The Manahoac in Virginia

John Smith documented that the Manahoac lived north of the Monacan (Note: north is to the right)
John Smith documented that the Manahoac lived north of the Monacan (Note: north is to the right)
Source: Library of Congress, Virginia (by John Smith, 1624)

John Smith recorded the presence of the Manahoac. He placed them west of the Fall Line, in the upper reaches of the Rappahannock River between the Monacans to the south and the Massawomeks to the north.

Smith met one of the Manahoacs when he sailed/rowed up the Rappahannock River in 1608. Smith had sailed into a group of about 100 that were on a fishing expedition. When they fired arrows at his boat, wooden shields raised for defense deflected the arrows. The Manahoac had no equivalent defense against the English muskets, and after a half-hour fight the

A warrior had been wounded and left for dead by his fleeing companions, but the English surgeon was able to help him recover. Smith's guide Mosco helped him communicate with the captive, called Amoroleck, as they spent the night on what is now called Belmont Hill, in Stafford County across from Fredericksburg.

He revealed that the people shooting arrows at John Smith's boat came from the town of Hasinninga, and the Manahoacs also lived in three other towns ruled by leaders that Smith labelled as "kings."

In addition to the towns of Stegora, Tauxuntania, and Shakahonea, there was also another town occupied occasionally by hunting parties called Mohaskahod. That town was on the eastern boundary of the Monacans, near the rival Algonquian-speaking Nandtaughtacunds who belonged to Powhatan's paramount chiefdom.

Smith was unable to learn from Amoroleck what tribes occupied lands to the west of the Moanahoacs. They apparently did not travel or hunt through that area "because the woods were not burnt." Evidently the Monahoacs practiced prescribed fire to create habitat for deer and turkey, but focused on the Piedmont and did not set fire to the wooded hillsides of the Blue Ridge.

The four Monacan "kings" came to trade with the English, after Amorolek convinced them that the strangers were friendly. At the end of the day, John Smith had obtained intelligence about the relationships between the Manahoac towns and with different groups, the size of the population in the region, and the geography of territory he did not get to visit in person. When he led his expedition downstream again from the Fall Line, Smith wrote that:1

...we left foure or fiue hundred of our merry Mannahocks, singing, dauncing, and making merry, and set sayle for Moraughtacund

Few contacts with the Manahoac were recorded by early colonists, who stayed east of the Fall Line for the first 50 years of settlement. The Monahoac are thought to have been a Siouan-speaking group, allied with the Monacan, Tutelo, and Saponi. They were rivals of the Algonquian-speaking groups east of the Fall Line, such as Powhatan's paramount chiefdom or the Picataway chiefdom to which the Dogue belonged.

The Manahoac lived in separate towns which were united in some form of confederacy, perhaps with a paramount chief. One the nine towns, Stegara, may have held ceremonies at the Rivanna River mound which Thomas Jefferson excavated. The Monacan could also have held ceremonies there, since the mound could have been started by previous cultures before the evolution of the Monacan and Manahoac confederacies.2

the Manahoac towns included Stegara/Stegora, Shackaconia/Shakahonea,, Tanxsnitania/Tauxuntania, Hassuiuga/Hasinninga and Mahaskahod/Mohaskahod
the Manahoac towns included Stegara/Stegora, Shackaconia/Shakahonea,, Tanxsnitania/Tauxuntania, Hassuiuga/Hasinninga and Mahaskahod/Mohaskahod
Source: Library of Congress, Nova Virginiae tabvla (by Willem Blaeu in 1635, cartography by Hendrik Hondius in 1642)

In the 1600's, the Manahoac were caught between the aggressive Iroquois to the north and the Cherokee/Catawba to the south. War parties traveling along the east side of the Blue Ridge disrupted the Manahoac settlements, along with those of the Monacan, Tutelo, and Saponi to the south. When John Lederer reached the Blue Ridge in 1669-1670, he recorded few interactions with Siouan-speaking residents.3

Burial Mounds in Virginia

The Monacan in Virginia

Native American Tribes in Virginia Since Contact

Siouan-Speaking Native Americans in Virginia

Tutelo/Saponi/Occaneechi in Virginia

Amorolek told John Smith that the town of Tauxuntania was upstream of the Rappahannock River's confluence with what we now call the Rapidan River, perhaps near modern-day Remington or Waterloo
Amorolek told John Smith that the town of Tauxuntania was upstream of the Rappahannock River's confluence with what we now call the Rapidan River, perhaps near modern-day Remington or Waterloo
Source: Library of Congress, Virginia (by John Smith, 1624)

Links

multiple tribal groups may have competed with the Manahoac to control territory
multiple tribal groups may have competed with the Manahoac to control territory
Source: Native Land Digital

References

1. "The Generall Historie of Virginia," John Smith, 1624, in Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina, pp.61-64, https://docsouth.unc.edu/southlit/smith/smith.html; "Manahoac Indians, Stafford Museum and Cultural Center, https://staffordcountymuseum.com/artifact/manahoac-projectile-points/; James Mooney, The Siouan Tribes of the East, Smithsonian Institution, 1894, p.19, https://books.google.com/books?id=BYne-EO4YYYC (last checked October 10, 2020)
2. "We think we know....but do we?," The James Madison Museum of Orange County Heritage, January 8, 2019, https://www.thejamesmadisonmuseum.net/single-post/2019/01/08/We-think-we-knowbut-do-we (last checked October 10, 2020)
3. "In Loudoun and Fauquier, the Sioux Created a Landscape of Pastureland," Washington Post, November 3, 2002, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/2002/11/03/in-loudoun-and-fauquier-the-sioux-created-a-landscape-of-pastureland/b1619d42-fc53-4514-9725-1da3c15290ea/ (last checked October 11, 2020)

archaeology can provide insights into lifestyles of Native American groups which are not documented in historical records compiled by European colonists
archaeology can provide insights into lifestyles of Native American groups which are not documented in historical records compiled by European colonists
Source: Virginia Department of Transportation, VDOT: Discovering the First Virginians


"Indians" of Virginia - the Real First Families of Virginia
Exploring Land, Settling Frontiers
Virginia Places