Cultural Anthropology of Indian Villages

Written by Fred Willard
An independent study in Cultural Anthropology as a requirement for the East Carolina University Honors Program
combined with an Interdisciplinary Minor on the study of "The 1587 Lost Colony"


    The names of the Indian villages found at the contact period have a great variation in spelling. It is simplistic to believe that the Native Americans were unable to project a phonetic reproducible sound that could be properly recorded. The simple fact is that the people sent over in the sixteenth century had difficulty with their own language. Even the learned gentry had writing and spelling problems. Sir Walter Raleigh himself, who was an accomplished author and poet, had many spelling anomalies in his recorded writings. He spelled his own name eight different ways in his own writings. An interesting side note is the city of Raleigh in the state of North Carolina today is not a spelling that Sir Walter Raleigh was ever known to use. This study will use spellings that are most similar, trying to take into account, in some cases, wide variations in the recorded spellings.

    A new hypotheses will be presented in this study that will attempt to establish a village model that may help to predict the location of the Algonquian Indian villages from the English contact period (1584), in what was “Old Virginia” but is now the coastal flood plain of NC. This area retained a large Indian culture, which contained approximately twenty-seven villages (Hulton 1984; America 1585: 107).

    The study of the Algonquian culture from this period to the late Eighteenth century must encompass a perspective of how these Indians fit into the landscape of their chosen territory. With this understanding, an element of the Native American culture stands out as a large and mostly untold story. This story imbues the understanding of how these Native American Indians “carved out a cultural niche” on the large sounds and rivers in the area of our study from Cape Fear in North Carolina to the Chesapeake Bay.

    Foremost these were “Large Boat Building People”. These “Boat People” were able to use crude methods to amazingly hew out very sophisticated large boats. These boats almost surely enabled these Indians to dominate the Coastal Plains of North America. A clearer understanding of this technology is the realization that these boats were at a great advantage in large bays, sounds and rivers (i.e. big water). This study will attempt to bring new ideas of how these Indians adapted to and defined their territories, boundaries, chiefdoms, alliances and confederations and how the names they chose for their villages were influenced by aquatic surroundings and their unmatched technology of large boat design and building.

    This study will attempt to categorize the similar names and develop a hypothesis as to what the meanings of these names may indicate. Most of the village names seem to use multiple words combined into a single village name as deciphered by the colonists from the contact period. This study will test the hypotheses that the names used are a description of the location where the villages are located, and also a broad definition of how they fit into their surroundings. This encompasses the ideology that the Coastal Indians of North Carolina are first and foremost “Big Water Boat People”. These Indians carved out a niche for their culture by building very large boats, which attuned them to fit the coastal waters of NC in a successful manner for over one thousand years. The suggested evidence of this study, concerning their capacity to build boats over fifty feet in length, undoubtedly gave these Indians a very large advantage in trading and warfare over the inland Indians who they were constantly fighting wars with.

Background History

    The Indians at the contact period were very great in number and their villages were located throughout the Coastal Plain. Their society was highly stratified with a chief or king that had absolute power over life and death of his subjects. There were descending layers of power. The priests had power over military matters and were able to will the confederations and alliances of Indians into mobilization over matters of war. The rapidly emerging strained contact with Europeans in effect strengthened the will of these chiefdoms and enabled some of the Coastal Indians to incorporate and organize large political organizations, called confederations (Quinn 1955; Shepard/Willard 2002; Phelps, Kupperman 1980; Rountree 1989,1990,1997). Just to the north in Chesapeake Bay the Indian Chief Powhatan was able to amass so many tribes that he needed eight interpreters just to converse with his own subjects (Semmes 1940). The Algonquian Indians in NC were also structured into confederations but only about seven or eight tribes. The Secotan Nation was seated on the Pamlico and Albemarle River basins, comprising the Roanoke, Pomeiooc, Dasemunkepeuc, Aquascogooc and Tramaskecooc Indians. (It is presumed that the Croatan Indians where only closely affiliated with this confederation). On the North Shore of the Albemarle Sound was another confederation called the Weapemeoc. This confederation was strongly aligned with the Secotan but was ruled by a separate chief. The Chowanoac were situated on the western shore of the Chowan River and were also an Algonquian-speaking culture.

    It is very evident that these Indians were master boat builders. This is very well represented on the John White 1585 Manuscript A map and the deBry 1588 map. There are many Indians depicted on these maps (10) and they are in the sounds crossing large bodies of water (See the map in the addenda). The importance of their ability to carve, burn and hew out these large boats did not escape the attention of the Colonists on the 1585 Roanoke voyage. Theodore deBry published the drawings from John White’s 1585 voyage. One of the most interesting is of the Indians making their boats. (See addenda).

