Chesapeake Native Americans

The extinction of the Chesapeake Native Americans

An “Ooops” from the Mighty Chief Powhatan


Theodor de Bry’s engraving of a John White drawings American Indians of North Carolina cooking fish. Tribes in the Chesapeake Bay region likely used similar cooking methods for rockfish and other Bay species.

The Ferry Landing was likely the chosen location for a Ferry Service because the land had already been cleared by the Chesapean Native American tribe in the 1500’s.

The word “Chesapeake” is the Algonquin word “K’che-se-piak”  meaning, “land along the big river.”

According to George Holbert Tucker (Norfolk Highlights: 1584-1881, Norfolk Historical Society, 1972, pp.1-2 ):  “The main town of the Chesepian Indians, the tribe that then occupied the area now including Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach, was Skicoak, ‘which the people say is very large, though none of the natives have seen it.  But they have heard about the great size of the city from their fathers, who reported it takes about an hour to journey around it.”

Their main village was in the Great Neck section of Virginia Beach called Chesepioc.  The other main village, called Skicoac, was in Norfolk along the Elizabeth River. They were peaceful people who hunted, fished and farmed the area and felt no need to become part of the Powhatan Confederacy of warriors.

The Historie of Travaile Into Virginia Britannia” , William Strachey, a British writer and journalist of the , (1572-1621)

“[It is] not long since that his priests told him [Powhatan] how that from the Chesapeack Bay a nation should arise which should dissolve and give end to his empire, for which, not many yeares since (perplext with this divelish oracle, and divers understanding thereof), according to the ancyent and gentile customs, he destroyed and put to sword all such who might lye under any doubtful construccion of the said prophesie, as all the inhabitants, the weroance and his subjects of that province, and so remaine all the Chessiopeians at this daye, and for this cause, extinct.”

According to some sources, Powhatan was reluctant to exterminate the peaceful, non-threatening 300-400 Chesapeake Indians living in what is Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

“He acted.  Sometime around 1606 the entire Chesapeake tribe, every man, woman and child, was murdered by the Powhatans.” – (http://bernicelatou.hubpages.com/hub/The-Chesapeake-Indians-and-Powhatans-Prophecy)

He justified to himself that the prophecy could refer to some future son of the Chesepians that would one day challenge his Confederacy.

Citations:

1.  “[It is] not long since that his priests told him how that from the Chesapeack Bay a nation should arise which should dissolve and give end to his empire, for which, not many yeares since (perplext with this divelish oracle, and divers understanding thereof), according to the ancyent and gentile customs, he destroyed and put to sword all such who might lye under any doubtful construccion of the said prophesie, as all the inhabitants, the weroance and his subjects of that province, and so remaine all the Chessiopeians at this daye, and for this cause, extinct.”