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Algonkian Ethnohistory, Part 2


by Maurice A. Mook

Part 2

Late Sixteenth Century Towns and Tribes

Apart from the above-quoted passages from Carolina's first historians, the data of the narratives respecting tribal names, locations, and relations are scattered and fragmentary. When collected, collated, and interpreted in the light of independently established historical and ethnological facts, it is possible to suggest the following with respect to the location of tribal territories, the towns within them, and the relationship of the tribes to each other in the area of Algonkian occupancy:

"The Weapomeiok, or Weapemeoc (37), inhabited the area north of Albemarle Sound, including the four northeastern present counties and perhaps also the southern part of Chowan County. White's map specifies four native towns in this area as "Weapemeoc(an)"; while De Bry's map and succeeding ones designate the entire area north of Albemarle Sound and east of Chowan River as belonging to the same group. Their northern neighbors were the Chesapeake, a tribe on the south bank of the James River, which then inhabited the two southeastern- most counties of present Virginia; their western neighbors were the Chowanoc, who occupied both banks of the river which took their name. The Weapemeoc "king" or chief in 1585 was Okisco, whose relations with the chieftains of neighboring groups reveal the native political status of his own tribe. He was independent of Menatonan, chief of the Chowanoc, but was dominated to some extent by the latter, by whom he was induced to acknowledge subjection to the English. Lane states that Menatonon "commaunded Okisko, King of Weopomick, to yeelde himselfe servant and hommager to the great Weroanza (38) of England, and after her to Sir Walter Raleigh; to perfourme which commandement received from Menatonon the sayde Okisko . . . sent foure and twentie of his principallest men to Roanoak . . . to signifie that they were ready to perfourme the same, and so had sent there his men to let mee knowe that from that time forwarde hee and his successours were to acknowledge her Majestie their onely Soveraigne (39).

Although subservient to the Chowanoc chief, Okisko conducted himself independently of Pemisapan, chief of the Secotan, in the latter's conspiracy against the colonists. Pemisapan, as chief of the natives of Roanoke Island and the adjacent mainland (40) , had hoped for Okisko as an ally in his plans for an attack upon the English. "Okisko, king of Weopomeiok [was to] . . . be mooved, and with great quantitie of copper intertained, to the number of 7 or 8 hundred bowes, to enterprise the matter" of attack. Pemisapan dispatched messengers to Okisko, who were "with great imprest of copper in hand" and who made "large promises . . . of greater spoile." Okisko, however, sent word to Pemisapan that neither he nor "any of his especiall followers" would be "of the partie . . . and therefore did immediately retire himselfe with his force into the maine." But "Weopomeiok . . . was devided into two parts, [and] . . . the rest of the province accepted" Pemisapan's proposition and "received the imprest" (41).

The Weapemeoc are thus revealed as a tribe separate from and independent of their neighbors to the west and to the south, although Okisko's authority as a chief seems to have been somewhat weaker than that of his neighboring chieftains in their jurisdictions. The reference to the possibility of drawing upon 700 or 800 warriors from Weapemeoc territory suggests a total tribal population of at least 2,500 (42). Lane's figure of the number of warriors north of Albemarle Sound may be unduly exaggerated, as most contemporary estimates are (43); on the other hand, Mooney's calculation of a total population of 800 for the "Weapemeoc of 1585" would seem to be unreasonably conservative (44). Perhaps 500 warriors, with a total population of 1,500 to 1,750, would be a reasonable estimate.

Some of Okisko's "principallest men" were the chiefs of towns within the territory of what the English called his "kingdom." There are records of four towns within Weapemeoc tribal limits -- Pasquenoc, Chepanoc, Weapemeoc, and Mascoming. Here, as usual, the chief tribal town was of the same name as the tribe. Lane's enumeration of them in the order above given may indicate that this was their relative location from east to west, for he mentioned them in this order in a context in which he described crossing Albemarle Sound in order to enter the Chowan River. His reference to them as "about the waters side" suggests that they were on the shore of the Sound, probably at or near the mouths of the northern rivers. The Eastern Algonkian were notable rivermen, and their villages were located, if possible, on the necks of land formed by converging streams (45). With these considerations in mind, and with the aid of White's and De Bry's maps, it is possible to suggest locations of the Weapemeoc settlements more specifically as follows:

