Patawomeck tribe and Stafford field hockey boosters team up to dedicate monument
Adele Uphaus for the Free Lance-Star
A unique new monument at Stafford High School pays tribute to both the local Patawomeck tribe and decades of excellence in field hockey. Tribal leaders and the Stafford High School Field Hockey Boosters club teamed up last year to plan and execute the monument, which will be dedicated this fall. “What we realized was that we have had quite a few Patawomeck members who have played field hockey here, and the school’s mascot is the Indian,” said Dave Lemke, vice president of the boosters club. “Our coach also claims citizenship. So there’s really an unbelievable connection there and it’s a natural tie.”
The boosters club worked with Brad Hatch, an anthropologist and director of the newly opened Patawomeck Museum and Cultural Center, to research and design the monument. It will consist of a stamped patio of concentric rings with four benches and two signs — one, authored by Hatch, telling the story of the Patawomeck people and their encounter with John Smith in 1607, and the other telling the story of the field hockey program, which boasts 26 championships and 66 alumni who have earned the Virginia High School League’s all-state honor or the all-metro honor that predated it.
The concentric rings etched into the patio are representative of how the Patawomeck people view the world and their place in it, Lemke said. The outer ring represents water and the next represents the barricade the tribe erected around their village. The inner two rings represent corn and fire.
The goal is for the site to be a living monument, Lemke said. Each year, the plaque noting the team’s championships and honors will be removed and updated. The boosters club is seeking community input to flesh out its records of team achievements prior to 1998, Lemke said. “Please share them with the Boosters so we can acknowledge the beginnings of a storied program in our community,” he said.
The greater Stafford community has already played a part in bringing the monument to fruition. Concrete for the patio was donated by Aaronal Homes and craftsmanship by the team at Builder’s Choice Concrete. Willie Holloway, assistant manager at Lowe’s, helped coordinate the donation of the four benches surrounding the patio and Sherwin Williams in Fredericksburg donated staining supplies, cloth and brushes. The art work was completed by Stafford High School art students with their teacher, Brenda Williams.
Lemke said he hopes the monument will become a place for people to gather after field hockey games and learn how the program has grown and matured over the years, while at the same time recognizing the contributions of the Patawomeck tribe to Stafford High School athletics and the wider community. “We’re really proud of our heritage and our high school,” Lemke said.
Comment: Nothing earth shattering and certainly nothing of great national or international import. But it pleased me to no end that this was the lead story in my Saturday morning paper. It’s a story of good people doing good things without any drama. My guess is that these kinds of stories are replicated across this country on a daily basis. But you’d never know that from the main stream media and certainly not from social media.
As I go about the mundane tasks of living in Stafford, I note that mutual respect, courtesy and friendliness is pervasive. It’s as if everyone here goes to great pains to be upstanding citizens and human beings. This happens every day. My personal, unscientific theory is that the high concentration of active, retired and former military here has something to do with it. On the whole, we’re a disciplined lot instilled with a vested interest in the welfare of those around us. Obviously there are pockets in this country where this isn’t so. There are real shitheads walking among us, but I bet the upstanding citizens far outnumber the shitheads. Again, you wouldn’t know that from the main stream media and certainly not from social media.
I’ve followed the progress of the Patawomeck tribe since I arrived in Stafford in 1995. The mostly fairy tale of Pocahontas and John Smith involved the tribe. There was great excitement about twelve years ago when Wayne Newton came to Richmond from Las Vegas to speak on behalf of his tribe when they sought Virginia state recognition. Newton spent a lot of his youth in Stafford with his Patawomeck grandfather. He showed the Virginia Assembly a framed photo of his grandfather and a peace medallion that was handed down to him. The tribe won state recognition along with seven other Virginia tribes. Things have been going well since then.