Powhatan Tribes of Virginia

Speck, Frank Gouldsmith. Chapters on the ethnology of the Powhatan tribes of Virginia. Indian Notes and Monographs, vol. 1, num. 5, pp. 225-455. Editor: Hodge, F. W. Heye Foundation, Museum of the American Indian. 1928.

Ethnology of the Powhatan Tribes of Virginia

In the Ethnology of the Powhatan Tribes Frank Speck completed the third of a series of monographs dealing with the modern cultural life of communities of descendants tracing their origin from the tribes inhabiting the Chesapeake tidewater area. The future student of American folk-communities of Indian descent will find here new tribes with new trait-complexes to analyze and interpret. These contributions represent some culture aspects of the humble groups who were at the time of writing of this paper, at a climax and turning point in their history. Replete with over 100 photographs and maps, and at least that many surnames, this paper proves its value to both the historic researcher and the genealogist.

Powhatan Pottery

First let us look over the material from the Virginia tidewater area. Everywhere here from the southern boundary of Virginia by actual observation, north-ward even through the Delaware valley, the pot-sherds are almost identical in material, decoration and color. Holmes has appropriately called the ceramics of the tidewater “the Algonquian type.” On the Pamunkey, Mattaponi, Rappahannock, James, and Chickahominy rivers it is all the same, the rims, decorations, and ingredients being practically uniform within a certain range of variation.

Powhatan Canoes

The means provided by the Powhatan tribes for transporting themselves about in their marshy wastes was the dugout canoe. This article describes these canoes, their method of manufacture, and provides pictures of them and their paddles.

Pamunkey Hunting Grounds

Perhaps the most striking feature of all in the natural history of the modern Pamunkey comes before us in the survival of the controlled hunting and trapping rights: the custom by which each hunter in the band controls an assigned and definitely bounded area within which he enjoys the exclusive privilege of setting his traps for fur-bearing animals.

Legal Status of the Pamunkey Tribe

The Pamunkey, with a resident population of little more than a hundred, still preserve their national independence under the privileges accorded them by the State of Virginia almost two and a half centuries ago. They enjoy the unique distinction of being in all likelihood the smallest independent nation in the world. Pollard’s synopsis of the …

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Potomac Tribe

A small group of families, whose names are mostly Newton and Green (figs. 40, 41), represent what may be the Indians who are recorded to Potomac creek, an affluent of about eight miles north of Fredericksburg in Stafford County, Virginia. We have not, however, clear proof that these descendants are actually of Potomac identity, although …

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Nansemond Tribe

A brief history of the Nansemond Indians who resided at Portsmouth, Bowers Hill, and in general about Dismal Swamp, Virginia. Includes last names of living descendants.

Adamstown Indians or Upper Mattaponi Band

One of the most important of the hitherto little known and unrecognized bands resides below Aylett’s landing, south of Mattaponi River, about a mile inland. The district is called Adamstown from the large number of the Adams family (fig. 20, a). They are citizens and have independent holdings near a large swamp which harbors considerable …

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