Manahoac Indians

Manahoac Tribe: Meaning “They are very merry,” according to Tooker (1895), but this seems improbable. Also called:
Mahocks, apparently a shortened form.

Manahoac Connections. The Manaboac belonged to the Siouan linguistic family; their nearest connections were probably the Monacan, Moneton, and Tutelo.

Manahoac Location. In northern Virginia between the falls of the rivers and the mountains east and west and the Potomac and North Anna Rivers north and south.

Manahoac Subdivisions. Subtribes or tribes of the confederacy as far as known were the following:

  • Hassinunga, on the headwaters of the Rappahannock River.
  • Manahoac proper, according to Jefferson (1801), in Stafford and Spottsylvania Counties.
  • Ontponea, in Orange County.
  • Shackaconia, on the south bank of the Rappahannock River in Spottsylvania County.
  • Stegaraki, on the Rapidan River in Orange County.
  • Tanxnitania, on the north side of the upper Rappahannock River in Fauquier County.
  • Tegninateo, in Culpeper County, at the head of the Rappahannock River.
  • Whonkentia, in Fauquier County, near the head of the Rappahannock.

Manahoac Villages: Mahaskahod, on the Rappahannock River, probably near Fredericksburg, is the only town known by name.

Manahoac History. Traditional evidence points to an early home of the Manahoac people in the Ohio Valley. In 1608 John Smith discovered them in the location above given and learned that they with the Monacan but at war with the Powhatan Indians and the Iroquois (or perhaps rather the Susquehanna). After this they suddenly vanish from history under a certainly recognizable name, but there is good reason to believe that they were one of those tribes which settled near the falls of the James River in 1654 or 1656 and defeated a combined force of Whites and coast Indians who had been sent against them. They seem to have been forced out of their old country by the Susquehanna. Probably they remained for a time in the neighborhood of the Monacan proper and were in fact the Mahock encountered by Lederer (1912) in 1670 at a point on James River which Bushnell seems to have identified with the site of the old Massinacack town, the fact that a stream entering the James at this point is called the Mohawk rendering his case rather strong. Perhaps the old inhabitants had withdrawn to the lower Monacan town, Mowhemencho. In 1700 the Stegaraki were located by Governor Spotswood of Virginia at Fort Christanna, and the Mepontsky, also placed there, may have been the Ontponea. We hear of the former as late as 1723, and there is good reason to believe that they united with the Tutelo and Saponi and followed their fortunes, and that under these two names were included all remnants of the Manahoac.

Manahoac Population. Mooney (1928) estimates that there were 1,500 Manahoac in 1600 but this is probably rather too high, since their numbers and those of the Tutelo together seem to have been 600-700 in 1654. However, it is possible that these figures cover only the Manahoac, while Mooney’s include part of the Saponi and Tutelo.

Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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