On the De Bry map and its copies Pasquenoc, or the "Woman's Town," is placed on the second point of land west of Currituck Sound; this would be modern Camden Point, in southern Camden County, between the North and Pasquotank Rivers. It is entirely possible, as Mooney suggested, that Pasquotank as the name of the river and the modern county is a corruption of the name of this early native village (46). Lawson located a "Paspatank" Indian town, with ten warriors, in this vicinity in 1709 (47). Mooney's location of Pasquenoc "on the north shore of Albemarle sound perhaps in Camden county" (48) would place the town at Camden Point. Hawks claimed to "have no difficulty in fixing the locality of Passaquenoke," but his location of it "in the southwest corner of the present county of Pasquotank" ( 49) places it too far to the west. It is impossible to use White's map for a specific location in this instance, for the map shows but one river flowing into Albemarle Sound from the north, and it is impossible to decide which river is intended. However, White's "Masequetuc" is undoubtedly synonymous with the Pasquenoc of other sources. Gerard's derivation of the latter term from pasakwenok, meaning "close together people," is an attempted etymology with a meaning appropriate enough for any native town or village. Speck's analysis of pa-skwen-ok as "woman's town or village" is more in accord with Lane's information; on the same basis White's term ma-skwe-tuk would mean "woman's river" (50). There can be no doubt that the settlement and river referred to were on the eastern edge of AlbemarIe Sound; White's and De Bry's maps so designated the village, and Lane clearly indicated an eastern location in a passage describing his return from exploring the Roanoke River: "I thought it good for us to make our returne homeward [i.e., toward Roanoke Island], and that it were necessary for us to get [to] the other side of the Sound of Weopemeiok in time, where wee might be relieved upon the weares [weirs] of Chypanum and the womens Towne" (51).

Lane's enumeration of Weapemeoc towns lists Chepanoc, or Chypanum, between Pasquenoc and Weapemeoc, and it was probably likewise geographically situated between them, east of the latter and west of the former. It is missing from White's original map, but on De Bry's chart "Chapanun" (52) is placed on a river approximately midway between Pasquenoc (Camden Point) and the Chowan River. Transferred to a modern map this would be Perquimans River. Hawks places "Chepanock . . . in the lower part of Perquimons county, near the sound" (53), but De Bry's map has the town up the river a distance, perhaps near present Hertford; Smith's map, which was but a copy of De Bry's, shows Chepanu in the vicinity of modern Chapanoke, in Perquimans County, and there is no doubt that the present town's name was derived from the Indian term. However, Chepanoc may have been located on Harvey or Stevenson Point, on either side of the mouth of Perquimans River, for there is no reference in any of the relations to the explorers ascending rivers other than the Chowan, Roanoke, Pamlico, and perhaps the Neuse. Lane placed it "about the waters side" of Albemarle Sound and else- where stated that "upon Easter day [1586] in the morning, the winde comming very calme, we entred the sound [at the mouth of Roanoke River], and by foure of the clocke we were at Chipanum . . . The next morning wee arrived at our home, Roanoak" (54). This definitely locates the town some distance east of the Chowan and Roanoke Rivers, with a site "on Albemarle sound, in Perquimans county" (55) perhaps as near as can be come to the matter.

It is clear that Weapemeoc was the name of a town as well as of the tribe, but it is impossible to locate the town exactly, as the district, rather than the settlement, is the only location by that name that occurs on the maps of White and De Dry. White's four Weapemeoc towns occur on his map north of the western part of the Sound, in the area of present southeastern Chowan and western Perquimans Counties. Lane's list of towns north of the Sound implies that Weapemeoc was west of Chepanoc, which we have already located on Perquimans River. The tribal town and chief's residence may have been on the Yeopim River near its mouth, and it is altogether possible that Yeopim as the name of the river is a contraction of Weapem-eoc (56). It is impossible to support Mooney's statement that the town "seems to have been in Pasquotank county ," and Tarbox's allusion to it as "in what is now Perquimans or Pasquotak County" is a mere guess, made without reference to contemporary cartography and based upon a misunderstanding of Lane's narrative in which his note is offered as explanation (57).

White's map shows Mascomenge as a Weapemeoc town, and De Dry's map locates Mascoming in what would now be southern Chowan County, near or at modern Edenton. Smith's map copies the name from De Bry but places the town inland from the sound (58). Lane's statement that "from Muscamunge we enter into the (Chowan) River and jurisdiction of Chawanook" (59) indicates the town was in southern Chowan County, near the mouth of the river and on the north shore of the sound. This was the interpretation of Mooney, who placed the village "on the northern shore of Albemarle sound, in Chowan county"; Hawks was again incorrect in locating "this town . . . on the lower waters of the [Chowan] river on their eastern side . . . [some distance] above the sound proper" (60).

Lane included Metackwem (Metocaum) among his Weapemeoc towns, and White listed both Warowtani (Maraton) and Cautaking (Catoking) as belonging to the Weapemeoc. It seems possible, however, that all three of these were Chowanoc villages. The evidence is entirely that of location and geographical distribution, but owing to the crudity of early maps and the indefiniteness of early textual references it is impossible to draw tribal boundary lines with exactness. These three towns were in the region that marked the division between the territory of the Chowanoc and the Weapemeoc, and they may have belonged, therefore, to either of the two groups.

