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^mbersJitp of igortfiCarolina 

Collection of Movtf) Caroliniana 
fofjii B>pxunt ^ill 

of tije Class of 18S9 




This book must not 
be token from the 
Library building. 

ItLlS IilL£JA§ ^LuH MmOl 

Form No. 471 















Smithsonian Institution, 
BuEEAu OF American Ethnology, 

Wasliington, D. C, Novemher 1, 1918. 
Sir: I have the honor to transmit the accompanying manuscript, 
entitled ''Native Villages and Village Sites East of the Mississippi," 
by David I. BushneU, jr., and to recommend its publication, subject 
to your approval, as BuUetm 69 of this Bureau. 
Very respectfully, 

J. Walter Fewkes, 

Dr. Charles D. Walcott. 

Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. 


Considering the present condition of Eastern United States, with 
its great population and wealth, its many cities and industrial 
centers, wide fields 'and orchards, all connected by a network of 
many thousands of miles of railways, it is difficult to visualize the 
same region as it wafe a short time ago — a vast wilderness covered 
by virgin forests, with scattered camps and villages of native tribes 
standing near the water courses, crossed by narrow trails which 
often led for long distances over mountain, plain, and valley. Such 
was the nature of the country traversed by the Spaniards during the 
years 1539 and 1540, colonized by tlie English in 1607 and 1620, 
and explored by the French in 1673. But now all is changed. Many 
tribes have become extinct and few remain; their towns have dis- 
appeared, though often it is possible to identify the sites where once 
they stood. Fortunately the early explorers and others left records 
of their journeys, and described the villages reached in their travels 
through the wilderness. Now many such references to the widely 
scattered towns have been brought together, and the attempt has been 
made to present them in such a manner as will reveal the country as 
it was before the encroachment of European settlements. 




I. The country and the people 9 

II. Villages and village sites 17 

Conclusion 99 

Bibliography 103 

Index '..... .--. 107 



1. Section of the La Harpe map, circa 1720. 

2. Ojib way habitations, a, Birch-bark covered -vrigwam. 6, Mat-covered wigwam. 

3. a, The Housatonic, covered with ice.' 6, The valley of the Housatonic. 

4. a, Mahican village, circa 1651. 6, Minisink ^'illage, circa 1651. 

5. Secotan, 1585. 

6. a, Ceremony at Pomeioc, 1585. h, Pomeioc, 1585. 

7. "The Cabins of the Powite Indians," 1663. 

8. a, Hochelaga, 1609. h, An Onondaga town, 1615. 

9. a, "The Indian Fort Sasquesahanok," 1720. 6, Great Island in West Branch 

of the Susquehanna. 

10. Characteristic -views in the South, a. In the Cherokee Mountains. 6, For- 

ests of longleaf pine, c, The bayous near the Gulf coast. 

11. Choctaw settlement at Bonfouca, from painting by Bernard, 1846. 

12. Earth lodges. A Pawnee village, circa 1867. 

13. Creek house, 1790. 

14. fl, Temporary dwelling of the Seminole, h, Permanent dwelling of the 


15. a, Large shell heap and village site on the seacoast near St. Augustine, h, The 

Tomoco lUver, near Ormond. 

16. a, A "public granary' ' in Florida. 1564. h, A fortified town in Florida, 1564. 

17. Winnebago camp, from painting by Captain Eastman. 



1. Plan of Ganundesaga Castle 27 

2. Bark house. Method of construction of the Iroquois long house 52 

3. Plan of Onondaga long house, 1743 . . 53 

4. Example of wattlework 64 

5. Choctaw house of palmetto thatch 65 

6. Principal structures of a Creek town in 1789 74 

7. Older method of jjlacing the principal structiires in a Creek town 75 

8. Home of the Chief at Apalachicola 79 

9. "Indian warehouse' ' at Santa Cruz, 1699 84 

10. "Warehouse" at St. Marys, 1699 85 

11. Plan of an ancient structure in Beaufort County, South Carolina 87 

12. Head of deer carved in wood, from Key Marco, Florida 101 


By David I. Bushnell, Jr. 


Eastern United States, that part of the country extendmg east- 
ward from the Mississippi to the Atlantic, when first traversed by 
Europeans was the home of many tribes, speaking different languages, 
having various maimers and customs unlike one another, and often 
the avowed enemies of then* neighbors. The combined population 
of the many tribes formerly living withm this wide area has been 
estimated by ^Ir. James Mooney to have been about 280,000, scat- 
tered, although having many distinct centers more thickly peopled 
than others. But before referring to the distribution of the tribes, 
or rather groups of tribes, speaking the same language, we should 
consider the physiographical features of this part of America, as 
later it will be shown how great an influence the natural environments 
exerted on the development of certain customs of the people in 
different sections of the country, and how often rivers and moimtains 
served as boundaries between the lands claimed by various tribes. 

Considering eastern United States as a whole, five distinct geo- 
graphic divisions are suggested : 

First, eastward from the Hudson, including entire New England, 
having a rough and rocky surface, with many streams flowing into 
the Atlantic, and in the northern part, the present State of Maine, 
innumerable lakes, some of which are of great size. Forests of pine, 
spruce, and hemlock covered a large part of this region. The climate 
was severe, with long winters, heavy snows, and much frost. 

Second, the coastal plain and piedmont area bordering on the 
Atlantic and extending to the foothills of the Alleghenies, having in 
the southern portion wide expanses of low swamp lands, and crossed 
by many streams taking their rise in the mountains to the westward. 

Third, the Alleghenies, attaining their greatest elevation in North 
Carolina, with many rich and fertile valleys between the long ridges 
which extend, hi a general course, toward the northeast. The range 
forms the divide between the waters flowing mto the Atlantic and 
those reaching the Mississippi. 

Fourth, the rich prairie lands and hiUy country lying west of the 
momitams and contmuing to the Mississippi, divided transversely 


by the valley of the Ohio, with numerous lesser streams, and many 
lakes in the northern parts. The river bottoms were well wooded, 
springs of salt water were often encomitered, and the many natural 
products made use of by the Indians were plentifully and widely 

Fifth, the lowlands of the South, extending eastward from the 
Mississippi to the Atlantic, bordering on the Gulf of Mexico, and 
including the peninsula of Florida. Forests of pme covered much of 
the surface and the dense, semitropical vegetation of central and 
southern Florida was never touched by frost. Many rivers, some of 
considerable size, are encoimtered within this region, with swamps 
and bayous near the coast. 

Such was the nature of the country. With game and wild fowl 
in abmidance, the lakes and streams teeming with fish, while oysters 
and other mollusks were easily gathered in vast quantities along the 
seacoast and many varieties of wild fruits grew on moimtain and 
plain, food was usually plentiful and easily secured by the native 
tribes. Added to the natural supply were the products of the gar- 
dens of the sedentary people, by whom great quantities of corn and 
lesser amounts of vegetables were raised, and often preserved for 
future use. 

The numerous tribes encountered by the early explorers and 
colonists in eastern United States belonged to several linguistic 
groups, and with few exceptions the tribes continued to occupy their 
respective domams from the earliest times until forced westward or 
until they fell before the encroachment of European, and later of 
American, settlements. 

New England was the home of many tribes, some small, others 
larger, all of which belonged to the great Algonquian family, speaking 
a language understood by all but with certain dialectic variations. 
Of these some were on the coast occupying small villages near the 
mouths of the many rivers; others were in the ulterior. But it is 
quite evident many coast sites were occupied only during certain 
seasons of the year; at other times the protection of the forests would 
be sought. Among the New England tribes were many whose 
names were often mentioned in the history of the colonies, and have 
since been perpetuated by applymg them to the streams near which 
they once lived. Far north was the Abnaki group, including the 
Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot, of Maine, and adjoinmg 
them on the south the Massachuset, Wampanoag, Narraganset, 
Mohegan, and Pequot. The last two were origmally one people, 
but later became divided. In 1637 the Pequot were attacked by 
the English and their strength as a tribe was broken, and from that 
time until the close of Khig Philip's War the Narraganset remained 
the most powerful tribe of southern New England, but on December 


19, 1675, they suffered a disastrous defeat and lost more than 1,000 
in killed and missmg. Those who escaped sought refuge among 
other tribes. Many small kindred tribes lived south of the St. Law- 
rence River, while extendmg southward from near the lower extrem- 
ity of Lake Champlam, on both banks of the Hudson, were the Ma- 
hican. On the east bank of the stream they jomed the Wappmger 
near the present Poughkeepsie, and on the opposite side merged 
with the Mmisee m the vicmity of Catskill Creek. Eastward they 
occupied the upper portion of the valley of the Housatonic in western 
Massachusetts. The Manhattan, a tribe belonging to the Wappmger 
confederacy, gave the name to the island where once they had several 
small settlements. Manhattan signifies the Island of Hills. The 
Mmisee, already mentioned, was one of the tlu-ee prmcipal tribes 
of the Delaware or Lenape, with whom Penn concluded the fu-st 
treaty in 1682 at their village of Shackamaxon, on the site of Ger- 
manto%vn, a suburb of Philadelphia. 

Southward other Algonquian tribes dommated the coast to the 
vicinity of the Neuse, in the present State of North Carohna, about 
the southernmost members of this great Imguistic family being the 
people of Roanoak, on the island of Wococon, discovered in the 
summer of 1584 by the first expedition sent out by Sir Walter 

The western Algonquian group claimed and occupied the greater 
parts of the present States of Indiana, lUinois, Wisconsin, and 
Michigan, and later, parts of Ohio. The more important of these were 
the Menominee of northeastern Wisconsin; the Sauk and Fox, who 
were probably first encomitered on the lower Michigan peninsula 
and later removed to the westward of Lake Michigan; the Peoria, 
Kaskaskia, Michigamea, Cahokia, and Tamaroa, five tribes constitut- 
ing the loosely formed Illinois confederacy; the Miami grouj3; and 
the widely scattered Shawnee. 

While the eastern Algonquian appear to have been sedentary, and 
to have remamed for many generations in a given section, the tribes 
of the west seemed to have developed a great movement about the 
time of the discovery of their country by the French which resulted 
in many removing their villages to distant localities. The Peoria 
were discovered by Marquette early m the smnmer of 1673 occupying 
a large village on the right bank of the Mississippi near the mouth 
of the Des Moines River. Two months later they were found livmg 
on the banks of the Illmois. The Kaskaskia occupied the great town 
of Pontdalamia which stood on the bank of the Illinois m the present 
comity of La Salle, and was visited by the French late m 1679. The 
village was probably occupied until 1703, when the Kaskaskia moved 
southward and settled near the mouth of the stream which now bears 
their name, m Randolph Comity, Ilhnois, a few miles below the future 


site of Fort Chartres, planned and erected by the French in 1720 and 
in 1756 rebuilt and greatly strengthened, later to be destroyed by the 
encroachment of the waters of the Mississippi. Early in February, 
1682, La Salle reached "the Village of the Tamaoas, where we met 
with no body at all, thfe Savages being retired into the Woods to 
Winter." (Tonti, (1), p. 77.) This was on the left or east bank of 
the Mississippi, 10 leagues below the mouth of the Illinois and 
opposite the present city of St. Louis. In. the autuimi of 1721 
another French explorer, Pere Charlevoix, while passmg down the 
Mississippi, reached the same locality and there remained over night 
at the "village of the Caoquias and the Tamarouas, two Illinois 
tribes which have been united." (Charlevoix, (1),II, p. 218.) The 
village was on the small creek which now bears the name of the 
first of the tribes, and which is likewise perpetuated by having been 
applied to the great momid a few miles distant from the site of the 
ancient settlement. 

The Illinois tribes were closely connected linguistically with the 
Ojibway, while quite distmct were the Shawnee and the allied Sauk 
and Fox, who spoke dialects with slight variations, so similar as to 
indicate their having been closely associated or virtually having 
lived together for some generations. When first known to the 
French, the Fox were evidently livmg on the lower Michigan penin- 
sula, east of Lake Michigan. The majority of the Shawnee were then 
south of the Ohio, their principal settlement bemg in the vicinity of 
the present city of Nashville, Tenn. Tlie time or cause of their 
removal southward can not be determined, although it may have been 
forced by the aggressiveness of the Neutrals, who, during the first 
part of the seventeenth century and probably earlier, were engaged 
in attackhig the Algonquian tribes to the westward of their territory. 
But in 1651 the Neutrals in turn suffered a crushing defeat by the 
Iroquois. From their new home in the valley of the Cumberland one 
or more bands of the Shawnee appear to have moved eastward, 
probably passing south of the Cherokee, and thus reaching the valley 
of the Savannah, where they established themselves in several small 
villages But within a generation some had again turned westward 
and settled for a few years on the Chattahoochee, near the Uchee 
town. Here, however, their stay was of short duration and they 
soon removed to the Tallapoosa, probably to be near the French 
post at Fort Toulouse. Others who had not jomed in this movement 
from the Savannah soon began moving northward along the foot of 
the mountains. This movement was evidently hastened by the 
trou})le which culminated in the "Yamasee War," in 1715. Passing 
tlii'ough the Carolinas, they reached the valley of Virginia, where they 
established several small villages, with other settlements north of the 
Potomac. Soon becoming associated with remnants of the Delaware 


and others, thoy crossed the mountains and the Ohio and settled 
within the future State of Ohio. Here they were joined by the 
Sha\mee from the Cumberland, who had been compelled, by reason 
of the acts of the Chickasaw and Cherokee, to abandon their villages 
and hunting grounds in central Tennessee and to seek a home beyond 
the Ohio. The movement from the south began about the year 1714 
and was hastened by the pressure exerted by the neighboring tribes. 
And thus the tribe was again united. 

