Anthropologist and Pamunkey Tribe member Ashley Spivey will present “Union Tooth and Nail: The Pamunkey Indian Tribe and The Civil War in Virginia” 7 p.m. Monday at the Hampton History Museum.
Spivey, who has degrees from James Madison University and the College of William and Mary, studies her own history as a career.
She works for her tribe full time as the director of the tribal resource center and volunteers with the museum and cultural center. Her dissertation is in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Spivey will speak Monday about the Pamunkey Tribe’s involvement in the Civil War on the Union side.
Spivey said she typically begins her lectures with background on the tribe, situating them 400 years ago in the precolonial area to provide context for the audience to understand how the history unfolded.
Spivey said Pamunkeys have participated in all the major wars.
It’s documented that many Pamunkey Indians were worried if the Confederacy won, they’d be enslaved and removed from their lands, Spivey said. The tribe supported the Union.
Pamunkey men often were recruited to serve as pilots and scouts on gunboats due to their knowledge of the land, according to a news release about the event from the city. On the reservation — which is near King William County — women would assist Union soldiers camped nearby.
The lecture comes after the Pamunkey’s recognition. The tribe recently became the state’s only federally recognized tribe in January 2016, the release states.
Native American history isn’t usually discussed past the precolonial era, Spivey said, adding she believes this segment of history is important to tell.
She said few know Native Americans still live in the state, let alone that two of the oldest reservations are found here.
“Really it’s just providing people with another story besides Pocahontas and John Smith and highlighting complexities of native life beyond the 17th century,” Spivey said.
Spivey’s lecture is a part of the Port Hampton Lecture Series at the museum, which happens the first Monday of the month. Museum promotions director Seamus McGrann said each lecture explores a historical topic that’s local and expands it to a national perspective, or a national topic that’s brought to a local perspective.
Curator Allen Hoilman said during the lecture series, the museum has some leeway to step outside its traditional confines.
“It’s a take on the story that is not often told, how Pamunkey historically behaved, this specific lecture is how they behaved during the Civil War, which of course mostly means a tale of how they chose to aid the Union forces in a wide variety of ways,” Hoilman said. “So not only are we getting a native Virginian story, but we’re getting a Civil War story from a perspective that is almost never told.”
McGrann said, “There’s all these stories and people that haven’t been accurately or adequately represented in the overall telling of our past. And so that’s something as an institution is intriguing to us, as we want to more and more tell a more complete story of Hampton’s history and the role of Hampton in the state and national history.”
Want to go?
What: Ashley Spivey, “Union Tooth and Nail: The Pamunkey Indian Tribe and The Civil War in Virginia.”
Where: Hampton History Museum at 120 Old Hampton Lane in downtown Hampton.
Tickets: Free for museum members, $5 for nonmembers.