The most detailed information concerning the Chowanoc tribe comes from Lane, and his most explicit reference to the "Chawanook . . . Province and Seigniorie" and the towns within it is the one already quoted. He located the town of Chawanook "about 130 miles . . . distant from Roanoak," where "the River beginneth to straighten untill it . . . groweth to be as narrow as the Thames betwene Westminster and Lambeth" (61). The Chowan River begins to straighten and is narrow in the area that separates modern Hertford and Gates Counties, and it is this upper course of the stream that seems to have been the center of Chowanoc territory in 1585. White's map shows Chowanooc on the west bank of the river, just below a small tributary that may have been meant for Wiccacon Creek in eastern Hertford County. This map carries White's symbol for a native town or village, whereas De Bry's and subsequent maps show Chawanook as a district rather than as a town site. On these maps the territory of the tribe is indicated as still farther up-river, in and around the neck of land formed by the convergence of the Meherrin and Nottoway Rivers to form the Chowan. This location makes the Chowanoc the northernmost Algonkian tribe of the Carolina area and indicates that they were the immediate southern neighbors of the linguistically related tribes inhabiting the south bank of the James River in Virginia (62).

The northern position of the Chowanoc is confirmed by the narratives of the Jamestown colony. Both Smith and Strachey mention the "Chawonokes," or "Chawonocks," as among the "many severall nations of sundry languages that environ Powhatans Territories" to the south (63). Smith was told that the "Chawonocke" lived "one daies journey" from the Nansemond tribe on the Nansemond River (64). In January, 1609, Michael Sicklemore, a member of the Jamestown colony, was sent from Warraskoyak (Burwell's Bay, James River, northern Isle of Wight County, Va.) to "Chowanoke" with Warraskoyak Indian guides to look for Raleigh's lost colonists and for silk grass. He returned with "little hope and less certainetie" of the fate of the lost Englishmen, reporting the river to be "not great, the people few, the country mostly over growne with pynes, where there did grow here and there straglingly Pemminaw, [which] we call silke grasse. But by the river the ground was good and exceeding furtill" (65). Thirteen years later, in February, 1622, John Pory went to "the South River Chawonock, some sixtie miles over land" from Jamestown, and reported finding "a very fruitfull and pleasant Country, yielding two harvests in a yeare, and . . . much of the Silke grasse." He was "kindly used by the people" there, although we are told nothing of their number or condition at that time (66). They were probably reduced in number, for by the middle of the century they were a mere remnant of the strong and numerous group described in 1585. They were referred to in 1650 as friends of the Powhatan tribes of Virginia and as the enemies of the Iroquoian-speaking Tuscarora, Meherrin, and Nottaway tribes then inhabiting the Roanoke River region and the area west of the Chowan (67).

The Chowanoc were described as the leading tribe north of Albemarle Sound at the time of the Roanoke settlement. Lane referred to them as a "more valiant people and in greater number" than other tribes of the region (68) and reported that Chawanook, the chief town of the tribe, was "able to put 700 fighting men into the fielde, besides the force of the Province itselfe" (69). He also had heard of and believed that a "generall assembly" had been called by Menatanon, the Chowanoc chief, consisting "of all his Weroances and allies to the number of three thousand bowes." Among Chowanoc allies in this instance were the Mangoak, who were reported as "able of themselves to bring as many more to the enterprise" of the tribal conspiracy against the English (70). These figures are clearly exaggerated, for they were given Lane by Pemisapan, who was attempting to impress the English with the great strength of the natives in case of trouble with the colonists. There was no town in this part of native America with as many as 700 warriors, or a total population of 2,000 to 2,500. It is well to remember Hariot's sober observation that "their Townes are but small, and neere the Sea coast but fewe, some contayning but tenne or twelve houses, some 20; the greatest that we have seen hath bene but of 30 houses" (71).

Hariot's Report has several other passages that may apply to the Chowanoc. We can not be sure that Hariot was among the colonists who explored the Chowan River , for he says that "some of our company . . . have wandered in some places where I have not bene" (72), but that he was on one of the expeditions of western exploration � either that of the Chowan or of the Roanoke River � is certain, for he stated that "sometimes we made our journeys further into the maine," and he described the physical features of the inland area as one could only from personal observation. He observed that the interior was "more inhabited with people, and of greater pollicie [governments] and larger dominions, with greater townes and houses" (73). Discussing the number of villages to be found within a tribal territory, he said that "in some places of the Countrey one onely towne belongeth to the government of a Wiroans or chiefe Lord, in other some two or three, in some sixe, eight, and more. The greatest Wiroans that yet wee had dealing with had but eighteene townes in his government, and able to make not above seven or eight hundreth fighting men at the most" (74). It is probable that Hariot here referred to the Chowanoc tribe, for Lane called it "the greatest Province" and was particularly impressed with the power of its chief and the size and strategic situation of its towns. With respect to tribal population Hariot is almost certainly more correct than Lane, and if we allow the whole tribe, rather than one of its towns, a warrior population of 700 to 800, its total population may have been approximately 2,500. Mooney's figure of 1,500 for the period of first contact is an estimate that errs on the side of conservatism (75).