The valley of the Neuse, in central North Carohna, was the early 
home of Iroquoian tribes, of which the Tuscarora was the most im- 
portant. The Coree on the coast may have been of tliis hnguistic 
group. The Tuscarora was the most powerful tribe between the sea 
and the mountains, and in the year 1708 had 15 towns and 1,200 
warriors. But soon the encroaclunent of European settlements caused 
them and their allies to revolt and attack the colonists. This resulted 
in the ''Tuscarora War," which began in 1711, and ultimately caused 
many of the tribe to leave the colony and go north among their kin- 
dred of the Five Nations, which after the consohdation became the 
Six Nations — the League of the Iroquois. These closel}^ confeder- 
ated Iroquoian tribes, whose home since earliest historic tinies has 
been in the central and western parts of the present State of New 
York, although at times dominating a much wider region, spoke a 
language quite distinct from that of their Algonquian neighbors, by 
whom they were practically surrounded. The five nations were the 
Mohawk, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca, and in 1722 the 
Tuscarora became the sixth nation. The league was probably formed 
during the latter part of the sixteenth century when they were forced 
to unite for mutual protection against the neighboring tribes. Soon 
the Dutch arrived on the Hudson*, and with firearms obtained from 
the traders the power of the Iroquois was greatly increased, and 
they became feared by all as far west as the distant Mississippi. 

The Cherokee, the most important of the detached Iroquoian 
tribes, claimed and occupied the rough region of the southern AUe- 
ghenies. The mountains of western North and South Carolina, of 
southwestern Virginia, eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, and northern 
Georgia, were occupied by them from the earliest historic times. 
Other tribes of this linguistic family were the Nottoway and Meherrin 
of southeastern Virginia; the Susquehanna or Conestoga, first en- 
countered by a party of the JamestoA\Ti colonists under Capt. John 
Smith during the summer of 1608, near the head of Chesapeake Bay, 
their villages being located on the banks of the stream which now 
bears their tribal name; the Erie or Cat nation, who lived south of 
Lake Erie, but who early vanished from history; the Huron, later 
known as the Wyandot, and others. 


The South, including the greater part of Mississippi and Alabama 
and sections of South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida, was 
occupied or dominated by various tribes belonging to the Muskho- 
gean linguistic group. The most important of these were the Choc- 
taw, Chickasaw, and" the many small tribes which served to form the 
Creek confederacy. 

The Choctaw, which probably included many small related tribes, 
when encountered by the Spaniards in 1540, evidently occupied 
central and southern Mississippi, reaching to the shore of Lake Pont- 
chartrain on the south and ,to and beyond the Tombigbee River on 
the east. The Chickasaw were discovered the same year in the region 
about the headwaters of the Yazoo and Tombigbee Rivers, probably 
in the present Union and Pontotoc Counties, Mississippi, where they 
continued to dwell for several centuries. They may at this time have 
reached to the Tennessee or beyond. The two tribes just mentioned, 
the Choctaw and the Chickasaw, were closely related, they spoke the 
same language and had similar customs, but were ever enemies. 
Their natural environment had much to do with their mode of living, 
for, while the former, occupying the low, rather level country, were 
agriculturists, the latter, living in a broken, hilly region, were more 
expert hunters, and the wild game so plentiful and so easily obtained 
furnished much of their food. 

The Creek confederacy was made up of many small tribes forming 
two quite distinct groups of towns. The first group, later known as 
the Upper Creeks, included many villages in the valleys of the Coosa 
and Tallapoosa. The principal settlements were in the vicinity of 
the old French post, near the junction of the two streams. The 
second group, occupying both banks of the middle and lower reaches 
of the Chattahoochee, were later -designated the Lower Creeks. The 
league appears to have had its beginning in prehistoric times, before 
the coming of De Soto in 1540, although it was greatly augmented 
and strengthened in later times, when Shawnee, Yuchi, and Natchez 
were admitted. 

The Yamasi, whose early home was in central Georgia away from 
the coast, but who in 1687 revolted against Spanish rule and fled 
northward across the Savannah, also belonged to this linguistic 
family; likewise the Natchez, whose connection, however, was less 
clearly defined. Tlie latter, one of the most interesting and remark- 
able tribes of the Mississippi Valley, occupied a large town a few miles 
distant from the present city of Natchez, Mississippi, with several 
small villages in the vicinity. During the early years of the eighteenth 
century they were at war with the French, which terminated in a 
great defeat of the Natchez, who were forced to abandon their ancient 
territory, and in 1 730 the remnants of the tribe had scattered, some 
crossing the Mississippi and others moving as far eastward as South 


Carolina. It now appears the Guale, undoubtedly a Muskhogean 
tribe, were, about the beginning of the sixteenth century, the occu- 
pants of the islands lying off the coast of Georgia, and consequently 
were the people fu-st met by the early Spanish explorers. 

Northern Florida was the early home of a group of tribes now desig- 
nated the Timucuan, of which, unfortunately, very little is kno^v^l. 
They were fii'st encountered by Ponce de Leon in 1513 near the site 
of the present city of St. Augustine, and were later mentioned by 
other Spanish leaders. They were probably the builders of the ma- 
jority of the ancient mounds standing in northern and central 
Florida, some of which were reared after the coming of the Europeans. 
The name of the group is derived from that of one of the principal 
tribes who occupied the eastern-central part of the territory, in the 
vicinity of St. Augustine and extending along the middle portion of 
the St. John River. Other tribes of this linguistic family lived on the 
Gulf coast of the peninsula from Tampa Bay northward to the Ocilla 
st River, there reaching the southern Muskhogean tribes, the Apa- 
>^lachee. The latter when first met by the Spaniards in 1528 was an 
important and numerous people and so continued until the close of 
the following century. In the year 1703 their country was invaded 
by the expedition led by Governor Moore, of Carolina, their lands and 
villages were laid waste, many were killed, and still more were led 
into slavery, while those who escaped scattered among the neighbor- 
ing peoples. Soon after this war many from the lower Creek towns 
on the Flint and Chattahoochee moved into Florida, and became the 
Seminole, the "Runaway," of later days, their numbers being aug- 
mented from time to time by others from the Creek towns. 

Another important stock remains to be mentioned, and there is 
reason to believe it was once far more numerous and powerful in the 
region east of the Mississippi than when it first appeared in history. 
Wlien Europeans entered the southern part of the present State of 
Ohio they found it destitute of a fixed population. Tliis rich and 
fertile section of the valley of the Ohio, on both sides of the river, had 
been abandoned by its former occupants and now served as a hunting 
ground for the neighboring tribes. It was crossed by several im- 
portant trails over which war parties from the surrounding tribes 
passed and repassed in their journeys to and beyond the Ohio. But 
it is evident the region had only recently been the home of a com- 
paratively numerous people, as shown by the many village sites and 
cemeteries, mounds, and other earthworks, encountered in all parts 
of the valley. There is a well-established legend among certain 
Siouan tribes living at the present time far west of the Mississippi, of 
then- migration down the valley of the Ohio from the east. Wlien 
the mouth of that river was reached some went down the Mississippi 
and settled on the west bank within the present State of Arkansas. 


These were the Quapaw, whose name signifies downstream feoiitle. 
Others went up tlie Mississippi, among them the Omaha, which may be 
translated those going against the wind or current. Evidently the 
Siouan tribes formerly lived in that part of the Ohio Valley found 
vacant when first entered by the whites, and they were probably the 
builders of the great earthworks in the form of circles, squares, and 
many of complicated designs, which are the most remarkable of the 
many ancient works existing east of the Mississippi. 

Although the great body of the Siouan people had left the eastern 
country before the coming of Europeans, yet some small groups o^ 
this linguistic family remained. These were the Catawba, Chera 
Saponi, and Tutelo, of southern Virginia and central North and SoutL 
Carolina. The Waccamaw, on the coast north of Charleston, south 
of the Cape Fear Indians of North . Carolina, were Siouan, and the 
Congaree and Santee, on streams bearing their tribal names, were 
the southernmost members of this stock. The chief of the latter is 
said to have had absolute power over his people, an unusual state 
among the Indians of North America. The Monacan confederacy of 
piedmont Virginia undoubtedly belonged to this stock, their chief 
town being Rasawek, at the junction of the James and Rivaima, in 
Fluvanna County, Virginia. Adjoining them on the north were 
other tribes, evidently Siouan, grouped under the name Manahoac as 
first applied by Capt. John Smith tliree centuries and more ago. The 
Siouan tribes of piedmont Vu'ginia were the avowed enemies of the 
Algonquians, or Powhatan confederacy of the tidewater region, and 
tribal boundaries were seldom more clearly defined than that between 
these two groups. It extended almost due north from the falls of 
the Appomattox, now the site of Petersburg, crossing the James just 
above the falls, now Richmond, and continuing northward. 

Far distant from the preceding were the Biloxi on the GuK coast 
and the Ofo on the lower Yazoo River, both in the present State of 
Mississippi. These were detached Siouan tribes, speaking a dialect 
quite similar to that of the Tutelo and Saponi of Virginia, but differ- 
ing from that of the Catawba, although a certain old tradition would 
seem to connect them with the latter. (Schoolcraft, (1), III, p. 293.) ! 
The Winnebago, first encountered by Nicollet in 1634 at their villages 
on the shore of Green Bay, Wisconsin, were likewise Siouan, at that 
time neighbors of Algonquian tribes, with whom they had certain cus- 
toms in common, although speaking a distinct language. 

The Uchean family may formerly have been quite numerous and 
powerful, although since its discovery it has evidently been repre- 
sented by a single tribe. They appear to have been the Cliisca of the 
De Soto narratives and to have lived beyond the mountains, proba- 
bly north of the Cherokee. Later they moved southeast to the valley 
of the Savannah, and early in the eighteenth century some went to 


the Chattahoochee, where they became a part of the Creek confed- 
eracy. Their town, near the mouth of Uchee Creek, in the present 
Russell County, Alabama, became one of the most important of the 
league. Others later settled with the ShawTiee among the Upper 

One linguistic family remains to be mentioned, the Tunican, who 
when first known to history lived near the Mississippi on the lower 
reaches of the Yazoo, in the present State of Mssissippi. They were 
allied with other small tribes farther south and there is reason to 
suppose they were formerly more numerous and powerful. Later 
they crossed the Mississippi and at different times occupied several 
sites in Louisiana. 

From this brief sketch it will be understood the native tribes who 
occupied the vast country extending eastward from the Mississippi to 
the Atlantic are recognized as having belonged to seven distinct lin- 
guistic families, to which number others may be added when more is 
known concerning the aborigines of southern Florida. Necessarily 
many of the lesser tribes have not been mentioned, but the attempt 
has been made to locate the principal groups and to indicate their 
positions as they were first encountered by Europeans. Of the 
seven groups the Algonc|uian was the most numerous, followed by 
the Muskhogean, Iroquoian, Siouan, Timucuan, Uchean, and Tunican, 
and although the last two may not have numbered more than 1,000 
each the others were far more numerous, forming, as already stated, 
a combined population east of the Mississippi approximating 280,000. 
Other Algonquian, Siouan, and Tunican tribes lived west of the 
Mississippi and are, consequently, not here considered. 

The languages of the seven groups differed to such a degree that 
one would not have been intelligible to the other, and often within 
the same linguistic family the various tribes spoke radically different 
dialects. Thus with such a diversity of languages, a great range of 
climatic conditions, with mountains and prairies, swamps and lakes 
occurring in widely separated parts of the region, the native tribes 
of this part of North America developed distinct customs influenced 
by their natural conditions and environments. And seldom were 
these variations more pronounced than in the forms of dwellings and 
other structures erected by the different tribes, as wiU be shown in 
the following pages. 


The term "village site," as used in the present work, applies to 
aU places, large or small, where traces of aboriginal habitations have 
been discovered. Many have been identified by name, but the great 
majority will over remain unknown, and in this connection it wiU be 

108851°— 19 2 


of interest to trace the existence of native settlements in different 
parts of the country, and to show how seldom the amount of material 
encountered on a site is indicative of the extent or importance of the 
ancient village. 

Early maps show the positions of native villages, and often it 
is possible to locate the ancient sites, usually by following the water 
courses near which they stood. A manuscript map of the greatest 
interest is contained in the La Harpe manuscript, now m the Library 
of Congress at Washington. This shows in part the central and 
southern portions of the Mississippi Valley as known to the French 
about the year 1720, with the scattered towns of the native tribes. 
A section of the map is now for the first time reproduced in plate 1. 

It is a well-established fact that before the coming of Europeans 
the aborigines, in many parts of the country, occupied, and had occu- 
pied for many generations, their ancient sites. This alone would 
have made possible the erection of the earthworks of Ohio and the 
great mounds of the South and West, as no migratory people could 
have been the builders of the works wliich undoubtedly required 
much time to complete. Many village sites are traceable over a 
wide area and would, at first glance, seem to indicate the presence 
of a rather large population, but in reality the site may have been 
occupied by a small number of habitations during a comparatively 
long period. Evidences of occupancy are often found extending for 
several miles along the banks of streams, while probably not more than 
a few hundred yards of the area was occupied at a given time. 

The chosen spots were always near a supply of fresh water; either 
springs of sufficient size, near streams, or on the shores of lakes. 
Along the water courses the larger settlements appear to have been 
at the junction of two streams, thus making them more accessible 
with canoes, and also adding to the sources of the necessary supply 
of food. It is quite probable that settlements, large or small, were 
at some time located at or near the mouths of a great majority of the 
numerous streams. Evidences of such villages are, in many mstances, 
yet discernible, but other sites have been washed away, or covered- 
by deposits of alluvium. 

When Champlain explored the coast of New England, during the 
first years of the seventeenth century, he visited many small villages 
on the shores of bays and inlets scattered along the rugged coast. 
During July, 1605, the expedition reached the mouth of the Saco, 
in the present York County, Maine, and there discovered a small 
settlement, of which they wrote: 

"The savages dwell permanently in this place, and have a large 
cabin surrounded by palisades made of rather large trees placed by 
the side of each other, in which they take refuge when their enemies 


make war upon them. They cover their cabins with oak bark." 
(Champlain, (2), II, pp. 63-67.) 

