Siouan-Speaking Native Americans in Virginia

when the English arrived in 1607, they discovered all Siouan-speaking tribes were located west of the Fall Line
when the English arrived in 1607, they discovered all Siouan-speaking tribes were located west of the Fall Line
Source: Native Land Digital

The tribes west of the Fall Line, in the Virginia Piedmont and apparently in the Valley of Virginia west of the Blue Ridge, spoke languages belonging to the Siouan linguistic group. As described by John Lederer in his journal of explorations in 1669-70:1

These parts were formerly possessed by the Tacci, alias Dogi; but they are extinct; and the Indians now seated here, are distinguished into the several Nations of Mahoe, Nuntaneuck, alias Nuntaly, Nahyssan, Sapon, Managog, Mangoack, Akenatzy, and Monakin, &. One language is common to them all, though they differ in Dialects.

Lederer was able to speak at least some of the native language, and to appreciate the culture of these tribes. He noted:2

...I have been present at several of their Consultations and Debates, and to my admiration I have heard some of their Seniors deliver themselves with as much Judgement and Eloquence as I should have expected from men of Civil education and Literature.

how far west John Smith explored
Maltese crosses mark how far west John Smith explored - apparently far enough to meet Siouan-speaking tribes
(remember - Smith drew his map with west at the top, not north)
Source: Library of Congress - John Smith's Map

In 1607-09, before he returned to England, John Smith recorded conversations with Algonquian-speaking tribes that warned him about the Siouan-speaking tribes living west of the Fall Line. Today, out of those many groups who spoke a Siouan language, only the Monacan Tribe remains in Virginia as an officially-recognized tribe.

teepee on I-81
Teepees were used by the Siouan-speaking tribes on the Great Plains, where wood was scarce and hides were plentiful -
but there is no evidence of teepees in Virginia (except for this one, formerly used to mark a retail outlet on I-81 near Edinburg)



1 Lederer, John, The Discoveries of John Lederer, Readex Microprint, 1966, p. 2
2 ibid, p. 5

The Three Linguistic Groups of Colonial Virginia
"Indians" of Virginia
Virginia Places