If the Chowanoc tribe had 18 towns at the time of the Roanoke colony, we know the names of less than half of them. This is not a surprising circumstance when it is realized that there is record of only one visit of the English to the area of the upper Chowan River. It seems reasonable to suppose that the town of Chawanook, from which both the river and the tribe took its name, was located in the approximate geographical center of the territory of the tribe, and, as we have seen, both Lane's description and White's map locate the town on the upper river. This would place the tribal capital, i.e., the chief's residence, at a site in either eastern Hertford County or southern Gates County. The sense of the relations is unanimously to the effect that the nucleus of Chowanoc territory and the center tribal strength were in this region. On this basis Mooney located the tribe, perhaps too far northwestward "on Chowan river, about the junction of Meherrin and Nottaway rivers" (76). and Tarbox stated that "the country of Chawanook appears to have been about the upper waters of Chowan River" (77). Hawks located the tribe somewhat farther to the south; in one reference he placed the "jurisdiction of Chawanook . . . on the upper waters of the Chowan" and placed the town "on the eastern side of Chowan [River] . . . below the point at which Bennet's Creek enters the Chowan. It was in the northern part of Chowan county" (78). Elsewhere, however, he found it "hard to resist the conviction that the name of the town is retained in the county we now call Chowan and if so, the locality of Chawanook was in that district of country." His first proposition is correct, but his conclusion is wrong, for native names in modern nomenclature are unreliable indices of aboriginal location unless supported by collateral information. Hawks's further assumption that "the ancient native town may have been but the predecessor of our Edenton, or at any rate not far from its site" (79), is contrary to the testimony of the contemporary documents he printed.

There were probably Chowanoc towns on the lower course of the river, however. We have seen that the territory of the Weapemeoc tribe included the four northeastern modern counties of North Carolina, and perhaps also the southeastern part of Chowan County. Mooney omitted Chowan County from his statement of Weapemeoc distribution (80), and Speck gives the tribe's location as "north of Albemarle sound, west to Edenton" (81). The Weapemeoc town of Mascoming, near present Edenton, seems to have been near the western boundary of Weapemeoc territory. This location of the boundary leaves the eastern bank of the lower Chowan River and the greater portion of present Chowan County the possession of the Chowanoc tribe in 1585. Speck states that the Chowanoc lived on the eastern bank of the river, west and to the north of Edenton, and his map of tribal locations shows the tribe on both banks of the lower river, extending northward to the region east of the confluence of Meherrin and Nottoway Rivers (82) .Contemporary sources indicate Chowanoc distribution to have included the territory adjacent to both banks of the river, to and including that portion of land in present northern Hertford County bounded by Meherrin River to the south and west, Nottoway River to the east, and the Virginia-North Carolina line to the north. This distribution is suggested not only by the northern extension of Chowanoc territory already discussed, but also by Lane's statement that "from Muscamunge [i.e., Edenton] we enter into the River and [into the] jurisdiction of Chawanook" (83). Barlow also understood the Chowan River (which he called the "Nomopana") to be the jurisdiction of the Chowanoc tribe. His account gives the impression that there were two divisions of this tribe � a southern one on the lower river, and a northern division "beyond," i.e., farther up the river: "There descendeth into this Occam [AlbemarIe Sound] another river, called Nomopana, on the one side whereof standeth a great towne called Chawanook, and the Lord of that towne and countrey is called Pooneno. This Pooneno is not subject to the king of Wingandacoa [Roanoke Island and the mainland west of it and south of AlbemarIe Sound], but is a free Lord. Beyond this country is there another king, whom they call Menatonon, and these . . . kings are in league with each other" (84). Barlow's information was not first-hand, for his expedition did not explore the river, and he was mistaken in understanding Pooneno to have been the resident chief at Chawanook. Menatonon was then the tribal chief, but Pooneno may have been the chief of one of the lower towns near the mouth of the river. That there were several towns belonging to this tribe is made clear by both contemporary narratives and maps. They can be located with some degree of accuracy as follows: Chawanook, the principal town of the tribe, was located on the river in the area where present Hertford, Gates, and Chowan Counties meet.

Ohanoak seems to have been the second most important Chowanoc settlement. The only specific reference to it is made by Lane, who says that "Betwene Muscanlunge and Chawanook upon the left hand as we pass thither is a... Towne which we called The blind Towne, but the Savages called it Ohanoak . . . It is subject to Chawanook" (85). This clearly locates Ohanoak on the western bank of the lower river, in eastern Bertie County, probably below the present town of Colerain. The native town does not occur on White's map, but on De Bry's and Smith's it is shown on the west bank of the upper river in a position between present Winton and Wiccacon Creek. Smith merely copied from De Bry, and the latter's location is apparently based upon a too northern location of Chawanook. Mooney based his location of Ohanoak on De Bry's map rather than Lane's account, and placed it "on the west side of Chowan river, not far below Nottoway river, probably in Hertford county" (86). Hawks's location "in Bertie [County], on its eastern side, somewhere on the waters of the Chowan" is more accurate, and his suggestion that Roanoke River was named after this town, rather than after the island, is quite possible: "We call it Roanoke, an easy corruption from Ohanoak" (87). It would be interesting to know why the English called Ohanoak the "blind town," but there is no suggestion of the reason in contemporary narratives.