This was evidently a typical coast settlement and outside the pali- 
sade were some scattered wigwams, and the small gardens where 
corn, beans, and other vegetables were raised. A manuscript dating 
from the early part of the seventeenth century, now in the British 
Museum, gives the native names of the principal streams of New 
England flowing into the Atlantic, and also the names of the chiefs 
then occupying their banks. The Saco was known as the Sawaqua- 
tock, " and there did Dwell Agemohock" (Bushnell, (1), p. 236), proba- 
bly at the village mentioned by Champlain. This may have been a 
typical coast settlement and as it was protected by palisades was 
probably a permanent settlement, as mentioned in the narrative. 
In recent years many objects of Indian origin have been found on 
the summit of a rocky cliff on the western side^bf the mouth of the 
Saco, evidently marking the site of the cluster of wigwams seen by 
the French in the summer of 1605. But it is not usually possible to 
picture so vividly the structures which at one time occupied the 
numerous sites, where implements of stone, fragments of pottery, 
broken shells and bones, and usually ashes and charcoal, indicate 
the position of some ancient village. 

Nearly a century before Champlain's fii'st visit to the coast of New 
England, then an unexplored wilderness, Verrazzano, in 1524, passed 
northward along the Atlantic coast. The expedition stopped at 
many places and visited widely separated villages, one of which 
appears to have been at some pomt near the eastern end of Long 
Island. This was a settlement of an iVlgonc^uian tribe and may have 
been a village of the Shinnecock near Montauk Point. It was 
described thus: 

"We saw their houses made in circular or round forme 10 or 12 
paces in compass, made with halfe circles of timber, separate one 
from another without any order of building, covered with mattes of 
straw wrought cunningly together, which save them from wind and 
raine. . . . The father and the whole family dwell together in one 
house in great number: in some of them we saw 25 or 30 persons." 
(Verrazzano, (1), p. 299.) 

The "halfe circles of timber," mentioned here, probably refer to the 
circular, dome-shaped wigwams, formed by bending and fastening 
branches or small saplings, and covering the frame thus made with 
mats or pieces of bark, characteristic of the Algonquian tribes. Al- 
though many early writers in New England mentioned and de- 
scribed the habitations of the native tribes, the most interesting and 
comprehensive account may be gathered from that c|uaint work pre- 
pared by the settler of Providence and first printed in the year 1643, 


He treats principally of the Narraganset, in whose country "a man 
shall come to many townes, some bigger, some lesser, it may be a 
dozen in 20 miles travell." Their habitations (p. 47) were formed 
of "long poles which the men get and fix, and then the women cover 
the house with mats, and line them with embroidered mats which 
the women make, and call them Mannotaulana, or Hangings." The 
houses were 14 to 16 feet in diameter and were occupied by two 
families. Larger structures were occupied by a greater number of 
persons, and (p. 51) — 

"Most commonly there houses were open, their doore is a hanging 
Mat which being lift up, falls do\\Tie of itselfe; yet many of them get 
English boards and naUs, and make artificiall doores and bolts them- 
selves, and others make slighter doores of Burch or CJiesnut barke, 
which they make fast with a cord in the night time, or when they go 
out of town, and then the last (that makes fast) goes out at the 
Chimney, which is a large opening in the middle of their house, called: 
Wunnauchicomock. " 

Evidently the Narraganset did not occupy permanent villages, 
although it may have been their custom to return and occupy certam 
sites during the same season of succeeding years, and it is interesting 
to trace their movements- through the year (pp. 56-57) — 

"From thick warme vallids, where they winter, they remove a 
little neerer to their Summer fields; when 'tis warme Spring, then 
they remove to their fields, where they plant Corne. In middle of 
Summer, because of the abundance of Fleas, which the dust of the 
house breeds, they will fhe and remove on a sudden from one part of 
their field to a fresh place. And sometimes having fields a mile or 
two, or many miles asunder, when the worke of one field is over, 
they remove house to the other: If death fall in amongst them, they 
presently remove to a fresh place: If an enemie approach they 
remove to a Thicket, or Swampe, unless they have some fort to re- 
move imto. Sometimes they remove to a hunting house in the end 
of the yeare, and forsake it not until Snow be thick and then wiU 
traveU, Men women and children, thorow the snow, thirtie, yea, 
fiftie or sixtie miles; but their great remove is from their Summer 
fields to warme and thicke woodie bottomes where they winter: 
They are quicke ; in haKe a day, yea, sometimes at few houres warning 
to be gone and the house is up elsewhere, especially, if they have 
stakes readie pitcht for their Mats . . . The men make the poles or 
stakes, but the women make and set up, take downe, order and carry 
the Mats and householdstuffe." 

They hunted much and (p. 141) — 

"They hunt by Traps of severaU sorts, to which purpose after they 
have observed, in spring time and Summer, the haunt of the Deere, 


then about Harvest, they goe ten or twentie together, and sometimes 
more, and withall (if it be not too farre) wives and children also, 
where they build up little hunting houses of Barks and Kushes (not 
comparable to their dwelling houses) and so each man takes his 
bounds of two, three, or foure miles, where he sets thirty, forty or 
fifty Traps." 

And Williams mentions two other structures of a more temporary 
nature than the dwellings (p. 146) : 

"Puttuckquapuonck. This Arbour or Play house is made of 
long poles set m the Earth, four square, sixteen or twenty foot high, 
on which the}^ hang great store of their stringed money, have great 
staking towTie agamst to^\^Ie, and two chosen out of the rest by 
course to play the Game at this kmd of Dice hi the midst of all their 

After referring to several ceremonies he continued: 

"But their chief est IdoU of all for sport and game, is (if their land be 
at peace) toward Harvest, when they set up a long house called 
Qmmekamuck, which signifies Long house, sometimes an hundred 
sometimes two hundred foot long, upon a plaine neere the Court 
(which they call Kitteickauick) where many thousands, men and 
Women meet, where he that goes in danceth in the sight of aU the 
rest. . . ." (WiUiams (1)). 

The latter structure, a long and evidently open arbor, closely re- 
sembled the Mide lodge of the Ojibway, which was solely a place for 
holding the rites connected with the Mide, and consequently should 
not be confused with the long communal dwelling houses of the 
Iroquois. As both the Ojibway and Narraganset were Algonquian 
tribes it is possible their long ceremonial structures had a common 
and quite ancient origm. 

The movement about from place to place by a comparatively 
small number of persons, as mentioneci by Williams, easily accomits 
for the many small camp or village sites discovered in all parts of the 
land, and their return from time to time to the same site or its vicinity 
would, in after years, cause it to appear as having once been occupied 
by a large group of wigwams — an extensive village. Thus an area 
which from surface indications appears to have been rather thickly 
peopled, may, in reality, have been the home of a small number of 
famihes who were ever moving from one place to another, as the 
requirements of the seasons made necessary. 

Evidently all the native dwellings of southern New England were 
quite similar, although they may have differed in covering. Early 
in September, 1606, the French reached Port Fortmie, the present 
Chatham harbor, the eastern point of Barnstable County, Massa- 
chusetts. Here they found "some five to six hundred savages," and 


on Champlain's map wigwams and gardens are indicated at many 
different places about the shore of the bay. And it was said: 

"Tlieu* dwellings are separate from each other, according to the 
land which each occupies. They are large, of a circular shape, and 
covered with thatch made of grasses or the husks of Indian corn " 
(Champlam, (2), II, pp. 120-130.) 

Some 10 years after the preceding, the Jesuit, Pere Biard, was 
among the native tribes of New France and prepared notes on the 
customs of the people. He wrote principally of the Micmac and 
Malecite, of the eastern part of the present State of Maine and the 
adjacent provinces, and when describing their habitations said: 

"AiTived at a certain place, the first thing they do is to build a 
fire and arrange their camp, which they have finished in an hour or 
two; often in half an hour. The women go to the woods and bring 
back some poles which are stuck into the ground in a circle around 
the fire, and at the top are interlaced, in the form of a pyramid, so 
that they come together directly over the fire, for there is the 
chimjiey. Upon the poles they throw some skins, matting or bark. 
At the foot of the poles, under the skins, they put their baggage. 
All the space around the fire is strewn with leaves of the fir tree, 
so they will not feel the dampness of the ground; over these leaves 
are often thrown some mats, or sealskins as soft as velvet; upon 
this they stretch themselves around the fire with their heads resting 
upon their baggage; And, what no one would believe, they are very 
warm in there around that little fire, even in the greatest rigors 
of the Winter. They do not camp except near some good water, 
and in an attractive location. In Summer the shape of their houses 
is changed; for then they are broad and long, that they may have 
more air; then they nearly always cover them with bark, or mats 
made of tender reeds, finer and more delicate than om-s made of 
straw, and so skillfully woven, that when they are hung up the 
water runs along their surface "without penetrating them." (Biard, 
(l),p. 77.) 

And here follows an mteresting account of their ways and means 
of gathering food, with different fish and game during the changing 
seasons of the year. 

The dwellings encoimtered by the Pilgrims on Cape Cod, when they 
reached that shore early in November, 1620, "were made with long 
young Sapling Trees, bended and both ends stuck into the ground: 
they were made round, like unto an Arbour . . . The houses were 
double matted, for as they were matted without, so were they within, 
with new & fairer matts. In the houses we found wooden Boules, 
Trayes & Dishes, Earthen Pots, Handbaskets made of Crab shells 
wrought together . . ." (Mourt, (1), p. 18.) 


Mats served to cover the small entrance, and others were used to 
close the opening left in the top for the smoke to pass out, the fire 
being kindled on the ground within the lodge. Many pits (caches) 
filled with corn and other supplies were discovered in the vicinity of 
the dwellings, and a large quantity of the corn was taken by the 
English— a food new to them. 

This appeai-s to have been the most usual form of habitation of 
the Indians of New England, although in the extreme northern part, 
among the lakes of Maine, where the birch attained a large size and 
grew in great plenty, the lodge covered with strips of birch bark was 
known and used. About the close of the year 1689 Pere Sebastien 
Rasles went from Quebec and settled among the Abnaki, in a village 
not far distant, which he thus described: 

"This village was inhabitated by two hundred Savages, nearly all 
of whom were Christians. Their cabins were ranged almost like 
houses in cities; an enclosure of high and closely-set stakes formed a 
sort of wall, which protected them from incursions of their enemies. 
Their cabins are very cj^uickly set up; they plant their poles, which 
are jomed at the top, and cover them with large sheets of bark. 
The fire is made in the middle of the cabin; they spread all around it 
mats of rushes, upon which they sit during the day and take their 
rest during the night." (Rasles, (1), p. 135.) 

This clearly refers to a palisaded village, the dwellings of conical 
form covered with bark which, although not so mentioned, was 
undoubtedly taken from the birch. Thus in New England, among 
the eastern Algonquian tribes, as among the related tribes of the 
upper IMississippi Valley, the kind of material available for the con- 
struction of a habitation usually detennined the type of structure 
erected, and while the conical birch bark covered wigwam was used 
in the northern part of their country, only the dome-shaped mat- 
covered dwelling was encountered farther south. (PL 2.) 

Pere Rasles (op. cit., p. 217) later referred to trhe manner in wliich 
the Abnaki would sleep when on a journey away from their villages. 
He wrote-: 

"The Savages sleep uncovered in the open fields, if it do not rain; 
if it rain or snow, they cover themselves with sheets of bark, which 
they carry with them, and which are rolled up like cloth." 

Quite similar to this, as will be shown on a subsequent page, was 
Bartram's description of the shelter provided for him by his Indian 
guides during the journey to Onondaga in the summer of 1743. 
The Abnaki moved from place to place during the year, as did 
others, often seeking food on the coast between the plantiag and 
the harvesting of their corn; their villages and gardens being inland 
away from the sea. 


The preceding quotations describe the native dwelling encountered 
by the colonists who reached New England during the fii'st half of 
the seventeenth century. They were the small dome-shaped mat 
or bark covered structure, usually constructed to accommodate one 
family, seldom more, but in later years a larger type of dwelling 
appears to have been built. Nevertheless it is often quite difficult 
to understand the exact meaning of the early narratives, and some 
who wrote during the first years of the century may have seen long, 
extended dwellings standing in the various native villages along the 
coast. Daniel Gookm, writing from " Camhridge, in N. E. Dec. 7th, 
1674," gave a general account of the dwellings of the New England 
Indians as they were at that time. He said: 

''Their houses, or wigwams, are built with small poles fixed in the 
ground, bent and fastened together with barks of trees oval or 
arbour-wise on the top. The best sort of their houses are covered 
very neatly, tight, and warm, with barks of trees, slipped from their 
bodies, at such seasons when the sap is up; and made into great 
flakes with pressures of weighty timbers, when they are green; and 
so becoming dry, they will retain a form suitable for the use they 
prepare them for. The meaner sort or wigwams are covered with 
mats, they make of a kind of bulrush, which are also indifferent 
tight and warm, but not so good as the former. These houses they 
make of several sizes, according to their activity and ability; some 
twenty, some forty feet long, and broad. Some I have seen of 
sixty or a hundred feet long, and thirty feet broad. In the smaller 
sort they make a fire in the centre of the house; and have a lower 
hole on the top of the house, to let out the smoke. They keep the 
door into the wigwams always shut, by a mat falling thereon, as 
people go in and out. This they do to prevent air coming in, which 
will cause much smoke in every windy weather. If the smoke beat 
down at the lower hole, they hang a little mat in the way of a skreen, 
on the top of the house, which they can with a cord turn to the wind- 
ward side, wliich prevents the smoke. In the greater houses they 
make two, three, or four fires, at a distance one from another, for 
the better accommodation of the people belongmg to it. I have 
often lodged in their wigwams; and have found them as warm as 
the best English houses. In their wigwams they make a kind of 
couch or mattresses, firm and strong, raised about a foot high from 
the earth ; fii-st covered with boards that they split out of trees ; and 
upon the boards they spread mats generally, and some times bear 
skins and deer skins. They are large enough for three or four 
persons to lodge upon: and one may either draw nearer or keep at 
a more distance from the heat of the fire, as they please, for their 
mattresses are six or eight feet broad." (Gookin, (1), pp. 149-150.) 


