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On Monday, October 12, Chanco and the offices of the Diocese of Southern Virginia will be closed. Officially the day, known as “Columbus Day,” commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus on American soil in 1492. The arrival of Columbus paved the way for Europeans to inhabit, explore, and ultimately take possession of the land. However, there were already indigenous people inhabiting this land; therefore, we use this day to remember and honor those people as well. The names of the tribes of indigenous people who inhabited the grounds on which the Diocese of Southern Virginia rests include the following:

Cherokee, Chickahominy, Manahoac, Meherrin, Monacan, Nahyssand, Nansemond, Nottaway, Occaneechi, Powhatan, Saponi, Shawnee, Tutelo, Rappahannock, Mattaponi and Melungeons

The relationship of these native people with the land was such that they did not comprehend the notion of “ownership” in the same way as did their European visitors. The natives understood the land as something that was given into their care, but not their possession. As such, they did not recognize when their ability to care for it had been taken from them.Today, as we commemorate Columbus Day, let us remember not only the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas, but also the people who lived here and watched him and others like him arrive on their homelands .

Because of their great love and care for creation, a good way to commemorate the day would be to get outside and enjoy the day in Creation. Garden, take a hike, walk along the beach, breathe fresh air…and utter profound thanks to God for His gift of Creation to us and our chance to care for it. We do not necessarily own the land upon which we walk. We are stewards of it, and it is given into our diligent care.

-The Rt. Rev. Susan Haynes, Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia