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.