In many respects this general account confirms statements of the 
earlier ^vriters, as well as giving details, and recording information 
not to be- found in the older works. It is interesting to learn the 
manner in which largo pieces of bark were prepared to serve over 
the lodge frame, and evidently bark was considered a much better 
covering than mats made of rushes. The narrative is of unusual 
interest, as it was prepared at a time when great changes were about 
to occur in the manners and conditions of the New England Indians. 
Soon was to begin the war with the southern tribes, King Philip's 
War, so famed in history. 

Western ^lassachusetts was the home of the Housatonic or River 
Indians, later known as the Stockbridges. In the year 1736 several 
groups were settled on a tract of land set apart for their use by the 
Colonial government, the lands extending down the valley of the 
Housatonic, reaching to the present Great Barrington and neighbor- 
ing villages. A general view of the valley, in the southern part of 
the tract, is given in plate 3, h. The Housatonic, taken from an ancient 
village site on the right bank about 4 miles below Great Barrington, 
is sho^^^l in plate 3, a. These Indians belonged to the Mahican con- 
federacy, tribes wliich, as already mentioned, occupied the upper 
Hudson valley and the adj acent country eastward. The region, rough 
and mountainous, remained thinly peopled long after other parts of 
N(»w England were rather thickly populated. In the- spring of 1743 
David Brainerd, "A missionary among the Indians," went to them. 
He arrived on the first day of April "at a Place called by them 
Kaunaumeek in the County of Albany, near about twenty Miles dis- 
tant from the City Eastward. The Place . . . was twenty Miles 
distant from any English Inhabitants . . . and also being too far 
distant from the Indians I therefor resolv'd to remove, and live 
with or near the Indians . . . Accordingly I removed soon after; 
and, for a Time, liv'd with them in one of their Wigwams." (Pem- 
berton, (1), pp. 25-26.) 

In describing the habitations of these Indians a few years later it 
was said: 

"A Wigwam is an Indian House, in building of which they take 
small flixible Poles and stick them into the Ground, round such a 
space as they intend for the Bigness of their House, whether greater 
or less: those Poles they bend from each Side, and fasten them 
together, making an Arch over Head : Then they fasten small Sticks 
to them, cutting the Poles at right Angles, which serve for Ribs, 
After which they cover the whole with Bark of Trees, leaving a Hole 
in the Top for the Smoak to go out, and at one or both Ends to go 
in and out." (Hopkins, (1), p. 11.) 

The same Avriter, on page 23, mentions a structure 50 or 60 feet 
in length, having fires burning within, and with 40 or more Indians 


"seated on each Side of the Fires, from End to End of the Wigwam, 
except a space at one end of the Wigwam, for the Priests, or Paw- 
waws." The latter was probably in the present village of Great 
Barrington, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. It was undoubtedly 
a council house, where the tribal affairs were discussed and arranged, 
and in some respects this suggests the structures of the Iroquois. 
Although the works just quoted do not mention the existence of 
palisades among the Mahican, it is evident their villages in earlier 
times were so protected. The custom had probably been abandoned 
before the middle of the eighteenth century, by which time the tribes 
had become reduced in numbers and scattered; no longer maintain- 
ing compact settlements, but living apart in smaller groups. For- 
tunately there is preserved a picture of an ancient Mahican village, 
made before it had lost its primitive aspect. It appears on the very 
rare map of Novi Belgii, which was evidently engraved between the 
years 1651 and 1656 and bears a view of New Amsterdam, considered 
to be the second one made of the future city of New York. Above 
the picture of the village is the legend : Modus muniendi apud Malii- 
Jcanenses, together with the Dutch translation. This is reproduced 
as plate 4, a. The wigwams are undoubtedly shown in too regular 
order, but in other respects the drawing is probably quite true and is 
suggestive of a statement made by Lahontan a few years later. 
When writing of the northern tribes in general he said : , 

"Their Villages are Fortified with double Palissadoes of very hard 
Wood, which are as thick as one's Thigh, and fifteen Foot high, with 
little Squares about the middle of the Courtines. Commonly their 
Huts or Cottages are Eighty Foot long, Twenty five or Thirty Foot 
deep, and Twenty Foot high. They are cover' d with the Bark of 
young Elms." (Lahontan, (1), II, p. 6.) 

Describing the interior of the houses he referred to a raised plat- 
form extending along either wall which served as places for beds. 
Fires were kindled on the ground between platforms and there were 
"vents made in the Roof for the Smoke." This undoubtedly was a 
description of some Iroquoian settlement, but the reference to "little 
Squares about the middle of the Courtines" would certainly apply to 
the drawing of the Mahican village. However, there was probably a 
great similarity between the villages of the western Algonquian tribes 
of New England and those of the Irocjuoian tribes beyond the Hudson. 
Here, as elsewhere in the country east of the Mississippi, it is evident 
that when two tribes or groups of tribes whose towns possess dis- 
tinctive characteristics are near to one another their border settle- 
ments will show the pecufiar features of both. The sketch of the 
Mahican village and the preceding note from Lahontan are likewise 
suggestive of a rectangular inclosm'e, an ancient Seneca site, near 
Geneva, Ontario County, New York. A plan of the latter is given in 




figure 1, taken from Plate XIII of Squier's work (Squier, (1), 
pp. 61-62), and it is of the greatest interest to know the Seneca village 
was occupied long after the engraving of the Mahican town was made. 
Remarkable intlced is the history of this ancient Seneca site, which 
was destroyed by Sullivan in 1779, at which time the palisades were 
burned and the surrounding fields and orchards laid waste. This was 

Of nif .•:FNfrAS . ^TAH ;:.i.,\r\'i, 

ON TAR 10 Co . N. Y. 

iy).ft,lollK- Inch 

Fig. 1. -Plan of Ganundesaga Castle. 

the Ganundesaga Castle, which had been built, or rebuilt, by order 
of Sir William Johnson in 1756, and in writing of it Squier said: 

"The traces of this palisaded work are very distinct, and its out- 
line may be followed with the greatest ease. Its preservation is 
entirely due to the circumstance that at the time of the cession of 
their lands at this point, the Senecas made it a special condition 
that this spot should never be brought imder cultivation. 'Here,' 


said they, 'sleep our fathers, and they can not rest well if they hear 
the plough of the white man above them.' The stipulations made 
by the purchasers have been religiously observed ... In form the 
work was nearly rectangular, havmg small bastions at the north- 
western and southeastern angles. At a and h are small heaps of 
stone, bearing traces of exposure to fire, which are probably the 
remains of forges or fireplaces. The holes formed by the decay of 
the pickets are now about a foot deep ... A few paces to the 
northward of the old fort is a low mound with a broad base, and 
undoubtedly of artificial origm. It is now about six feet high, and 
is covered with depressions marking the graves of the dead . . . 
it is certain that it was extensively used by the Senecas for purposes 
of burial." 

Probably similar traces of the Mahican villages could be discovered 
if their exact positions were known, although if the sites have been 
cultivated little would remain to indicate the locations of the ancient 
settlements. Tlie habitations of the Seneca and other tribes of the 
Five Nations are of the greatest interest and will be mentioned later. 

Long Island was occupied by several tribes, aU rather small. 
The eastern end of the island has been mentioned in comiection 
with the expedition of Verrazzano in 1524. An equally valuable 
and interesting description of the habitations on the extreme western 
end of the island a century and a half later is preserved in the journal 
of two Hollanders who visited the comitry during the years 1679 
and 1680. (Bankers and Sluyter, (1), pp. 124-125.) While going 
through the woods they met a woman engaged in pounding corn. 
She belonged to the near-by village of Najack, on the site of the 
present Fort Hamilton, at the Narrows, to which place they accom- 
panied her. Leaving the place where she was beating the corn, 
"We went ... to her habitation, where we found the whole 
troop together, consisting of seven or eight families, and twenty or 
twenty-two persons, I should think. Their house was low and 
long, about sixty feet long and fourteen or fifteen feet wide. The 
bottom was earth, the sides and roof were made of reed and the bark 
of chestnut trees; the posts, or columns, were limbs of trees stuck in 
the ground, and aU fastened together. The top, or ridge of the roof 
was open about hah" a foot wide, from one end to the other, in order 
to let the smoke escape, in place of a chimney. On the sides, or 
walls, of the house, the roof was so low that you could hardly stand 
under it. The entrance, or doors, which were at both ends, were so 
small and low that they had to stoop and squeeze themselves to 
get through them. The doors were made of reed or flat bark . . . 
They build their fires m the middle of the floor, according to the 
number of families which live ui it." 


The utensils belongmg to each family were scattered on the 
ground near their particular fii-e; mats were on the gromid and 
served as sleeping places. Evidently there were other similar 
houses in the commmiity, as the authors contmue by saying, "All 
who live in one house are generally of one stock or descent, as father 
and mother with their offspring." This and other statements led 
Morgan to remark: 

"There is nothing m these statements forbidding the supposition 
that the household described practiced commmiism in living. The 
composition of the household shows that it was formed on the 
principle of gentile kin, wliile the several families cooked at the 
different fires, which was the usual practice m the different tribes." 
(Morgan, (1), p. 119.) 

This suggests the house of the Mahican Indians near the Housa- 
tonic, already mentioned, and Gookm's description of certain struc- 
tures of the tribes of eastern New England. As told m the preceding 
section, Algonquian tribes domuiated both banks of the Hudson, 
therefore it must have been people of this stock who were encountered 
by the discoverers of the stream when, during the autumn of 1609, 
the Half-Moon sailed up as far as the vicinity of the present towTi of 
Hudson. In his journal Hudson wrote: 

"I sailed to the shore in one of their canoes with an old man, 
who was the chief of a tribe consisting of forty men and seventeen 
women; these I saw there in a house weU constructed of oak-bark, 
and circular in shape, so that it had the appearance of being built 
with an arched roof. It contained a great quantity of maize or 
Indian corn and beans of last year's growth, and there lay near the 
house for the purpose of drymg enough to load tlu"ee ships, besides 
what was growmg in the fields. On our coming into the house, 
two mats were spread out to sit upon, and immediately some food 
was served in well made red wooden bowls; two men were also des- 
patched at once with bows and arrows in quest of game, who soon 
after brought in a pair of pigeons which they had shot. They like- 
wise killed a fat dog, and skimied it in great haste with shells wliich 
they had got out of the water." (Laet, (1), p. 300.) 

Large circular houses, occupied by a number of persons, were 
quite unusual, but Roger Williams had evidently seen them among 
the Narraganset, and they may have been found elsewhere in New 

The right, or west, bank of the Hudson southward from the mouth 
of Catskill Creek was occupied by the Munsee, one of the three 
principal divisions of the Delaware. The Munsee were further 
divided, the Minisink constituting the most important group. A 
drawing of a Minisink village is given beneath the Mahican town on 
the map of Novi Belgii and bears the legend: Alter Modus apud 


Minnessincos. This is reproduced in plate 4, h. It appears as a typi- 
cal eastern Algonquian settlement; a few wigwams surrounded by a 
single line of palisade, with one gateway. The details of the drawing, 
as the exactness with which the houses are placed, the height of the 
palisades, and the size of the figures in the foreground, are far from 
being accurate, but historically the engraving is of great interest 
and must necessarily convey some idea of the appearance of the 
ancient Munsee villages, which probably did not differ to any great 
degree from those farther south, among the Algonquian tribes who 
occupied the coastal plain as far as the mouth of the Neuse, in the 
present North Carolina. 

There is reason to suppose the Eastern Shore of Maryland was at 
one time occupied by a comparatively large native population, with 
many villages scattered along the shore where fish and wild fowl were 
always to be secured as food. Some villages were protected by an 
encircling palisade; others were open. On the maps of Capt. John 
Smith the ToclcwogTi jiu. corresponds with the position of the present 
Sassafras River, flowing between Cecil County on the north and Kent 
County on the south, the first forming the extreme northeast corner 
of Maryland, at the head of Chesapeake Bay. The stream was en- 
tered by the few Jamestown colonists who, during the latter part of 
July, 1608, embarked on their "second voyage to discover the 
Bay." Describing their experiences: 

"Entring the River of Toclcwogh, the Salvages all armed in a 
fleete of Boates round invironed us. It chanced one of them could 
speake the language of Powhatan, who perswaded the rest to a 
friendly parly. . . they conducted us to their pallizadoed towne, 
mantellecl with the barkes of trees, with Scaffolda like mounts, 
brested about with Barks very formally. Their men, women, and 
children, with dances, songs, fruits, fish, furres, and what they had 
kindly entertained us, spreading mats for us to sit on, and stretching 
their best abilities to express their loves. Many hatchets, knives, 
and peeces of yron and brasse, we saw; which they reported to have 
from the Sasquesalianockes, a mighty people, and mortall enimies 
with the Massawomeclces." (Smith, (2), pp. 117-118.) 

This settlement appears to have been rich and prosperous. Could 
it have been the one mentioned in the instructions issued to Sir 
Thomas Gates when he went to the colony in 1609? In that inter- 
estmg and cj[uaintly worded document it w^as told that "North at 
the head of the Bay is a lardge towne where is store of Copp and if urs 
called Cataanron that trade and discovery will be to great purpose if 
it may be settled yearely." 

