Before the Civil War, West Virginia was simply known as “western” Virginia to the English-speaking people who settled here in the early 18th century. However, to other nations and cultures it had been known by other names. The French knew West Virginia as “New France” and the Delaware American Indian tribe called West Virginia “Alligewiweng” in the 1700s.

On Tuesday, Nov.17, the West Virginia University Honors will host Doug Wood of Nitro, W.Va. as he performs the role of Ostenaco, a Cherokee military leader who battled against French soldiers and northern American Indian warriors within the borders of present-day West Virginia. Ostenaco will take the stage at 6:30 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room of Honors Hall, located on 2nd Street near Summit Hall.

Wood will deliver a one-hour, three-part presentation. He will open with a monologue and then answer questions in character. To conclude his presentation, Wood will break character and answer questions as a scholar. Wood has been researching 18th century history and performing living history for more than 20 years. His presentations are to teach others about West Virginia’s rich history and to honor those who were previously in the area.

Ostenaco is only one of the many available character presentations offered through The West Virginia Humanities Council’s History Alive! program as a means of exploring history by interacting with noteworthy historical figures. These programs provide audiences with the opportunity to question those who have shaped history.

History Alive! is a program designed to bring historical characters to life through the scholars/actors who have researched their characters. The actors have studied journals, letters, speeches, autobiographies and other official historical documents to develop their presentations.

The History Alive! program is sponsored by The West Virginia Humanities Council with additional financial assistance from the Office of the Secretary, West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts. The West Virginia Humanities Council is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing educational programs in the humanities for all West Virginians. For over 30 years, the council has been providing educational programs in the humanities across the state.

For more information about The History Alive! program or the humanities council, call 304-346-8500 or visit



CONTACT: Marie E. Leichliter, WVU Honors College

What have you learned from past History Alive! presentations?