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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Arlington in Arlington County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

American Indian Villages and Captain John Smith

 
 
American Indian Villages and Captain John Smith Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, August 8, 2008
1. American Indian Villages and Captain John Smith Marker
Inscription. On June 16,1608, Englishman Captain John Smith and fourteen other men from the Jamestown colony entered the Potomac River aboard a two-ton open barge in search of a glistering metal the [natives] told us they had from Patowmeck. They explored upriver as far as the Great Falls. Along the way, Smith recorded many American Indian villages, which he later included on his Map of Virginia.

The first three villages below the falls, on the right bank of the Potomac, were located on lands now part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The names of these villages, as heard by Smith and spelled in Elizabethan English, were Namoraughquend, Assaomeck, and Namassingakent. Translated from Eastern Algonquian into English they mean "fishing place," "middle fishing place," and "fish - plenty of." The village of "fishing place" was probably between present-day Theodore Roosevelt Island and the Pentagon.

From late winter through August, anadromous fish (that live in salt water but spawn in fresh) like herring and sturgeon, swam upriver to the falls. When Smith first observed these three villages it was late June, after the native peoples had planted their crops. Very likely, the villages were seasonal fishing camps and not more-permanent agricultural towns.

Captain John Smith's Map of Virginia (above), first
Marker along the Foot and Bike Paths Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, August 8, 2008
2. Marker along the Foot and Bike Paths
The retaining wall for the parkway is on the right.
published in 1612, is one of the best known maps of colonial America. The three seasonal fishing camps that Smith recorded are identified above. The Tuscan cross marks the Great Falls - the farthest limit of Smith's exploration.

If the map appears "sideways," it is because "up" is west rather than north. In the 1600s, mapmakers customarily drew maps from the perspective of a sailor approaching the land from the sea.


 
Erected by George Washington Memorial Parkway - National Park Service - U.S. Department of the Interior.
 
Location. 38° 53.734′ N, 77° 4.001′ W. Marker is in Arlington, Virginia, in Arlington County. Marker is on George Washington Parkway, on the right when traveling north. Click for map. Located in the parking area adjacent to the foot bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island. Marker is in this post office area: Arlington VA 22209, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Fort Haggerty (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Theodore Roosevelt (approx. 0.2 miles away in District of Columbia); Mason Mansion about 1900 (approx. 0.2 miles away in District of Columbia); The Mason Estate (approx.
Little River Chute of the Potomac Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, August 8, 2008
3. Little River Chute of the Potomac
With modern office buildings in the background, this branch of the Potomac appears peaceful in comparison.
0.3 miles away in District of Columbia); Rosslyn (approx. 0.4 miles away); Purple Heart Memorial (approx. 0.4 miles away); Watergate Investigation (approx. 0.4 miles away); History Of The U. S. Marine Corps (approx. 0.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Arlington.
 
More about this marker. On the far right are illustrations of Native Americans life as seen by the European explorers. In 1584-85, Englishman John White, a member of the Roanoke Colony, drew a series of watercolors depicting the life of the North Carolina Algonquians, who shared a culture similar to that of their linguistic cousins of the Potomac River. The image above depicts Indians fishing from a dugout canoe, including a fish weir for trapping fish (shown in the background). Another image shows how they broiled fish over an open fire.
 
Categories. ExplorationNative Americans
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,190 times since then and 73 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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