Native Man with Copper

"A cheiff Lorde of Roanoac” from Thomas Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, 1590
Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History, Special Collections (A 1590-1634 .B79 GE)


Virginia Indians

Archaeologists have found evidence of Native peoples occupying the area now known as Flowerdew as early as 10,000 years ago.

In the Late Woodland Period (AD 900-1600) and into the Early Colonial Period (1600-1650), the area now known as Flowerdew Hundred was part of the territory of the Weyanoke tribe, an Algonquian-speaking community. Numerous Algonquian-speaking tribes occupied the Coastal Plain that extends from Virginia to the Carolinas.

When English settlers arrived at Jamestown in 1607, an individual named Powhatan served as a spiritual and political leader; hereceived tribute from as many as 30 Native tribes in coastal Virginia. The extent of Powhatan’s influence varied throughout the region. The relationship between the Weyanoke and Powhatan is unclear; no historical records provide evidence that the tribe paid him tribute.  

After the English attacked Virginia Indian settlements in retaliation for the organized attacks by the Indians against English settlements in 1644, the Weyanoke moved south, to present-day North Carolina. Eventually they dispersed and joined other American Indian groups in Virginia and North Carolina; the cultural entity known as the Weyanoke passed into history.

Native American? Indian? What is the correct term?

Native tribes prefer to be identified by their specific tribe or nation. When generalizing across many different Native peoples, some prefer "Native American," while others identify as "American Indian." The preferences are often regional. Native tribes in Virginia prefer "Virginia Indian." Often, the archaeological record does not identify specific tribes, so the more general terms must be used.

Title Page from John Smith's A True Relation

Title page from John Smith’s A True Relation, 1608
Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History, Special Collections (A 1608 .S448)

English colonists

The English colonists who arrived at Jamestown were not the first Europeans to set foot in the Chesapeake but they were the first to establish a long-term settlement there. A mixture of soldiers and laborers, this group struggled to establish and maintain the colony despite difficult conditions. One soldier, George Yeardley, who arrived in Virginia in 1610 on a supply mission for Jamestown, established the Flowerdew Hundred plantation in 1618 and became governor of Virginia one year later.

Iron Scythe (2 pieces)

Scythe, iron, ca. 1618-1650

African laborers

John Rolfe, secretary of the Virginia colony, recorded the arrival in 1619 of “20 and odd” African laborers--the first Africans in Virginia. Early census records indicate that some of this group lived at Flowerdew Hundred. Because historians debate whether the first Africans in Virginia were bound as slaves or as indentured servants, the general term “laborer” is used here. The distinction between enslaved and indentured was not as clear in the colony’s early years as it would become later. The first Africans in Virginia worked alongside English colonists and American Indians as laborers. Historical evidence suggests that some were able to attain their freedom after serving their indenture, but others were certainly slaves