The village of Metackwem (Lane) or Metocaum (Smith) is placed on the De Bry and Smith maps on the west bank of the Chowan River at its mouth, on or near present Salmon Creek. It does not occur on White's map. Mooney lists it as "probably" a Chowanoc town (88), which it would seem to be from the standpoint of location; Lane, however, refers to it as if it were "under the jurisdiction of the king of Weopomeiok" and seems to place it on Albemarle Sound east of Chowan River (89). Following De Bry and Smith, rather than Lane, both Mooney and Hawks located it in southeastern Bertie County, the latter specifying a "few miles north of Walnut Point" (90).

The only evidence for the Chowanoc village of Tandaquomuc is De Bry's map. The term occurs neither in the narratives nor on White's map. Smith failed to copy it from De Bry. The Dutch map of 1621 (91) has it "Tantaquomuck." If De Bry's location is correct the village was on Batchelor Bay, at the west end of Albemarle Sound, between the mouths of Chowan and Roanoke Rivers (92). In this position it would be the southernmost Chowanoc village and on the eastern edge of the territory of the Moratoc.

The village of Waraton, or Maraton, may have belonged to the Weapemeoc rather than Chowanoc tribe. White's map designates it as of the Weapemeoc group. Lane does not mention it by name, but on De Bry's and Smith's maps it is placed on the east bank of the lower Chowan River, De Bry giving it a somewhat more southern location than Smith. Smith's location corresponds to that of the modern village of Mavaton in south central Chowan County, a town that evidently took its name from the Indian word. If a Chowanoc village, it was the only one whose name has been preserved located east of the lower course of the river. It is, in fact, the only known Chowanoc village of 1585 located in present Chowan County.

The two other Chowanoc villages whose names have been recorded for us existed in the northern portion of the territory of the tribe. Catoking occurs on the De Bry and Smith maps at the head of Chowan estuary, apparently on the right bank of modern Bennetts Creek at its mouth. This would place it in southern Gates County, and if our location of the town of Chawanook is correct Catoking must have been situated across the Chowan River from the tribal capital. Mooney's location "about Gatesville" (93) places the town too far to the northwest according to all early maps. White's map, in fact, classifies Cautaking as a Weapemeoc town and places it on the north shore of western Albemarle Sound in southern Chowan County. The name is not mentioned in contempotary narratives.

Another town in Chowanoc territory that does not occur on White's map and is not mentioned in the relations but which is found on De Bry's map and on Smith's, is Ramushonoq. These maps place the settlement between the Meherrin and Nottoway Rivers, in northern Hertford County. Speck notes that l and r were interchangcable in eastern Algonkian dialects and translates lamushowok as "small place or little town [Littleton]" (94). Its small size may account for its lack of mention in the earliest sources. It was the most northern Algonkian town located within the limits of present North Carolina for which there is any record in the historical sources of the Roanoke colony. After the Indian troubles of 1675-1676 the Chowanoc ceded this northern tribal land to the Lords Proprietors, but it was soon preempted by the Iroquoian Meherrin and Nottoway, who pressed down from more northern locations. Their new residence here was used as a pretext for the boundary-line dispute, which was not settled for over 50 years thereafter (95).

The foregoing seven Chowanoc settlements are less than half of the "eighteene townes in his government" that Hariot ascribed to "the greatest Wiroans that wee had dealing with." The Chowanoc tribe was, however, the largest Algonkian tribe of the coastal Carolina area, and it is, therefore, altogether probable that Hariot alluded to the Chowanoc in his reference to the anonymous "greatest Wiroans." The only larger tribe at this time in the entire region of Virginia-Carolina (96) was the Tuscarora, but these natives were neither Algonkian nor a tribe with which the Roanoke colonists had any contacts. They were not described ethnologically until Lawson published his famous New voyage of a thousand miles thro' several nations of Indians in 1709.

A final item of tribal history is of interest in connection with the Chowanoc. The Algonkianist William Jones, himself an Algonkian Indian (Fox) trained in linguistics, derived the tribal name from shawuni, "south" ; shawunogi, "they of the south," or "southerners." The same student derived the word "Shawnee," the name of a Southeastern Algonkian tribe at one time resident in South Carolina, from the same source (97). This linguistic relation does not necessarily indicate a close historic connection between the two groups, although Speck has reminded students "that the Chowan may have been a branch of the wide-spread Shawnee." This relationship is unattested by the sparse historical records for the ethnological Southeast, although Speck argues that "it is possible on the basis of name and location" (98).

