Pamunkey Tribe reclaims 17th-century jewelry piece 12/21/2017

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Pamunkey Tribe reclaims 17th-century jewelry piece


Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that King Charles II, not King James II, gifted the frontlet to Queen Cockacoeske.

A gift given in the name of peace hundreds of years ago has found its way back home.

Preservation Virginia repatriated a 17th-century frontlet back to the Pamunkey Tribe, which was originally gifted by King Charles II of England to Pamunkey Queen Cockacoeske, in a ceremony at the preservation group’s Richmond office.

Historians think the frontlet — a piece of jewelry worn on the forehead — was given to Cockacoeske to commemorate the 1677 Treaty of Middle Plantation. Several Virginia indian tribes swore allegiance to the British in return for official access to civil courts, hunting rights and guaranteed land ownership as part of the treaty, according to Preservation Virginia, a state history preservation organization.

“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,” said Ashley Atkins Spivey, Pamunkey Indian Museum and Cultural Center director.

The treaty also brought several Indian chiefdoms under Cockacoeske’s authority, and relations between Cockacoeske and the British were mostly peaceful during the queen’s 30-year rule.

“It indicates the high esteem the king had for the tribes and their activity,” Preservation Virginia CEO Elizabeth Kostelny said of the frontlet.

Preservation Virginia returned the frontlet in honor of the Pamunkey Tribe’s federal recognition in 2016. The frontlet was on display at Historic Jamestowne while in Preservation Virginia’s possession, and the Pamunkey will keep the artifact on display at the museum. The piece could find its way to other museums in the future, Kostelny said.

Preservation Virginia bought the frontlet from a private collector in the late 19th century for $800, or what would be about $20,000 today, Kostelny said.

Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.