Pamunkey Tribe History

Captola Cook, Pamunkey

Of the remnant tribes in Virginia, the Pamunkey have long formed the social backbone. They have retained their internal government, their social tradition and geographical position as the people of Powhatan.



Pamunkey Government and Tribal Laws

In government the tribe is a true democracy over which however the State of Virginia exercises a kindly supervision. The State appoints five trustees to look after the interest of the Indians. No reports of these trustees could be found on file at the office of the governor of Virginia and their only function that



Language of the Pamunkey

One visiting Indian town at the present day would not find a vestige of the Pamunkey language even in the names of persons or things. In 1844 Rev. E. A. Dalrymple collected the following seventeen words1 which so far as the writer can ascertain are all that remain of the language of the Pamunkey Indians



Pamunkey Indians of Virginia

1910 photo of Pamunkey Indians re-enacting the story of Pocahontas.

The Pilgrim Fathers of New England, the Dutch traders and merchants of Manhattan island and the Hudson, the Quaker colonists of Pennsylvania, the Jesuit missionaries and Cavalier grantees of Maryland and Virginia, all encountered the native tribes and confederacies of this great stock. This collection looks at the past history of the Pamunkey Indians of Virginia up until the 20th century.



Early History of the Pamunkey Indians

At the time of the settlement of Jamestown, in 1607, that region lying in Virginia between Potomac and James rivers was occupied by three great Indian confederacies, each of which derived its name from one of its leading tribes. They were: (1) The Mannahoac, who lived on the head waters of Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers;



Present Home of Pamunkey Indians

The Pamunkey Indians of today live at what is known as “Indian-town” which is situated on and comprises the whole of a curiously-shaped neck of land, extending into Pamunkey River and adjoining King William County, Virginia, on the south. The “town,” as it is somewhat improperly called, forms a very small part of their original



How the Pamunkey Indians Live

The Pamunkey Indians make their living for the most part in true aboriginal style. Their chief occupations are hunting and fishing and although they do not neglect their truck patches they cherish a hearty dislike for manual labor and frequently hire negroes to come in and work their little farms. The deer the raccoon the



Art of the Pamunkey Indians

In 1891 the writer was sent by the Smithsonian Institution to visit the Pamunkey Indians and make a collection of specimens of their arts. Few articles could be found which were distinctively Indian productions. Of their aboriginal arts none are now retained by them except that of making earthenware and “dug-out” canoes. Until recent years



Characteristics of Pamunkey Indians

No member of the Pamunkey tribe is of full Indian blood. While the copper- colored skin and the straight, coarse hair of the aboriginal American show decidedly in some individuals, there are others whose Indian origin would not be detected by the ordinary observer. There has been considerable intermixture of white blood in the tribe,



Black-Indian History

The first black slaves were introduced into the New World (1501-03) ostensibly to labor in the place of the Indians, who showed themselves ill-suited to enforced tasks and moreover were being exterminated in the Spanish colonies. The Indian-black inter-mixture has proceeded on a larger scale in South America, but not a little has also taken



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