A third tribe within the area of Algonkian occupation, near its western boundary, was the Moratoc. From the evidence of location and the fact that Moratoc is an Algonkian-sounding word, I classify this group as Algonkian- speaking. This is inadequate evidence upon which to base linguistic classification, but it is practically all there is available. The only word preserved is the name of the town and tribe. The Roanoke River was called the Moratoc until the eighteenth century (99), and it was upon the banks of the lower Roanoke that this tribe lived in 1585-1586. Speck, who shares the opinion that Moratoc is an Algonkian word, analyzes it as "nice [or] good river" and cites an Algonkian analogy in the Malecite word wolastaguk, "beautiful, [or] nice river." Lane says that "The Savages of Moratoc themselves doe report strange things of the head of that River, and that from Moratoc it selfe, which is a principall Towne upon that River, it is thirtie dayes as some of them say, and some say fourtie dayes voyage to the head thereof" (100). Lane's statement reveals that the colonists had had contacts with the Moratoc and that the tribe was located on the lower river. Mooney, who relied upon Smith's second-hand account, rather than upon Lane's original narratives, located the Moratoc "160 miles up Roanoke river, perhaps near the south Virginia line" (101). This is clearly an error in conflict with Lane's information. Mooney's reference to them as "an important tribe which refused to hold intercourse with the English" is also incorrect, for Lane refers to them as a group "with whom before wee were entred into a league, and they had ever dealt kindly with us" (102). The English colonists understood only the Algonkian language and the fact that they had been able to receive "reports" from and enter into a "league" with the Moratoc is the best evidence available that this tribe was Algonkian in speech.

The initial friendly relations between the Moratoc and English did not long continue. By the time Lane and his party were ready to explore Roanoke River the Moratoc had been persuaded by Pemisapan that the English were advancing westward as enemies of the native tribes. As the English proceeded up the river they found that the Moratoc had "abandoned their Townes along the River, and retired themselves with their Crenepos (103) and their Corne within the maine, insomuch as having passed three days voyage up the River wee could not meete a man, nor finde a graine of Corne in any [ of] their Townes . . . Wee were then 160 miles from home" (104). The experience of being unable to trade with the natives was disappointing, for the supplies of the colonists at Roanoke were much depleted by the spring of 1586. Lane laments that wee had no intention to bee hurtful to any of them, otherwise then for our copper to have had corne of them." The English continued their exploration of the river for two more days until their supplies were exhausted and they were forced to return to Roanoke. Their unsuccessful expedition had taken them into the territory of the hostile Mangoak, who were "another kinde of savages, dwelling more to the westward of the said River." The fact that Lane refers to the Mangoak, who were the Iroquoian- speaking Nottoway, and not to the Moratoc as "another kind" of natives is also presumptive evidence that the Moratoc were Algonkian.

Lane's reference indicates that the Moratoc occupied a considerable stretch of land on the lower course of the Roanoke and that there were at least several towns of the tribe located on the banks of the river. De Bry's map shows but one town and locates it on the second northern bend of the river west of Batchelor Bay. This site would be west of Woodward, in southern Bertie County. Moratoc tribal territory in 1585 probably included southern Bertie and northern Martin Counties and may have extended farther northwestward into the present counties of Halifax and Northampton. The latter area was more likely the territory of the Mangoak, however, who are described as the western neighbors of the Chowanoc (105). Moratoc land may also have extended eastward into present Washington County. On White's map the town of Moratuc is on the south bank of Roanoke River, near its mouth, and just east of a tributary that may have been meant for present Welch Creek. If Moratoc holdings extended east to Albemarle Sound it is possible that the villages of Tandoquomuc and Metocaum also belonged to this tribe, rather than to the Chowanoc. In spite of our inability to establish the exact boundaries of the tribe, it is here suggested that we have in the Moratoc an important Algonkian tribe of the Sound area. It is one whose identity and affiliation have never been recognized, probably because of Mooney's early mistake in placing it in the area of Southeastern Iroquoian distribution (105a).


(37) In modernizing the native terms as spelled by the early writers in most instances I have followed the Bureau of American Ethnology "Synonymy" (HAI 2: 1021-1178). Speck feels that the Carolinian term weopim is cognate with Nanticoke winquipim, "sweet fat" or "bear" ("The Nanticoke and Conoy Indians," Papers Hist. Soc. Delaware, new ser ., 1: 51, Wilmington, 1927). Weopim-ok would thus indicate "bear place" � an appropriate term for this part of Carolina. (Speck, personal information; idem, "Chapters on the ethnology of the Powhatan tribes of Virginia," Indian Notes and Monog. 1(5): 280, (1928: J. Lawson, History of Carolina: 119-121, 1937 reprint.)

