What Was The Treaty Of 1677 And Why Was It Signed?

The conflicts between greedy Jamestown settlers and neighboring Native Americans eventually exploded to envelop all of Virginia, and many more Native American tribes. There was a seemingly perpetual cycle of violence: it began when English or European settlers encroached on Native American territory because they required new land for the most recent batch of settlers. Eventually, tensions between the Native Americans and settlers would grow and grow until blood was shed on both sides. And then the cycle ended with a treaty or some sort of deal to draw the boundary lines. 

The cycle inevitably began again — because settlers wanted more land. It always began with the settlers.

Unfortunately, when Native Americans had issues with these settlers, they couldn’t just have a sit-down with Nagel Rice LLP and chat about how best to press criminal charges against the obviously unlawful actions that had been perpetrated against them. Life didn’t work that way!

One such treaty was signed between King Charles II and numerous representatives of tribes like the Appomattoc, Monacan, Meherrin, Nansemond, Nanzatico, and Nottoway.  It was called the Treaty of 1677. Others knew it as the Treaty of Middle Plantation or, simpler, the Treaty Between Virginia And The Indians. 

It was signed as a way to end conflict, like all the others, but likely went further than most preceding treaties had done. However, in truth this just left the treaty with more room to fail. The Treaty of 1677 forced the Native American tribes to become tributaries to the English Crown, which essentially provided them with a number of “rights” so long as they paid taxes and remained obedient. The treaty left them their territories, drew up fresh boundaries, provided them with the right to hunt or fish on their land, the right to bear arms, and several other rights afforded to all other colonists.

Article I said, “That the respective Indian Kings and Queens do from henceforth acknowledge to have their immediate Dependency on, and own all Subjection to the Great King of England, our now Dread Sovereign, His Heirs and Successors, when they pay their Tribute to His Majesties Governour for the time being.”

There were also very technical rules that both sides were meant to have followed (but didn’t, of course): “It is hereby Concluded and Established, That no English shall Seat or Plant nearer than Three miles of any Indian Town; and whosoever hath made, or shall make an Incroachment upon their Lands, shall be removed from thence, and proceeded against as by the former Peace made, when the Honourable Colonel Francis Morison was Governour, and the Act of Assembly grounded thereupon, is Provided and Enacted.”

Native American witnesses include: Queen Pamunkey; her son, Captain John West; King of the Notowayes; King Peracuta of the Appomattux; Queen of Wayonaoake; King of the Nanzem’d; King Pattanochus of the Nansatiocoes; King Shurenough of the Manakins, King Mastegonoe of the Sappones; Chief Tachapoake of the Sappones, Chief Vnuntsquero of the Maherians; and Chief Horehonnah of the Maherians. 

Post-Establishment Jamestown (After 1610): Part IV

In part three of our series on post-establishment Jamestown, we discussed the Indian Massacre of 1622 and how it was used by Jamestown settlers to continue encroaching on Native American lands. The settlers needed it to let the newly arrived indentured servants (most of whom were not English) and the first African family of slaves grow crops such as tobacco. Today, we’ll discuss the long-term aftermath of this conflict.

When a family of settlers, indentured servants, or slaves wanted to change jobs or complain about an “employer,” they couldn’t exactly sit down for a chat with Lipsky Lowe LLP, because there were no employment law firms in existence in the 17th century. Bummer. But in 1624, Jamestown and Virginia as a whole were transferred from the ownership of the London Company directly into the ownership of the Royal Crown. This meant that at the very least, settlers could take grievances directly to the king.

But there were other consequences of this transfer of power and authority as well. The Crown had vested interests in Jamestown, but didn’t care about conflict with the Native Americans at all. Because their interests were uniformly ignored, the Native Americans grew increasingly agitated.

Although there were scattered conflicts and skirmishes with the Native Americans in the subsequent years, it wasn’t until the Third Anglo-Powhatan War in 1644 that the beginning of the end was marked. During this war, about 500 colonists were killed. During the two decades preceding, the population had boomed, making this loss less noticeable than the previous massacre in 1622. 

That doesn’t mean they would ignore the attack on their colony; quite the opposite, in fact. This time, the settlers were more enabled to retaliate. Opechancanough was captured in transport, and later killed by a guard when in custody in Jamestown in 1645. 

His death served to put the Native Americans on notice. They realized that right or wrong, they had to choose where to go and what to do next. And there were really only a few choices: they could leave Virginia, integrate with the colonists, or flee to a reservation set by the Crown. Although most of these reservations have since been assimilated by the Crown and, later, by the newly formed United States government, several still exist today.

Shortly before Opechancanough’s death, the colony’s governors requisitioned three forts to serve as a vanguard shield against further incursions into Jamestown territory. Fort Charles was erected at James Falls, Fort James at Chickahominy, and Fort Royal at York Falls. One year later a fourth fort was requisitioned and erected at Appomattox Falls in the vicinity of modern-day Petersburg: Fort Henry. 