From Theodore deBry's Drawings and Thomas Harriot's Narrative in:
A Brief and True Report From 1588

    “The manner of makinge their boats in Virginia is very wonderfull. For wheras they want Instruments of yorn, or other like vuto ours, yet they knowehow to make them as handsomely, to saile with whear they liste in their Riuers, and to fishe with all, as ours. First they choose some longe, and thike tree, accordinge to the bignes of the boate which they would frame, and make a fyre on the grownd abowt the Roote therfo, kindlinge the same by little, and little with drie mosse of trees, and chipps of woode that the flame should not mounte opp to highe, and burne to much of the lengte of the tree. When yt is almost burt through, and readye to fall they make a new fyre, which they susfer to burne vuntill the tree fall of yt owne accord. ... They then raise yt vppon potes laid ouer cross wise vppon forked posts, at suche a reasonable heighte as they may handsomlye worke vppo yt. Then take they of the barke with certayne shells: thy reserue the, inerrmost parte of the lennke, for the nethermost parte of the boate. On the other side they make a fyre accordinge to the length of the bodye of the tree, sauing at both endes. That which they thinke is sufficientlye burned they quenche and scrape away with shells, and makinge a new fyre they burne yt agayne, and foe they continne somtymes burninge and sometimes scrapinge, vntill the boate have sufficient bothowmes. This god indueth thise sauage people with sufficient reason to make things necessaaire to serue their turnes." (Hulton, John: America 1585: The Complete Drawings of John White, 1994: 118) [See addenda for a copy of this John White/Theodore deBry drawing from 1585].

    It has become evident from this study of Indian village names (from a Geography Honors map study completed by this author in 1998) that a previously unreported event must have taken place after 1600, but before the Jamestown settlement was founded (1608). When the Jamestown settlers started migrating southward, the original Indians of only twenty years before were not to be found! When the Jamestown colonists arrived, the Tuscarora Indians were in total control of the Albemarle Sound. All of the Algonquian town names had changed and it is well documented that it was the Tuscarora Indians who the colonists were dealing with after 1608. Most scholars believe that the Algonquian and Tuscarora Indians had been at war for many centuries before this change of power evidently took place. For the purposes of this study we are only researching the original Algonquian Indian villages from the English contact period (1584-1600).

    The first documentation of the large boats of the Coastal Indians is from the Roanoke Voyage in 1584. Captain Amadas and Arthur Barlow were anchored at the Outer Banks and an Indian came into view in a large canoe and started catching fish. In a very short time he caught enough fish to fill the canoe.


    The locations of Indian villages on the Coastal Plain of North Carolina have, until recently, been devoid of a systematic search or a multidisciplinary study. The importance of locating these villages is related to possible discoveries about the most enigmatic, significant, undiscovered historical event in North America today.

    This paper is but one of six studies that relate to the main hypothesis framed within a study and soon-to-be-published paper entitled "The Roanoke Sagas": (If you follow the migration trail of the Croatan Indians you will find traces of the famous 1587 “Lost Colony”). The Croatan Indians until very recent times have only been reported as living on the coast of NC (on the outer Banks near the present town of Buxton, NC). New evidence suggests that they may also have been on the mainland of Dare County, but this has until now only been recognized in regional writings (Shepard/Willard 2002). This paper is an integral part of the study in understanding where these contact villages may be located and the attempts to predict their locations. The names of these villages all seem to have a common thread in that they are a description of the location of the sites.

    Research with deeds and old maps has revealed a migration of these Indians over a definitive route. The starting location of this route or trail is the confirmed site of Croatan Indian village located in the present town of Buxton, North Carolina (Phelps 1996: Newspaper articles and Personal correspondence), and then moves inland to the Dare County mainland. From this location the Croatan Indians migrated and joined with the Mattamuskeet Indians at Lake Mattamuskeet, and lastly moved inland to the west about eighty miles (where they reside today in the triad of Pinetown, Free Union and Chocowinity [Shepard/Willard 2002]). The mainland of Dare County is now called East Lake (Beechland is the primary name of the same place from older times). The oral histories of the local people of East Lake have been associated with the Croatan Indians for hundreds of years; this affinity has rarely been reported. All of the maps from shortly after the first contact with English up to present times represent this area as the “Croatan Lands”. This designation is present on modern maps and was known as the “Croatan District” up until recent modern times.

    The Croatan Indians must have dramatically increased their area of influence after the colony is presumed to have moved “fifty miles into the Main” (Quinn 1955). This can be explained with the presumption that when the colony moved, the Croatan Indians moved and assimilated with the English (The colony is thought to have survived living at an inland location with the Indians for almost twenty years). The English had disenfranchised all of the other Indians by their harsh dealings with them, starting with burning the village of Aquascogooc (On the Pungo River in present Hyde County, NC). They later killed the Roanoke Indian King Wingina and added insult by cutting off his head (this took place in the village of Dasemunkepeuc, which is thought by most scholars to be near present-day Mann’s Harbor, in Dare County). Aligning with the English colonists would have strengthened and enhanced the Croatan Indians in a dramatic way. Having the advanced technologies in warfare with modern weapons would have given them a great advantage over the other Indians who did not abide the harsh treatment of the English. Possible evidence of the Croatan Indians success can be found today on modern maps. The name of Croatan Lands is still shown on most modern maps of the Dare County mainland.

