Jessica Canaday Stewart and Vanessa Adkins

Chickahominy Dance

Master Artist
Jessica Canaday Stewart
Apprentice
Vanessa Adkins
Folkway
Chickahominy Dance
Location
Charles City
Vanessa Adkins, right, is apprenticing under her cousin Jessica Canaday Stewart learning the finer points of traditional Chickahominy dancing. Photos taken at the Fall Festival and Pow Wow in Charles City on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.  Pat Jarrett/The Virginia Folklife Program
Vanessa Adkins, right, is apprenticing under her cousin Jessica Canaday Stewart learning the finer points of traditional Chickahominy dancing. Photos taken at the Fall Festival and Pow Wow in Charles City on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. Pat Jarrett/The Virginia Folklife Program

The Chickahominy Tribe, currently the second largest tribe in Virginia, is based primarily in Charles City County. Because of their historic proximity to Jamestown, members of the autonomous Algonquin-speaking Chickahominy Tribe were among the very first native Virginians to encounter Europeans upon their arrival in the beginning of the seventeenth century. The Chickahominy host numerous cultural events, most prominently the annual Fall Festival and Powwow which features resurgent and vibrant forms of Indian dance. Jessica Canaday Stewart grew up watching her aunt dance traditional Chickahominy dances across the powwow circuit. Unlike many of her young friends who gravitated toward the contemporary powwow dance styles known as “jingles” or “fancy dances,” Jessie dedicated herself to mastering the traditional Chickahominy dances of her ancestors. At 26, she has already been named “Miss Chickahominy” five times, representing the tribe as a dancer at powwows across the East coast. The youngest Master Artist ever to participate in the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program, Jessie will be apprenticing her young cousin, Vanessa Adkins, who, much like Jessie as a young teenager, is eager to learn to dance in the true Chickahominy tradition.