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The Occaneechi Indians

The history of the Occaneechi is so closely interwoven with that of the Saponi and Tutelo that little remains to be said of them as a distinct tribe. Their history begins with Lederer’s journey in 1670. After leaving the Saponi, who lived then, as has been stated, on a tributary of the Staunton, he went, as he says, about 50 miles south by west of the Saponi village and thus arrived next at the “Akenatzy” village (Latin pronunciation), situated on an island in another branch of Roanoke river. His estimate of the distance is too great, as usual, and the direction was rather east than west of south of the Saponi. There can be no question of the location of the Occaneechi village, as the island retained the name long after the tribe had abandoned it. It was on the middle and largest island, just below the confluence of the Staunton and the Dan, and just above the present Clarksville, Mecklenburg County, Virginia. He described the island as small, though having a large population, well protected by natural defenses of a swift river current on all sides, with mountains or high hills round about. The fields of the Indians were on the northern bank of the river, and they raised immense crops of corn, having always on hand a year’s supply of provisions as a reserve in case of attack by hostile tribes. They were governed by two chiefs, one presiding in war, the other having charge of their hunting and agriculture. They held all property in common. Ceremonial feasting was an important feature of their daily life, each...

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