Shell heaps along the shore of Chesapeake Bay, and on the banks 
of the many streams which flow into it, indicate the positions of 
ancient villages many of which were occupied long after the year 



1607, and among these various sites one of the most interesting is on 
the left bank of the Choptank, a short distance below Cambridge, 
Dorchester County, Maryland. This was the position of a Nanticoke 
town which was occupied by them until the year 1722 (Mercer, 
(1), p. 98), and was indicated on the Herrman map of 1673 by the 
legend "Indian Towns." The Nanticoke were related linguistically 
with the Delaware and by some are thought to have been the early 
Tocwogh. However, both names were mentioned by Smith. The 
site below Cambridge will at once recall the present condition of the 
ancient settlement at Corn Hill, just north of Pamet Kiver, on Cape 
Cod. The site on the bank of the Choptank has been covered by 
ch'ifting sand in places to a depth of more than 20 feet. Now the 
surface upon which the village stood is indicated "by a dark lino on 
the face of the cliff bordering the river. This line is seldom more than 
a foot m thickness, and while the sand beneath it is often discolored 
through infiltration of matter from the old surface, the superstratum 
is quite pure. As the bank falls away into the encroaching waters 
camp refuse is revealed, objects of stone and fractured pebbles are 
found, and bits of earthenware are numerous. Traces of an ancient 
hearth were once exposed on the face of the cliff but the stones soon 
fell away. A rather large ossuary was exposed beneath the black 
stratum. The bones were not in any order and no objects of any 
kind were associated with them. How interesting would be a de- 
tailed description of this ancient village which stood less than two 
centuries ago. But it may be assumed the habitations were the 
dome-shaped wigwam, covered with mats or sheets of bark, as 
described in a journal of a voyage to Maryland in 1705. From the 
original manuscript preserved in the British Museum the following 
quotation is made: 

"They take Care to build there Cabbins which they always doe on' 
a swamp or Branch neare to a Little run of water, they Cutt downe 
halfe a dozen forked Poles and sett 'm up on end, then they cutt 
Downe some small Poles for Rafters and so Covering it with Barke, 
they make there fire in the Middle of the Cabbm and so lye Round 
itt upon Matts or Bears skuis." (Bushnell, (2), pp. 535-536.) 

Unfortunately the manuscript does not bear the name of its author, 
nor the place where the observations were made, but the description 
would probably apply to the entire region, on the shore of the bay 
as well as inland. 

Quite similar to these were the structures of the people of tidewater 
Virginia, the tribes of the Powhatan confederacy, with whom the 
colonists came in contact during the spring of 1607. Fortunatel}' 
an excellent description of their villages has been preserved and is 
quoted at length (Strachey, (1), pp. 70-76): 

''Theire habitations or townes are for the most part by the rivers, 
or not far distant from fresh springs, comonly upon a rice of a hill 


that they may overlooke the river, and take every small thing into 
view which sturrs upon the same. Their howses are not many in one 
towne, and those that are stand dissite [dispersed] and scattered 
without forme of a street, farr and wyde asunder. As for their 
howses, who knoweth one of them knoweth them all, even the chief 
kyng's house yt selfe, for they be all alike builded one to the other. 
They are like garden arbours, at best like our sheppards' cotages, 
made yet handsomely enough, though without strength or gaynes, of 
such yong plants as they can pluck up, bow, and make the greene 
toppes meete together, in fashion of a round roofe, which they thatch 
with matts throwne over. The walles are made of barkes of trees, 
but then those be principall howses, for so many barkes which goe 
to the making up of a howse are long tyme of purchasing. In the 
midst of the howse there is a louer [i. e. chimney or vent], out of which 
the smoake issueth, the fier being kept right under. Every house 
comonly hath twoo dores, one before and a posterne. The doores be 
hinig with matts, never locked nor bolted, but only those matts be to 
turne upp, or lett fall at pleasure; and their howses are so comonly 
placed under covert of trees, that the violence of fowle weather, 
snOwe, or raine, cannot assalt them, nor the sun in summer annoye 
them ; and the roofe being covered, as I say, the wynd is easily kept 
out, insomuch as they are as warm as stoves, albeit very smoakey 
Wyndowes they have none, but the light comes in at the doore and 
at the louer. . , . By theire howses they have sometymes a scaena, 
or high stage, raised like a scaffold, of small spelts, reedes, or dried 
osiers, covered with matts, which both gives a shadowe and is 
a shelter, and serves for such a covered place where men used in 
old tyme to sitt and talke for recreation or pleasure, which they 
called praestega, and where, on a loft of hurdells, they laye forth 
their corne and fish to dry. They eate, sleepe, and dresse theire 
meate all under one roofe, and in one chamber, as it were. 

"Rownd about the house on both sides are theire bedstedes, which 
are thick short posts stalkt into the ground, a foot high and some- 
what more, and for the sydes small poles layed along, with a hurdle 
of reeds cast over, wherein they rowle downe a fyne white matte or 
twoo (as for a bedd) when they goe to sleepe, and the which the 
rowle up againe in the morning when the rise, as we doe our palletts. 
. . . About their howses they have commonly square plotts of cleered 
grownd, which serve them for gardens, some one hundred, some two 
hundred foote square, wherein they sowe their tobacco, pumpons, and 
a fruit like unto a musk millino, ... In March and Aprill they live 
much upon their weeres, and feed on fish, turkies, and squirrells, and 
then, as also sometymes in May, they plant their fields and sett their 
corne. . . . ^In the tyme of their huntings, they leave their habita- 
tions, and gather themselves into companyes, as doe the Tartars, 


and goe to the most desart places with their families, where they passe 
the tyme with hunting and fowling up towards the mountaines, by 
the heads of their rivers, wher in deed there is plentye of game, . . . 
Theire huntinge howses are not soe laboured, substancyall, nor 
artyficyall as their other, but are like our soldiers' cabms, the frame 
sett up in too or three howers, cast over head with matts, which the 
women beare after them as they carry likewise corne, acornes, 
morters, and all bag and baggage to use, when they come to the 
place where they purpose for the tyme to hunt." 

It is interestmg to compare the preceding account of the life and 
customs of the southern Algonquian tribes with Roger Williams's 
description of the manners of the Narraganset, especially when it 
is realized that both were written during the same generation. In 
the North, forced by the severity of the long winters, it is evident 
many sought the protection of "'thick warme vallies," which was not 
necessary in the South. But when the hunting season came the 
different families would remove to a distance, where game was plenti- 
ful and more easily obtained, and there establish their rather tempo- 
rary hunting camps by erecting shelters of bark, easily and c[uickly 
raised. To secure food was not the only reason for undertaking 
these distant journeys, as many skins had to be obtained, later to 
be tanned and made into moccasins and various garments, and to 
serve various purposes in the wig^vams. 

Many ancient sites have been discovered along the streams of 
tidewater Virginia, marking the positions of the villages indicated 
by Capt. John Smith. Many of these had undoubtedly been visited 
by Strachey and were kno\^^l to him before he prepared his general 
description. In some localities banks of oyster shells, mtermingled 
with bits of pottery, implements of stone and bone, and fragments of 
bones of animals wliich had served as food, alone mark the position 
of some ancient settlement wliich may have been frequented by the 
first colonists. Of other sites fewer traces remain, and in some 
instances all evidence has disappeared. Kecoughtan, which stood 
on the left bank of the James, near its mouth, and was probably 
the second of the native villages seen by the Jamesto^\Ti colonists 
in 1607, has left very little to mark its position, and the same is true 
of other sites wliich figured in the early history of the colonies. 

Adjoining the Virginia tribes on the south, and differing in no 
manner from them, were the villages discovered by the English 
expeditions sent out by Sir Walter Raleigh. When the first ships 
arrived off the coast in July, 1584, they reached "an Island, which 
they call Raonoak, distant fiom the harbour by which we entred, 
seven leagues: and at the North end thereof was a village of nine 
houses, built of Cedar, and fortified roimd about with sharp trees, 
108851°— 19 3 


to keep out their enemies and tlie entrance into it made like a 
tm-ne pike very artificially." (Hakluyt, (1), III, p. 248.) 

The second expedition, which sailed from Plymouth April 9, 1585, 
reached the island of Wococon late in June. On July 3 they sent 
word of their arrival 'Ho Wingina at Roanoak." On July 12 they 
reached ''the Towne of Pomeioke," and three days later, July 15, 
"came to Secotan, and were well entertained there of the Savages," 
on the 18th returning to Wococon. 

Among the members of tliis expedition was 'Maister Jhon White 
an Englisch paynter who was sent into the contrye by the queenes 
Maiestye, onlye to draw the description of the place, lyuely to de- 
scribe the shapes of the Inhabitants their appareU, manners of 
Livinge, and fashions, att the speciall Charges of the worthy knighte. 
Sir Walter Ralegh." The original water color drawings made at 
that time by White are now preserved in the British Museum, and 
such as are used in the present work are reproduced from photographs 
made by the writer. Fortunately, among the drawings made by 
White were general views of the towns of Secotan and Pomeioc. 
These, with others of the collection, were first engraved by De Bry 
and published in 1591 to accompany Harlot's Narrative, appearing 
as the first part of De Bry's great collection of voyages. 

The original drawing of Secotan, which is here reproduced as plate 5, 
differs in many details from the engraving which appeared as plate 20 
in De Bry. The text accompanying the illustration described the 
large building in the lower left corner as one "wherein are the tombes 
of their kings and princes, as will appere by the 22." The habitations 
are shown with the mat or bark coverings removed so as to reveal 
the interior, with raised platforms wliich served as sleeping places. 
Ceremonies are portrayed and food is shown in large vessels resting 
upon mats spread on the ground. In the upper right corner, in the 
midst of a field of "Their rype corne" is "a scaffolde wher on they 
sett a cottage like a rownde chaire . . . wherin they place one to 
watche, for there are suche nomber of fowles, and beasts, that unless 
they keepe the better watche, they would soone devoure aU their 
corne. For which cause the watcheman maketh continual cryes 
and noyse." Similar watch houses were erected in the fields by the 
Indians of New England, and may at times have been mistaken for 
small habitations. 

White's drawmg of Pomeioc was engraved and presented as 
plate 19 by De Bry. The original drawing, a photograph of which 
is shown in plate 6, Z), bears this legend: "The towne of Pomeiock 
and true forme of their howses covered and enclosed some w*^** 
matts and some w*'^ barcks of trees. All compassed abowt w*^ 
smale poles stock thick together in stedd of a wall." The descrip- 
tion of the illustration in De Bry refers to the large closed structure 


with the pomted roof as "their temple separated from the other 
howses . . . yt is builded rownde, and covered with skynne matts, 
and as yt wear compassed abowt with cortynes without windowes, 
and hath noo hghte but by the doore. On the other side is the kings 
lodgmge," Continuing, the account says: "They keepe their feasts 
and make good cheer together in the midds of the towne as yt is 
described in the 17 Figure." This refers to the seventeenth plate in 
De Bry, the origmal of which is here reproduced as plate 6, a. In the 
engravmg the drawmg has been reversed and a fanciful background 
added. It there bears the title "Their manner of prainge with Rat- 
tels abowt the iyerJ' The description of the drawing as given by 
De Bry was probably told him by White, as follows: 

''When they have escaped any great danger by sea or lande, or be 
retm'ned from the warr in token of Joye they make a great f yer abowt 
which the men, and woemen sitt together, holdinge a certaine fruite 
in their hands like unto a rownde pompion or a gourde, which after 
they have taken out the fruits, and the seedes, then fill with small 
stons or certayne bigg kemells to make the more noise, and fasten 
that uppon a sticke, and singinge after their manner, they make 
merrie: as my selfe observed and noted downe at my beinge amonge 
them. For it is a strange custome, and worth the observation." 

Secotan and Pomeioc, as viewed by White, were probably typical 
of all Algonquian settlements of tidewater Maryland, Virginia, and 
Carolina. Kecoughtan, as already mentioned, stood on the north 
side of the James near its mouth, and may at one time have occupied 
the lowland near the mouth of a small stream which now forms the 
boundary between Warwick and Elizabeth City Counties. This site 
was visited during the summer of 1915 and several stone implements, 
many bits of pottery, chips of flint and quartz, and broken shells lay 
scattered over the surface. Traces of former occupancy are to be 
found at many places along the shore both above and below the 
stream. All may have been left by the people of Kecoughtan at 
different periods. In the year 1607, soon after the arrival of the 
colonists at Jamestown, Smith wrote : 

" I was sent to the mouth of the river, to Kegquouhtan an Indian 
Towne, to trade for Corne, and try the river for Fish, but our fishing 
we could not effect by reason of the stormy weather . . . The Towne 
conteineth eighteene houses, pleasantly seated upon three acres of 
ground, uppon a plaine, half invironed with a gi*eat Bay of the great 
River, the other parte with a Baye of the other River falling into the 
great Ba^^e, with a little He fit for a Castle in the mouth thereof, the 
Towne adjoyning to the maine by a necke of Land sixtie yardes." 

At this time the settlement probably stood east of the boundary 
stream, in or near Hampton. Werowacomoco, the favorite village 
of Powhatan, where Capt. John Smith arrived about the beginning 


of the year 1608, was located on tlie left bank of the York, evidently 
at "Rosewell," near White Marsh, Gloucester County. Here the 
lawn is washed by the tide, revealing implements of stone, broken 
pottery, masses of oyster shells, charcoal, and other traces of Indian 
occupancy. Smith has left an interesting description of the appear- 
ance of the great chief and his surroundings at that time (Smith, 
(1), pp. 18-19): 

"Arriving at Weramocomoco their Emperour proudly lying uppon a 
Bedstead a foote high, upon tenne or twelve Mattes, richly hung with 
manie Chaynes of great Pearles about his necke, and covered with a 
great Covering of Rahaughcums. At [his] heade sat a woman, at 
his feete another; on each side sitting uppon a Matte uppon the 
ground, were ranged his chiefe men on each side the fire, tenne 
in a ranke, and behinde them as many yong women, each [with] a 
great Chaine of white Beads over their shoulders, their heades 
painted in redde: and [Powhatan] with such a grave and Majesticall 
countenance, as drave me into admiration to see such state in a naked 

Such was the barbaric splendor surrounding the ruling chief of the 
confederacy at the time of the settlement of Virginia. At that time, 
according to the map prepared by Capt. Smith, there were some 200 
native villages mtliin the region, more than three-quarters of which 
were linown by name. Many were designated ''Kings howses," 
others as "Ordinary howses," the former referring to the larger towns 
where there was probably a recognized chief or headman, tlie latter 
being less important or mere temporary camps. 

