Saturday, January 30, 2021

Funny memes

Saw a meme:

 

 

Funny meme and all, but it does seem to come from a bit of an... uhh... passerby perspective?  The Byzantine-Sassanian war isn't that obscure—I had heard of it, at least, despite never being particularly interested in the Byzantines or the Sassanids.  This one's a bit more on point for me:

 


 

You know, the Maryand-Maquantequats War? Peter Jackson will be right on it, any day now, I'm sure.

 

Actually, this one's maybe better:

 



Saturday, June 13, 2020

Virginia and the Chesapeake, pt 2: Delmarva Peninsula

Part 2:
The Delmarva Peninsula

The Delmarva Peninsula receives much less attention from writers of Native American history than does the Western Shore. Usually with any particular region, I can find at least a couple of prior published maps for me to grumble and complain about being wrong, but which I can still use as a foundation to repair. But with Delmarva I have yet to find a single map which even attempts to incorporate published information from the last century or so. The Handbook of North American Indians glosses over the whole peninsula with the label "Nanticoke and Neighboring Tribes", most likely because the "neighboring tribes" are too small to be worth showing on their map. The Nanticoke get special mention as they're the most well-known, which is FINE I GUESS, except that giving them pride of place is a teeny bit of a self-reinforcing fallacy. You see, after 1740 or so, the Indians of Delmarva began a northbound exodus into Pennsylvania, with some eventually making it all the way to Canada. Along the way this band of pilgrims lost their original distinctiveness and began to converge under the name of "Nanticoke"—if not in their own eyes, then certainly in the eyes of white observers—until "the word Nanticoke became generic and was used to include all Eastern Shore Indians no matter where they had originally lived" (Weslager 1942). Frank Speck's map from 1922 suffers from this deficiency:


Using generic labels isn't always a bad thing. For instance it would be madness to try and map each band of the Comanche or Wichita over time—especially when the records just don't give you the information you need. When it comes to the Eastern Shore tribes, though, we do have the information: most especially in a series of small publications from the 30s and 40s by Clinton Weslager and William Marye. Helen Rountree also wrote about them in Eastern Shore Indians of Virginia and Maryland (1997, coauthor Thomas Davidson).

None of these authors include a map, however, not one of the whole peninsula which faithfully depicts not just the Nanticokes but the Pocomokes and Wicomiss and Choptanks etc... no map that I can find does. So I hope I don't screw things up too much and that this can remedy the absence:

Most of what follows is commentary on the above map. It's a little tedious, but if there are no prior maps to build on then I need to justify my decision in words.

The southern end of the peninsula was the home of the chiefdoms of Accomac and Occohannock, both of them members of the Powhatan Paramountcy in 1600. These people evidently must have abhorred violence, as they voluntarily submitted to the Powhatan rather than risk being conquered by force--later on, they likewise submitted voluntarily to the English, and in 1622 refused to join Opechancanough's rebellion against the European invaders (Rountree & Davidson 1997:49ff). The Occohannocks were a populous chiefdom, enough so to be considered a paramountcy in its own right after they had been shorn from the Powhatans (R&D:55), and together the Accomac-Occohannock may have functioned as a kind of intermediate scale semi-paramountcy during the period of Powhatan rule, with the Accomacs presiding over the Occohannocks (Davidson 1993:139).

My authors aren't explicitly forthcoming on the exact borders of Accomac and Occohannock territory. Rountree (1993:2) writes that the Nassawaddox Indians were members of the Accomac chiefdom—as a "Nassawaddox Creek" is located just five miles south of an "Occohannock Creek", one would be tempted to say the Accomac-Occohannock border separated these two drainages. However, the name "Nassawaddox" possibly means "between the streams" (Bright), so perhaps the Nassawaddox people were situated between two rivers rathern than along just one. If they lived on the peninsula between Nassawaddox and Occohannock creeks, this would make the latter the border, with the Occohannock people living on the north bank of their creek. This corresponds with the present-day border between Northampton and Accomac counties.


Click for full size.

Rountree & Davidson write that the Occohannocks occupied at least as far north as Chesconnessex Creek on the west side of the peninsula, and it is implied that the Kegotank Indians were members of the Occohannock chiefdom (R&D:65). Kegotank Bay, on the east side of the peninsula, is a little ways south of the Gingoteague territory across from Chincoteague Island—the Gingoteague are considered to be a Pocomoke group (cf. Feest 1978:251, though Marye 1939 considers them "Accomacks" by which I assume he means Occohannocks). So the Occohannock northern border (and the Powhatan paramountcy's northern border on the Eastern Shore) probably ran north of Chesconnessex Creek and in between Kegotank Bay and Chincoteague Island.

The Kegotanks/Kickotanks were located nearby to the Gingoteagues, and they almost look like they could be the same name, but they were separate chiefdoms in the 1600's (see Marye 1940:24). Gingoteague is probably pronounced with a soft "g" anyway, given "Chincoteague" and other variants: "Jengoteague", "Yingoteague" (Marye 1939, 1940:n37). More confounding is the fact that "Checonnessex" is a rendering of "Sickoneysincks", i.e. the Siconese Indians from the northeast of the peninsula (see below). But Chesconnessex Creek is neither in nor a conduit to Siconese lands, so either someone came across a wandering hunting party there once, or the creek just happens to have the same name in a cognate language. C. A. Weslager's Delaware-speaking consultant, a woman named Touching Leaves, interpreted the name as "Place where there is a gentle sound from the movement of things" (Weslager 1991).

