Monument features the first female leader of Pamunkey Tribe

Construction on the Virginia Women’s Monument Memorial Plaza has begun in Richmond, the state capital.

The monument, called Voices from the Garden, features a statue of Cockacoeske. She was the first female leader of the Pamunkey Tribe whose work among Indian nations led to the signing of the 1677 Treaty of Middle Plantation.

“She was a remarkable woman,” Colleen Dugan Messick, the executive director of the Virginia Capitol Foundation, told Community Idea Stations. “She led her tribe and several others, and negotiated hunting rights and land ownership with Colonial officials who were quite impressed with her.”

A model depicting Cockacoeske is shown holding the 1677 Treaty of Middle Plantation. Photo: Virginia Capital Foundation

With construction on track, the foundation announced that the statues of four notable women have been fully funded. According to news reports, two women donated a total of $200,000 specifically for Cockacoeske.

The foundation held a photo shoot last month to start the process for creating the statues. The model for Cockacoeske is shown holding a depiction of the signed treaty.

Voices from the Garden will eventually feature 12 statues of notable women. It's located on Capitol Square in Richmond, not far from Mantle, the monument to the original tribal nations in Virginia, which is now open to the public.

The April dedication came after six tribes won federal recognition through an act of Congress in January. They joined the Pamunkey Tribe, whose recognition was finalized in 2016 through the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The Pamunkey Reservation, located about an hour east of Richmond, was recognized in the 1677 treaty. Most tribal citizens live in the area.

Biographical information about Cockacoeske, provided by the Virginia Women’s Monument Commission, follows:
Cockacoeske (fl. 1656- d. 1686) Jamestown.
Cockacoeske, (pronounced Coke a cow ski) was a Pamunkey chief, and descendant of Opechancanough, brother of the paramount chief Powhatan. Upon the death of her husband Totopotomoy, chief of the Pamunkey circa 1649-1656, Cockacoeske became queen of the Pamunkey. In 1676, a few months before Bacon's Rebellion, the insurrection's leader Nathaniel Bacon and his followers attacked the Pamunkey, killing some of Cockacoeske’s people and taking others captive. An astute politician, Cockacoeske signed the Treaty of Middle Plantation on May 29, 1677, reuniting, under her authority, several tribes that had not been under Powhatan domination since 1646, as well as establishing the Pamunkey Reservation. Cockacoeske ruled the Pamunkey for 30 years until her death in 1686.

Read More on the Story:
First four statues commissioned for Va. Women's Monument at Capitol Square (WRIC July 18, 2018)
Statues Commissioned For Women's Monument (Community Idea Stations July 17, 2018)
First four Virginia Women’s Monument statues commissioned for Capitol Square (WTVR July 17, 2018)
Four statues get green light for Virginia Women’s Monument (WWBT July 17, 2018)

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