(38) The Algonkian tribes from Maryland to Carolina used the word wiroans (Hariot), wiroance (White), weroance (Lane), werowance (Smith), to designate a chief, head-man, or "king." Lane's weroanza thus refers to "queen." Strachey used "weroancqua" for a native "woman queene" or female chief. (Historie of Travaile into Virginia Britannia (c. 1616): 56, 196, London, 1849). The word derives from wiro, "to be rich"; a chief was "a rich man" or "one who exists in affluence" (Gerard, Amer. Anthrop. 9: 112, 1907; Speck, op.cit.:275.

(39) Hakluyt 6: 154.

(40) Pemisapan was the same chief whom Barlow had heard of as "Wingina, . . . king [of] . . . the country Wingandacoa" (Hakluyt: 124). But "Pemisapan . . . had changed his name of Wingina upon the death of his brother Granganimo" (Lane, in Hakluyt: 146). We are not informed as to the exact nature of the local custom involved in this instance of name-changing; for Algonkian, names and naming customs in Virginia, see Strachey, op. cit.: 48, 111.

(41) Lane, in Hakluyt 6: 155, 157. Lane's relation of Okisko's part in the conspiracy hardly justifies Thomas's remark that "Lane accused him of being the leader in the plot formed by his tribe . . . and other Indians to massacre the colonists" (HAI 2: 115).

(42) Smith suggested a warrior to total population ratio of 3 to 10 for 5,000 aborigines within 60 miles of Jamestown (Map and description of Virginia, 1612, in E. Arber, ed., Travels and works of Captain John Smith: 65, 360, 1884). Swanton has used a ratio of 1 to 3 1/2 for the tribes of the Southeast (Indian tribes of the Lower Misissippi Valley: 39-45, 1911; Early history of the Creek Indians and their Neighbors: 421-456, 1922. The latter is an extensive study of the "Population of the Southeastern Tribes" but excludes the Carolina Algonkian).

(43) A. L. Kroeber has made the most competent and comprehensive examination of native American population to date (Cultural and natural areas of native North America (ch. 11): 131-181 1939); that "the vast majority of figures by contemporaries are too large" (p. 180) is one of his concluding "methodological principles."

(44) "The Aboriginal Population of America North of Mexico," Smithsonian Misc. Coll. 80 (7) : 6, 1928.

(45) Smith's map of Virginia strikingly shows this, and archeology has proved Smith's map to be remarkably accurate in its location of native town sites. (D. I. Bushnell, Jr., "Indian Sites below the Falls of the Rappahannock,": Smithsonian Misc. Coll. 96(4): 1-65, 1937; M. A. Mook, "The Anthropological Position of the Indian Tribes of Tidewater Virginia," William and Mary Coll. Quart. Hist. Mag. 23 (1) : 27-40, 1943; and, "The Ethnological Significance of Tindall's Map of Virginia, 1608," ibid., 23 (4): 371-408, 1943.

(46) Mooney, article "Weapemeoc," HAI 2: 926.

(47) History of Carolina, 1937 reprint, p. 255.

(48) HAI 2: 207.

(49) History of North Carolina 1: 112.

(50) Speck, personal information; Gerard, cited by Mooney, HAI 2: 207.

(51) Hakluyt 6: 147. The early sources (except Barlow) refer to Albemarle Sound as the "Sound of Weopemeiok." "Weares" refer to wicker structures within which the natives trapped fish; White's drawing of "The Manner of their fishing" shows the method of their construction (Bushnell, 1927, pl. 6, opp. p. 427; Binyon, pl. 26. Cf. these reproductions of White's original with De Bry's pl. 13 for an illustration of the liberties De Bry took in "reproducing" White's drawings).

(52) Apparently a misprint for Chepanun or Chepanum; Smith's map had Chepanu, the Dutch map of 1621 has Chapanun. Until the so-called Horne map of 1666, maps of the Roanoke region were largely copies of De Bry - White. (See Note 18.)

(53) History of North Carolina 1: 113.

(54) Hakluyt 6: 150.

(55) HAI 1:244.

(56) Mooney equated the Weapemeoc with the Yeopim, both in name and in identity. The latter is regarded as a later "band or sub-tribe" of the former (HAI 2: 927, 1176; The Siouan tribes of the East: 7, 1894).

(57) Mooney, HAI 2: 926; Tarbox, Sir Walter Raleigh and his colony in America: 140n, 1884.

(58) Smith's Works, Arbor ed., opp. p. 342; in Smith's paraphrase of Lane's account the name is spelled Muscamunge (op. cit. : 312).

(59) Hakluyt 6: 142.

(60) Mooney, HAI 1: 810; Hawks 1: 113; Hawks based his judgment on Smith's map of 1624, which was by no means a contemporary document and was a copy from De Bry's map, which, in turn, was a free copy from White's. "Nothing is more persistent than a geographical error, unless it be an historical error."

(61) Hakluyt 6: 142.

(62) For the locations of James River tribes in 1607 see M. A. Mook, "Virginia ethnology from an early relation," William and Mary Coll. Quart. Hist. Mag. 23(2): 101-129, 1943.