The Nanticoke Paramountcy was based along the Nanticoke River, including Chicacone Creek, and according to Davidson & Rountree the people of the Wicomico and Manokin also fell under the jurisdiction of the Nanticoke talleck (R&D 1997:95, Weslager 1942; Feest 1978:251 assigns the Manokin with the Pocomoke). The Wicomico are sometimes equated with the Wicomiss (discussed later), but William Marye is adamant that this is a misconception and that the Wicomiss and Wicomico were two distinct tribes (Marye 1938).

The Pocomoke and Assateague chiefdoms were united into a single paramountcy according to C. A. Weslager (1942), and this is also the view of the modern Pocomoke Indian Nation website. Since I've gotten mixed signals on which group was dominant, I give this paramountcy the hyphenated name "Pocomoke-Assateague" so as not to play favorites. It also included the people of Annemessex River (R&D p96). Thus their border with the Nanticokes probably ran between the Manokin and Big Annemessex river watersheds.

Frank Speck wrote in 1922 that "according to surviving tradition" the area north of the Indian River was neutral ground between the Nanticokes and the Delawares. This raises two questions: 1: how far north? and 2: were these actual Nanticokes, or were they Pocomoke-Assateagues (or some other tribe) whom either Speck or his informants called "Nanticokes" per former convention?

Re the second question: in the early 1700's the Indian River was inhabited by a group of Indians inventively referred to as the "Indian River Indians"; these were originally Assateagues who had lived near Chincoteague Bay according to William Marye (1939). Earlier in the 1680's, the banks of Indian River were possessed by the Assawoman, who Marye likewise believes were Assateagues. So this is the identity of Speck's "Nanticokes".

The Assateagues' northern neighbors were a group of Lenapes/Delawares known as the Siconese (or "Great Siconese" to distinguish them from the "Small Siconese" across the bay in New Jersey). According to Marshall Becker, the Siconese "had a true chiefdom similar in structure... to the chiefdoms of Maryland and Virginia"—if true this would make them unique among the Delaware Indians, who were otherwise governed by local headmen. Becker doesn't use the words "paramount" or "paramountcy" when describing this chiefdom, and although there were numerous local shackamakers among the Siconese, Becker's low estimate of their population density makes me doubt that there existed the three tiers of chief necessary (maybe?) for a paramountcy.

Going off of land sales made to the Swedes and the Dutch in the 17th century, the Siconese considered as theirs the western shore of Delaware Bay as far south as Cape Henlopen. One such land sale also included Fenwick Island souther still (de Valinger 1941), but Clinton Weslager, respected scholar of Lenape history, made it sound as though Siconese territory ended at Cape Henlopen (1942, 1947, 1991). The Dutchmen who made that purchase may have just been hoodwinked. As such the border between the Siconese chiefdom and the Pocomoke-Assateague paramountcy seems likely to have lain somewhere between Cape Henlopen and Indian River.

The northern bound of Siconese territory was marked by Duck Creek (Weslager 1972:119). North of that creek were other bands of the Delawares: the Queonemysing and the Minguannan. Weslager also suspected that "the Lenape hunting grounds extended across the northern part of the peninsula from Delaware Bay to Chesapeake Bay", presumably north of the Tockwoghs (1942:30).

The Choptank Indians lived in three or four major towns (and I assume a few more minor ones) on the south and east sides of Choptank River (Weslager 1942). If the Choptanks saw in themselves any kind of national unity, it didn't manifest in their politics, as each town had its own king (so-called by the English) with no unifying structure. At least two of these kings are described as being subject to the Nanticoke talleck by a document in the Achives of Maryland (Browne 1896:260, qtd in Marye 1937), but modern researchers seem not to heed this.

The tribes to the north of Choptank River (the Wicomiss and the Tockwogh) had limited contact by whites before their lands were overrun and taken by the Susquehannock nation. The Susquehannocks spoke an Iroquoian language, and like most Iroquoians they seem for whatever reason to have had some kind of martial advantage over the Algonquians. By 1600 they had already taken the Chesapeake's northwestern shore. Over the following half-century they advanced into the northern half of Delmarva peninsula, sporadically driving away the Siconese and conquering the people of Wicomiss.

This conquest must have happened after 1608 (probably after 1630 (see Weslager 1942:33, 1972:100)). In that year Captain John Smith visited the Tockwogh and the Wicomiss ("Ozinies") and made no mention of them having been conquered by the Susquehannock. In 1648 the Wicomiss and "Ihon a Does" were described as being "forced auxiliaries" of the Susquehannock (Marye 1938:150). Four years later, the colony of Maryland purchased from the Susquehannock the land running "from Choptanke River to the North East Branch wᶜʰ lyes to the Northward of Elke River" (Browne 1883:277). The Ihon-a-Does were Juniatas from Pennsylvania—irrelevant here. So that implies that, prior to the arrival of the Susquehannocks, the territory from North East River to Choptank River belonged to the Wicomiss.

