Into Slavery: Racial Decisions in the Virginia Colony

By Joseph Boskin | Go to book overview

5
A Brief Description of the People, May 21- June 21, 1607

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There is a king in this land called great Pawatah, under whose dominions are at least 20 ty severall kingdomes, yet each king potent as a prince in his owne territory these have their Subiectes at so quick Comaund, as a beck bringes obedience, even to the resticucion of stolne goodes which by their naturall inclinac[i]on they are loth to leave. They goe all naked save their privityes, yet in coole weather they weare deare skinns, with the hayre on loose: some have leather stockings up to their twists, & sandalls on their feet, their hayre is black generally, which they weare long on the left side, tyed up on a knott, about which knott the kinges and best among them have a kind of Coronett of deares hayre coloured redd, some have chaines of long linckt copper about their neckes, and some chaines of pearle, the common sort stick long fethers in this knott, I found not a grey eye among them all. their skynn is tawny not so borne, but with dying and paynting them selves, in which they delight greatly. The women are like the men, onely this difference; their hayre groweth long al over their heades save clipt somewhat sort afore, these do all the labour and the men hunt and goe at their plesure. They live comonly by the water side in litle cottages made of canes and reedes, covered with the barke of trees; they dwell as I guesse by families of kindred & allyance some 40 tie or 50 tie in a Hatto or small village; which townes are not past a myle or half a myle asunder in most places. They live upon sodden wheat beanes & peaze for the most part, also they kill deare take fish in their weares, & kill fowle aboundance, they eate often and that liberally; they are proper lusty streight men very strong runn exceeding swiftly, their feight is alway in the wood with bow & arrowes, & a short wodden sword, the celerity they use in skirmish is admirable. the king directes the batle & is alwayes in front. Their manner of entertainment is upon mattes on the ground under some tree, where they sitt themselves alone in the midest of the matt, & two mattes on each side, on which they[r] people sitt, then right against him (making a square forme) satt we alwayes. when they came to their matt they

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From: Philip Barbour, ed., The Jamestown Voyages Under the First Charter, 1606-1609 ( Cambridge: Hakluyt Society, 1969), vol. 1, pp. 102-104.

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