The Third Anglo-Powhatan War officially ended by treaty in the latter half of 1646. This treaty provided clearly marked boundaries that the Native Americans and colonists were not supposed to cross without written permission from authorities garrisoned at one of the four aforementioned forts. But the Native Americans were also essentially forced to become tributaries for the Crown — and that basically meant taxation without representation, a common historical problem that you’re probably already familiar with. 

Post-Establishment Jamestown (After 1610): Part III

In part two of our series on post-establishment Jamestown, we discussed many of the events preceding an attack by the Powhatan Confederacy — the English continued to infringe upon the Native American land as new settlers arrived. These settlers were mostly not English, nor were they wealthy, and were placed into indentured servitude as a result. Voting rights were implemented, as were standardized laws. The first African slaves were introduced into the colony. 

Only three years later, the Powhatan Confederacy decided to end the peace. They invaded Jamestown in force in the early hours of March 22, 1622. This would be the single most important event from 1610 to 1624 and would eventually be labeled the Indian Massacre of 1622. It was an effort to completely eliminate the English presence in the New World.

Almost immediately, hundreds of settlers were slaughtered as the Native American warriors swarmed through the outermost plantations and newly built communities — ensuring that many indentured servants would never survive long enough to repay their debts.

Jamestown itself fared better because a native employee sounded the alarm before the attackers arrived. By this day, only 3,400 of the 6,000 settlers who had arrived by ship during the years 1608 to 1624 still survived. 

John Smith had gone back home after an accident, so he was not in Virginia during the attack. Even so, he decided to record the History of Virginia, and described what he knew as if he had been there: “[The Powhatan] came unarmed into our houses with deer, turkeys, fish, fruits, and other provisions to sell us.” And so the story goes, they used tools procured in those very same houses to murder their inhabitants, including women and children. 

The warrior Opechancanough withdrew, expecting the English settlers to do the same — and go home. Although the English failed to mount a retaliatory strike, they used the massacre as an excuse to continue to steal land from the Native Americans.

What Did Marriage Mean To The Powhatan Native American Inhabitants Near Jamestown?

Marriage was a complex subject in Native American culture, as was sexuality. These concepts were perhaps more “liberated” for Native Americans. Marriage wasn’t always something that occurred through ceremony. A man and woman might simply decide to couple with one another one day — and they would be considered married by their tribe. Sexuality was viewed much differently as well — and with more normalcy — which may have contributed to the common colonist viewpoint that Native Americans were savages. 

For the Powhatan Native Americans living near Jamestown, marriage was still very important. Or insofar as we know. Most of the information we have on their views of marriage come from the observations of Jamestown settlers.

Marriage in Powhatan culture wasn’t all that different from what we would recognize today. A man might find himself interested in a female member of his tribe or another tribe, and then decide to “court” her. He would do this by offering food or gifts. What made a Powhatan woman desirable? Those who managed to provide the way they were supposed to according to typical roles and tasks. Or beauty. Typical.

He might eventually decide to propose. The woman’s parents could either support the marriage or forbid it, much as in European culture. Should they support the marriage, they might offer some of their wealth. The primary difference between Powhatan culture and Puritan settlers was that men would often take more one wife — women, after all, were associated with wealth through family units. No matter how many wives a man took, he would need to support them all.

Marriage wasn’t always forever. For Powhatan Native Americans, the second wife — and each wife thereafter — was likely “negotiated” for a set period of time. Sometimes it lasted only until the new life provided a child. Like Christian marriage, this was a way to bring families together and forge lasting bonds within a greater community. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it did not.

Another major difference between the two cultures? Men were expected to remain faithful to their wives, but not the other way around. As long as a wife received permission from her husband, she was allowed to take as many lovers as she wished. This permission was commonly given.

The age of consent did not exist in the 17th century. Young women were married as soon as they were able to mother children. Men could marry as soon as they could provide food for their family.

What Did New England Look Like Before Settlement?

The sea level was lower tens of thousands years ago, and a land bridge near modern-day Alaska and Russia may have allowed people to move into North America. Historians think they may have arrived via the sea even earlier than that, but one thing is for certain: by the time European settlers traveled to the New World, Native Americans had already settled into every nook and cranny. There may have been a population of 50 million, give or take.

They didn’t have the same domesticated plants or animals that Europeans enjoyed. They didn’t have horses. They grew corn and beans and squash in many places. They had domesticated dogs and turkeys. There were no pigs, cows, or sheep.

Around 5000 BCE, corn was domesticated from an almost unrecognizable plant. That allowed the transition from a nomadic to agricultural way of life. We rarely think of the Native Americans as having large communities, but they did. There were smaller tribes here and there, but there were well-traveled roads and cities populated by tens of thousands of people. The largest may have had up to a million inhabitants.

That’s wildly different from how Native Americans are usually portrayed on TV. Most of these cities arose in the southwestern parts of North America and down into Central America. The population of Native Americans in New England prior to settlement would have been much much lower–a few million at the most.

Forests probably looked quite a bit different, too. Many of the plants and animals that made their home in New England before European settlement have since died out. There were different types of trees that were either killed through deforestation or by fungal infection. Earthworms were only introduced into these environments after settlement!

