Powhatan's World and Colonial Virginia: A Conflict of Cultures

By Frederic W. Gleach | Go to book overview

9 A Survey of Virginia Indian Relations after 1646

The Indians had learned, by fatal experience, that they contended in vain with the whites. Their spirits were broken; their bouyancy was gone; they had no alternative, except to suffer their savage habits to be moulded into civilized forms, or to be wasted by the resistless march of the new power in their land. Few, too few, we fear, chose the wiser part. The greater number could not yield, and the result need scarcely be told. They have faded away and gradually disappeared, never more to return. Happily relieved from fear of the savages, the people of Virginia addressed themselves to their duties with great vigor and success.-- Howison, A History of Virginia

ONLY THREE YEARS AFTER the October 1646 peace treaty it was felt necessary to revise some of the legal obligations of the colony because of abuses by colonists against the Indians. There was concern that the provision allowing the killing of any Indian found in the colony's territory without the appropriate badge was subject to too great abuse, so it was restricted to only "such Indian shall be taken in the act of doing trespass or other harm" but even so the only evidence of offense needed was the oath of the person who "discovered or killed" the Indian ( Billings 1975:64). There was obviously still great potential for abuse, but at least some effort was made towards protecting the Indians. There were similar, but stronger, acts designed to protect Indian children brought to the English for education and to prohibit their sale (Billings 1975:64-65). Perhaps most importantly, in terms of historical precedent, patents of land were formally made to three Powhatan chiefs, Ascomowett, Ossakican, and Tottopottomoy, with the stated goal of encouraging their progress toward civility and Christianity. These leaders had acknowledged the sovereignty, of the English and requested lands for their people to "inhabit and enjoy the privileges of range and hunting free from the moles

-184-

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Powhatan's World and Colonial Virginia: A Conflict of Cultures
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Methodology and Previous Research 1
  • 1 - The Native Context 22
  • 2 - The English Colonial Context 61
  • 3 - Prolegomena 88
  • 4 - The Birth of Virginia in Tsenacommacah 106
  • 5 - Virginia Before the 1622 Coup 123
  • The Great Massacre of 1622 148
  • 7 - Virginia Between the Coups 159
  • 8 - The Coup of 1644 and Its Aftermath 174
  • 9 - A Survey of Virginia Indian Relations After 1646 184
  • Conclusion 199
  • Introduction 207
  • References 213
  • Index 235
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