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History of the Patawomecks

The Patawomeck tribe of Virginia Indians is based in Stafford County, Virginia, along the Potomac River (Patawomeck is another spelling of Potomac). It is one of Virginia's 11 recognized Native American tribes. The Patawomeck tribe achieved state recognition in February 2010, aided by anthropology research conducted by the College of William and Mary. Today the tribe numbers approximately 2300 members. Eighty percent live within ten miles of their historic village of Patawomeck. They are undertaking to revive their historic Algonquian language. In the 17th century, at the time of early English colonization, the tribe was a component of the Powhatan Confederacy. At times it was allied with others in the confederacy, and at others, the Patawomeck allied with the English.

Ca 1260-1300 A.D.  Per testimony of the Piscataway Tribe in 1660, they were allied with the Patawomeck and Susquehannock Tribes under the leader, Uttapoingassinem, who had come from Eastern Shore.  The Patawomecks were later part of the Powhatan Federation.

1606  An enemy tribe, the Bocootawanaukes, attacked and killed about 100 Patawomecks.

1608  Capt. John Smith visited the village of Patawomeck between Potomac and Aquia Creeks.  The population of the tribe was about 800, with 160 bowmen.

1609  Henry Spelman escaped from Chief Powhatan and was taken in by Japasaw, Lesser Chief of the Patawomecks, at his village of Passapatanzy.

1609-1610  At a ceremony at Patawomeck Village, Chief Powhatan placed a crown on his head that was given to him by the English.

1610  Chief Japasaw related the story of creation to Capt. Samuel Argall.

1610-1611  Pocahontas was married to the Patawomeck warrior, Kocoum.

1612  The Patawomecks traded corn with Capt. Samuel Argall and made a defensive alliance with the English against Powhatan.

1613  The Patawomecks helped the English in capturing Pocahontas.  Her mother is considered by most authorities to have been a Patawomeck woman.

1617  Powhatan gave up his leadership to his brother, Opitchipam, and went to live with the Patawomecks, where he died in April, 1618.  This is based on the record that Powhatan went to Machump.  Machumps was his favorite wifes brother, but he may have gone to Mechumps, a creek in Hanover County, Virginia.

1622  Powhatans brother, Opechancanough, led the great massacre of the English colonists.  The Patawomecks refused to participate in the massacre.

1623  Capt. William Tucker held a peace party at Patawomeck Village in order to make Opechancanough believe that the English wanted to make peace.  The Indians were tricked into drinking poison which killed over 150 of them, including several chiefs.  Chief Japasaw probably died at that time.

1634  Father Andrew White visited Patawomeck Village, with Capt. Henry Fleet as his guide, and made peace with Archihu, the uncle and guardian of the young king.

1642  Chief Wahanganoche and his family were baptized into the Christian faith by Father Andrew White.

1648  The King of Patawomeck was captured by the Susquehannock Tribe and was likely ransomed for food or supplies.

1658  Capt. Giles Brent had a dispute with Chief Wahanganoche of the Patawomecks over land.  Brent was ordered by the court to give up lands in Westmoreland County, a section that is now Stafford County, to the chief.

1662  Chief Wahanganoche was issued a silver badge by the King of England to wear for safety when traveling across English lands.  The chief was acquitted of charges of high treason and murder brought against him by Capt. Giles Brent at the General Assembly in James City.  The chief died on his way home, apparently by murder.

1666  In June, the Council of Maryland made a treaty with the Susquehannock Tribe and received from them two captured sons of the King of Patawomeck.  In July, the General Council of Virginia declared war on the Patawomecks.  Most of the men were killed.  Most of the women and children, who were not already living in English families, were captured as slaves.

Indian descendants of the survivors of the 1666 massacre make up the current Patawomeck Tribe.  The Patawomeck descendants have been a close-knit group over the past few centuries, carrying on many traditions and skills of their Indian ancestors.  Many of the current members of the Tribe are direct descendants of Chief Wahanganoche through his daughters, who became the wives of prominent Virginia colonists.  It is the goal of the tribe to preserve the history of our ancestors for future generations.

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