A manuscript in the British Museum throws light on the dis- 
tribution of the native villages along the principal water courses, and 
describes the position of the country occupied by the colony. This 
quaintly worded document is signed "Tho. Martin" and bears the 
date " IStli of Dec. 1622," that being the year of the great massacre. 
Part of the account reads CMs. vol. 12496, fol. 456) : 

"That parte of Virginia w*^ in w* we are seated and fitt to bee 
settled on for many hundred yards [?]. It is within y® Territories of 
Opiehakano, it lyeth on the west side of Chesapiocke baye, wliich 
comandeth from the southermost parte of y® fourth river called 
Potomeck W^ lyeth north next hand to y River some 50 leagues in 
Latitude. In longitude it extendeth to the MonaMns countrie next 
hand west and west and by North of equall length with the latitude, 
his owne principal! state is in y^ seacond River called Pamunlcey in 
the heart of his own inhabited territories. This revolted Indian 
King with Ms squaw comaundeth 32 Kingdomes under him. Everye 
Kingdome contayneinge y^ quantitie of one of y® shires here in 
England. Eavery such Kingdome hath one speciall Towne seated 



upon one of j^ tliree gi'cate Rivers with, sufficience of cleared gi'ound 
for y^ plowe & bravely accomadated for fishing." 

The "speeiall" towns were evidently the "kings howses" of 
Smith, standing on the banks of the rivers which furnished easy com- 
munication between the many villages. Such, was the condition of 
tidewater Virginia three centuries ago. 

At the time of the discovery and settlement of Virginia, and for 
many yea,rs after, the Powhatan tribe occupied the comitry about the 
Falls of the James, the site now covered by the city of Richmond. 
Wlien first visited by the colonists, in 1607, Wahunsonacock was the 
chief of the tribe, but soon he became known to the settlers by the 
tribal name, Powhatan, meaning "at the falls," and which was 
variously spelled Powatah, Powite, etc. A map of the greatest 
interest, showing this site as it was in the beginning of the year 1663, 
is reproduced in plate 7. This is copied from the manuscript volume 
bearing title "B3Td Title Book," now preserved by the Virginia 
Historical Society. The small village of the 'Towite Indians," 
shown on the map at the mouth of Shaccoe Creek, corresponds with 
the position of the foot of Sixteenth Street, Richmond, now covered 
with tracks and warehouses. This small village had evidently sur- 
vived the uprisings of 1622 and 1644, and the troubles attending the 
expulsion of the Indians who, about the year 1654, "lately sett 
downe near the falls of James river, to the number of six or seaven 
hundreds" (Hening, (1), I, p. 402.) Contrary to the belief and 
statements of many writers, it would appear, by reason of these 
newcomers having been located "neer the falls of James river" for 
some months, that they came not as enemies seeking to attack the 
colonists, but for the purpose of finding a new home. Their identity 
has not been fully established, although it has been suggested, and 
with good reason, that they may have been a band of Yuchi, then 
recently expelled from their ancient seats among the mountains to 
the west of the headwaters of the James. Others believe them to 
have been Cherokee, but there is no reason to explam the desire of 
the latter to seek a new home, far away from their long occupied sites. 

Probably the most convincing argument regarding the identity 
of these people is presented in the following statement by Mr. James 
Mooney : 

In an earlier Bureau publication the present writer assumed 
that the Rechahecrian or Rickohockan were identical with the 
Cherokee, based chiefly upon the staternents of the Virginia records 
and of the traveler Lederer (1670) that they came from, or resided 
in, the mountain region at the back of Vhginia and Carolina. Later 
consideration, however, indicates a possibility that they may have 
been the Erie — ^variously knowai as Eriga, Rique, Riquehronnon 
and Rike-haka — a powerful tribe of Iroquoian stock residing, when 


first known, along the southeastern shores of Lake Erie and the 
upper waters of the Allegheny River, but who, as the result of a 
desperate three years' war with the confederated Iroquois, 1653- 
1655, were utterly defeated and destroyed as a people, a part of 
the survivors being incorporated with the conquerors, while the 
rest fled to the southward, as did the kindred Susquehanna for the 
same cause and from the same enemy 20 years later." 

The manners and customs of the western Algonquians do not 
appear to have diflered greatly from those of the eastern tribes, and 
their villages were quite similar in appearance, but they were not 
known to Europeans until some years after the settlement of James- 
town in the year 1607. Now, with the country so thickly settled, 
it is of the greatest interest to trace the journeys of the early French 
missionaries and explorers through the unexplored wilderness between 
the Great Lakes and the Mississippi. Of the many who entered 
this western country the names of Marquette and La Salle will ever 
remain the most promment in history. 

The region of lakes and forests south of Lake Superior must have 
been occupied by many camps and villages, for when writing '' of the 
peoples connected with the Mission of Saint Esprit, at the point 
called Chagaouamigong," it was said: 

"More than fifty Villages can be counted, which comprise divers 
peoples, either nomadic or stationary, who depend in some sort on 
this Mission" (p. 165). They resorted to this spot for trade, even 
the distant Illinois being among the number to gather here. And 
in mentioning the latter in detail the narrative continued: "The 
Ilinois, tribes extending toward the South, have five large Villages, 
of which one has a stretch of three leagues, the cabins being placed 
lengthwise. They number nearly two thousand souls, and repair to 
this place from time to time in great numbers, as Merchants, to 
carry away hatchets and kettles, guns, and other articles that they 
need. Dm-ing the sojourn that they make here, we take the oppor- 
tunity to sow in their hearts the first seeds of the Gospel. Fuller 
mention wiU be hereafter made of these peoples, and of the desire 
which they manifest to have one of our Fathers among them to 
instruct them; and also of the plan formed by Father Marquette to 
go thither next Autumn." (Dablon, (1), p. 167.) 

This related to events during the years 1669 and 1670. The mission 
stood on the south shore of Lake Superior. The number of villages 
mentioned, if correct, must necessarily have included many of only a 
few wigwams, but nevertheless the Mission of St. Esprit must have 
been an important gathering place, some coming from their homes 
on distant lakes and rivers in light bark canoes to barter their beaver 
skins for weapons and utensils brought by traders from; MontreaL 
And an animated scene it must have been, Jesuits and traders, with 


the gathering of Indians, many of whom had never before seen a 

On May 17, 1673, Marquette and Johet, with five men, embarked 
in two oanoes and started from the Mission of St. Ignace at MichiH- 
mackinao to penetrate the unknown region. They passed through 
Green Bay and entered Fox River, having stopped at the Menominee 
village, and on June 7 reached the great town of the Mascoutens near 
the portage leading from the Fox to the Wisconsin. Here were 
found, in addition to the Mascoutens, some Miami and Kickapoo 
forming one settlement. 

"This Village Consists of three Nations who have gathered there, — 
Miamis, Maskoutens, and Kikabous. The former are the most civil, 
the most liberal, and the most shapely. They wear two long looks 
over their ears, which give them a pleasing appearance. They are 
regarded as warriors, and rarely undertake expeditions without 
being successful . . . The Maskoutens and Kikabous are ruder, 
and seem peasants in Comparison with the others. As Bark for 
making Cabins is scarce in this country. They use Rushes; these 
serve Them for making walls and Roofs, but do not afi"ord them much 
protection against the winds, and still less against rains when they 
fall abundantly. The Advantage of Cabins of this kind is, that 
they make packages of Them, and easily transport them wherever 
they wish, while they are hunting." (Marquette, (1), p. 102.) 

Three days later, having secured two Miami men to accompany 
them as guides, they made the portage to the Wisconsin River 
and "thus we left the Waters flowing to Quebeq, 4 or 500 Leagues 
from here, to float on Those that would thenceforward Take us 
through strange . . . lands and, at 42 and a half degrees Of latitude. 
We safely entered Missisipi on the 17th of June, with a Joy that I 
cannot Express." Floating down the Mississippi, they soon arrived 
at the village of the Peoria, an Illinois tribe, then living on the right 
bank of the Mississippi probably not far from the mouth of Des 
Moines. The town consisted of about 300 large wigwams, "roofed 
and floored with mats of Rushes," and there is reason to suppose 
there was one structure larger than the others where ceremonies 
were held, as Marquette, in referring to the dance of the Calumet 
(p. 133), wrote: 

"In Winter, the ceremony takes place in a Cabin; in Summer, 
in the open fields. When the spot is selected, it is completely sur- 
rounded by trees, so that all may sit in the shade afforded by their 
leaves, in order to be protected from the heat of the Sun." 

Such a gathering could not have taken place in an ordinary, 
small dwelling, and there w^as undoubtedly at this great settlement 
a "temple" similar to that discovered among the same people some 
years later. 


The coming of the French was hailed with joy by the Ilhnois, 
and as they entered the village and approached a cabin, they saw 
an old man standing at the door ,who greeted them in these words : 
"How beautiful the sun is, O Frenchman, when thou comest to 
visit us! All our village awaits thee, and thou shalt enter all our 
Cabins in peace." 

After the visit of the French the Peoria did not remain long on 
the western bank of the Mississippi. They removed to the Illinois 
River, where they were again met, some two months later, by Mar- 
quette on his journey northward. Here they were visited by a 
French officer, in the year 1756, who left an interesting account of 
his experiences, together with a brief description of the settlement: 

"The village of the Peorias is situated on the banks of a little river, 
and fortified after the American manner, that is surrounded with 
great pales and posts. When we were arrived there I enquired for the 
hut of the grand chief; they brought me to a great hut, where the 
whole nation was assembled, on account of a party of their warriors, 
who had been beaten by the Foxes, their mortal enemies." (Bossu, 
(1), I, pp. 188-191.) 

The following day Bossu encountered a great gathering on the 
plain, "making a dance in favour of their new Manitou," and later 
he entered "at the door of the temple of this false deity." Quite 
similar to this must have been the ceremony mentioned by Mar- 
quette among the same people 8.3 years before. 

Thus it would seem that a "temple" and a large wigwam occupied 
by the chief were the principal structures in the village of the Peoria, 
standing on or near the banks of the Illinois River, about the middle 
of the eighteenth century. The town was protected by palisades, 
but the older village, visited by Marquette, may not have been so" 
guarded. And this brief description is suggestive of the appearance 
of ancient Pomeioc with its palisade, surrounding a group of houses, 
including a " temple " and the larger wigwam occupied by the chief. 

The great town of the Illinois, visited by the French under La 
Salle about the last days of the year 1679, may have been typical 
of the open settlements of the western Algonquian. It stood on the 
right bank of the Illinois River, in the present La Salle County, 
above the mouth of the Big Vermilion, the Aramoni of the French 
explorers, wliich enters the Illinois from the south. Just above, 
but on the opposite side of the Illinois, rises the steep cliff. Starved 
Rock, La RocJier of the early French. The village, wliich was soon 
to be destroyed by the Iroquois, later to rise again, was thus described : 

"We fell down the said River, by easie Journeys, the better to 
observe that countrey, and supply our selves with Provisions. The 
Banks of that River are very charming to the Eye, as useful for Life. 
The Meadows, Fruit-Trees, and Forests, affording every thing that 


is necessary for Man and Beasts, so that being amused by that 
agreeable variety, we spent six days from the Portage (that is the 
place where we Embarked) to the first village of the Ulinois, called 
Pontdalamia, consisting of above 500 Cabins, where we found no 
Inhabitants. We went ashore, and viewed their Cabbins or Cottages, 
which are made with great pieces of Timber, interlac'd with Branches, 
and cover'd with Bark. The inside is more neat, the Walls or sides, 
as well as the Floor, being finely matted. Every Cottage has two 
Appartments, wherein several Families might lodge, and under 
every one of them there is a Cave or Vault, wherein they preserve 
their Indian-coTn, of wliich we took a sufficient quantity, because 
we wanted Provisions.'' (Tonti, (1), pp. 28-29.) 

This was the village of the Kaskaskia, although from the large 
number of wigwams encoimtered by the French it would be reason- 
able to suppose that some other tribes had gathered here. It was 
evidently a gathering place for the Illinois, one of the most important 
centers in the entire valley of the Mississippi. The reference to a 
"Cave or Vault" within every mgwam, where corn, and undoubtedly 
other possessions as well, were preserved, is of special interest as it 
tends to prove the permanent nature of the village of Pontdalamia; 
it likewise recalls the act of the Pilgrims, some sixty years earlier, 
when they discovered corn in pits or caches near the scattered native 
dwellings on Cape Cod. 

Tlie great village of the Illinois was occupied until about the year 
1703, when the Kaskaskia, moving southward, stopped and reared a 
new town near the banks of the Mississippi, a short distance above 
the stream which perpetuates their tribal name, in the present 
Randolph County, Illinois. But between the time of the arrival of 
La Salle, during the winter of 1679, and the removal some years later, 
the settlement was often visited by missionaries and traders. But 
even earlier, in 1673, it was a resting place for Marquette during his 
journey up the Blinois Eiver, just after having met the Peoria for 
the second time, and on his map the village was given the name 
Kachkaskia. At that time it consisted of 74 houses. Allouez gave 
the number of wigwams standing there at the time of his visit, in 
1677, as 351, and Hennepin tiiree years later increased the number 
to 460. All were probably correct, as it is well known that the Indians 
were accustomed to move from place to place, and seldom would 
all have been gathered in the village at the same time. 

