LETTER OF J. W. POWELL TO INDIAN OFFICE, JANUARY 11, 1889.
BUREAU OF ETHNOLOGY,
Washington, D. C., January 11, 1889.
Hon. JOHN H. OBERLY,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
SIR: In reply to your letter of the 7th instant with inclosure requesting information in regard to the Croatan Indians, I beg leave to say that Croatan was in 1585 and thereabouts the name of an island and Indian village just north of Cape Hatteras, N. C. White's colony of 120 men and women was landed on Roanoke Island just to the north in 1587, and in 1590, when White returned to revisit the colony, he found no trace of it on Roanoke Island save the name "Croatoan," carved upon a tree, which, according to a previous understanding, was interpreted to mean that the colonists had left Roanoke Island for Croatan. No actual trace of the missing colonists was ever found, but more than 100 years afterwards Lawson obtained traditional information from the Hatteras Indians which led him to believe that the colonists had been incorporated with the Indians. It was thought that traces of white blood could be discovered among the Indians, some among them having gray eyes. It is probable
that the greater number of the colonists were killed; but it was quite in keeping with Indian usages that a greater or less number, especially women and children, should have been made captive and subsequently incorporated into the tribe. The best authority to be consulted with regard to the above colony is Hawks' History of North Carolina, Fayetteville, N. C., 1859, Volume I, pages 211, 225, 228. The book may be obtained from the Congressional Library. Bancroft (History of U. S., Vol. I, p. 77, treated at great length in his early edition) and other authors mention the main facts, but their accounts rest upon Hawks'. It is understood that Mr. Hamilton McMillan, of Fayetteville, N. C., will soon publish a book attempting to show that Raleigh's colony was carried off by the Indians and that their descendants are now living in Robeson County, N. C.
I am, yours, with respect,
J. W. POWELL, Director.