Monday, September 19, 2011

Travel Tuesday on Monday: Wolf Creek Indian Village, VA

I have been remiss in my duties reporting on all the places we visited this summer, so I'm going do several this week. Enjoy the smorgasbord.

Heading up I-77 out of Charlotte NC, we stopped for the night just inside Virginia, and bright and early we headed north once more and our first stop was Wolf Creek Indian Village. It's not far off the highway, but the dense trees make it easy to miss the turn-off. Then you follow a side road under a canopy of trees to a shaded parking lot and picnic area and this unassuming museum and gift shop.

The admissions people told us the place is mostly frequented by school field trips, and it being summer, the staffing was relatively low, but we were more than welcome. Hours are 10-5 Monday - Saturday, but as most of the exhibits are outdoors, it can close for inclement weather. Most of the springtime it is closed for restoration and also because it is so close to a stream which often overflows as the snows melt. The walk to the village itself was nearly 1/4 mile and mostly downhill. Not terribly strenuous, but definitely not handicap accessible.

There was only one lady staffing the village at the time we were there, but she was very accommodating and patient with the little ones. She took us from structure to structure and explained the function each had within village life, and each also had a hands-on activity. First she showed the kids how to make clay beads. After everyone had created one, they were given a choice of beads previous groups had made and she had baked in the small kiln. The ones my kids made would be fired and given to visitors who came after. She strung them up on long dried grass necklaces, too.

Next came clay stained "tattoos" in traditional tribal symbols.

The central meeting house could accommodate the whole village of 100-150, but I imagine it was standing room only, and probably the kids were left out.

One structure was dedicated to the way they made household items like baskets and bowls. Here the kids helped weave a basket and got braided grass bracelets.

Nicholas started to get a little restless with all the items and descriptions, and as I apologized for him, our guide brushed my concerns aside and invited him outside. Here she showed how they were making a stone bowl for cooking. The process basically is pounding a big rock with a little rock, and Nicholas was in his element while she told us about how they used some native plants. In particular, the grasses they let grow tall in the center of the village could be burned when the mosquitoes got bad and the citronella-like scent would drive them away. Even more importantly, she showed us the power of the common plantain weed to relieve insect bites. If you tear off some of the leaves and rub the raw, moist edges on a bug bite, it neutralizes the reaction immensely. For the rest of our vacation, this came in so handy. And it grows almost everywhere north of the sandy soils of Florida. Try it sometime!

Our last stop (besides the small river outside the village) was a hands-on display of cutting tools. The kids learned how to drill holes in wooden poles with arrowheads used like drills, and how to saw with the jawbone of a deer (the bones they use here come from local roadkill). We also learned how they made their weapons and some other specialty tools.

And that was pretty much it. We saw everything in a little over an hour and we all had a blast!

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