In the spring of the year 1692 Pere Sebastien Rasles having left 
his winter encampment at MissilimakinaJc , started for the "country 
of the Illinois," and WTote: 

"After forty days of travel I entered the river of the Illinois, and, 
after voyaging fifty leagues, I came to their first Village, which had 
three hundred cabins, all of them mth four or five fires. One fire 


is always for two families. They have eleven Villages belonging to 
their Tribe. On the day after my arrival, I was invited by the 
principal Chief to a grand repast, which he was giving to the most 
important men of the Tribe. . . . When all the guests had ar- 
rived they took their places all about the cabin, seating themselves 
either on the bare ground or on the mats. Then the Chief arose 
and began his address. . . . When the speech was finished, two 
Savages, who performed the duty of stewards, distributed dishes to 
the whole company, and each dish served for two guests; while eat- 
ing, they conversed together on different matters; and when they 
had finished their repast they withdrew, carrying away according to 
their custom, what remained on their dishes." (Rasles, (1), pp. 

From these various accounts it would appear that both the bark 
and mat covered dwellings stood at the great village of the Illinois, 
but the latter type was undoubtedly the more numerous. 

Much of interest regarding the daily life and customs of the people 
who lived on the banks of the Illinois, during the closing years of 
the seventeenth centmy, is related in the narrative of Pere Rasles. 
They raised large quantities of corn, but game was plentiful and 
"among all the Tribes of Canada, there is not one that lives in so 
great abundance of everything as do the Illinois. Their rivers are 
covered with swans, bustards, ducks, and teal." Turkeys were 
met "in troops, sometimes to the number of 200," while deer, bears, 
and buffalo were encountered in vast numbers. And mentioning 
their weapons he said: 

* 'Arrows are the principal weapons that they use in war and in 
hunting. These arrows are barbed at the tip with a stone, sharp- 
ened and cut in the shape of a serpent's tongue; if knives are 
lacking, they use arrows also for flaying the animals which they kill. 
They are so adroit in bending the bow that they scarcely ever miss 
their aim ; and they do this with such quickness that they will have 
discharged a hundred arrows sooner than another person can reload 
his gun. They take little trouble to make net suitable for catching 
fish in the rivers, because the abundance of all kinds of animals 
which they find for their subsistence renders them somewhat in- 
different to fish. However, when they take a fancy to have some, 
they enter a canoe with their bows and arrows; they stand up that 
they may better discover the fish, and as soon as they see one they 
pierce it with an arrow. . . . The war-club is made of a deer's 
horn or of wood, shaped like a cutlass with a large ball at the end." 

With these primitive weapons they would wage war on their 
enemies, and kill the game of the forests and plauis. 

The other tribes of the so-called Illinois confederacy were the 
Michigamea, Cahokia, and Tamaroa, with possibly one or more 
smaller tribes of which practically nothing is known. 


The Michigamea, ''great water/' were encoiuitered by Marquette in 
1673 on the right bank of the Mississippi, in the northeastena part 
of the present State of Arkansas, but there is reason to suppose they 
had not been long in this southern home, and a few years before may 
have left the valley of the Illuiois. On the d'Anville map of 1755 
the present Sangamon River, a tributary of the Illinois flowing from 
the south, bears the name Emicouen R., and on the left bank, about 
35 miles from its mouth, is indicated the Ancien village des Metchi- 
gamias. This would undoubtedly place the site of the town within 
the bounds of the present Sangamon County, where several large 
groups of rather small burial mounds on the hills overlooking the 
valley of the Emicouen bear evidence of the location of some early 
settlement, probably that of the Ancien village des MetcJiigamias. 
But on the same map, on the left or east bank of the Mississippi 
about midway between the Caliokias et Tamaroas on the north and 
the Mission des CasJcaMas on the south, appears the name Metclii- 
gamias, evidently indicating the position of their village wiience 
they had removed after having been met by Marquette farther 
south. However, they were accustomed to go north and winter 
with their kindred Tamaroa, whose principal village was near the 
mouth of a small stream which entered the Mississippi just below the 
first bridge built across the river at St. Louis. This was undoubtedly 
the position of the Tamaroa village in the autumn of the year 1700 
when it was visited by Pere Gravier. He arrived October 9 and the 
town was evidently deserted, as he said: 

"At two leagues from the village, I found the Tamarouha, who 
have taken up their winter quarters in a beautiful bay, where they 
await the Metchigamia, who are to come over sixty leagues to winter, 
and form only one village with them. One of our missionaries is to 
v-isit them every second day all the winter long, and do as much for 
the Kaoukia, who have taken their wmter quarters four leagues 
above the village." (Gravier, (1), p. 118.) 

The Cahokia and Tamaroa occupied the rich lowlands on the left 
bank of the Mississippi, opposite the city of St. Louis, in the present 
St. Clair and Madison Counties, Illinois. The village of the tribes 
stood near the mouth of the small stream, already mentioned, which 
later became known as Cahokia Creek, a name which it now bears. 
This was reached by La Salle on February 3, 1682, but the Cahokia 
were not mentioned as Tonti wrote: 

"We came to the Village of the Tamaoas, where we met with no 
body at all, the Savages bemg retired into the Woods to Winter; 
we made there however some Marks to let 'em know that we had 
pass'dby." (Tonti, (1), p. 77.) 

Evidently it was the custom of the Illinois tribes to leave their 
villages about the beginning of winter and to seek the protection and 


seclusion of the vust forests, where they would hunt during the cold 
season, but game was so plentiful that food was always easily and 
quickly secured. With the coming of spring they would return to 
their v^illages and plant large fields of com, which grew luxuriantly 
in the rich black soil. 

On the night of October 10, 1721, Charleroix remained at the 
''village of the Caoquias and the Tamarouas, two Illinois tribes 
which have been united, and together compose no very numerous 
canton. This village is situated on a small river which runs from 
the east, and has no water but in the spring season so that we were 
obliged to walk above half a league, before we could get to our 
cabbins. I was astonished they had pitched upon so inconvenient 
a situation, especially as they had so many belter in their choice; 
but I was told that the Mississippi washed the foot of that village 
when it was built, that in three years it has lost half a league of its 
breadth, and that they were thinking of seeking out for another 
habitation, which is no great affair amongst the Indians." (Char- 
levoix, (1), II, pp. 218-219.) 

The "Illinois country" remained a favorite region for the Indian 
long after the coming of white settlers. As already mentioned, the 
various tribes who occupied the central part of the Mississippi 
Valley were ever moving from place to place, seldom remaining for 
a long period at any one location. Thus a century after Charlevoix 
passed down the Illinois and en1>ered the Mississippi extensive 
villages of the Sauk and Fox stood on the banks of Kock River, near 
its mouth, and consequently on or near the left bank of the Missis- 
sippi, in the present Rock Island County, Illinois. 

Fort Armstrong stood at the lower end of Rock Island, and on 
Friday, August 1, 1817, Major Long ^v^ote: 

"Immediately opposite to the fort on the south side of the river 
is a village of the Fox Indians, containing about thirty cabins, with 
two fires each. The number of souls at this village is probably 
about five hundred. On Rock River, two mUes above its mouth, 
and three across the point from Fort Armstrong, is a Sack village, 
consisting of about one hundred cabins, of two, three, and, in some 
instances, four fires each. It is by far the largest Indian village 
situated in the neighborhood of the Mississippi between St. Louis 
and the Falls of St. Anthony. The whole number of Indians at this 
village amounts probably to between two and three thousand. 
They can furnish eight or nine hundred warriors, aU of them armed 
with rifles or fusees. The Indians of these two villages cultivate 
vast fields of corn, which are situated partly in the low ground and 
extend up the slopes of the bluffs. They have at present several 
hundred acres under improvement in this way," (Long, (1), pp. 


These villages on the banks of Kock River dated from the early 
part of the eighteenth century, and probably presented all the 
characteristic features of the western Algoncjuian settlements. 
Their habitations undoubtedly resembled those of the southern 
Ojibway, an oval, dome-shaped frame covered with sheets of bark 
or rush mats. A typical example of the latter, as it stood on the 
south shore of Mille Lac, Minnesota, during the spring of 1900, is 
sho-wn in plate 2, l. The description of the large fields of corn is 
interesting, and this would probably have applied to the settlements 
of the Cahokia and Tamaroa a centmy earlier. These two Illinois 
tribes, as already mentioned, occupied the wide lowland on the 
left bank of the Mississippi opposite the present city of St. Louis. 
The crests of the bluffs bordering this area on the east reveal many 
traces of the period of Indian occupancy, ^^^th innumerable graves 
on the higher points. And dm'ing past centuries the sunny slopes 
of the bluffs may have been covered by the gardens and cornfields 
of the native tribes who then claimed this fertile region. 

The Sauk village near the mouth of Rock River was the birth- 
place, in the year 1767, of the great leader Black Hawk, who, some 
65 years later, during the early part of 1832, led his people against 
the frontier settlements of Illinois. His village had been destroyed 
by the militia June 15, 1831, after the escape of its inhabitants, but 
at the present time large groups of small burial mounds mark the 
positions of these late native settlements. 

From the preceding quotations it will be underetood how a region 
once occupied by a few thousand families in after years would pre- 
sent the appearance of formerly having been the home of a gi'eat 
multitude. Moving from place to place, they would leave traces 
of their villages and more temporary camps, ashes and refuse would 
accumulate, bits of pottery and objects of stone would remain lost 
and scattered over the smface, to be found at the present day. 
Often a cemetery or a few graves may be discovered near the site 
of the wigwams. Evidently the central village, often surrounded 
by or in the vicinity of the extensive cornfields, would be occupied 
during the spring, summer, and early autumn, and later in the 
year, after the harvest, it would be temporarily abandoned, the fami- 
lies removing to the forests, there to hunt dming the ensuing sea- 
son. Thus one group of families, a few hundred persons, within a 
single generation, would have occupied several widely separated 
and distinct sites. Such was the condition in the "country of 
the Illinois" and elsewhere from the Mississippi to the Atlantic. 
Among the eastern Algonquian tribes, as related by Pere Sebastien 
Rasles when describing the customs of the Abnaki; by Roger 
Williams, who wrote of the movements of the Narraganset; and by 
Strachey when he recorded the habits of the confederated tribes of 


tidewater Virginia as they were during the earhest years of the 
colony, the inhabitants of a village would leave their permanent 
settlements during certain seasons to hunt in the forests, or to seek 
and gather oysters and clams on the coast. In the north the first 
move from the winter encampment would usually be to the "sugar 
camp," where large quantities of sugar would be made from the 
sap of the maple. The move was anticipated with genuine pleasure 
by the northern people, as it marked the end of the long winter, 
when the sun was gaining warmth, but the nights remained cold 
and frosty. 

The Shawnee, so closely allied Imguistically with the Sauk and 
Fox, before the removal of a large part of the tribe southward to 
and beyond the Ohio, may have lived near the Illinois tribes. Dur- 
ing their movement southward they evidently stopped near the 
mouth of the Wabash, where they may have resided for some time. 
Although they do not appear to have been encountered in that 
locality by Europeans, the tradition of their having lived there was 
undoubtedly heard by the early French explorers, and on certain 
maps dating from the first part of the eighteenth century, as for 
example on the Moll map of 1720, the site of their village is indicated 
by the legend: "Savanah old Settlement." This corresponds with 
the position of the "Bone bank," so-called locally, an ancient village 
site on tlie left bank of the Wabash, in Posey County, Indiana. By 
the course of the river it is some 10 miles above its junction with 
the Oliio, but in an air line not more than 2h miles from the latter 
stream. The site occupied the summit of a high bluff and extended 
for 1,500 or more feet along the river. Its width could not be deter- 
mined, as it had been constantly worn away by the action of the 
waters of the Wabash. Innumerable human remains and vast num- 
bers of implements and ornaments of IncUan origin have been recovered 
from the site, wliich, however, may have been occupied successively 
by different tribes, or by the same people at intervals. Neverthe- 
less it must, at some time, have been the site of a Shawnee village. 
Passing southward beyond the Ohio the Shawnee evidently estab- 
lished a great town on the banks of the Cumberland, the site now 
covered by the city of Nashville, Tennessee, thousands of stone- 
lined graves marking the position of the ancient settlement. A 
description of tliis once extensive village would be of the greatest 
interest, but none has been preserved. It may, however, have 
resembled Pontdalamia on the Illinois. 

From the banks of the Cumberland one or more bands of the 
Shawnee moved as far east as the Savannah. Later some turned 
westward and after stopping for a short time on the Chattahoochee 
settled on the left bank of the Tallapoosa, near Fort Toulouse, in 


the present Montgomery County, Alabama. Here tliey were seated 
when visited by Hawkins on December 19, 1796, when he wrote: 

" From this bank arise several springs, pai'ticularly one, a large one, 
half a mile farther, the Uchee village, a remnant of those settled on 
the Chattahoochee, half a mile farther pass a Sliawne village, they 
speak the language and retain the manners of their countrymen to 
the N. W. Tliis to\^^l house cUffers from the Creek, it is an oblong 
square building, 8 feet pitch roofed on the common mode of cabin 
building, the sides and roof covered with bark of pine." (Hawkins, 
B., (2), p. 41.) 

An interesting question now arises in connection with the "town 
house'' existing in this Shawnee village. Among the Algonquian 
tribes of the north, including, of course, the Shawnee, no record is 
preserved of any structure resembling the rotunda, or town house, 
similar to those which stood in the villages of the Cherokee or other 
southern tribes. Ceremonial lodges were erected by the Algonquians, 
and structures of several forms were built to serve as council houses, 
some being temporary shelters, others of a more permanent nature, 
but the ''town house '' like that known among the southern tribes w^as 
not used. The ShawTiee, who, in 1796, were living on the banks of 
the Tallapoosa, had been among the Muskliogean tribes for several 
generations and must necessarily have adopted some of their cus- 
toms, one being the erection of a "town house" in their village. 
However, it differed in form and material from those of the neighbor- 
mg towns, being quadrilateral instead of round, and evidently cov- 
ered and roofed with bark without the usual wattlework protected 
by clay. Tliis appears to have been an instance where a new cus- 
tom was adopted by the Algonquian from the Muskliogean, but the 
form of the structure remained essentially Algonquian. 

