Arlington in Arlington County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
American Indian Villages and Captain John Smith
George Washington Memorial Parkway
— National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior —
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
Captain John Smith's Map of Virginia (above), first 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 National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Exploration • Native Americans.
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. Located in the parking area adjacent to the foot bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Arlington VA 22209, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Mount Vernon Trail (a few steps from this marker); Force of Nature (a few steps from this marker); Fort Haggerty Theodore Roosevelt (approx. 0.2 miles away in District of Columbia); Making the Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away in District of Columbia); Mason Mansion (approx. ¼ mile away in District of Columbia); Urban Wilderness (approx. ¼ mile away in District of Columbia); Causeway (approx. ¼ mile away in District of Columbia). Touch for a list and map 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.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 15, 2020. It was originally submitted on June 15, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,491 times since then and 41 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on May 15, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 3. submitted on June 15, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 4, 5, 6. submitted on April 6, 2017, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 7. submitted on April 9, 2017, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.