In 1714, Governor Alexander Spotswood began construction of Fort Christanna on Virginia’s western frontier. The 3.5 acre five-sided fort was built, in part, to defend both the local settlers and the Indian tribes that were allied with the English. Fort Christanna was situated within a 36 square mile tract of land set aside for the Saponie and Occaneechee Indians.
The Fort Christanna experience brought to tribes of the region new ideas, a new language, a new religion, and new dependency on Europeans trade goods. The old tribal ways and traditions fast fell away as the Virginia colony expanded. But the tribes whose children were educated at Fort Christanna adapted and endured. Several tribes in Virginia and North Carolina today are proud descendants of those students at the Christanna Indian School.