    The oral history of the area is very rich in its affinity and relation to the Croatan Indians. The research and understanding of the Indian village names and what the names may have meant is of vital interest in the present and future studies of the sixteenth century English attempts to settle colonies in North America. The hypothesis we are currently forwarding embraces the possibility that the colony may have moved to an Indian village on the Alligator River around 1588/89. There are ample examples of this happening: the Roanoke Colonists in 1585 were given Wingina’s home village on Roanoke Island. This colonizing strategy was also followed in 1608 at Jamestown in Virginia (the Pespheha (five variant spellings) Indians gave up their home village to the colonists [John Smith 1910; Semmes 1940]). Again in 1634, in Maryland at St Mary’s City, the Piscataway Indians gave their homeland village to the Maryland Settles (Semmes 1940).

    To test this hypothesis the following scenario is proffered. The discovery of the Croatan Indian village anchors the location of the starting point of an inland migration of the Croatan Indians. Another possible Indian site has been registered (the Buck Ridge site near Gum Neck, NC). Another site in the Beechland area is being pursued. Confirmation of these sites can only be accomplished with testing and excavation. The definitive test for these locations would be to find European artifacts in datable strata from the sixteenth century. If the colony survived twenty years, which most of the evidence supports, thousands of European artifacts should be found. The artifact assemblage should be similar to what has been found at Croatan.

    With the use of satellite images, a relic footprint of a palisade or fortified village may be discernable. The advent of multispectral side-scanning microwave imaging will give our research the opportunity to find features that are buried under the ground and water. The use of multiple forts during this period is well documented. The forts were always built on top of a mound where dirt was borrowed from a trench–like structure on the outside of the fortification. This presents a very large footprint model that could be discovered with imaging. In addition, very specific directions were given to both the Jamestown and Roanoke settlements. Whatever river, creek or body of water they chose for their town, they were to go to the mouth of the body of water and build an alarm fort to keep as a lookout for an expected Spanish incursion (Quinn 1955).

    These studies fit into the main hypotheses by carefully addressing the meaning of the names the Indians used to identify their villages. It is hoped that a better understanding of this material will eventually help to find these contact period Indian sites and confirm their locations and eventually lead to clues about the 1587 “Lost Colony”.

Case Studies
  1. Tramaskecooc: (People of the white cedar swamps or a place of beavers). This village has not been confirmed but the presumed site has been registered on Buck Ridge (where large surface collections of artifacts and an Indian graveyard has been found and shown to this author). The site is just east of Gum Neck, NC.
  2. Pomeiooc: (This name is connected with a place to land boats easily or a good landing place). This village has not been located. More money has been spent attempting to find this village then any Indian village in NC. The location is probably apparent in the above translation as being near the water, possibly on Farr Creek in Hyde County (near present-day Engelhard, NC).
  3. Panauuaiooc: Is presumed to be on or near Rice Creek on the headwaters of the Pamlico Sound (located in a town today called Chocowinity, NC.). This author has registered an Indian village on Rice Creek but confirmation has not been achieved.
  4. Dasemunkepeuc: (Where there is extended land surface surrounded by water). Map studies suggest that this village is near Mann’s Harbor, NC and has probably washed into the Croatan Sound.
  5. Aquascogooc: (A place to embark or where a place for disembarking exists). This site has not been confirmed but is well documented as being on the Pungo River near Sladesville, NC in Hyde Co. (This village was burned to the ground by the 1585 colonists).
  6. Cheseppiooc: (Expanse of waters [Big Water], where shellfish are found or great Shellfish water people live). The modern spelling is Chesapeake Bay.
  7. Moratuooc: (Dangerous river, derived from a fast current relating to the use of canoes). The location of this village is on the convergence of Welsh Creek and the Roanoke River near Plymouth, NC.
  8. Nausegooc: (They are given a breathing spell [A place to rest]). This village is depicted on many maps but has not been confirmed; it is almost certainly located near the Neuse River in Carteret County.
  9. Neuustooc [?] There is no documentation on this village as of today.
  10. Marshewtooc [?] (Ditto as per above).
  11. Cwareuuooc: This site has some intriguing association with the Lost Colony and another Indian site near, by the name of Pekernickeack; both are probably in Carteret Co., near present Sea Level, NC).
  12. Secotaooc: (They who dwell at the bend of the river). This village has not been located but by most accounts is near the present town of Bath, NC).
  13. Secotan: May be the same village as 12 above.
  14. Weapemeooc: (Where shelter from the wind is sought). This is thought to be the name of a small confederacy, all of which are located on the North Shore of the Albemarle Sound.
  15. Masequetooc: (Current or stream).

  16. Croatan: (A place where councils are held; the chief's residence). This site has been located and confirmed as being in Buxton, NC (Phelps 1996).
  17. Secotan: (A bend in the river and town; the town is in the bend in the river). This village and Secotaooc have been confused in all of the maps and literature for the last four hundred years. The location is very problematical but the consensus is Bath, NC.
  18. Chaunis Temoatan: (Deep daughter town) This translation is very problematical. This village is traceable over time because there is a very well-known copper mine at this location on the Roanoke River at the fall line. This village is also referred to as Ritanoe some twenty years later after the contact period.
  19. Warowatan: (War-hollow and otan town or atan-village). Present site of Edenton, NC.