The new plants and animals changed the way these forests grew, and therefore the way they look today. The forests had more trees, but they were well-managed by the natives. They set controlled fires because they knew that the life would grow back stronger and be less susceptible to fires caused by mother nature. Believe it or not, some historians claim that the beginning of our climate change problems found its root in those controlled burnings–which would have released huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the air.

A History of Tobacco Plantations in Virginia from Settlement to the Civil War

The history of tobacco begins some centuries before the coming of European colonists to the area. The First Nations of the continent had long ago began cultivating the plant. The Powhatan nation (among other east coast nations like those in Brooklyn) treated prepared parts of the plant as a trade item. It may not have been currency, but it was recognized as valuable.

The plant was used in sacred ceremonies involving pipes where one smoked to reach out to higher powers. Tobacco was also smoked in ceremonies to seal treaties or agreements, the origin of the “peace pipe” trope in Hollywood movies.

Europeans Begin Growing Tobacco

When the Powhatan and other nations introduced tobacco to European colonists, the plant quickly became a sensation. It wasn’t long before Europeans were eagerly smoking as much tobacco as they could. To keep up with the demand, a number of farmers in Virginia took to planting tobacco as a cash crop.

At first, tobacco plantations in the “tobacco colonies”, of which Virginia was the most notable, simply harvested the plants and then covered them with hay to prepare them in a curing process known as “sweat”. When regulations in 1618 prevented farmers from using valuable animal feeds like hay, farmers then switched to curing tobacco on lines or sticks.

Refinement of the Tobacco Curing Process

Initially the new curing process was done on fences, but it wasn’t long before entire barns became dedicated curing areas. Mold was a near constant threat in those days and entire crops could be lost before anyone knew what was going on. There was a fine art to ensuring that tobacco had absorbed just the right amount of moisture to make the transit across the Atlantic; too much moisture and the tobacco leaves would mold, and too little moisture would cause it to dry out and crumble.

As more Europeans demanded more tobacco, the plantations grew. Soon they grew so large that they needed to hire extra workers. These workers eventually became indentured servants, and then outright chattel slaves. And so the plantations of Virginia moved forward with the rest of the United States, into an era of turmoil.

Early on, with farms in Virginia struggling to provide food to the colony and the local economy faltering under the weight of near famine, tobacco proved an invaluable solution to the colony’s financial problems. Demand from Europe was large enough that even though tobacco was a cash crop, the funds it brought in still managed to feed the colony of Virginia. Though after a while, Virginia and indeed all United States farmers learned to farm the land, the crop remained a major element of the stat’s economy to this very day.

About the Powhattan Tribe of Native American Indians

The tribe of the Powhatan people was made up of Native Americans who occupied the land that would later become known as Virginia but Austin, Texas. They were a powerful tribe and leaders of what was known as the Powhatan Confederacy. This was a league of Algonquin-speaking tribes, including the Chesapeake and Weanoc tribes. The Powhatan Confederacy was involved in several conflicts, named the Powhatan Wars, that took place between 1609 and 1646. These conflicts, and the confederacy itself, began a downhill slope in 1646.

The land that the Powhatan tribe lived on featured rivers, lush woodlands, and even parts of the Atlantic Ocean. Animals native to this land included squirrels, raccoons, white-tailed deer, beavers, and bears. Marine animals that this tribe was used to seeing included fish, seals, and various shellfish.

The Powhatan tribe ate a simple diet. When it came to crops, the women of the tribe raised beans, corn, and squash that these Native American individuals enjoyed. Crops that were not eaten fresh were dried and preserved to feed the tribe throughout the year when crops could not be harvested. The men of the Powhatan tribe provided the people with meat, such as venison, squirrel, wild turkey, duck, and rabbit. Various seafood would also be eaten by the tribe, such as clams, oysters, lobsters, and scallops, just to name a few. And while not food per se, the males of the tribe were also responsible for growing the crop tobacco.

The Powhatan people used a variety of weapons to defend themselves with, including knives, tomahawks, spears, and of course, the bow and arrow. These weapons were present during each conflict that occurred between these Native Americans and the English settlers who later arrived in Virginia.

The First Powhatan War occurred in the year of 1609, lasting until 1614. During this time, Englishman John Rolfe married the daughter of the tribe’s chief, Pocahontas. At this time, Pocahontas had become baptized as a Christian woman, naming herself “Rebecca.” The marriage of John and Rebecca Rolfe brought a period of peace between the Powhatan tribe, lasting until the chief’s death in the year of 1618.

The Second Powhatan War lasted for a decade, before ending in a peace that essentially banished the Native Americans from the land. A third and final war broke out between the Powhatan people and the English settlers, but at the end of this conflict the Powhatan Confederacy came to lose power and the Native Americans submitted to English authority. By 1684, the Confederacy ceased to be entirely.

Today, the descendants of the Powhatan tribe are Americans just the same as those who descend from the English settlers who arrived in North America many years ago. One thing is for sure – the Powhatan people were fierce, wise, and respectful to the land that they lived on.