays, as well as a tribal headquarters, powwow facilities and reburial grounds for their ancestors.

This November, after years of roadblocks, that project finally moved forward when the City Council voted to transfer the land. Along with a few caveats, however, came the stipulation that the land will revert to the city if the project isn’t completed in five years.

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Now, the tribe, along with their supporters and volunteers from a number of different professions, are working feverishly to accomplish the task.

“It’s like having two full-time jobs,” Chief Barry Bass told me Saturday, after having spent most of the morning in a meeting about the project.

Most people who grew up in this area will remember the seemingly annual visits to Jamestown, Yorktown and Colonial Williamsburg on school field trips. While these resources are important and area residents are certainly blessed to have them so close by, none of them tells the story of the area’s first inhabitants as a project like Mattanock Town could.

In fact, Mattanock Town will be a vital complement to those projects — particularly Jamestown — that has been missing. The story of the relationship between the Nansemonds and Capt. John Smith cannot be fully told with one of the projects missing.

Though Chief Bass says he’s doing this project for his ancestors, it will be a benefit to everyone living in the area — and to the city of Suffolk. The project will surely get schoolteachers and others throughout the region more tuned in to the multiple historical and cultural offerings of the city.

I can’t wait for the day that I can drive down Godwin Boulevard and make the turn near a sign directing visitors to “Mattanock Town” and cover the grand opening of the project. I think I’m looking forward to it almost as much as the tribal members.