We know this is false only insofar as it doesn't mention the Tockwogh, whom Smith encountered on the Sassafras River. How exactly the Tockwoghs responded to conquest by the Susquehannock or the English is not known—they vanish from the record after 1608, at least according to some (e.g. Weslager 1942; implied in Feest 1978). There's at least one potential lead, however. In discussing the Tockwoghs, the historical essay in Petraglia et al. (2002:ch5) alludes to a 1659 treaty which refers inter alia to "the Jndians of Rasoughteick & Tetuckough" (Browne 1885:363). "Tetuckough" is likely a rendering of Tuckahoe, the name of a northern tributary of the Choptank River. Tuckahoe also refers to a kind of edible root eaten by Native Virginians, and it's noteworthy that John Smith writes the name of this root as "Tockawoughe" (Bright 2004, Smith 1884[1612]:58). That suggests that, accounting for differences in dialect, <Tockwogh> and <Tuckahoe> are the same name. So perhaps the Tockwoghs fled south and found refuge among the Choptanks, where the English later named a stream after them?

However, there are many Tuckahoes in the United States, so that may not mean anything. William Marye said that the Rasoughteick and Tetuckough were "unidentified" (1937:4), and either rejected or failed to notice the similarity between "Tetuckough" and "Tockwogh".

John Smith met the "Ozinies" (Wicomiss) along the Chester River. If they extended as far south as the Choptank, as suggested, that gives them a much larger territory than the Tockwogh on the Sassafras. William Marye (1938) also assigns to the Wicomiss a sizeable portion of the Delmarva interior, including the area between and among the upper forks of the Choptank, Nanticoke, and Wicomico rivers, and perhaps the headwaters of the Sassafras. That leaves the Tockwogh more or less where Smith found them, on the Sassafras River.

The Matapeke tribe inhabited Kent Island, which they called "Monoponson". This island fell under English control earlier than the rest of Maryland (it was originally considered part of Virginia), and the Natives there had apparently already left by 1641. Most likely the Matapekes moved in with the Choptanks, since a "Monoponson" tribe is named in the aforementioned 1659 treaty alongside the other Choptanks (Marye 1938:147-8).

* * *

Part 2b:
The Northern Periphery

The northern periphery was controlled by two nations: the Delaware and the Susquehannock. One of the Delaware groups I've already mentioned: the chiefdom of the Great Siconese. The rest of the Delawares lived either across the bay in New Jersey and up the Delaware River.

Delaware communities in the 17th century. From Weslager 1991.

The Susquehannock were based along the Susquehanna River, and had a presence extending from the Delaware river valley on the east all the way to the upper forks of the Potomac on the west (Wall 2019). They seem to have controlled a vast territory as compared to the tribes of the Chesapeake, though it may also be that some "Susquehannock territory" actually belonged to smaller tribes who made little mark on history. There are a number of enigmatic tribal names from that area: Attaock, Capitannesses, Gachoos, Carantouan, Wyoming, and others—which may or may not have referred to separate tribes, Susquehannock clans, or subgroups of the Iroquois (Sorg 2004, Hewitt 1910, Steckley 1985).

As alluded to earlier, by 1600 the Susquehannock had already taken the western shore north of the Patuxent valley. The people they displaced are known as the Shenks Ferry people, who may have in some capacity been Piscataways. If so, this may explain the various rumors there were that the Piscataway once commanded a much greater area. The Susquehannock claimed this territory by right of conquest, but they didn't occupy it as it was left uninhabited (Clark & Rountree 1993). It's thus sometimes called a buffer zone, but if the Patuxent and Piscataway were afraid to venture there for fear of attack then that implies some enemy presence, so I think it makes more sense to call it a "desolation" created by the Susquehannocks' conquests and therefore, in a sense, Susquehannock territory.



Sources

Marshall Joseph Becker, ""Late Woodland" (c.a. 1000-1740 CE) Foraging Patterns of the Lenape and their Neighbors in the Delaware Valley". Bulletin of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology Vol 80 No 1, 2010.
William Bright, Native American Placenames of the United States, 2004.
William Hand Browne, ed., Archives of Maryland: Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly of Maryland, 1883.
ed. Archives of Maryland: Proceedings of the Council of Maryland 1636-1667, 1885.
ed. Archives of Maryland: Proceedings of the Council of Maryland 1671-1681, 1896.
Thomas E. Davidson, "Relations between the Powhatans and the Eastern Shore". In Powhatan Foreign Relations ed. Helen C. Rountree, 1993.
Christian F. Feest, "Nanticoke and Neighboring Tribes". In Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 15: Northeast ed. Bruce G. Trigger, 1978.
J. N. B. Hewitt, "Susquehanna". In Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Part 2, ed. Frederick Webb Hodge, 1910.
William B. Marye, "Indian Paths of the Delmarva Peninsula, Part Two: The Choptank Indians". Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Delaware Vol 2 No 5, 1937.
"The Wiccomiss Indians of Maryland" [pt 1]. American Antiquity Vol 4 No 2, 1938.
"Indian Towns of the Southeastern Part of Sussex County" [pt 1]. Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Delaware Vol 3 No 2, 1939.
"Indian Towns of the Southeastern Part of Sussex County" [pt 2]. Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Delaware Vol 3 No 3, 1940.
Michael D. Petraglia et al. ed., Hickory Bluff: Changing Perceptions of Delmarva Archaeology, 2002.
Helen C. Rountree, "Who were the Powhatans and did they have a unified "foreign policy"?". In Powhatan Foreign Relations ed. Helen C. Rountree, 1993.
Helen C. Rountree & Thomas Davidson, Eastern Shore Indians of Virginia and Maryland, 1997.
Captain John Smith, A Map of Virginia. VVith a Description of the Countrey, the Commodities, People, Government and Religion (1612). In Capt John Smith, Works ed. Edward Arber, 1884.
David J. Sorg, "Lost Tribes of the Susquehanna". Bulletin of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology Vol 74 No 2, 2004.
F. G. Speck, Indians of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, 1922.
John Steckley, "A Tale of Two Peoples". Arch Notes 85, 1985.
Leon deValinger, Jr., "Indian Land Sales in Delaware" [pt 1]. Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Delaware Vol 3 No 3, 1940.
Robert D. Wall, "The Nature of Susquehannock Community Patterns in the Upper Potomac". In The Susquehannocks: New Perspectives on Settlement and Cultural Identity ed. Paul A. Raber, 2019.
C. A. Weslager, "Indian Tribes of the Delmarva Peninsula". Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Delaware Vol 3 No 5, 1942.
"The Anthropological Position of the Indian Tribes of the Delmarva Peninsula". Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Delaware, Vol 4 No 4, 1947.
The Delaware Indians: A History, 1972.
The Siconese Indians of Lewes, Delaware, 1991 (Lewes Historical Society).