  20. Nanocoke: (Indians from Maryland who produce shell beads or Roanoke. These Indians have an interesting possible correlation to the Roanoke Indians of North Carolina). (See Below).
  21. Chowanoac: (People at the south). This may be another confederation of Indians or may be associated as part of the Powhatan Confederation, hence the designation “people to the south”. This group or confederation of Indians is found at the contact period from the mouth of the Chowan to the Meherrin River. This is documented as a large group of Native Americans in 1585. In 1609 these Coastal Indians were totally displaced by the Tuscarora Indians from the west.
  22. Roanoke: (Shell beads or chain of beads or rub, abrade, smooth and polish). This site is still named Roanoke and is presently Roanoke Island in Dare County, NC. This village may have a correlation with an Indian village on the Eastern Shore of Maryland named Nanocoke.
  23. Ohanoke: (Blind Town). This village is thought to be near the present vicinity of Colerain on the Roanoke River.
  24. Pasquenoke: (The Women’s Town, or where the river forks). This village is found on the Pasquotank River, south of Elizabeth City.
  25. Skicoak: South branch of the Elizabeth River near present Great Bridge, Virginia.

  26. Tripanick: (A place where great tubers grow). Nasmond River in Virginia.
  27. Pecanick: This village is one of the most important villages relating to the 1587 “Lost Colony”. This site is referred to many times as being one of the locations of survivors of the colony. Very little research has been done on the location of this site. This author believes this village is near Sea Level or very close by, in Carteret County, NC. The suffix and similarity to Tripanick suggests a correlation of similar meanings between these two names. (Within the scope of this study no correlation has, of this time, been found). This village is always depicted near Cwareuuooc, #11 above. This may prove to be an important clue because Cwareuuooc (with many variant spellings) is shown on many maps. (Pecanick's location is problematical and can only be presumed with its relative location with Cwareuuooc. Pecanick is only depicted on two extant maps, where as Cwareuuooc is depicted on dozens).
Indian Village Location Model for Sounds and Rivers of North Carolina, at the Contact Period (1585)

    This study is a very preliminary look at locations and names of Indian villages in the NC coastal area. The probable location of the contact period villages on the Pamlico and Albemarle drainage basins can be tested in a number of ways. The area of study has been confined to the Neuse, Pamlico and Roanoke Rivers including their primary drainage basins. The Pamlico, Croatan and Albemarle sounds are also included in this prelude sample.

    The grouping of like names in the case studies above presents immediate similarities that cannot be reconciled without drawing some prevalent conclusions. It is apparent in the structure of the village names that the phonetic sounds are an assimilation of multiple syllables. This seems simplistic and only warrants further scrutiny when an attempt is made to define the syllables and inquire about how these names might match up to the geomorphic and water features of the landscape, or other possible descriptions of the village names.

    A conclusion relating to the village names is readily apparent from the suffixes of the first set of case studies. The phonetic sound of the syllable [ooc] is the dominant theme of the group. The spelling of the sound (ooc) involves as many as twenty variations in the literature. For sake of consistency [ooc] is the one used for this study. The meaning and translation of this syllable is roughly a place where people harvest great amounts of shellfish (Quinn 1955). This may be synthesized to also mean water that is brackish (not salty or fresh). Oysters and clams need brackish water to survive in great numbers. Saying it includes large bodies of brackish water can further develop this definition. This definition would suggest that a location of a large concentration of fresh or salt water would not be included in this village location model. For the purposes of this study I’m suggesting that where large rivers, bays or sounds reduce to less then one or two miles across, that the Algonquian Indian village names will exclude the suffix [ooc]. This presents a juxtaposition of a hypothesis that would predict that the suffix [ooc] would not be found in Indian village names that are found further up river/stream than the location described above. We will test this conclusion and give comments on its implication below.

    This village model also includes the sympathetic thought processes that boats fifty feet long made of whole trees cannot be kept on the open sounds where they may be subjected to damage from storms and floods. These boats in addition would become water-logged if left in the water permanently, which would mandate a harbor safe from high tides, storms and flooding. Expounding this thought process further would suffice that a small creek that would afford total protection for these large boats should be included in the model. Another element in the equation of location models is the documented sequence of two Indian villages being located on both sides of a river at the location where the river narrows. These locations make natural land trails and over time were possibly incorporated as trading centers. This location center of trading is sited by Helen Rountree and is a very important in our study, because this is what may be represented in the Tramaskecooc Indian site being shown in two separate map locations on the Alligator River as outlined below.

    The Buck Ridge site (purported by this author to be the contact period Indian Village of Tramaskecooc) was first located on old maps and mentioned in the literature. The Tramaskecooc site is first depicted on the John White Map (manuscript map A), which was drawn in 1585. An interesting thing then happened with the publication of this same map by Theodore deBry, which was published in 1588. The White map shows this village on the southeast of the Alligator River. His publisher deBry however places the village on the northwest side of the river (see White & deBry maps in the addendum).

    This location becomes important in two different ways. First, it fits our new location model, which attempts to foretell where the Algonquian Indians from the Coastal Plain located their villages. They unfailingly seemed to place them near large bodies of open water. They also selected a place that afforded protection for their large boats. Small but very protected creeks near big water seem to best describe where most of these Indian villages are found (Never more than a thousand yards from such locations). These very large boats seemed to be the Algonquian Indians technological niche and dictated the location of their villages. The sites seem to be highly predictable. Secondly, it is noted that between publication of the first and second map is the period of time that the 1587 Colony was seated. Primary narratives twice indicate the colony planned to move “ fifty miles into the main”. (It of course may only be a coincidence, but both of the sites above mentioned are exactly fifty miles from the colony's original village on Roanoke Island).