(63) Smith, Map and description of Virginia, 1612, in Arber, p. 55; Strachey, Historie, c. 1616, p. 41. Strachey's passage is a practically verbatim repetition of that of Smith.

(64) Smith, True relation, 1608, Arber, p. 32.

(65) The proceedings and accidents of the English colony in Virginia, 1612, in Arber edition of Smith's Works, pp. 132, 158, 474.

(66) Smith, Generall historie,1624, Arber, p. 590.

(67) Edward Bland (and others), "The Discovery of New Brittaine, Begun August 27,1650" (London, 1651), in A. S. Salley, ed., Narratives of early Carolina: 8-19; 1911.

(68) Hakluyt 6: 157.

(69) Ibid.: 142. Mooney is mistaken in ascribing 700 warriors to the Chowanoc town of Ohanoak, rather than to the tribal capital of "Chawanook" (HAI I: 292). Lane's meaning is perfectly clear in his narrative as printed by Hakluyt; Mooney's error is based upon Smith's garbled version of Lane in his Generall historie (Arbor, p. 312).

(70) Ibid.: 146.

(71) "Briefe and True Report," Hakluyt 6: 186.

(72) Ibid.: 184.

(73) Ibid.: 194. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the sixteenth-century meaning of "Policy" as "organized state, [or] commonwealth.'

(74) Ibid.: 186-187.

(75) Mooney, The aboriginal population of America north of Mexico: 6, 1928.

(76) HAI I: 292.

(77) Sir Walter Raleigh and his colony in America: 146n.

(78) History of North Carolina 1: 112-113.

(79) Ibid.: 74.

(80) HAI 2: 926.

(81) "The Ethnic Position of the Southeastern Algonkian," Amer. Anthrop. 26(2): 187, 1924.

(82) Ibid.: 188-189.

(83) Hakluyt 6: 142.

(84) Ibid.: 129.

(85) Ibid.: 142.

(86) HAI 2: 111.

(87) History of North Carolina 1: 113.

(88) HAI: 292, 851.

(89) Hakluyt 6: 142.

(90) Mooney, HAI: 951; Hawks 1: 113.

(91) Documents relative to the colonial history of the State of New York, edited by E. B. O'Callaghan, vol. 1, frontispiece.

(92) HAI 2: 685.

(93) HAI 1:219.

(94) Speck, The Nanticoke and Conoy Indians: 56, 57, 1927; Mooney, HAI: 292; 2: 354.

(95) See R. D. W. Connor, History of North Carolina 1: 50-51, for the so-called chowanoc "war" with the colonists; 1: 70-71, for Meherrin occupation of former Chowanoc territory.

(96) See Mooney, Aboriginal population: 6, 1928, for comparative tribal population statistics for native Virginia and the Carolinas in 1600. Mooney's figures have been rearranged and reinterpreted by the writer in "The aboriginal population of Tidewater Virginia," scheduled for publication in Amer. Anthrop., April, 1944.

(97) HAI: 292; 2: 530-538.

(98) American. Anthropologist 26(2) : p. 187, n. 4, 1924.

(99) Roanoke River is designated Moratoc on the maps of Smith (Arber, opp. p. 342), Home (1666), Ogilby (1671), and Lawson (1709). The last three are reproduced in O. M. McPherson, Indians of North Carolina (Senate Doc. 677): 89, 91, facing p. 100, 1915.

(100) Speck, personal information; Hakluyt 6: 145. The "strange things" reported from the head of the river were an inland sea and a "Mineral Countrey," wherein the natives are said to have mined "Wassador, which is copper." (Ibid.: 145- 151. Hariot also reported copper and silver as products utilized by the natives of the inland country; Briefe report, Hakluyt, p. 171.)

(101) HAI: 942, based upon Smith's Generall historie (Arber, p. 312).

(102) Hakluyt 6: 146.

(103) Crenepo meant "woman," according to the vocabularies of Smith and Strachey (Smith's Works, Arber, pp. 44, 381; Strachey, Historie, p. 185). Gerard derived the word from kerenepeu, "she carries water," i.e.: "water-carrier." (Amer. Anthrop. 6(2): 324, 1904; 7(2): 235-237,1905.)

(104) Hakluyt 6: 146.

(105) "Overland from Chawanook to the Mangoaks is but one dayes journey from Sunne rising to Sunne setting, whereas by water [i.e., down Chowan River and up the Roanoke] it is seven dayes with the soonest" (Lane, pp. 149, 151).

(105a) I have discussed Moratoc tribal identity and location in "A Newly Discovered Algonkian Tribe of Carolina," Amer. Anthrop., new ser., 45(4): 635-637, 1943.

Courtesy of Washington Academy of Sciences

"Algonquian Ethnohistory of the Carolina Sound" by Maurice A. Mook, American University. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, Vol. 34, No. 6 (June 15, 1944), pp. 181-196, pp. 213-228.

Copyright 2001
Carolina Algonkian Project