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Virginia and the Chesapeake, pt 1: The Western Shore


In this post (in 4 parts) I will construct a map of coastal Virginia and the surrounding regions, showing the various indigenous groups that were located there circa 1600 A.D. As I've said before, I choose 1600 because it more-or-less marks the beginning of "the frontier period" in most of North America. Information from the preceding century is only known for a few select parts of the continent—mostly pockets controlled by the Spansh Empire. For the most part, though, 16th century North America is an unknown entity.

Hopefully this post will be followed by others discussing the rise and fall of the Powhatan, the expansion of the English, Swedish, and Dutch areas, and other changes that took place subsequent to 1600. Expect these follow-up posts to come out sometime between next month and whenever the stars of the universe all sputter into orbs of degenerate matter.

Part 1 of this post covers the Virginia and Maryland "Western Shore", part 2 covers the Delmarva Peninsula and the northern periphery of Maryland-Virginia, part 3 covers the North Carolina coastal plain, and part 4 covers parts of the Piedmont. These regions are listed in more-or-less chronological order of when they were first successfully settled by Europeans, and therefore they go in decreasing order of how much can be known about the very early indigenous landscape.

Also remember that I'm not an expert in any of this. This post series covers several different regions in rather shallow detail, so I'm liable to get some things wrong. I consider the maps given below to be "first drafts", since if/when I learn what I got wrong I intend to correct them. However the reason I'm doing this is that I've yet to see this whole area depicted on a single map which incorporates data from some of the less-publicized regions (e.g. Delmarva). If you don't want to read through all of this and just want to see the final map, here it is:

[The complete map will be posted here once I'm done editing all 4 parts.]

Before I begin part 1, however, a few preliminary remarks:

* * *

Prolegomenon:
Geography, Politics, Nomenclature

Geography
Some important geographical information:

Click for full size.

The most important thing there is probably the Fall Line (marked with the double-line on the left), which is the geological boundary whereupon the landscape drops in elevation and rivers running past it flow through waterfalls on their way to the coast. West of the Fall Line is the Piedmont, the foothills province preceding the Appalachian Mountains. East of the Fall Line is the low, flat Coastal Plain. A second boundary (the other double-line on the right) is the tidewater line. This marks how far inland it is that rivers can be seen to flow uphill during the rising tide. The area east of this line is the Tidewater. In Virginia the Tidewater and Coastal Plain are equivalent, but in North Carolina the tidewater line is marked by the Suffolk Scarp which is some ways east of the Fall Line. The Coastal Plain in North Carolina is thus split in two: on the west is the Inner or Upper Coastal Plain, on the east in the tidewater is the Outer or Lower Coastal Plain.

The Delmarva peninsula is named for the three states that share it: DELaware, MARyland, and VirginiA. It is also called the Eastern Shore, being on the east side of the bay. The mainland coastal plain is thus the Western Shore.

My map's coastlines are based on the modern-day coast per Google Maps. However, the Atlantic coastlie has changed in the past four centuries, and certain manual edits had to be made. This included erasing the artificial Craney Island peninsula (created from the original Craney Island by the Army Corps of Engineers from the 50's onward) and the Chesapeake And Delaware Canal, along with other canals that are part of the Intracoastal Waterway. I also opted to erase Fisherman's and Adam's Islands: these formed within the past few centuries from what used to be the Smyths Isles at the entrance to the bay.

Further tweaks were made by reference to historical topographical maps via the University of Texas Libraries website. However, not all details could be recovered. Parts of the Chesapeake had already been reshaped by docks and quays before accurate topographical maps were ever made, Hart Miller Island has been artificially recreated by the Army Corps of Engineers, and the North Carolina Outer Banks used to jut out much further into the ocean before they were disrupted by a hurricane some centuries ago. Also, the shoreline of the Chesapeake has been retreating, some places by as much as 10 meters per year (Foyle:22), which has rendered a million changes to the coastline that I could never hope to depict.


