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Monacan Indians

Monacan Tribe: Possibly from an Algonquian word signifying “digging stick,” or “spade,” but more likely from their own language. Also called: Rahowacah, by Archer, 1607, in Smith (1884). Monacan Connections. The Monacan belonged to the Siouan linguistic stock. Their nearest connections were the Manahoac, Tutelo, and Saponi. Monacan Location. On the upper waters of James River above the falls at Richmond. Monacan Villages (Locations as determined by D. I. Bushnell, Jr.) Massinacack, on the right bank of James River about the mouth of Mohawk Creek, and a mile or more south of Goochland. Mohemencho, later called Monacan Town, on the south bank of James River and probably covering some of “the level area bordering the stream in the extreme eastern part of the present Powhatan County, between Bernards Creek on the east and Jones Creek on the west.” Rassawek, at the confluence of the James and Rivanna Rivers and probably “on the right bank of the Rivanna, within the angle formed by the two streams.” Two other towns are sometimes added but as they afterward appeared as wholly independent tribes, the Saponi and the Tutelo, it is probable that their connection with the Monacan was never very intimate. They seem to have been classed as Monacan largely on the evidence furnished by Smith’s map, in which they appear in the country of the “Monacans” but Smith’s topography, as Bushnell has shown, was very much foreshortened toward the mountains and the Saponi and Tutelo towns were farther away than he supposed. Again, while Massinacack and Mohemencho are specifically referred to as Monacan towns and Smith calls Rassawek “the chief habitation”...

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