Natives in the Landscape

Native Settlements
Native towns were located along the edges of the rivers, adjacent to marshes, and near to high, level, well-drained fields. Because Native people practiced shifting cultivation – moving from old fields to new as the soil wore out – their villages tended over the years to move up and down the river’s edge.

© 2006 Charles City County


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People The Paspahegh were a small community, numbering only about 160. James Fort was planted in the midst of their territory, and – not surprisingly -- the Paspaheghs were one of the first tribes to engage in armed conflict with the English and one of the first to succumb to that conflict. The Paspaheghs were relatively late additions to Powhatan’s paramount Chiefdom. Their Weroance, Wowinchapuncke, was one of the mightiest warriors in the Powhatan chiefdom. Following Wowinchapuncke’s death the Paspahegh disbursed to other communities.

The Paspaheghs occupied the north side of the James River both east and west of the mouth of the Chickahominy River in modern James City and Charles City Counties. While their semi-permanent villages lay within the area indicated on the map the territory they controlled for purposes of hunting, foraging and fishing was much larger.

John Smith’s map locates the Paspahegh Chief’s town (Paspahegh) just west of Sandy Point and two other unnamed towns in the west side of the river, one around Dancing Point and the other to the west of the Chief’s town. The earlier Don Pedro de Zuniga map places Chief’s towns on both sides of the mouth of the Chickahominy. The James City town called Paspahegh (located at the site of the Governor’s Land at two rivers development) was excavated in the early 1990s. Other James City towns named on the maps were Namquosick, Cinquatock and Marinough.

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Learn about the Chickahominy tribe. Learn about the Paspahegh tribe. Learn about the Weyanock tribe.