Politics
The most significant political structure for most of this region's Indian groups was that of the chiefdom. It's important to note that I mean "chiefdom" here in its more technical sense, wherein all human societies are classed as either Bands, Tribes, Chiefdoms, or States—a classification devised by the anthropologist Elman Service. As I understand it, true Chiefdoms differ from Tribes in that they're technically hereditary monarchies, but they lack the kind of bureaucratic apparatus which would qualify them as kingdoms or nationstates. But chiefdoms do often have enough internal complexity that multiple tier rankings exist: several villages each with their own chief, all ruled by a single higher-level overchief, repeat as necessary.

The grandest examples of such are called paramount chiefdoms (or paramountcies): large multi-tiered chiefdoms with a paramount chief ruling at the top of the pyramid. Paramountcies were common in the American Southeast, which the Chesapeake is at the periphery of. Paramountcies are strictly monarchical—in this they differ from tribal confederacies, in which multiple tribes have equal standing. Thus the most famous Virginia Indian group, the Powhatans—the nation to which Pocahontas belonged and with which John Smith and Christopher Newport vied for supremacy of the tidewater—is often called the "Powhatan Confederacy" but more accurately was the Powhatan Paramountcy. At the time of Jamestown, the many Powhatan chiefdoms were all subordinate to the paramount chieftain Wahunsonacock—also spelled Wahunsenacawh, better known as Chief Powhatan.


In my very brief research I didn't find out what the definite distinction is between a chiefdom and a paramountcy, or even if such a definition exists beyond "paramountcies are bigger". I get a vague impression that a paramountcy is a chiefdom that has 3 or more tiers of chieftains, but that could be wrong. Don't worry too much about terminology, though. I personally find no problem with people using words like "chief", "tribe", or "confederacy" in their colloquial non-technical senses, and I usually do so myself.

A peculiarity of most Southeastern chiefdoms—and one that's apparently rare among chiefdoms worldwide (Service:156)—is that they were matrilinear. This is not to say that they were matriarchal: they most certainly were not. Authority was vested primarily in the men, but it was inherited on your mother's side like mitochondrial DNA. I.e. power passed from maternal uncle to sororal nephew. Women could be chieftains, but usually only after their brothers were all expired. Most chiefdoms in the Southeast were matrilinear, but there were some exceptions like the Calusa and the Chitimacha.

I'm not really one for "competing schools of thought" or the supposedly deadly war between evolutionary psychology, boasian anthropology, and cultural evolution. But one can imagine some explanations for why patriarchal matrilinearity might arise. It might be an adaptation to marital infidelity and paternity uncertainty: Helen Rountree does say that Powhatan men supposedly did permit their wives extramarital affairs (1990:8). Or maybe it was a way to prevent succession disputes. A highly polygynous paramount chief might have many children in a short amount of time, but this wouldn't be a problem for his eldest sister. Or it might be a strategy for tribal identities to persist under the type of warfare conducted at the time. Take the Kecoughtans. Their chiefdom was conquered by Powhatan in 1596 or '7, and we can assume their men were all killed and their women captured and divvied up among the victors. Yet later in the 1600's, we see the Kecoughtan still existing as an ethnic identity—it's possible that their younger members were the children of captives who all inherited their mother's label? But really I don't know.


Terminology
One of the funner things about this topic are the special terms and titles for the chieftains of the various tribes. These terms are all derived from the respective Native languages, though they differ in how far they've penetrated into English usage. For most Algonquian groups covered here, the title for a chieftain was weroance (variants: werowance, wyroance, wirouns, herowan, cherounes, etc.). This word existed at least among the Powhatans of Virginia, the Piscataways of Maryland, and the Secotans of North Carolina, and was used by the English to refer to chieftains further abroad. The various spellings suggest to me that this word was phonetically pronounced wiróans [revision March '21: it now seems rather that it likely rhymed with "allowance"], and its Algonquian etymology has been given as either "he is rich" or "he is wise" (Gerard 1905, Tooker 1905)... but this analysis is far from certain.

A female weroance was called a weroansqua, this being the previous word accompanied by the common Algonquian root skwa meaning woman (the source of English "squaw"). The Powhatan paramount chieftain carried the special title of mamanatowick. The <manato> element in this word has encouraged some to propose that it means "he [who] possesses spiritual power [manitou]" or somesuch.

The word for a chieftain among the Piscataways was tayac. The Piscataways had a paramountcy similar to the Powhatans, but there doesn't seem to be agreement among my sources over whether "tayac" referred just to the paramount chief or if it could refer to regular chiefs as well. In either case, their regular chiefs were also called weroances, at least by the English. A related and much more obscure word is talleck (variants: tallach, tall!ak, etc., feminine form: tallakesk) used to refer to a chieftain of the Nanticokes. It is not encountered very often at all.

Another somewhat obscure title, used for chieftains of the Delaware and Assateague nations, is shackamaker. This was originally used to refer to leaders of the Delaware (also called Lenape) Indians, and it has a curious etymology. In Pidgin Delaware—the language used for communication between the Lenape and the Dutch—the word for chief was sa:kkí:ma (cognate with "sachem" and "sagamore"). The plural of this was sa:kki:má:ɔk, which was borrowed as a singular into Dutch and pluralized again into "shackamaker". That was then borrowed—again, as a singular—into English, where it is pluralized as "shackamakers". Thus the word "shackamakers" etymologically has three distinct plural suffixes from three separate languages.

