Oral Histories– Un-damming the Rappahannock

The most interesting thing from these videos was the different perspectives that each person had. The river meant something to each person, but what they talked about was different. I really liked listening to Chief Anne talk about the history of her tribe and its people. I don’t know a lot about Native American history, so I was excited to learn more about a tribe here in Virginia. I was surprised that the Rappahannock tribe was so involved with John Smith and other colonists. I feel like I learned a lot about John Smith in school, but the Rappahannock tribe was never mentioned. I thought that the learning program that they had introduced for the tribe’s youth was super cool. I thought it was interesting that they found that taking the children to the river was more engaging than having them listen to tribe leaders lecture.
Listening to the story of un-damming the river from someone who worked so closely to the project was really cool. I had never heard of the Embrey Dam before watching these videos. Listening to the bureaucratic steps of what needed to be done to get the dam removed was really interesting. It’s nice that the fish have started to return upstream.
Listening to James E. Pitts, Sr. was my favorite. I thought it was important that he could give a timeline of the river because he lived on the river his whole life. Different species have thrived in the river at different times. One of the reasons I liked listening to it so much was it reminded me of listening to stories told by my Grandma. One of her favorite things to do is drive around town and tell me what things looked like when she was a little girl. It is important to get stories like this from people while they can still tell them. It was interesting to hear what the river meant to him. He said that he didn’t think that his family would have been able to eat without the river, but it also provided different leisure activities. He talks about how much he enjoyed fishing and frogging.
Having lived in Fredericksburg for the past year I have seen the Rappahannock a lot. I have to drive over it to get to school, but I hadn’t realized the major role that it played for so many different people.

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