Digging into the past

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 17, 2007

FRANKLIN—Youth will have the opportunity to explore the early Indians of Virginia during an upcoming session of Paul D. Camp’s Kids College.

&uot;The First Virginian — Archeology and Anthropology,&uot; will be led by Courtland resident and avocational archeologist Russell Darden and his wife, Pam, who is not only a history buff, but a direct descendant of Pocahontas. Russell is also a past state president and state treasurer for The Archeological Society of Virginia and lecturer/historian for the Virginia Native American Cultural Center.

The class, for ages 8 to 13, will be held at the Workforce Development Center July 24 from 9 a.m. to noon.

&uot;Using slides and museum-type artifacts, we’ll provide the children with information from Prehistoric times to Jamestown,&uot; Darden said. &uot;This is a very informative program. They will learn about what the early Indians grew for food and how their houses were built.&uot;

Artifacts will allow participants to get hands-on knowledge of tools and weapons used by the early Virginians.

&uot;The oldest [artifact] I have here is from 15,000 B.C.,&uot; he said.

The fluted point was found near a fire hearth at the Cactus Hill site in Sussex County.

&uot;The earliest evidence of man in the entire western hemisphere was found at Cactus Hill,&uot; he said regarding the Clovis people.

&uot;This is where we are going to start and we’ll bring them to Jamestown.&uot;

Many of the artifacts are from Southampton County, such as a fully grooved ax from 5,000 to 6,000 B.C. found in a field and various points that were discovered that are representative of 5,000 to 7,000 B.C., found in front of the courthouse.

&uot;The courthouse is built over archaic Indian village sites,&uot; Darden said.

&uot;I’m also going to show them a fossilized tooth from a young woolly mastodon elephant that goes back to B.C.

&uot;When [hunters] brought down a big elephant, the tribe had food and clothing for months,&uot; he said. The meat was dried, the hides used for warmth and the tusks used as weapons.

&uot;I will have a fish hook made of a deer rib bone that I recently found,&uot; he said. &uot;It has a beautiful point. It is as rare as having a diamond.&uot;

There will be Native American flute music and handouts available.

&uot;They will go home with information about the seven tribes in Virginia that the state recognizes,&uot; Darden said, &uot;and where they can go to visit sites.&uot;

Darden encourages people to bring anything they may want to have identified.

The cost of the class is $15. To register, contact Renee Brown, 569-6050.