Chaunis Temoatan

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Chaunis Temoatan (Chaun-istem-oatan, ‘salt-making village’. Topker). A country situated, in 1586, indefinitely westward from the English settlement on Roanoke Island, N. C. Ralph Lane, from misinterpreted Indian information, believed it to have been a copper-producing region, and that it was situated “vp that riuer Moratoc [Roanoke],” 20 days journey overland from the Mangoaks (Nottoway), who then dwelt about 160 m. above the Roanoke settlement. Lane’s version of the Indian report shows that the Indians referred to salt making rather than copper mining. By Bozman, Bancroft, and others, this Indian report, as given by Lane, has been regarded as a fiction devised by a crafty Indian to lure the English to destruction; but Reynolds says that N. Georgia “corresponds as nearly as possible to the province of Chaunis Temoatan, described by distance and direction in Lane’s account,” while Tooker places it in the vicinity of Shawneetown, Gallatin Co., Ill. In view of what Lane said of the Moratoc r. itself, the Indians probably referred to salt springs of the Kanawha and Little Kanawha valleys of West Virginia, or in the slopes and foothills of the Blue Ridge and Cumberland mts. “And for that not only Menatonon,” says Lane, “but also the sauages of Moratoc themselves doe report strange things of the head of that riuer, and that from Moratoc itself, which is a principal towne upon that River, it is thirtie dayes as some of them say, and some say fourtie dayes voyage to the head thereof, which head they say springeth out of a maine rocke in that abundance; that forthwith it maketh a most violent stream; and further, that this huge rock standeth so neere unto a sea, that many times in stormes (the winds coming outwardly from the sea) the waves thereof are beaten into the said fresh streame, so that the fresh water for a certaine space, groweth salt and brackish.” From this it would appear that even the sources of the Roanoke were reputed to be 30 or 40 days journey from Moratoc town.

Consult Lane in Hakluyt, Voy., in, 1810. Reynolds in Am. Anthrop., I, Oct., 1888; Tooker in Am. Antiq., Jan., 1895.

MLA Source Citation:

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906. Web. 21 January 2015. - Last updated on Oct 4th, 2013


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