Beyond the Algonquian sphere, there exists the word teethha (from Tuscarora: ratírher, feminine yetírher) for a chief of the Tuscarora, as well as hoonskey (feminine: hoosky incha, etymology unknown) for a chief of the Piedmont Siouans (Rudes 2003, DeMallie in HNAI). These were "chiefs" in the colloquial sense, though: neither the Tuscarora nor as far as I know the Piedmont Siouans possessed chiefdoms sensu Elman Service. These titles are also rarely used, especially the latter two.

In the old days, when not employing the various region-specific titles, it was not uncommon for Euro-Americans to refer to chiefs and paramount chiefs as "kings" and "emperors" respectively:

" The Piscataways and their associated tribes formed a loose federation. Individual "towns" were governed by chiefs called Tayacs. The early English settlers called these Tayacs "kings" and when they found that they recognized an overlord, there was nothing left but the absurdity of calling him "emperor". " (Ferguson & Ferguson, The Piscataway Indians of Southern Maryland. Paul Cissna (1986) reserves the term "tayac" exclusively to the emperor.)

This convention survived into the twentieth century. In 1914, when Frank Speck visited the expatriated Nanticoke tribe then residing in Canada, he found that they still referred to their own headman as the "emperor" when speaking in English (they also spoke Iroquoian, but the ancestral Nanticoke tongue had already died out) (Speck 1922). (More legitimate at least than Joshua Abraham Norton.) This practice, of calling Native chieftains "kings" and "emperors", is often seen as quaint by moderns and given the abhorrent scarequotes treatment, but in my opinion that's a little condescending toward both the whites and the Native Americans of the period. For instance, the hierarchy of the Greeks in the time of the Iliad has been likened to a paramount chiefdom moreso than a kingdom per se, with the βασιλεις as the chieftains and the ϝαναξ as their paramount. Yet who's going to insist that you call him "Chief Odysseus".


* * *

Part 1:
The Virginia-Maryland Coastal Plain
(Chesapeake Western Shore)

This area comprises the coastal plain both north and south of the Potomac River. The Potomac in 1600 formed a political border then as it does now: the Virginia side being occupied by the Powhatans, and the Maryland side being occupied by the Piscataways. The indigenous situation circa 1600 is clearer for this subregion than it is for others I talk about in this post series, due to the fact that Virginia is one of what I call the "primary contact zones" of European colonization. By that I mean it was settled by people from the mother country, rather than from a previously established colony. So we have pretty detailed descriptions of the region's Indian population written by the English settlers: men such as Captain John Smith and William Strachey. Smith in particular was an especially intrepid man—you could call him the first real "frontiersman"—and he explored the whole of the Chesapeake Bay in 1608, leaving a detailed account of the territory, including a map:


As for modern publications, two especially helpful maps are from Rountree ed. 1993 (left) and Clark & Rountree 1993 (right):

Scans from Hall & Chase-Dunn. A nearly identical map to the left one is also given in Rountree 1990.

From these sources and others that I've constructed the following map:

Additional sources: Potter 1993, Strickland et al. 2016, Barbour 1971, "Indians of Westmoreland County" [n.d.], Smith 1884[1612], Strachey 1849[1612]. Click for full size.

You might reasonably ask where the apparent detail of the squiggly borders comes from. Native American territories tended to be defined more by their centers than their edges, especially sedentary tribes like the coastal Algonquians. Helen Rountree, the doyenne of Virginia Indian history, writes that the movement of people in the coastal plain flowed along waterways much more than it did over land: the Powhatan were a canoeing people. Thus I've used the boundaries of river drainage basins as given by the detailed watershed maps on the U.S. Geological Survey website as the basis of many borders on my map. Tracing these borders required some interpretation on my part. The physical space apparently occupied by some chiefdoms doesn't quite proportionately match their population estimates given by Captain John Smith. Of course in reality most of these borders would have been fuzzy by their very nature. This kind of historical cartography is, uhh... it's not an exact science.

The south shore of the Rappahannock River presented some difficulty. At some point prior to the arrival of the English in 1607, the people living along this shore abandoned their homes and moved north to the opposite shore. E. Randolph Turner figures that this was a defensive maneuver which occurred during the time of the Powhatans' northern expansion (1993). This probably occurred before 1600, since it was said that Wahunsonacock conquered the Kecoughtans in 1596 or '7 and it was implied that this had been a more recent conquest. For my map I have made the assumption that the Rappahannock river chiefdoms still controlled the southern shore (rather than it being controlled by the north shore chiefdoms on the York) even if they didn't maintain settlements there.

At some point there probably also existed a chiefdom called Orapaks located along the Chickahominy River. According to Strachey's account (though not Smith's) Orapaks was one of the original chiefdoms that mamanatowick Wahunsonacock inherited when he came into power. By the time of the Jamestown writings the district was described as a "desert"—which in those days meant uninhabited. In 1609 it was reoccupied again when Wahunsonacock relocated his capital there—possibly in response to the English presence, possibly for some other reason—but I suspect that in 1600 it was still/already defunct as an operating chiefdom. On the above map, Orapaks corresponds to the western portion of Chickahominy territory.

