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Nottaway Indians

Nottaway Tribe: Meaning “adders,” in the language of their Algonquian neighbors, a common designation for alien tribes by peoples of that linguistic stock. Also called:

  • Cheroenhaka, their own name, probably signifying “fork of a stream.”
  • Mangoak, Mengwe, another Algonquian term, signifying “stealthy,” “treacherous.”

Nottaway Connections. The Nottaway belonged to the Iroquoian linguistic family, their closest connections probably being the Meherrin, Tuscarora, and Susquehanna.

Nottaway Location. On the river of the same name in southeastern Virginia.

Nottaway History. The Nottaway were found by the Virginia colonists in the location given above. Though they were never prominent in colonial history, they kept up their organization long after the other tribes of the region were practically extinct. In 1825 they are mentioned as living on a reservation in Southampton County and ruled over by a “queen.” The name of this tribe was also applied to a band of Indians which appeared on the northern frontiers of South Carolina between 1748 and 1754. They may have included those Susquehanna who are sometimes confounded with the Meherrin, and are more likely to have included Meherrin than true Nottaway although they retained the name of the latter (see Swanton, 1946).

Nottaway Population. The number of Nottaway, exclusive of those last mentioned, was estimated by Mooney (1928) at 1,500 in the year 1600. In 1709 Lawson reported one town with 30 fighting men, but in 1827 Byrd estimated that there were 300 Nottaway in Virginia. In 1825, 47 were reported. The band that made its appearance on the frontiers of South Carolina was said to number about 300.

Connection in which they have become noted. The name of the Nottaway is preserved by Nottoway River, Nottoway County, and two towns, one the county seat of the above, the other in Sussex county. There is a Nottawa in St. Joseph County, Mich.

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