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Two Commemorations for March 22, 2022

Chanco, or “Chauco,” of the Powhatan Tribe

Today, 400 years ago on March 22, 1622 (Good Friday in 1622), Opechancanough, paramount chief of Tsenacomoco, a political alliance of Virginia Indians, famously led a massive assault against the English colonists up and down the James River, killing 347 people, a quarter of the population of the Virginia colony.

As the story goes and all surviving sources report, several Indians alerted colonists to the imminent danger in 1622, although documents from that year do not mane any of them. English and colonial writers, however, describe the informants as men or boys, presumably from one of the Powhatan tribes and sometimes referred to converts to Christianity. The motive for informing was a feeling of friendship or gratitude toward a particular colonist. In the first and only official publication about the uprising, A Declaration of the Colony and Affairs in Virginia (1622), Edward Waterhouse, the secretary of the Virginia Company of London, summarized what was then known and wrote that the attack might have been achieved the Indian’s purpose of “utter esirpation,” which God of His mercy (by meanes [sic] of some of themselves converted to Christianitie) prevented.”

The story has become one of the most popular Virginia legends and appears in scholarly histories and school textbooks. Community organizations and land developers have used the name Chanco, and in the twentieth-century tablets honoring Chanco were placed in Surry County, near where Richard Pace lived, in whose home Chauco/Chanco lived and was taught, and in the wall of the reconstructed church on Jamestown Island.

Many Americans have embraced the story of a Christian Indian who, like Pocahontas, helped the Virginia colonists survive the hostilities of their own people, and only serve a national belief in providential support for a “superior culture” that conquered a continent. It is ironic that the real Chauco, who liked the English with whom he lived, has been forgotten, even though his actions did, indeed, save some of the English from death on March 22, 1622 thus allowing English life in the New World, albeit at Native American expense and ingratitude of today’s culture.


Lord God of all creation and of all the peoples of the earth, the God who inspired your servant Chauco/Chanco to tell of the devastating plan of esirpation by Opechancanough of the English colony, and to do what they felt was right under your commandments: Grant that all peoples, by word and example, give example of your loving grace and truth, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. AMEN.


James De Koven, Priest

James de Koven was born in Connecticut in 1831, ordained to the priesthood in 1855, and promptly became a professor of Church history at Nashotah House, a seminary of the Episcopal Church in Wisconsin. In 1859 he became Warden of Racine College, an Episcopal college in Racine, Wisconsin. Nashotah House was from its inception dedicated to an increased emphasis on the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and on the use of ritual practices that recognized and honored that presence. This met opposition from other Christians who were suspicious (1) of anything that suggested Roman Catholicism, (2) of anything that seemed fancy and pretentious, as opposed to the plain, blunt, simplicity that was considered to be an American virtue as well as a virtue of the primitive Church, and (3) of anything that varied from the practices they had become used to as children.

In the General Conventions of 1871 and 1874, de Koven became the chief spokesman for the "ritualists," defending the use of candles, incense, bowing and kneeling, and the like. He reminded his hearers of the numerous assertions by prominent Anglican theologians from the Reformation on down who had taught, and the ecclesiastical courts which when the question came up had ruled, that it is Anglican belief, shared not only with Romans but with Lutherans and East Orthodox, that the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament is a real and objective presence. However, he was eloquent and firm in saying: "The gestures and practices by which we recognize the presence of Christ do not matter. Only Christ matters."

In 1874 he was elected Bishop of Wisconsin, and in 1875 Bishop of Illinois, but because he was "controversial" he failed both times to have his election ratified by a majority of Bishops and a majority of Standing Committees of Dioceses, as required by canon law.

He died at his college in Racine, Wisconsin, on 22 March 1879.


Almighty and everlasting God, the source and perfection of all Virtues, who inspired your servant James de Koven to do what is right and to preach what is true: Grant that all ministers and stewards of your mysteries may impart to your faithful people, by word and example, the knowledge of your grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. AMEN.



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