The previous map only shows the chiefdoms of the Western Shore and doesn't specify how they were related to each other. A better representation would be to shift the resolution from chiefdom-level to paramountcy-level, which looks like so:

Click for full size.

As you can see, the Chickahominy and Chesepioc were still independent of the Powhatan at this time. The Chickahominy—who in point of fact were not a chiefdom, but a tribe governed by a council—were on friendly terms with Powhatan. Their distinct political structure might explain how they remained independent as long as they did, as they lacked any kind of chieftaincy with which to "slot into" the larger paramountcy. Nevertheless, the English presence shook things up sufficiently that they formally joined the Powhatans in 1616.

You may notice that "Powhatan" and "Piscataway" were the names of chiefdoms as well as paramountcies. In the case of Piscataway, that's because the Piscataway chiefdom proper was the dominant member of its paramount chiefdom. In the case of Powhatan it's a little more complicated—just be aware that the names have two meanings.

The Chesepioc were on less friendly terms with the Powhatan. (The Chesepioc are sometimes called the Chesapeake, but I prefer the spelling "Chesepioc" because it's more distinct from the name of the body of water.) Sometime around 1607—the exact date is a little disputed—they were attacked by the Powhatans, supposedly at the urging of Wahunsonacock's soothsayers. The nation and its people were destroyed "with a thoroughness unusual in Virginia Algonquian warfare": every man, woman, and child slain, their territory annexed to that of the neighboring Nansemonds (Rountree 1990:27).

Aside from the loss of life, the destruction of Chesepioc is further unfortunate because out of all the Native American groups then living in the Chesapeake, they were the ones most likely to have known what happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke. The Chesepioc were allies of the Carolina Algonquians, and certainly would have stayed abreast of events happening to the south (Rountree 1993b). They had even lodged John White and Thomas Harriot, two of the Lost Colony's leading men, over the winter of 1585-6.

I've chosen to depict the chiefdoms on the Potomac River southern shore as belonging to the Powhatan paramountcy. This is the classical orthodox view, but it is disputed by some. The chiefdoms here preserved a certain degree of independence, since their distance from the Powhatan heartland prevented them from being controlled too strictly. The Patawomecks especially were a real thorn in Wahunsonacock's side: it was they who conspired with the English to kidnap princess Pocahontas, and they were quick to break from Powhatan suzereinty entirely during the First Anglo-Powhatan War (Rountree 1993a). If the pots and sherds can be believed, the Patawomeck were more akin culturally to the Maryland chiefdoms north of the Potomac River, and may have formerly been members of a proto-Piscataway alliance (Potter 1993:150). This would have been an additional stress on their association with Powhatan (also remember that rivers were more often centers than borders of Indian territory). Thus, some writers such as Christian Feest have said that the Patawomeck were never even members of the Powhatan paramount chiefdom at all.

However, Helen Rountree makes the point that before the current era it was common for states to have a looser grip upon their territories far from the capital than they had on the core provinces. If this was true throughout the ages and the world, why would we assume an exception for precolonial America? Patawomeck may have exerted some degree of autonomy, she says, but that doesn't mean they weren't still members of the Powhatan paramountcy. I submit to her authority and expertise on this. Although, for the record, Moore 1993 disagrees.


Maryland Chiefdoms
The borders of the Piscataway are a bit of a snag. Apparently people used to believe that this paramountcy encompassed all the Western Shore Algonquians of Maryland—as indeed it may have, in days of yore:

" Originally, as claimed by the Piscataways, the "empire" may have been much larger, but by the beginning of Maryland settlement pressure from the Susquehannocks had reduced it to a belt bordering the Potomac south of the falls and extending up the principal tributaries. Roughly the "Empire" covered the southern half of present Prince Georges County and all, or nearly all, of Charles County. " (Ferguson & Ferguson 1960:11-12)

Ferguson & Ferguson (1960), Potter (1993), Cissna (1986), and Rountree & Clark (1993) all agree that in the early 1600's the Piscataway domain did not include the chiefdoms of the Patuxent River valley. Unfortunately, they don't entirely agree on the exact number, names, and locations of the Maryland chiefdoms. Potter (p20) names three autonomous chiefdoms in the Patuxent valley: the Aquintanack, Mattapanient, and Patuxent proper. Rountree & Clark list the aforementioned plus Assamacomoco in the Patuxent valley, and include Choptico and Yoacomaco within the larger "Patuxent Alliance". The Fergusons agree at least that the latter two chiefdoms were not Piscataway. Cissna, however, says that they were, with Yoacomaco being "a distant Piscataway satellite" (p148). Potter (p19) also extends the Tayac's domain to the tip of St. Mary's peninsula, though he seems to not acknowledge the chiefdom status of Choptico. My map uses Rountree & Clark as a basis, since they give the most informative map, but I place Choptico and Yoacomaco in the Piscataway paramountcy per Cissna and Potter.

Detail from previous maps.

The Doeg Indians (also called the Tauxenant) have a contested affiliation. In the classical orthodox view, they were seen as part of the Powhatan paramountcy (cf. Mooney 1907). High chief Wahunsonacock himself ascribed to this view, but he is not quite an impartial source—Lawrence Moore (1991) says that the paramount's claims were likely no more than empty boasting. Helen Rountree's delineation of Powhatan territory in Pocahontas's People (p3) would include the Doegs, but the body text itself doesn't seem to support that.