    The locations of Indian villages can also be correlated to old geomorphic landforms that made natural trails. The Indians pursued game animals, which had established natural migration paths. It is documented that many of these inland Indian trials are the present day highways of NC. (The old Occenecheey trading path that starts at the Fall Line on the Roanoke River and goes to Catawba Lake is an example of one of these old Indian trails, and Long Ridge Road that parallels Rt. 32 from Plymouth to Pinetown in NC is another one [Shepard/Willard 2002]).

Infrared Image

    The research from this study area has produced maps and deeds that demarcate a prehistoric Indian trail that crosses the Albemarle Sound near Colombia, NC. This trail leads southward just west of the existing NC Route 94 to Gum Neck. The trail then turns east, crosses over Buck Ridge and the Alligator River and follows the watercourse through Swan Lake and ends at Lake Mattamuskeet. This trail is picked up and documented in deeds five miles south of Swan Lake near the above-mentioned Lake Mattamuskeet, and in the oral history today is called the “Old Quaker Trail”. (Local informants showed this trail to this author in 1999. It is faintly discernable as a wagon road through the woods near Lake Mattamuskeet). This Indian trail was researched by using very early maps of this area. The maps were overlaid with the Indian trails until geomorphic features from modern maps could be identified. Next these locations were very carefully scrutinized using infrared and Landsat satellite images to locate the Buck Ridge site. This study eventually led to the location of Buck Ridge. It is hoped that the second village on the east side of the Alligator River can be possibly targeted in the same way. This entire area is related to the Croatan Indian studies with recent findings of deeds and old maps. This presents the possibility of a correlation to the primary study involved (“The Lost Colony of 1587"). (See the deed to Buck Ridge and the corresponding deeds to the Croatan Indian village on the Outer Banks all signed with the last name of Elks in the addenda)

    The second list of towns, 16-19, are placed together because they all end in the suffix “tan”. This word is translated as meaning town. These village names suggest a place of importance. Croatan, Secotan and Chaunis Temoatan are all well-documented as being chief towns of the area where they are located. This is information that has not been previously noted but may be of some use in future studies. All of these towns are associated with the towns on the next list discussed below. They relate to trade and currency. This may again just be a coincidence, as it is not discussed as a correlation in any other studies found as of this date. The list of Indian towns, 20-25, may have an affinity with the manufacture of Indian money. The word Roanoke itself means Indian Money. The translation of the word means to abrade or rub smooth (i.e. make shell beads, wampum, peak, or minfill). Indian villages or towns that have spellings ending in “oke” are all documented as important towns. A possible very important recognition about how this name (the suffix “oke”) fits into Algonquian society may have been discovered in this study. There appears to be only one named village with this suffix in each of five separate confederations (Secotan, Weapemeooc, Chowanoac and Piscataway).

    The Nanocoke Indians were from Maryland and are representative of the large confederation of Indians that resided on Chesapeake Bay and maintained the area that was just north of the Powhatan Confederation. (Their area of influence and control was from the fall line in the mountains north of the Potomac River and west to Chesapeake Bay including the Eastern shore of Maryland). These Indians were associated with the Piscataway Indians, who were very great in number when Maryland was first settled in 1634. The Piscataway Indians still have a small reservation near Washington, DC, on the Potomac River near Indian Head, Md. The Nanocoke Indians were very powerful and subjugated all of the Coastal Indians in Maryland and Delaware to make their shell money beads for exchange. These Indians allowed no English settlements in their areas until very late in colonial times and it is well documented that they were the established "money changers" for the Piscataway Confederating just after the Maryland contact period of 1634/90 (Captains and Mariners of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University Press).

    The Chowanoac Indians (from the west side of the Chowan River near the Albemarle Sound in NC) were in some way affiliated with the Powhatan Indians from Virginia (at the contact period) but was not under the direct control of Powhatan. The only reference to money or exchange in this area relates to the village of Chaunis Temoatan and is connected to a copper (wassador) trade from a very large confederation of inland Indians (The Chaunis Temoatan village name was changed to Ritanoe by the time the Jamestown settlers arrived). In 1609 the Chief from Ritanoe controlled this area of the Chowan (Shepard/Willard 2002). His main village was located on the fall line of the Roanoke River. This river is the main trading route between these two towns and it is interesting that the river also has the same name (Roanoke) possibly relating to copper, money or bartering exchange. This chief is quoted from several sources as stating that he sent survivors of the "Lost Colony” (Two boys and a young maid) to the Chowan to “beat his copper” (Quinn 1955).

    Very little is known about the village of Ohanoke other than it is also located on the money trade route on the Roanoke River, which may derive its name from the association of Ritanoe, which is the location of the best-documented location of precious metal copper (or “wassador" from the Algonquian language). Ralph Lane attempted to reach this town because it was widely reported that the mine was very rich. In 1585, Lane had to abandon his search and resort to eating three of his large Mastiff guard dogs to stave off starvation (Quinn 1984; The Zunega Map; Cummings 1999).

