Saturday, August 11, 2007

Secotan Village as Recorded by John White

Secotan is perhaps the most familiar of all American Indian villages

The village of Secotan (or Secoton) was immortalized by the English watercolorist and first governor of the English colony on the island of Roanoke, John White, who visited this Indian town on July 15 and 16, 1585, as part of Grenville’s exploration of the Pamlico Sound. Many of White’s now famous watercolors of native life in the region of Roanoke Island are depictions of scenes from Secotan. Through the years, his painting of the village probably has been the most frequently reproduced depiction of any native subject.

The painting indicates that this Algonquian village consisted of eleven houses, several fields, charnel house, dance ground, paths, and communal fires and cooking areas. It was an open village, not enclosed by a stockade wall. Corn, tobacco, and sunflower were growing unmolested by wildlife, as the fields were watched over by a person on a stand. Secotan was the westernmost town of the Wingandacoa, or Secotan, whose leader was Wingina and whose territory was bounded by the Pamlico River and Albermarle Sound. The Secotan had been at war with their southern neighbors, the Pomouike of the Neuse River, just prior to the visitation by the Grenville party.

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