Wednesday, December 17, 2008

ECU Field Station for Coastal Studies

ECU Field Station for Coastal Studies

at Mattamuskeet: History

Algonquian Indians, of the Secotan chiefdom, lived in the Albemarle-Pamlico region and hunted, fished, foraged, and tended gardens. The first Europeans to explore the lake area (1585) were from Sir Walter Raleigh’s second Roanoke Island expedition. At the time, the Native Americans called the lake “Paquippe.” At the end of the Tuscarora Indian War, the colonial government permitted the surviving coastal Indian tribes to live in the Lake Mattamuskeet area. In 1727, the Lord Proprietors of Carolina gave the “Indians of Mattamuskeet” a land grant of 10,240 acres lying “at Mattamuskeet on Pamplycoe sound.”

Deeds pertaining to the reservation lands also refer to the Indians and lake as “Arromuskeet.” Edward Moseley was one of the men who witnessed the land grant document. It is not clear how or when the name of the lake became Mattamuskeet, but a map drawn by Moseley in 1733 identified the lake as Mattamuskeet and showed the general location of the Mattamuskeet Indian reservation. Mattamuskeet is an Indian word thought by linguists to mean “dry dust” or “a moving swamp.” By 1761, the Mattamuskeet Indians had sold their reservation land to the colonists, assimilated into the white and black population of the region, or left the colony to join other Algonquian tribes. In the public records of Hyde County, the Mattamuskeet descendants were not referred to as Indians after 1804. They were generally grouped with the free blacks of Hyde County and designated “free persons of color.”

In the period between 1835 and 1865, it was common practice in Hyde County to place children of “free persons of color” in indentured apprenticeships, removing them from their families and their roots until they reached the age of 21. Whatever remnants of the Mattamuskeet Indian culture passed into the 19th century was largely destroyed by the apprenticeship practices.

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