Oral Histories

The Rappahannock River is largely significant to the Fredericksburg area, even more than I realized. After watching these videos I got to understand its importance from three very different perspectives.

Chief Anne Richardson of the Rappahannock Tribe shared lots of insight. This tribe is matrilineal, meaning their leaders are historically women which I find super fascinating. I thought it was interesting when Chief said she thought the name suited her tribe perfectly because they have “ebbed and flowed” with power for many years. Her tribe has used the Rappahannock River to travel, to eat, and to train warriors. I loved her message about the eagles being “messengers from the Creator.” Her views on fracking were exactly what I thought they would be and her words were the perfect choice.

John Tippett brought more of a policy conversation to the table which was very informative. His upbringing of higher education, many internship hours, and experience has shaped his thoughts and actions. While working at Friends of the Rappahannock he shared that the Embrey Dam was quite the fuss due to its safety concerns and financial restraints from the City and state. Tippett said “the most important thing for the organization is to be a proactive force for the river.” I think that with knowledgable individuals like John Tippett the Rappahannock river will see a successful future.

James Pitt brought a more historical view to the Rappahannock river and I enjoyed his stories. I think being able to understand the ways that the river was used in the past helps figure out the best way for it to be used in the present. I thought it was interesting that he said when the stock market crashed his family had no idea because they were so poor already. After he shared his stories of fishing for salt fish and watching steamboats float on the river I can see how drastically things have changed.

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