We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, and we respect and honor with gratitude the land itself, the legacy of the ancestors, and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Sacred Ground meeting, May 30, 2024

7 on Zoom call

The meeting opened with prayer. 

Catherine talked about how grateful she has been that we’ve had the opportunity to work together to address the issues around racism in our own lives, in our church, and in our nation.   We’ve worked hard and not only learned a lot, but also done some specific things to address racial injustice.   


  1. Scholarship

Email from Germanna – Jessica Thompson – copied below. Funds delivered for 3 students to obtain a  commercial drivers certificate.  They completed the training and are in the workforce

Dear Andrea and the Sacred Ground Committee,

 We are truly grateful for your generous donation of $2,700 to support three students at Germanna in obtaining their Commercial Driver’s License Class A Truck Driver training credentials. We are pleased to report that each student successfully completed the training and is now entering the workforce in our area. One student wrote, “I would like to thank them for supporting people like me who are working full-time while trying to get a better education and build a future for myself and my family. “

 As a reminder, these are the three students that your contributions helped:

Devonte B.

 As a reminder, these are the three students that your contributions helped:

Devonte B.

Devonte possesses hands-on experience in equipment operation, construction, and culinary skills. His career objective is to secure a full-time position as a hydro excavator operator, complemented by acquiring proficiency in driving a lowboy for heavy equipment transport. This certification pursuit aims to enhance his employability, providing increased stability for his family, thereby positively impacting the well-being of his two children.

 Nicole B.

Nicole has a diverse employment history since the age of 17, including a significant role in caring for her terminally ill grandmother throughout 2022. Her ambition is to establish herself as an owner/operator in the trucking industry.

Diamond C.

Diamond recently transitioned from three jobs to two, prioritizing a more balanced work schedule while maintaining her strong work ethic. Despite her love for work, she recognizes the importance of a manageable workload. With a proactive mindset, she is committed to achieving success in CDL training, ensuring she acquires the necessary knowledge for future endeavors.

 Currently, the industry faces a significant driver shortage, with estimates suggesting a need for tens of thousands of additional drivers to meet demand. This shortage is driven by an aging workforce, high turnover rates, and increasing freight volumes. As e-commerce continues to grow and the economy expands, the demand for truck drivers is only expected to rise. By supporting students in obtaining their CDL credentials, you are not only helping them build better futures for themselves but also addressing a critical need in our economy. Your donation has a ripple effect, benefiting the students, their families, and the broader community. Thank you for your invaluable support in making this possible.

 Also, I wanted to share the good news that Germanna has received Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for 2023. This award recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. We are proud to continue nurturing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all.  We appreciate all the efforts your church is making to support this commitment as well. 

  1. Jamaica breakfast – The school does not end until later in June. They still need about $50 per week for the breakfast program which St Peter’s helps to support.

  2. Jamaica scholarship – The John Whitfield fund will be used for award money for the top three students who will be graduating this year.

  3. Virginia Tribal Education Consortium( VTEC) https://www.vtecinc.org/

Our connection to this group came from Catherine’s meeting with Chief Anne Richardson of the Rappahannock Tribe. Catherine talked with VTEC on April 25.

The VTEC offer scholarships funded by grants for secondary and post-secondary education as well as workforce grants for changing jobs. The tuition is $3,000 to $4,000 per student. )  This model is being studied in other states, since it has been so successful.     

Those who qualify have to be a card-carrying member of their  tribe.  The Racial Integrity Acts in Virginia (1924-1930) obliterated the connections of tribal members to their history  The laws made it difficult to trace  their native ancestry. 

VTEC is holding a conference in Richmond on Oct 3-4. Last year 250 came. This will be held  at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture; The focus is how native Americans have worked to reclaim their identifies and to achieve sovereignty  through education. They are trying to raise $8,000 to help with those attending. Catherine has sent materials to the Diocese in hopes that our Diocese will support this conference by helping to fund it. 

Clips from the last conference – https://www.vtecinc.org/vtec-conference-2023

  1. The Racial Integrity Laws.

There wasn’t enough time to play a seminar that discussed these laws but a summary was provided at the meeting. Here is another summary:

From https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/racial-integrity-laws-1924-1930/

“Racial integrity laws were passed by the General Assembly to protect “whiteness” against what many Virginians perceived to be the negative effects of race-mixing.

“They included the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which prohibited interracial marriage and defined as white a person “who has no trace whatsoever of any blood other than Caucasian”; the Public Assemblages Act of 1926, which required all public meeting spaces to be strictly segregated; and a third act, passed in 1930, that defined as Black a person who has even a trace of African American ancestry. This way of defining whiteness as a kind of purity in bloodline became known as the “one drop rule.”

