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From the Sargeant Memorial Collection Inside the Pretlow Anchor Branch Library — Vignettes about Norfolk and Virginia’s History and Genealogy V o l u m e 8 n N u m b e r 1 n F a l l 2 013 Norfolk Public Library Early Residents Norfolk and the surrounding region had been the site of human habitation for thousands of years before the arrival of English settlers in the early 1600s. The Chesopeian, or Chesapeake Indians, lived in and around Norfolk prior to 1607. They were part of the Eastern Algonquian Indians cultural group. Their society, religious beliefs, and culture would have been similar to the other tribes that were included in the Powhatan Chiefdom, as well as tribes in Delaware and New England up the Atlantic Seaboard. They were hunter-gatherers and corn farmers, also consuming the local shellfish and fish since they lived along the water. They likely spoke a dialect similar to the other tribes within the Powhatan Chiefdom. As for the history of the By Wm. Troy Valos Chesopeian tribe, very little material exists aside from some English references made during the settling of Roanoke Island in the 1580s and of Jamestown in 1607. The earliest mention is during October-November, 1585, when a group of Roanoke Island colonists traveled north to the Chesapeake Bay region to meet with local tribes and to seek food sources. The English stopped at Skicoak, the Chesopeian capital, on their trip to the Chesapeake Bay. William Strachey reported that the Chesopeians had three villages: Skicoak, Apasus, and Chesepiooc. Over the years, archaeologists have found evidence of the Chesopeians having lived in the Great Neck/Lynnhaven Bay area of present-day Virginia Beach. Skicoak is believed to have been located in Norfolk, probably where the Eastern and Southern branches of the Elizabeth River meet. Its exact location, however, may never be known. The Chesopeian tribe was more aligned with the Nansemonds and the Eastern North Carolina tribes, including those around Roanoke Island. They resisted Chief Powhatan’s efforts to be included in his growing chiefdom. A prophecy by Powhatan’s priests would seal their fate. Chief Powhatan (Wahunsenacawh) was told of a prophecy that a powerful group was rising in the East to take over his chiefdom. This was either before or Circa 1723 version of Theodorus de Bry’s during the April, 1607 English arrival. He ordered the Chesopeian tribe destroyed, drawing of local Virginia Indians .........................> C o n t i n u e d O n P ag e 3 around a campfire. of Norfolk: Chesopeian Indians Lott Carey Class Photo “King of Jazz” at Wells Theater Unbuilt Norfolk Page 3 Page 4 Page 5

Sargeant's Chronicles of Norfolk

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