It is hard to get a sense of what North Carolina looked like before Europeans arrived, but natural areas preserved by our state and national parks provide perhaps the closest approximations.

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 Merchants Millpond State Park, on Bennett’s Creek that flows into the Chowan River, is in the region occupied by the Chowanoacs, Skyco’s tribe. John White’s maps locate Chowanook (Chawanoac) on the west of the Chowan River near a creek mouth. Quinn’s overlay onto current maps places Chowanook near the mouth of Wiccacon Creek; Bennett’s Creek flows in on the east side very near that point.

 

The area around Edenton Bay is marked in White’s map as the region occupied by the Weapemeoc, with four villages indicated on both the east and western sides of the bay. Quinn singles out one town, Warowtani, as located on the west side of Edenton’s bay, with the other Weapemeoc towns at other locations. White’s map also indicates an English fort on the land between the Chowan and Roanoke rivers, but it is unclear whether this fort was ever built.

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Photo by Ken Lund

Photo by Ken Lund

Roanoke Island, with its two primary towns of Manteo and Wanchese, has several locations worth visiting. The Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, part of the National Park Service, has a museum with recovered artifacts and a reconstructed earthen fort base. The Lost Colony Play is located nearby. The Roanoke Island Festival Park houses the Elizabeth II vessel, a wooden ship that represents the type of ship the colonists arrived in. There are also reconstructions of both Native American and colonial village life that provide good approximations of how both groups of people lived in America as well as museums and other attractions.

Cypress Dugout Canoes were discovered in Phelps Lake in Pettigrew State Park. While there does not appear to be a town site there, or at least White didn’t record one, there were certainly natives who left behind their canoes. Perhaps the canoe Skyco worked on was one of them.

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Jockey’s Ridge State Park is fabulous for its sand dunes and provides an idea of how Skyco may have viewed the area. During Skyco’s time, some of the sand dunes were so big that they were called Kendricks Mount. These dunes have eroded down and are now offshore shoals called Wimble Shoals.

Town Creek Indian Mound, a North Carolina historic site, is a little farther afield, located near Mount Gilead in the piedmont of North Carolina. Archaeologists have spent many years working to uncover artifacts and information regarding these natives of the piedmont region, belonging to the Pee Dee culture. They were mound-builders who constructed a temple on top of a built mound along the banks of the Little River. They lived inside a palisade and their houses were built of wattle and daub. Parts of their village have been reconstructed. These Native Americans were probably incorporated into the Catawba and were not closely related to the coastal Algonquins.

The Cherokee in western North Carolina are not closely related to the Algonquins, but they are the only (currently) federally recognized tribe, and their towns and land in western North Carolina can be visited today. The Cherokee belong to the Iroquois language family. The Tuscarora, who lived in close proximity to the coastal Algonquins, are close relatives of the Cherokee and are likely the same as the Mangoaks described in this book and others. When the Tuscarora lost the Tuscarora War of 1711, they migrated far to the north, where they joined the Iroquois Confederacy and became the sixth nation.