“These laws arrived at a time when a pseudo-science of white superiority called eugenics gained support by groups like the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America, which argued that the mixing of whites, African Americans, and Virginia Indians could cause great societal harm, despite the fact that the races had been intermixed since European settlement

“From his position as the state registrar of vital statistics, Walter A. Plecker micromanaged the racial classifications of Virginians, driven by concern that Blacks were attempting to pass as white. Virginia Indians were particularly incensed by the laws, and by Plecker in particular, because the state seemed intent on removing any legal recognition of Indian identity in favor of the broader category “colored.” After one failed try, lawmakers largely achieved this goal in 1930, drawing negative reaction from the Black press. The Racial Integrity Act remained on the books until 1967, when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Loving v. Virginia, found its prohibition of interracial marriage to be unconstitutional. In 2001, the General Assembly denounced the act, and eugenics, as racist.

The role of the Bureau of Indian Affairs was discussed at the meeting- https://www.bia.gov/   “Our mission is to enhance the quality of life, promote economic opportunities, and to carry out the federal responsibilities entrusted to us to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians and Alaska Natives. We accomplish this either directly, through contracts, compact agreements.

“BIA employees across the country work with tribal governments and tribal members in the administration of employment and job training assistance; law enforcement and justice; agricultural and economic development; tribal governance; and natural resources management programs to enhance the quality of life in tribal communities.”

This group maintains the list of federally recognized tribes and tribal lands and reservation boundaries

There are both Federal recognized tribes and state recognized tribes

There are 7 federally recognized tribes  in the Mid-Atlantic (Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Monacan, Nansemond, Pamunkey, Rappahannock , Upper Mattaponi) (https://www.epa.gov/tribal/federally-recognized-tribes-epas-mid-atlantic-region   which includes Virginia/

There are 11 state recognized tribes (Mattaponi,  Pamunkey, Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Rappahannock, Upper Mattaponi, Nansemond, Monacan Cheroenhaka, Nottoway, and Patawomeck https://www.commonwealth.virginia.gov/virginia-indians/state-recognized-tribes/ .

The work of the Virginia tribes is shown  here. https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/b3871a76ad4c4038b141e8765606f6b7 .

Federal Recognition Advantages  https://www.mpm.edu/content/wirp/ICW-104#:~:text=First%2C%20when%20they%20are%20extended,reservation%20lands%20placed%20in%20trust.

“First, when they are extended federal recognition, they can establish tribal governments that possess a measure of sovereignty. Non-recognized tribes can form tribal organizations but lack sovereign powers. Second, federally recognized tribes can have their reservation lands placed in trust. This means that their land is protected by the federal government from being purchased or taken by non-Indians. “

From the Bureau of Indian Affairs – https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/801  Also https://www.usa.gov/tribes

There is general assistance: cash assistance to meet essential needs of food, clothing, shelter, and utilities.

The Indians must be counted accurately in federal censuses which are taken every 10 years.

From – https://minnesotareformer.com/2020/03/26/indian-country-leaders-urge-native-people-to-be-counted-in-2020-census/

“The Indians are fighting to be counted accurately in federal censuses every 10 years. “The resulting data is used by federal and state governments to determine political representation and allocate funds for education, social services and other programs. An undercount translates into less money, less political representation and access to fewer resources.

“The Census Bureau estimates that it undercounted American Indians living on reservations and Alaska Natives in villages by approximately 4.9% in 2010. This was more than twice the undercount rate of the next closest population group, Black Americans, who had an undercount rate of 2.1%. This undercount was a significant improvement over previous Censuses. In 1990, the Census overlooked more than 12% of American Indians and Alaska Natives living on their traditional lands.

  1. Reflections on Sacred Ground by group members

    Gratitude for the support and listening and taking the work of the group seriously.  Hopefully this work will continue to help others learn and to think more fully about racism. 

    This group has helped to address the uncomfortable topic of racism by actually talking about it.

    The original Sacred Ground Course material and books were a wonderful education. One book sited Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debby Irving was described as “life changing”. The educational materials caused us to ask needed questions and focus back on ourselves and our own attitudes. 

    We’ve looked at issues of white privilege, systemic racism and how people are treated in the workplace. We see how fortunate we have been.

    We see that we have not been told the entire story about past leaders. We have a much more complete story and much more to learn.
    There is gratitude for the various field trips we have taken.

    There was praise for St. Peter’s for addressing the issue of racism, for coming up with a concrete action (scholarship fund to address historic racial inequities in education), and the hope that the group will continue.