Another view is that the Doeg were in the Piscataway paramountcy. This is admittedly more plausible for the 1500s than for the 1600s, as like the Patawomeck they may have been among the proto-Piscataways (Potter 1993:150). It seems to me that the position of the Doeg with respect to the Piscataway was similar to the position of the Chickahominy with respect to the Powhatan. Like the Chickahominy, the Doeg were not a chiefdom sensu Elman Service, but were a tribe—though one built more along the headman model than the little mini-republic of the Chickahominy. Furthermore, Moore (1993) suggests that the Doeg may have been Siouans rather than Algonquians. Their tribal organization certainly would be evidence in favor of this, as would the statement by John Lederer that the "Tacci alias Dogi" formerly inhabited the Piedmont (Lederer 1912[1672]:141). So then if the Doeg had been culturally and politically more similar to the [other] members of the Piscataway paramountcy, it would be more clear that they lay under that jurisdiction.

Nevertheless, on my map I have made the Doeg to be part of the Piscataway. I base this on the following from Paul Cissna:

" I believe the evidence does indicate that the Tauxenent may have been part of [the Piscataway] chiefdom. This is admittedly at odds with the findings of researchers studying the Powhatan, most if not all of whom view the Tauxenent as part of the Powhatan [...] It is not, however, at odds with the perspective of a lessening of centralized control as geographic distance from the core increases. " (Paul Cissna, The Piscataway Indians of Southern Maryland 1986:111-2)

The last sentence sounds similar to Helen Rountree's defense of placing the Patawomeck among the Powhatan. So with apologies to Lawrence Moore and the rest, I have placed the Doeg among the Piscataway, for the sake of consistency if nothing else.

* * *

The Accomac and Occohannock chiefdoms at the southern end of Delmarva Peninsula were part of the Powhatan paramount chiefdom, but that is the topic for part 2. Also, the Nottoway were located mainly in Virginia, but it makes more sense for me to talk about them alongside their fellow Iroquoians, which will be in part 3.


(Thank you to Dr. Ives Goddard for help with the etymology of "shackamaker", and to Mii Dash Geget for various comments on Algonquian linguistics.)


Sources

Philip L. Barbour, "The Earliest Reconnaissance of the Chesapeake Bay Area: Captain John Smith's Map and Indian Vocabulary". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography Vol 80 No 1, 1972.
Paul Byron Cissna, The Piscataway Indians of Southern Maryland. PhD dissertation, The American University, 1986.
Wayne E. Clark and Helen C. Rountree, "The Powhatans and the Maryland mainland". In Powhatan Foreign Relations ed. Helen C. Rountree 1993.
Raymond J. DeMallie, "Tutelo and Neighboring Groups". Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 14: Southeast, 2004.
Alice L. L. Ferguson & Henry G. Ferguson, The Piscataway Indians of Southern Maryland, 1960.
Anthony M. Foyle, Quaternary Seismic Stratigraphy of the Inner Shelf and Coastal Zone, Southern Delmarva Peninsula, Virginia, 1994.
William R. Gerard, "Some Virginia Indian Words". American Anthropologist Vol 7 No 2, 1905.
John Lederer, The Discoveries of John Lederer. In The First Explorations of the Trans-Allegheny Region by the Virginians 1650-1674, ed. Clarence Walworth Alvord & Lee Bidgood, 1912.
James Mooney, "The Powhatan Confederacy, Past and Present". American Anthropologist Vol 9 No 1, 1907.
Lawrence ["Larry"] E. Moore, "A Little History of the Doeg". Quarterly Bulletin of the Archeological Society of Virginia Vol 46 No 2, 1991.
"Piscataway, Doeg, and the Potomac Creek Complex". Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology Vol 9, 1993.
[n.a.] "Indians of Westmoreland County", n.d.
Stephen R. Potter, Commoners, Tribute, and Chiefs, 1993.
Helen C. Rountree, Pocahontas's People, 1990.
"Who were the Powhatans and did they have a unified "foreign policy"?". In Powhatan Foreign Relations ed. Helen C. Rountree 1993.
"The Powhatans and other Woodland Indians as travelers". In Powhatan Foreign Relations ed. Helen C. Rountree 1993.
Blair A. Rudes, "The First Description of an Iroquoian People: Spaniards among the Tuscaroras before 1522", 2003.
Elman Service, Primitive Social Organization, 1962.
Captain John Smith, A Map of Virginia. VVith a Description of the Countrey, the Commodities, People, Government and Religion (1612). In Capt. John Smith, Works, ed. Edward Arber, 1884.
F. G. Speck, Indians of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, 1922.
William Strachey, The Historie of Travaile into Virginia Britannia (1612), ed. R. H. Major, 1849.
Scott M. Strickland, et al., Defining the Rappahannock Indigenous Cultural Landscape, 2016.
William Wallace Tooker, "Some Powhatan Names". American Anthropologist Vol 6 No 5, 1904.
E. Randolph Turner, III, "Native American protohistoric interactions in the Powhatan core area". In Powhatan Foreign Relations ed. Helen C. Rountree 1993.