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Machapunga Indians

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Machapunga Tribe: Said to mean “bad dust,” or “much dirt,” in the native Algonquian language.

Machapunga Connections. The Machapunga belonged to the Algonquian linguistic stock.

Machapunga Location. In the present Hyde County and probably also in Washington, Tyrrell and Dare Counties, and part of Beaufort.

Machapunga Villages. The only village named is Mattamuskeet (probably on Mattamuskeet Lake in Hyde County). However, we should probably add Secotan on the north bank of Pamlico River in Beaufort County, and perhaps the town of the Bear River Indians.

Machapunga History. The Machapunga seem to have embraced the larger part of the descendants of the Secotan, who lived between Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds when the Raleigh colony was established on Roanoke Island (1585-86) though the Pamlico may also have been included under the same head. They were reduced to a single village by 1701, took part with other Indian tribes of the region in the Tuscarora War, and at its close were settled on Mattamuskeet Lake with the Coree. In 1761 a small number were still living in North Carolina, evidently at the same place, and the Rev. Alex. Stewart reported that he had baptized seven Indian and mixed-blood children belonging to the “Attamuskeet, Hatteras, and Roanoke.” On a second visit 2 years later he baptized 21 more.

Machapunga Population. The Machapunga are estimated by Mooney (1928) to have numbered 1,200, including some smaller tribes, in 1600. In 1701 Lawson gives 30 warriors, probably less than 100 souls (Lawson, 1860). In 1775 there were said to be 8 to 10 on the mainland and as many more on the off-shore banks. In 1761 the number of warriors was only 7 or 8. The Bear River Indians may have combined with these.

Connection in which they have become noted. In the form Machipongo, the name is applied to a post village in Northampton County, Va.


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