Thomas Harriot, The Algonquian Peoples of the Atlantic Coast (1588)
English cartographer and explorer Thomas Harriot (1560–1621) served as a navigator and
mapmaker on Walter Raleigh's first voyage to Virginia in 1585. This account of the Algonquian
peoples of what is now North Carolina's coast was published in London, two years after Harriot's
return to England.
Of the nature and manners of the people
IT reftheth I fpeake a word or tow of the naturall inhabitants, their natures and maners, leaving large difcourfe
thereof untill time more convenient hereafter: nowe onely so farre foorth, as that you may know, how that they
in respect of troubling our inhabiting and planting, are not to be feared; but that they shall have cause both to
feare and love vs, that shall inhabite with them.
middles; all els naked; of such a difference of statures only as wee in England; having no edge tooles or
wewapons of yron or steele to offend vs. with all, neither know they how to make any: those weapons y they
have, are onlie bowes made of Witch hazle, & arrowes of reeds; flat edged truncheons also of wood about a
yard long, neither have they anything to defed theselves but targets made of barks; and some armours of
stickes wichered together with thread.
The greatest that we have seens have bene but of 30. Houses: if they be walled it is only done with barks of
trees made faft to stakes, or els with poles onely fixed upright and close one by another.
Of the new fond land of Virginia
Their houses are made of small poles made faft at the tops in rounde forme after the maner is used in many
arbories in our gardens of England, in most townes covered with barkes, and in some with artificiall mattes
made of long rufhes; from the tops of the houses downe to the ground. The length of them is commonly
double to the breadth, in some places they are but 12. and 16. yardes long, and in other some wee have
seene of foure and twentie.
In some places of the countrey one onely towne belongeth to the government of a Wiroans of chiefe Lorde; in
other some two or three, in some fixe, eight, & more; the greatest Wiroans that yet we had dealing with had
but eighteene townes in his government, and able to make not above seven or eight hundred fighting men at
the most: The language of every governement is different from any other, and the farther they are distant the
greater is the difference.
Their maner of warees amongst themselves is either by sudden surprising one an other most comonly about
the dawning of the day, or moone light; or els by ambushes, or some suttle devises: Set battels are very rare,
except it fall out where there are many trees, where eyther part may have some hope of defence, after the
deliverie of every arrow, in leaping behind some or other.