Natives in the Landscape: Images and Documents of Seventeenth Century Virginia Indians
Compiled by Buck Woodard
1) Powhatan's Mantle
This item is constructed of four deerskins measuring a total of 7ft. 8 1/2 in. x 5ft. 3in. The embroidery is constructed of sewn Marginella shells in several configurations. There are 34 disc shapes surrounding two animals and one central human figure. The animals appear to be that of a cougar and a deer. The top of the piece has a V-shaped opening, but it is supposed by scholars that this item was not worn, but rather hung in a temple or palatial interior. Documented by at least 1634.
Two early bows constructed of probably mulberry. Both bows have rounded tapering limbs from the center of the handle area, although no clear designation for the handle is indicated. In a sense, the handle area is a "working" portion of the limb. One bow measures 68 1/2 in. long, at a maximum of 1 11/16 in. at the handle thickness. At that point, a cluster of five dots is present on the back of the bow. The belly is less severe in cross section, giving a rounded appearance to the bow from the archer's point of view. The second bow measures 67 in. lengthwise, and appears to be more elliptical in the center cross section. Both bows are notched with a corner cut peg at the uppers; while one bow mimics that construction for the bottom; the other has a simple side notch from the tapered end. Collected in 1665 in the Virginia Colony.
Two arrows of an unknown date from the Powhatan. One arrow is a "blunt" from a hardwood shoot, fletched with two turkey feathers. Shallow grooves are cut in the shaft, in which the feathers have been glued and sinew wrapped. The notch has been cut parallel to the fletching. The other arrow is from split hickory. In this case, there is a broad woodenhead left on the arrow as the shaft was reduced. The fletching is glued in grooves, with the nock being cut parallel to the feathers. The tip of the arrow shaft is dyed green beneath the head. The both arrows measure 28 1/2 in. While there is no date associated with these arrow's construction, the technology is indicative of long standing archery traditions in the Mid Atlantic, especially where cane is not present.
Deer hide quiver of an unknown date. Hair side out, tail tide to bottom, buckskin strap with overhand knot. Total strap length is 26 in. The quiver is 18 1/2 in. long with a 8" circumference. Probably collected in the late 19th century / early 20th century, this quiver is similar to ones depicted in early engravings of Powhatan warriors.
The bag was constructed by folding a long piece of deerskin and sewing the mid section together. After which, the ends were cut into strips. An additional piece of leather was inserted into the long tube to form a bottom. Shells beads were sewn between the strips, forming an embroidered weft and the created flaps were triangle shaped at the ends. This bag was worn over a belt, as early engravings indicate was the custom. This item is 2 ft. 6 1/2 in. by 4 1/3 in. The bag was collected during the mid seventeenth-century from the Virginia Colony.
Series of bone hairpins from a variety of Late Woodland / Contact village sites. All have been carved and altered in preparation for use in personal adornment. One from 44VB7 has a series of joining diamond patterns; another piece from the piedmont of Virginia has been heavily carved and polished to a sheen.
A collection of bone adornment items from a seventeenth-century contact period site near Radford Virginia. Articles include polished bird bone and carved / polished bone beads, squirrel jaw pendant, raptor beak pendants, scapula pendants, drilled mammal canines, and carved tabs.
A collection of bone and antler tools from a seventeenth-century contact period site near Radford Virginia. Shown are a deer cannon bone "beamer" for fleshing hides, a turtle shell cup, bone fish hooks, awls, and beads, a bone set quartz blade, antler projectile points, and a large antler tool (hoe, adze, or scraper).
Native copper was a prized commodity of the Tidewater region during the Late Woodland period. These examples of copper pendants come from a coastal village where controlled trade was important to the exchange of resources denoting cultural status.
A sample of the type of copper adornments excavated at the Trigg site are indicative of Native produced copper found throughout the Virginias during the Late Woodland. Large and small tube beads, tab pendants, trinkets, and geometric pendants or gorgets dominate the copper artifacts from this period.
Different types of shell beads were produced throughout the Chesapeake region prior, during, and after the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. Grouped by types, the beads are known variously as A) Moons, B) Peak, C) Roanoke (also called Wampum, stubbier ones were also called Runtees), D) Hairpipe Tube.
