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Nahyssan Indians

Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Native American,Virginia | No Comments

Nahyssan Tribe: A contraction of Monahassano or Monahassanugh, remembered in later times as Yesan.

Nahyssan Connections. The Nahyssan belonged to the Siouan linguistic stock, their nearest relatives being the Tutelo, Saponi, and probably the Monacan and Manahoac.

Nahyssan Location. The oldest known location of the Nahyssan has been identified by D. I. Bushnell, Jr. (1930), within very narrow limits as “probably on the left bank of the James, about 1½ miles up the stream from Wingina, in Nelson County.”

Nahyssan History. In 1650 Blande and his companions noted a site, 12 miles south-southwest of the present Petersburg, called “Manks Nessoneicks” which was presumably occupied for a time by the Nahyssan or a part of them, since “Manks” may be intended for “Tanks,” the Powhatan adjective signifying “little.” In 1654 or 1656 this tribe and the Manahoac appeared at the falls of James River having perhaps been driven from their former homes by the Susquehanna. They defeated a force of colonials and Powhatan Indians sent against them but did not advance further into the settlements. In 1670 Lederer (1912) found two Indian towns on Staunton River, one of which he calls Sapon and the other Pintahae. Sapon was, of course, the town of the Saponi but it is believed that Pintahae was the town of the Nahyssan Indians, though Lederer gives this name to both towns. Pintahae was probably the Hanathaskie or Hanahaskie town of which Batts and Fallam (1912) speak a year later. About 1675 the Nahyssan settled on an island below the Occaneechi at the junction of the Staunton and Dan Rivers. Before 1701 all of the Siouan tribes who had settled in this neighborhood moved into North Carolina, and it is thought that the Nahyssan followed the Saponi and Tutelo to the headwaters of the Yadkin and that their subsequent fortunes were identical with those of these two. (See Saponi Indians and Tutelo Indians.)

Nahyssan Population. (See Saponi Indians and Tutelo Indians.)


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