    The Indian village of Pasquenoke was located in the Weapemeoc confederation on the North Shore of the Albemarle Sound. The Pasquotank River, which now leads to Elizabeth City, NC takes its name from these Indians. There is not any relevant studies indicating any information about this village and like the other twenty or so Indian villages depicted on the John White map only three have been identified and only Croatan has been confirmed. If the preliminary study presented here finds acceptance in the academic community with further research it may be argued that the Pasquenoke Indians are also medium or money exchangers (Makers of wampum, wassador, roanoke, peak and minfill) for the Weapemeoc confederation at the period of contact. Again, it is reiterated that this is a very preliminary research study but the conclusion could be drawn that there seems to be only one town in each confederation that sports the suffix of “oke”, and that these towns may have been granted the authority and designated as the “Money Town”.

    The village of Skicoak (There is a slight difference in spelling in this name) was near the confluence of the James River and Chesapeake Bay and is only mentioned a few times in the historic literature and on some early maps. This location is reported as being a very important town and was visited by the Roanoke Colonists in the winter of 1586 (Quinn 1955). At this point it is again conjecture based on the descriptions of the other towns but it may have been involved in medium exchange (i.e. money). This village may have been a part of the Powhatan Confederation but it cannot be established at this time.

    The last group of village names is a very small sample and accordingly is hard to draw any conclusions about them.

    The Tripanicks are a very obscure Indian tribe and the only reference to them is that in 1586 they visited the Roanoke Colony in the village of Skicoak in what is now Virginia. The translation of the word Tripanicks is "a place where tubers grow" (Quinn 1955).

    The village of Pecanick is a very important village because it is related to a place where members of the “Lost Colony” are reported to be. Identification of these villages by use of their name is very problematical as tubers grow throughout the southeast. Much more research will need to be completed on these two villages to possibly discover the meaning of their names.

Reading Assignments Related to This Study

    The books assigned were two books by Helen Rountree on the Powhatan Indians of Virginia. Four books were found in the library and were all used in this study. (See list of books used in the addenda).

    Powhatan assembled one of the largest Indian confederations on the coast of southeast North America. He was very adept in using the colonists as a weapon to assume power and influence over the other tribes on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. The Spanish and English explorers made it clear, to the Indians, very early that they were not to be trusted. In case after case they showed their disdain for the native populations using overt force to take anything they wanted from the Indians including land, food, and women. The Spanish were the most brutal, killing any one who would not abide their religious beliefs.

    One of the most useful insights to these books was the detailed description of the trading patterns. The Indians established their trade by water and the direction of trade was always up the watercourses and down the watercourses not over the land to the north or south. All of these courses are also projected eastward across the large bays and sounds and again very little is traded north or south. This, of course, makes perfect sense and fits into the hypotheses we are presenting in this study relating to the large boats. The analogy could be made that these boats were the tractor-trailers of their day. The main differences about the Coastal Indians and the Indians residing to the west all relate to the building, traveling and securing of these large boats.

    The other important revelation about the Powhatan Confederacy relates to the intricate system of relations that these Indians had with each other. Powhatan maintained regular correspondence with all of the Indians from Maryland to North Carolina. The Weapemeoc Indians from the North Shore of the Albemarle Sound received emissaries from Powhatan on regular basis. This became a very important understanding relating to information that has been found about the ‘Lost Colony” of 1587. There is a large amount of information in the historic literature about the colony that was related from the Indians in Virginia. Before now it was hard to comprehend how the dissemination of information could have been carried over such a long distance. Very specific information about the Colony and survivors of an Indian attack is documented from as many as six or seven sources from Virginia. A new look at the details of this information is now in order. The Indian informants from Virginia give the village names where survivors were being held, and what chiefs were in control of which villages. All of this information leads to a North Carolina “Lost Colony” settlement, not a Virginia location. Powhatan, in effect, used professional ambassadors to negotiate with the Indians far to the south and north to gain alliances and ferret out any hostile intentions relating to other Indian alliances in North Carolina. Finding out information about a Colony left amongst the Indians of North Carolina would have been of the highest disposition to these emissaries. This is one of the more useful findings in this reading study. The communication network was very sophisticated and not previously reported before Rountree.


    This study was contemplated as a way to establish an understanding relating to the Indian Village names from the contact period. The reason for this study is to see if the Croatan migration over the four-hundred-year period since the first Roanoke settlements could be traced. The formula for this analogy was simple. Large amounts of European migrations came from the Jamestown area. It was predicted that if the Indians were moving inland to escape from the European incursions on their lands they would not move in a random manner. The first and most important criteria would be to move to a safe place. If I were an Indian and was attempting to flee from European settlers, the first consideration would be to move to a place where I thought it would be safe for my family and me. The most likely choice would be another Indian Village. This criterion was utilized to attempt to target the village of Panawicky (spelled Panauuaiooc in this study).

    The analogy then led to the question: Can there be a set of names, locations and physical geomorphic features on the landscape to help in predicting and locating some of these early Indian Villages? This study was extremely helpful in identifying village name components that may help to predict and locate these Indian features and sites in the future.

