In Early Maps of Virginia, West Was at the Top

Posted by Jean-Yves on Aug 2, 2018
 

Captain John Smith is perhaps best known for his (possibly fictional) encounter with Pocahontas. Whatever the true nature of that meeting was, the British explorer distilled his explorations and meetings with the indigenous people of what is now Virginia into a remarkable map that defined European impressions of the region for the majority of the 1600s.

Widely considered a masterpiece, Smith’s map is dominated by artistic renditions of the indigenous people of the region, especially Powhatan, the powerful leader of at least 30 Algonquin-speaking tribes in the Chesapeake Bay area, including the Potomac, the Chesapeake, the Mattaponi, and the Secacawoni. On Smith’s map, Powhatan is the name of a man, a region, and the river that European settlers would rename the James.

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1 comment

I didn’t know there were 30 Algonquin-speaking tribes. I descend from the Micmac Tribe of the Algonquin Nation. One Native American maiden was married to Charles de St. Etienne de la Tour and I have never been able to find her parents, nor of the ancestry of another Maiden/French connection.


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