What’s Happening in Arrohateck?

If you’ve been to Henricus over the last several weeks, you may have noticed a few changes to our Powhatan site! Our recreated Powhatan village of Arrohatek is currently going through some major renovations to make the site more accurate and engaging for visitors. The site previously consisted of four yehakins, or Long-Houses – three were covered in a synthetic mat to emulate grass mats used by Native Americans during the time period, and the last is currently sitting bare to showcase the construction techniques of the Powhatans.

Two of our three covered yehakins are being taken down, and only one will be replaced. Our family yehakin that was located at the front of the site is being replaced with a river-front display featuring a ramada that would be indicative of a workspace for processing fish and working on canoes and other fishing equipment. Our family yehakin at the back of the site will be taken down and recreated with better materials. Our third yehakin, which also sits at the back of the site, is currently representing a family home and is open to visitors.

Our bare yehakin is also under renovation. This was originally a natural yehakin, meaning that the entire structure was constructed out of plant-based materials. While authentic, these materials only last about five years before they begin to lose their structural integrity. The lashing, or rope material used to keep the wood beams in place, had begun to rot away and the structure was no longer properly shaped or supported. We are currently in the process of re-lashing the structure in order to make it stable; once this is done, we plan on covering this yehakin in natural mat materials to keep the authenticity of the original structure. This yehakin will most likely be turned into another family-style home, although the interior has yet to be decided upon.

One of the three yehakins will represent a Weroance, or chief’s, yehakin, with the other two being family yehakins meant to show housing for 6-12 individuals. We are also considering turning one of the yehakins into a Powhatan priest’s dwelling, although this has yet to be definitively decided upon. Ultimately, our goal for these renovations is to create a more authentic visitor experience and allow visitors to see a variety of different structures and lifestyles within the Powhatan Confederacy.

Written by Jessica Dymon, Powhatan Interpreter