    This author first found the very large boats in the narrative writings of John Smith and George Percy from Jamestown (Barbour, Philip L.: The Three Worlds of John Smith, Boston 1964; Quinn, edited 1967, George Percy: Observations Gathered out of a Discourse of the Plantation of the Southern Colony in Va. by the English, 1606). "We found a place five miles in compass, with either a bush or tree. We saw nothing there but a canoe, which was made out of a whole tree, which was five and forty foot long by the rule" (Quinn 1967). There were almost twenty canoes found in Lake Phelps about twenty years ago. These boats were dated to be a thousand years old. Two were removed and restored. The rest were reburied in the lake until future funds can be found for restoration. One of these boats was almost fifty feet in length and is on display in Raleigh, North Carolina.

    The location of these villages all seem to be similar and was also noticed by Marco Gibbs, an independent scholar who resides in Hyde County near the Lost Colony Research Center's proposed targeted site of Pomeiooc (in Engelhard, NC on Farr Creek). Marco also confirmed that the syllable "ooc" might be on all of the village's names that meet these location criteria, which all seem to be suitable sites for oysters and clams in brackish waters of the sounds and rivers of North Carolina and the Chesapeake Bay.

    This study has perhaps discovered two identifications of Indian Town names. The first is found in the suffix "tan". There seems to be a correlation between this name-ending and the chief village for each "Chiefdom or Confederation". The scope of this study is very narrow and is very preliminary in nature and this information is being offered as such. The chief towns are important to this research because it could be argued that any connection to the "Lost Colony " would be related to the most important towns or villages in that Indian culture.

    The relationship between the "Capital Village" and each chiefdom or confederation and the other possible discoveries in this study could have important ramifications in the future. The village names with the ending sound of "oke" have an apparent affinity for Indian money called Roanoke, peake, minfall, beads, wassador, lengths and wampum. This would seem to bind the Villages of Croa"tan" and Roan"oke" into a political and financial marriage. This was first associated with studies of Maryland Indians and can be demonstrated with the Piscataway Confederation. The Nantoc"oke" Indians where powerful and controlled all trading of roanoke and peake in that confederation. The Assateaoke Indians were subdued and charged with making the Indian money on the coast out of shells for the Nattocoke Indians. This possible discovery, like many in research, was not part of the focus of our studies but became very evident as the names of the different villages were compared from North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.

    The main focus of this study may have also produced an interesting correlation of names that dominate the sounds, bays and rivers of NC. All of the village names have a strong correlation with boats, landing places, protected water and resting places on the water between separated villages. Pomeiooc, Aquascogooc, Cheseppiooc, Panauuaioc, Tramaskecooc, Moratuooc, Masequetooc, Weapemeoc and Dasemunkepeuc are all villages that fit into the possible proposed Indian village name associations explored in this preliminary and narrow scope of study.

    On the deBry map of 1588 twenty-eight of the Indian Villages are depicted. It may be valuable to categorize the name associations. In addition, the word "Mentso" found near the village of Pomeiooc at Lake Mattamuskeet is translated as a "Place to rest after a long journey" (Quinn 1955).

    It is offered only as a preliminary conclusion that Indian Villages in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina will almost exclusively be found on or very near the water of large sounds, bays and rivers. These sites will be found on small tributaries that afford total protection against storms and flood tides. The village of Pomeiooc is an example that absolutely defines the use of this analogy. Previous explorations of this Indian Village at the Trinity Church site, almost five miles from protected water, stands out as a misguided search in futility. These are "Boat People" and their means of transportation is by very large watercraft. Applying the information from this study in future research of the Indians of North Carolina may help confirm and solidify some of these tentative findings.

Recommendations for Future Studies of This Problem Addenda

Making Their Boats

Theodore deBry Map of 1585

Primary Documents Cited

  1. Garrow: The Mattamuskeet Documents. (An unpublished manuscript).
  2. Harriot, Thomas 1588: A Brief and True Report Of The New Found Land Of Virginia. Reprint (1972) by Dover Publications, Inc., New York.
  3. Kupperman, Karen: Settling with the Indians. 1980, Rowman and Littlefield.
  4. Long, Mary Wood: The Five Lost Colonies. Published by the Family Research Center, Elizabeth City, NC, 2000.
  5. Miller, Lee: Roanoke. 2000.
  6. Parramore, Thomas: The Tuscarora Ascendancy. (An unpublished paper in the possession of this author).
  7. Phelps: Personal correspondence, lectures and newspaper articles relating to the Croatan discoveries. 1996-2001.
  8. Rountree, Helen and Davidson: Eastern Shore Indians of Virginia and Maryland. 1997, The University Press of Virginia.
  9. Rountree, Helen: Powhatan's Foreign Relations. 1992.
  10. Rountree, Helen: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia. 1989.
  11. Rountree, Helen: Powhatan's People. 1990, The University Press of Oklahoma.
  12. Semmes: Captains (Indians) and Mariners of Maryland. 1940, John Hopkins University Press.
  13. Shepard, Charles/Willard, Fred: The Roanoke Sagas. 2002 (An unpublished paper in the possession of the author, with supporting research from Ruth Wilson, Phil McMullen, David, Darlene, Brandon, Charles and Emily Elks.).
Map Study Lists

