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An Early Expedition Describes a Peaceful Encounter with the Carolina Algonquians

In the 1500s, European powers raced to claim lands in North and South America and establish permanent settlements in the "New World." In 1584, a group of English explorers traveled the southeastern coast of North America to find a suitable location to settle a colony. They landed on what are now the Outer Banks of North Carolina and made contact with the Croatan tribe of Algonquian Indians who dominated the area. The voyage records attest to the good treatment the Europeans received from the Native populations they encountered during these initial forays. 

The next day there came unto us diverse boats, and in one of them the Kings brother, accompanied with forty or fifty men, very handsome and goodly people, and in their behavior as mannerly and civil as any of Europe. His name was Granganimeo , and the king is called Wingina , the country Wingandacoa, and now by her Majesty Virginia. . . . when we came to the shore to him with our weapons, he never moved from his place, nor any of the other four , nor never mistrusted any harm to be offered from us, but sitting still he beckoned us to come and sit by him, which we performed: and being set he made all signs of joy and welcome, striking on his head and his breast and afterwards on ours, to show we were all one, smiling and making show the best he could of all love, and familiarity. After he had made a long speech unto us, we presented him with diverse things, which he received very joyfully, and thankfully.

The Kings brother had great liking of our armor, a sword, and diverse other things which we had: and offered to lay a great box of pearl in gage for them: but we refused it for this time, because we would not make them know, that we esteemed thereof, until we had understood in what places of the country the pearl grew: which now your Worship do very well understand. 

He was very just of his promise: for many times we delivered him merchandise upon his word, but ever he came within the day and performed his promise. He sent us every day a brace or two of fat Bucks, Conies, Hares, Fish the best of the world. He sent us diverse kinds of fruits, Melons, Walnuts, Cucumbers, Gourds, Peas , and diverse roots , and fruits very excellent good, and of their Country corn, which is very white, fair and well tasted, and grows three times in five months.

After they had been diverse times aboard our ships, my self, with seven more went twenty mile into the River, that runs toward the City of Skicoak, which River they call Occam: and the evening following, we came to an island, which they call Raonoak, distant from the harbor by which we entered, seven leagues: and at the North end thereof was a village of nine houses, built of Cedar, and fortified round about with sharp trees, to keep out their enemies, and the entrance into it made like a turnpike very artificially; when we came towards it, standing near unto the waters side, the wife of Granganimo the kings brother came running out to meet us very cheerfully and friendly, her husband was not then in the village; some of her people she commanded to draw our boat on shore for the beating of the billoe: others she appointed to carry us on their backs to the dry ground, and others to bring our oars into the house for fear of stealing. When we were come into the other room, having five rooms in her house, she caused us to sit down by a great fire, and after took off our clothes and washed them, and dried them again: some of the women plucked off our stockings and washed them, some washed our feet in warm water, and she her self took great pains to see all things ordered in the best manner she could, making great haste to dress some meat for us to eat . . We were entertained with all love and kindness, and with as much bounty (after their manner) as they could possibly devise. We found the people most gentle, loving, and faithful, void of all guile and treason, and such as live after the manner of the golden age. The people only care how to defend themselves from the cold in their short winter, and to feed themselves with such meat as the soil affords.

Source | Arthur Barlowe, The First Voyage Made to the Coasts of America, With Two Barks, Wherein Were Captains M. Philip Amadas, and M. Arthur Barlowe, Who Discovered Part of the Country Now Called Virginia Anno 1584. Written By One of the Said Captaines, and Sent to Sir Walter Raleigh, Knight, at Whose Charge and Direction, the Said Voyage was Set Forth, 1584, (Chapel Hill: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2004). From Documenting the American South,
Creator | Arthur Barlowe
Item Type | Book (excerpt)
Cite This document | Arthur Barlowe, “An Early Expedition Describes a Peaceful Encounter with the Carolina Algonquians,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed April 17, 2024,

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