News and Views / Design Approved for a Tribute Honoring Virginia’s Native Peoples

April 6th / 2016

Design Approved for a Tribute Honoring Virginia's Native Peoples

Virginia’s Indian Commemorative Commission approved design plans yesterday, clearing the way for construction of a permanent tribute to the Commonwealth’s Indian tribes. Designed by award-winning Mohawk artist Alan Michelson, the spiral-shaped landform and meditative central fountain are steeped in meaning, with every design decision having specific cultural relevance.

Stewart is pleased to be helping bring the artist’s vision to life. Landscape architects and civil engineers in our Richmond office are currently developing construction documents to meet the goal of having the project complete by the end of Governor McAuliffe’s term, which expires in January of 2018.

The piece’s name, Mantle, is indicative of the depth of meaning of the monument, recalling three different definitions which have significance to the site. The name references the deerskin cloak worn by Chief Powhatan, the layer of the earth underneath the crust, and the part of the nautilus where the shell is made. In addition to being commonplace throughout Virginia, the nautilus shell is a traditional symbol of strength, as the shape of the ever-larger chambers suggests that it can continue to grow indefinitely.

The planting plan features an all native plant palette of shrubs, perennials, ferns and grasses that thrive in Virginia, and the design team is working with Capitol Square’s arborist to protect and preserve existing trees.

The central feature of the labyrinth path is a low 9-foot diameter fountain that will be engraved with the Native American names of 20 Virginia Rivers.

Once complete, the monument will serve as an enduring, contemplative space recognizing the stories of Virginia’s native peoples, and Stewart is proud to be a part of it.

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