  1. 1498, Map of the voyages of John and Sebastion Cabot.
  2. 1526, Juan Vespucci.
  3. 1529, Diego Ribero.
  4. 1529, Hieronimo de Verrazzano.
  5. 1540, Sebastian Munster.
  6. 1542, John Rotz.
  7. 1545, Alonso de Santa Cruz.
  8. 1545, Anonymous, Atlas of The Hague.
  9. 1547, Anonymous, London.
  10. 1550, Piere Desceliers.
  11. 1558, Diogo Homem.
  12. 1562, Diego Gutierrez.
  13. 1567, Alonso de Santa Cruz.
  14. 1569, Gerhardus Mercator.
  15. 1580, John Dee.
  16. 1580, Simon Fernandes - John Dee.
  17. 1582, Humphrey Gilbert - John Dee.
  18. 1582, Michal Lok.
  19. 1585, The 1585 sketch map (Anonymous, but may have been drawn by John White).
  20. 1585, John White Manuscript Map A,.map of Raleigh's Virginia.
  21. 1585, John White Manuscript Map B, map of Eastern North America. The only map or copies of it that name and locate Port Ferdinando. This map was not published until 1909.
  22. 1589/1631, Theodore deBry print of John White's Manuscript Map A, map of Raleigh's Virginia.
  23. 1599/1631, Theodore deBry print of "The Englishmen's Arrival", Mercator/ Hondis.
  24. 1609, Zuniga #1 (John Smith may have had something to do with this map. See edited Zuniga map by Sams. This is the most important map about the "Lost Colony" that has been found to-date. Very little research has been done with this primary source.).
  25. 1609, Zuniga map, transliterated by Sams.
  26. 1609, Ould [sic] Virginia #2, John Smith.
  27. 1611, Velasco Map.
  28. 1672, Ogilby.
  29. 1657, Comberford.
  30. 1682, Joel Gascoyne, Carolina.
  31. 1701/1709, John Lawson, (Surveyed in 1701?).
  32. 1729/1723, Mosley (Surveyed 1729?).
  33. 1770, Collet.
  34. 1775, Mouzon.
  35. 1801, Price Strother.
  36. 1861, Bachman.
  37. 1861, Colyton.
  38. 1879, U.S.C. & G.S., Oregon Inlet Chart #138.
  39. 1883, Macray Brazer.
  40. 1861, Bachman.
  41. 1861, Colyton.
  42. 1896, Mail Route Map.
  43. 1958, Dunbar Map of Historic Inlets of the Outer Banks.
  44. 1983, (1849/1980) Shoreline Movement (North Carolina Outer Banks).
  45. 1992, Soil Survey of Dare County, North Carolina issued by U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service.
Secondary Works Cited

  1. Chambers, Samuel: Personal Communication. 1999/2000, Geology Department (Satellite Imaging), Elizabeth City StateUniversity, Elizabeth City, NC.
  2. Coates, Donald R.: Coastal Geomorphology. 1972, State University of New York, Binghamton, New York.
  3. Cummings, William P.: The Southeast in Early Maps. 1955/1998, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina and London.
  4. Everts, Craig; Jeter Jr., Battley; Gibson, Peter N.: Shoreline Movements. Spingfield, VA, National Technical Information Service, 1983.
  5. Fisher, John: Geomorphic Expressions of Former Inlets along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. 1962, unpublished Master's Thesis, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
  6. Gares, Dr. Paul: Snapshots of the Carolinas Landscapes and cultures; Shoreline changes along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and Personal communication and lecture notes. Geography Department, East Carolina University, 1988,1989.
  7. Hume, Ivor Noël: The Virginia Adventure: Roanoke to Jamestown: An Archaeological and Historical Odyssey. New York, Knopf, 1994.
  8. Hulton, Paul: America 1585. The North Carolina Press, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1984.
  9. De Ore, Luis Jeronimo: Relations of the Martyrs of Florida “donde se an fortificado los Inglese”. Madrid [?]. Reprinted in 1931/3, edited by P. Atanasio Lopez, XVII, 2 vols. The translation is by Dr. Maynard Geiger (Franciscan Studies, no.18), New York, Joseph F. Wagner, 1936.
  10. Powell, William: North Carolina Through Four Centuries. The University of North Carolina Press, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1998.
  11. Riggs, Stanley: Personal communication and lecture notes. 1998, Geology Department, East Carolina University, Greenville NC.
  12. San Juan, Francisco: Personal communication. 1999/ 2000, Geology Department (Satellite Imaging), Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, NC.
  13. Quinn, David Beers: The Roanoke Voyages. 2 vols., The Hakluyt Society Second Series 104-05, London, The Hakluyt Society, 1955.
  14. Quinn, David Beers: Set Fair to Roanoke: Voyages and Colonies. 1584-1600, The University of North Carolina Press, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1985.
  15. Sams, Conway: The Conquest of Virginia: The First Attempt. Spartanburg, South Carolina, Reprint Co., 1924.
  16. Smith, John: Travel and Works of Captain John Smith: President of Virginia and Admiral of New England, 1580-1631. Ed. Arber. 2 vols., Edinburgh, John Grant, 1910.
  17. Stick, David: Roanoke Island: The Beginnings of English America. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1983.

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