RCC students visit Rappahannock Tribe in Indian Neck

KING and QUEEN — As part of its Summer Bridge program, Rappahannock Community College's Student Support Services Office (SSS) sponsored a July 17 trip to the home of the Rappahannock Tribe in Indian Neck, King and Queen County.

Chief Anne Richardson presented a historical overview of the Rappahannocks and of Native Americans in general, with a tour of the tribe's Cultural Center. Artifacts on display included native tools, regalia, and pictures of past chiefs. Drummers and dancers of the tribe performed for the group, as well as teaching them how to do the "Friendship Dance" and the "Snake Dance." "I learned a lot about Native American culture," said one of the students, "and I have more of an appreciation for the culture."

After a lunch of native foods with Chief Richardson and members of the tribe, the program continued with a sing-along and discussion. A special moment occurred when a mother deer and two spotted fawns came out of the woods during the singing. "The students were so amazed by how calm the animals were," says Student Support Services administrative officer Lorraine Justice.

"This was an eye-opening experience," said Dean Taylor, RCC's director of student activities and athletics. "I did not realize that the Rappahannock Tribe was in this area . . . I did not know about the different laws that continue to impact Native Americans today." Justice also remarked on the fact that the tribe has a woman leader, and such a knowledgeable one, who "continues to encourage her people to seek educational opportunities at RCC."

The three-day Summer Bridge event allows students who qualify for Student Support Services, and will be joining the program in the upcoming Fall semester, to familiarize themselves with the advantages it offers. For the 2013-14 academic year, RCC was awarded $303,037 to offer assistance to its students through the SSS program, which was established by the United States Department of Education to help remove social, cultural, and economic barriers to higher education, and provides RCC students who meet its guidelines with individualized academic and personal counseling, tutoring, and cultural and social enrichment opportunities. The Department of Education makes these services available through the TRIO series of federal grant programs.