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Virginia 1607 - The Indian Society and its Encounters with the early English colony of Jamestown. 

This web site describes the highlights of English - Indian encounters during the early days of Jamestown through paintings and writings  taken from the period - and this author's own interpretive notes of course. 

Imagine, if you will, getting in a time machine and going back 400 years in south eastern Virginia.  What is now country roads, super highways and small towns is replaced by small Algonquin Indian villages having a complex culture of kings and queens, with their own hand made and intricate technologies for housing, transportation, nutrition and warring. Browse on and you will be fascinated ! 

President of the Jamestown colony 1608-1609. Paramount Chief of the Indian nations of Virginia at the time of first English contact in 1607.
John Smith

These two men created a great historical story.. and also created a modern mythology.   We have found the history to be much more engaging than the mythology, to provide a glimpse into the true story is the purpose of this web site.
Powhatan
 

FORMAT: 

  • Excerpts from original source documents of the 1600s in Antiqua font.
  • Excerpts from modern source documents in the site standard font.
  • The web master's interpretive commentary on the historical documents in green color. 

 Principal Source Documents:   Material for this web site has been derived from only a few, but very authoritative sources.  An effort has been made to reference passages taken from these sources when they appear on the site.  

  • The web site:  Virtual Jamestown   Many interactive links are available on this site, one of which is given below.  Some of the illustrations were derived from this web site.

  • John Smith's Chesapeake Voyages 1607-1609;  Helen Roundtree, Wayne E Clark, and Kent Mountford 2007.  An amazing synthesis of the work of hundreds of historians, archeologists, anthropologists, and geologists.  This is certainly one of  Helen Roundtree's greatest works.  She is considered the foremost authority on the Native Virginians.

  • Narratives of Early Virginia;  Tyler, Lyon Gardiner, 1853-1935  (volume editor and former president of the University of Virginia )   - This reference contains accurate reproductions of John Smith's True Relation, the Proceeding of the Virginia Company, and many other valuable documents from the first days of Jamestown.

  • Jamestown Narratives: Eyewitness Accounts of the Virginia Colony; The First Decade 1607-1617.  Edited with Commentary by Edward Wright Haile.  Narratives and letters from dozens of writers from this period.  Similar content to the Narratives of Early Virginia, but many more authors are represented. 

  • Historical Interpreters and Interns of the Jamestown museum.  Several members of the staff of the Jamestown museum have been enrolled to add their particular insights to this presentation.  Their commentary can be found on the menu as subpages of their topic of interest.  These persons are students of history and anthropology and are fully engaged in the story of the first colony.  Their insights and stories are much appreciated and add significantly to the gestalt of this presentation.   ( .. coming soon )
Links of special interest.
  • John Smith's original map of the Chesapeake Bay  ( page on VirtualJamestown.org )

  • John Smith's Chesapeake voyages .  After you click this link, click the "Voyages" link on the top right of the page.  You will see links to Voyage1 and Voyage2.  Click each and you will see the movement of Smith's boat around the bay in scaled time.  If you are a person of English heritage, this is a must see !!
     
  • historyisfun.org    Web site for the Jamestown / Yorktown Foundation and presents the many extraordinary activities and exhibits available at this "living history" museum.
     
  • Internet Archive for the Narratives of Early Virginia.  Complete online version . 

 

This period of history is relevant to modern Americans for a number of compelling reasons.

  • Jamestown was the 1st successful English colony established in the "New World"

  • John Smith and many other of the colonists wrote detailed first hand accounts of the people and events that were occurring during that time.  They created maps of the area and paintings of the people.

  • The writings of the early colonists in conjunction with the site work of modern archeologists provides significant anthropological insight  into the Algonquin speaking Native American Woodland culture of that time, this culture evolved from the surviving peoples of the last Ice Age.

  • The foundation of modern democracy began here, with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson being primary motivators of this modern ideal, both these men were products of the Virginia society that evolved from Jamestown.


 Anthropological Relevance

Of course the writings and documents from the Jamestown colony are important historical documents.   However, they are important as anthropological documents as well.  

 A major interest of Anthropology has been to study societies that are NOT influenced by the the modern world as we know it.  The idea is that we can learn much about the human being by studying cultures that have evolved independently.  Insight is gained precisely because the context is the society is so very different from our own.    For this reason, anthropologists will live with remote indian tribes deep in the Amazon or in Africa so they can write authoritatively about their culture.  

The natives encountered by the English colonists had been living in area of the Chesapeake Bay for probably 12,000 years.   Although their numbers were small, and they only had primitive technologies, they had been evolving cuturally for this entire period in a region of abundant resources.  

John Smith, the Virginia Company, and other authors wrote volumously describing the native culture in considerable detail. 

Careful review of these early documents about their world shows a people who had reached a very sophisticated level of social development.   Their poltical, religious, and nutritional systems were very highly evolved.   The main purpose of this web site is to give the highlights of these as revealed in the source documents.

 

 

  Engravings and Paintings from the period.     CLICK here for a full collection of painting and engravings of the Virginia Indians produced ca1600.    ( page on VirtualJamestown.org )

Village

A engraving of an Algonquin  village with a pallisade for protection.  This pallisade is shown as open so as to view the interior.  An actual pallisade would have had a bark material between the posts to block attacks of arrows. 

Dance Circle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dance Circle: Common ritual conducted by the native priests.



 
 
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