Strung shell beads were very common until colonial times in Virginia. Strands of peak were used mostly as adornment, but later as monetary elements during the Colonial period. Values of commodities were loosely established and could be traded based on lengths of peak or roanoke.
An example of peak, runtee, and hair pipe beads strung on a necklace thought to have belonged to a shaman. Beads were laboriously produced and traded to compliment personal adornment throughout the Virginias at the time of contact.
A rare example of a "maskette" found within the Patowomeke territory, in Stafford County, Virginia. Several other examples have been found, made from the exterior of whelk or conch shells. These masks are smaller than life-size, and are of a ceremonial nature. They usually are highly polished and carved to imitate faces with eyes, mouths, ears, etc. Other examples are found throughout the Southeast with similar markings, such as the "weeping eye" motif as found with this piece.
This mass of shell beads found in the Piedmont of Virginia is an example of the predominant shell bead type for the region. Slightly thicker than peak, these beads were strung together to create a larger necklace. Similar constructions could be made using these beads for embroidery.
A series of shell pendants common during the Late Woodland. Often referred to as "moons" by later Colonial traders, the shapes vary from circular to elongated triangles.
A sample of the type of smoking utensils found during the earliest contact and post contact periods in Virginia. The upper image is of "tube" pipe of ceramic material, the middle of another clay "bowl" pipe that early Europeans emulate to make the caolin pipes, and the third of a steatite (stone) pipe. All examples found within the Patowomack territory in coastal Virginia.
Examples of finely crafted steatite pipes. The one to the left is a platform pipe with several holes for the addition of a reed stem; the other two the stems are of stone and have flared bowl heads. All three are from a seventeenth-century contact period Nottoway context.
A series of stone gorgets or pendants, drilled for suspension. All examples have been damaged, however their roughly rectangular shape can be discerned. These examples come from a seventeenth-century contact period Nottoway context.
A rare example of a European trade item reproduced in Native material. This pipe is constructed to mimic the metal trade pipe tomahawks exchanged with Native populations beginning in the seventeenth-century. Unearthed in James City Co., Virginia, this item has been carved from steatite and was found in a European context.
A collection of reconstructed vessels and large fragments of ceramic wares. Shell and sand tempered clay bodies are predominant with examples of simple stamp, fabric, and cord paddle marks. Referred to as Roanoke, Townsend, and Gaston Wares.
Typical of ceramics found at Indian settlements during the time of first European settlement.
A sample of reconstructed and fragmentary ceramic wares referred to as Colono-Ware. These examples come from King William Co., produced by American Indians during the later period of English Colonial occupation. The wares were documented as being sold at the market in Williamsburg during the late seventeenth-century.
A collection of European glass beads uncovered at a Late Woodland to Contact Period site near Radford Virginia. These seventeenth-century examples of trade into the interior of Virginia document the variety of ways in which contact with Native communities spread through the region. While person-to-person contact may not have occurred, trade commodities from other Native groups had spread from Virginia's English settlers to the interior by the mid to late seventeenth-century.
Badges presented to Indian leaders during the time of the 1677 treaty of Middle Plantation. Badges were issued as tokens of alliance to leaders who were "cooperative" or deemed "friendly" and were to be worn when delegations entered into English controlled areas.
Trade goods of metal found their way into Native communities almost immediately after contact. This example of a copper pot and spoon were excavated in Greenville Co., Virginia from a Late Woodland through Historic Period Indian site context.
Fresh water mussel shell earrings set in precious metal bezels. The pair of earrings has been reported to have belonged to Pocahontas, according to the APVA.
Further researches into the origination of the materials and provenience have not been firmly established.
The image is of a probable chief's home in the present city of Virginia Beach. The structure was large and had a several entrances. Rare for the coastal plain, two storage pits can be seen on the interior.
This collection of house patterns comes from an area known as Jordan's Point in Prince George Co. Virginia on the James River. It is supposed that the remains are from the seventeenth-century village of Weanock.
In the foreground are the foundations of Nathaniel Bacon's home with its square tile brick floor and well at the corner. The white foundations in the rear are the first home and then kitchen of Richard and Jane (Bolling) Randolph.
Last Updated: 22-Nov-2006