Historical markers to tell stories of American Indian tragedies in VirginiaBy Matt SaboThree state highway markers memorializing painful chapters of conflict between American Indians and colonists in colonial Virginia have been approved by the state Department of Historic Resources.
The historical markers are the latest to be approved in this region as part of an ongoing effort to tell the centuries-old stories of the American Indians who populated Virginia at the time it was settled by colonialists.
"It's a way to educate the public about little vignettes of Virginia Indian history that weren't well known," said Deanna Beacham, program administrator for the Virginia Council on Indians.
And:One of the markers is destined for Williamsburg, where it will recount the imprisonment of 40 members of an Indian tribe on accusations of "complicity in an assault on a family of English colonists in Richmond County." Titled "First Williamsburg Gaol Inmates," the marker will describe how 40 Nanzattico Indians were jailed in September 1704 at the "Williamsburg Gaol"—a colonial spelling of jail—and how those age 12 and older were deported to Antigua to be sold into slavery.
The Nanzattico prisoners under the age of 12 were kept as house servants to members of the Virginia Council, who had ordered the deportation. The event forever changed the Nanzattico.
"After that you never find a record of a Nanzattico," Beacham said.
Here's more on the plight of the Nanzattico
:In September 1704 an event occurred in Richmond County that had tragic consequences for the Nanzattico Indians. A group of Nanzattico males allegedly murdered and mutilated several people who were at the home of John Rowley; one young girl survived to report what had transpired. The Nanzattico Indians, who were known to have had disputes with the Rowleys, were implicated in the crime. Orders were given for the accused Nanzatticoes to be captured and transported to Williamsburg to stand trial. But ultimately the decision was made to try the case at the Richmond County courthouse. Early in October all but one of the accused Nanzattico males were convicted of murder and sentenced to death. It was agreed that the remaining ca. 40 remaining members of the Nanzattico tribe should be tried on the basis of a 1663 law that made the residents of the nearest Indian town answerable for any local crime that Indians were accused of committing. The Nanzattico were rounded up and transported to Williamsburg, where they were incarcerated until May 1705. At that time government officials concluded that the Nanzattico were implicated in the Rowley murders on the basis of association and determined that all members of the tribe who were age 12 or older should be transported out of the colony and sold as servants. Children under 12 were to be bound out until the age of 24. Although members of the Governor's Council recommended that elderly Nanzatticoes be spared deportation and that women and girls be sold as servants on the Eastern Shore, the House of Burgesses remained adamant. Ultimately, Captain John Martin transported almost all of the Nanzattico to Antigua, where they were sold. Meanwhile, the tribe's 13 young children were distributed among the members of the Governor's Council. Thus, it was during 1705 that the Nanzattico, as a group, seemingly ceased to exist (Morgan 1984:168-173).
Comment: Odd. When Colonial Williamsburg announced it would reenact Indian stories
, it didn't include this episode. I wonder why not.
Let's reiterate the key crime against the Indians:It was agreed that the remaining ca. 40 remaining members of the Nanzattico tribe should be tried on the basis of a 1663 law that made the residents of the nearest Indian town answerable for any local crime that Indians were accused of committing.
Wow. So much for liberty and justice for all.
Normally I wouldn't post something on an unfortunate historical incident like this. But it's interesting that the incident is getting a historical marker but not recognition at Williamsburg. We still have to fight to stop whitewashing history and start telling the truth.
For more on the subject, see Historical Truth Helps Minorities
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