At this time, the closing years of the eighteenth century, the 
greater part of the Shawnee were livmg in southern Ohio. But it 
is quite evident their villages were already assummg the appearance 
of the near-by settlements of the whites across the Ohio in Kentucky. 
A brief, though mteresting, description of Old Chillicothe has been 
preserved, although the site of this town has not been determmed, as 
several widely separated settlements bore the name. It may have 
stood on Paint Creek, m the present Ross County, the town of that 
name destroyed by the Kentuckians m 1787. The account was pre- 
pared before 1785: 

"Old Chelicothe is built in form of a Kentucky station, that is, a 
parallelogram, or long square; and some of their houses are shmgled. 
A long Council-house extends the whole length of the town, where 
the kmg and chiefs of the nation frequently meet, and consult of all 
matters of importance, w^hether of a civil or mihtary nature." (Fil- 
son, (1), p. 98.) 


This refers to a rectangular inclosure, formed partly of long sheds, 
the outer walls of which served as the outside of the "station." 
These would be connected by strong palisades, with one or two gates. 
Old Chdlicothe was of this form, a long shed, extending the length of 
one side of the inclosure, evidently bemg the council house. The 
coimcil house may have been a separate structure withm the inclosure, 
but this appears doubtful. It is to be regretted that more is not known 
of the appearance of the native villages which stood in the valley of 
the Ohio long after the close of the Revolution. 

As already showai, Algonquian tribes occupied the right, or west, 
bank of the Hudson. Beyond this narrow strip of territory lay the 
country of the Iroquois, the home of the Five Nations, extending across 
the present State of New York. Continuing westward along the 
south shore of Lake Erie there had formerly lived other tribes belong- 
ing to the same linguistic family. This had evidently been the home 
of the Iroquoian peoples for many generations. Here they had built 
many villages^ traces of which have been discovered tlu"oughout the 
country, with innumerable objects of native origin scattered over the 
surface. The sites of many villages occupied within the historic 
period have been identified by name, and on them, mingled with im- 
plements of stone, are often found objects of European origin, these 
being more numerous on the later sites. The long communal dwell- 
ings of the people of the Five Nations differed in many details from 
the habitations of the neighboring tribes. They were often 100 feet 
or more in length, closely grouped and protected by an encircling 
palisade of one, two, or three rows of timbers. A general description 
of their habitations and villages was prepared soon after the year 
1642, before intercourse with the Europeans had wrought any changes 
in their primitive customs. At that time it was said (Van der Donck, 
(1), pp. 196-198): 

' 'Their houses are usually constructed in the same maimer, without 
any particular costliness or curiosity in or to the same. Sometimes 
they build their hocuses above a hundred feet long; but never more 
than twenty feet wide. When they build a house they place long 
slender hickory saplings in the ground, havmg the bark stripped off, 
in a straight line of two rows, as far asunder as they intend the 
breadth of the house to be, and continuing the rows as far as it is 
intended the length shall be. Those saplhig poles are bent over 
towards each other in the form of an arch, and secured together, 
having the appearance of a garden arbour. The sapling poles are 
then crossed with split poles in the form of lathing, which are well 
fastened to the upright work. The lathmgs are heaviest near the 
ground. A space of about a foot wide is left open m the crown of the 
arch. For covering they use the bark of ash, chestnut, and other 
trees, which they peel off ui pieces of about six feet long, and as broad 


as they can. Tlicy cover their houses, layuig the smooth side in- 
wards, leaving an o^en space of about a foot wide in the crown, to 
let out the smoke. They lap the side edges and ends over each other, 
havmg regard to the slu-mkmg of the hark, securing the covermg with 
withes to the latlinigs. A crack or rent they shut up, and m this 
mamier they make their houses proof agamst wmd and rain. They 
have one door in the center of the house. When the bark of the ash 
and chestnut trees is not loose, they have recourse to the timber trees, 
wliich grow along the brooks, the bark of which can be taken off during 
the whole summer season. Durability is a primary object in their 
houses. In short, their houses are tight and tolerably warm, but 
they know nothing of chambers, haUs, and closetmgs. They kmdle 
and keep their fires in the middle of their houses, from one end to the 
other, and the opening in the crown of the roof lets out the smoke. 
From sixteen to eighteen famihcs frequently dwell m one house, 
according to its size. The fire being kept in the middle, the people 
lay on either side thereof, and each family has its ovm. place. . . . 
In then* villages and their castles they always build strong, firm works, 
adapted to the places. For the erection of these castles, or strong 
holds, they usually select a situation on the side of a steep high hill, 
near a stream or river, which is difficult of access, except from the 
water, and inaccessible on every other side, with a level plam on the 
crown of the hiU, which they enclose with a strong stockade work in 
a smgular manner. First they lay along on the ground large logs of 
wood, and frequently smaller logs upon the lower logs, which serve 
for the foimdation of the work. Then they place strong oak pafi- 
sades in the ground on both sides of the foundation, the upper ends 
of which cross each other and are joined together. In the upper cross 
of the palisades they then place the bodies of trees, which makes tlie 
work strong and fii-m. ... In their castles, they frequently have 
twenty or thirty houses. . , . Besides their strong holds, they have 
villages and towns which are enclosed. Those usually have wood- 
land on the one side, and com lands on the other sides. They also 
frequently have villages near the water sides, at fisliing places, where 
they plant some vegetables; but they leave these places every year on 
the approach of winter, and retire to their strong places, or mto the 
thick woods, where they are protected from the wmds, and where fuel is 
plenty, and where there is game and venison. Thus they subsist by 
hunting and fishmg throughout the year. Then- castles and large 
towns they seldom leave altogether. From other situations they re- 
move frequently, and they seldom remain long at other places. In 
the summer, and ui the fishuig seasons, many come to the water sides 
and rivers. In the fall and w^inter, when venison is best, they rethe 
to the woods and himting grounds. Sometimes towards the sprmg of 
the year, they come in multitudes to the sea shores and bays, to take 
108851°— 19 4 


oysters, clams, and every kind of shell-fish, which they know how to 
dry, and preserve good a long time." 

The same writer remarks (p. 151): 

"Chestnuts would be plentier if it were not for the Indians, who 
destroy the trees by stripping off the bark for covering for their 

This would tend to prove the chestnut to have been a favorite 
one with the Indians, the bark evidently being used extensively as a 
covering for their habitations. 

The preceding description should probably be accepted as appli- 
cable to the villages of all the tribes forming the league, and these in 
turn may have resembled the more ancient settlements which once 
stood on the palisaded liilltops south of Lake Erie. The use of the 
long, extended habitations so characteristic of these tribes developed 
tlu-ough their clan system and custom. Each house was occupied 
by the members of one family, the descendants of a woman through 
the female line. Descent among the Iroquoian tribes passed tlu-ough 
the woman, the cliildren belonging to the clan or gens of the mother. 
As requirements made necessary the house was extended. Thus in 
time many were occupied by a large number of persons, all, however, 
belonging to the same clan, descendants through the female line 
from acknowledged head of the particular group. (Hewitt, (1).) 

After forming the league the people of the several tribes caUed 
themselves the Ho de' no sau nee, that is " the people of the long house." 
The confederacy was thought to resemble their ancient form of 
habitation, a long house, with different groups, each with its own 
fire. The five tribes, whose rich territories extended from east of 
Lake Erie to near the Hudson, were likened to one great family, 
occupying one long house, with five fires ever burning. Later the 
Tuscarora became the sixth member of the league, though not 
regarded as holding a position equal to that of the others. The 
Seneca was the most numerous of the nations of the league. Their 
council fire when first known to Europeans was at Tsonontowan, near 
the present town of Naples, Ontario County. They were the "door- 
keepers" of the Long House, living to the westward. Theirs was 
the first fire ; that of the Mohawk who lived on the extreme east was 
the fifth. 

The villages of the several tribes were very numerous. Many 
were strongly fortified, with extensive fields of corn surrounding and 
near by. Others were scattered, more open settlements, and as 
already mentioned, a small group of persons would often have several 
sites which they would occupy during different seasons of the year, 
returning to the protected stronghold for the winter months. The 
habitations were of various lengths, from the unit of the structure, 
with a single fire and occupied by a few persons, to the extended 
long house of 100 feet or more in length. 


Late in the month of December, 1634, Arent Van Curler, from the 
manor of Rensselaerwyck, reached the ^lohawk TiUage of Teaton- 
taloga, on the north side of the Mohawk and near the mouth of 
Schoharie Creek, in the present Montgomery County. Later tliis was 
the site of the Lower Mohawk Castle, so often mentioned in history 
during the eighteenth century. Describing the village as it stood 
in the winter of 1634 he WTote (Van Curler, (1), p. 90): 

"The name is Te notoge. There are 55 houses, some 100 and other 
ones more or less paces long . . . This castle has been surrounded 
by three rows of palisades, but I did not see anytliing peculiar about 
them, but that six or seven pieces were so thick that it was quite a 
wonder that savages should be able to do that." 

Another account of the same settlement, though at that time it 
may not have occupied the identical location, appeared about a 
century later. This later description contains some rather interesting 
information respecting the manners and customs of the Mohawk at 
that time, but it was evidently prepared by one who was not in 
sympathy with Indian habits (Humphreys, (1), pp. 297-298): 

''The Castle or chief Town of these MohocJcs is neighbouring to the 
Queen's Fort, consisting of about 50 Wigwams or Houses. These 
Wigwams are Hutts made of Matts and Bark of Trees put together, 
with Poles about tliree or four Yards high. The Mohocks Cloathing 
is a short Coat like a Mantle, made of a Blanket or Bear's Skin, their 
Bed is a Matt or Skin laid on the Ground. They paint and grease 
themselves very much with Bear's Fat clarified; they cut the Hair 
ofT from one Side of their Heads, and tye up some of that on the other 
Side, in Kmotts, on the Crown, with Feathers." 

This reference to mat and bark covered wigwams is rather more 
suggestive of an Algonquian village, and it is evident the Mohawk 
had, at this time, adopted some of the customs of the neighboring 
Algonquian tribes. The Maliican were living a few miles eastward 
and on the south were the Munsee. Both tribes erected wigwams 
covered with bark and mats. 

The writer continued by saying: 

"For four or five Months in the Year, there is scarce any stirring 
abroad, by Reason of the extream Coldness of the Weather, and the 
deep Snows that fall. " 

The road to Albany, 44 miles distant, was a "rough Indian Path 
thro' vast woods." This less than two centuries ago. 

Leaving Te noto^6,Van Curler reached the Oneida village standing 
just east of the present town of Munnsville, Madison County, and on 
December 30, 1634, entered the palisade through the gate — 

"Which was 3 J feet wide, and at the top were standing three big 
wooden images, of cut wood, like men, and with them I saw tlu'ee 
scalps fluttering in the wind, that they had taken from their foes as a 



[bull. 69 

token of the truth of their victory. This castle has two gates, one on 
the east side and one on the west side. On the east side a lock of 
hair was also hanging; but tliis gate was 1 J feet smaller than the other 
one. ... This castle is situated on a very high hill, and was sur- 
rounded with two rows of palisades. It was 767 paces in circum- 
ference. There are 66 houses, but much better, higher, and more 
finished than all the others we saw. A good many houses had wooden 
fronts that are painted with all sorts of beasts. There they sleep 
mostly on elevated boards, more than any other savages." 

Seldom were the outsides of dwelhngs of tribes east of the Mississippi 
decorated in any manner, consequently this reference is of special 
interest. However, the lack of decoration should probably be 
attributed to the nature of the structures rather than to any other 
cause, as the mat-covered habitations of the Algonquian tribes did 
not present a good surface for painting. But among the southern 

people houses were sometimes deco- 
rated. This will be described later. 
Westward beyond the Oneida lay 
the Onondaga, at whose chief town, 
Onondaga, burned the Great Council 
Fire of the League of the Iroquois. 
This most important village was 
removed from place to place, but 
always remained within a rather 
small radius, and many of the 
which have been discovered in the southeastern 
part of the present Onondaga County may at some time have been 
occupied by this town, which should be termed the capital of the 

On July 21, 1743, when Bartram and his party arrived at Onondaga 
they stopped before the council house where they were received by 
the chiefs who had gathered to greet them. They were conducted to 
the apartments at both ends of the long house (fig. 2). These they 
were to occupy during their stay. Their Indian attendants were 
given adjoining apartments. Fortunately an mteresting description 
of the structure, together with a plan (fig. 3), was preserved in the 
narrative of the journey (Bartram, J., (1), pp. 40-41): 

''This cabm is about 80 feet long, and 17 broad, the common 
passage 6 feet wide; and the apartments on each side 5 feet, raised a 
foot above the passage by a long saplmg hewed square, and fitted 
with joists thatgo fromit to the back of the house; on these joists they 
lay large pieces of bark, and on extraordinary occasions spread matts 
made of rushes, this favour we had ; on these floors they set or lye down 
every one as he wiU, the apartments are divided from each other by 
boards or bark, 6 or 7 feet long, from the lower floor to the upper, on 

Fig. 2.— Bark house. Method of construction 
of the Iroquois long house. (From Handbook 
of A merican Indians . ) 

various sites 




which they put their lomber, when they have eaten their homony, 

as they set m each apartment l)cfore the fire, they can put the bowl 

over head, having not above 5 foot to 

reach; they set on the floor sometimes at 

each end, but mostly at one: they have a 

shed to put their wood into in the winter, 

or ill the summer to set to converse or 

play, that has a door to the south; all the 

side and roof of tli§ cabin is made of bark, 

bound fast to poles set in the ground, and 

bent round on the top, or set aflatt, for the 

roof as we set our rafters; over each fire 

place they leave a hole to let out the 

smoak, which in ramy weather they cover 

with a piece of bark." 

Wliile the preceding was probably a 
typical long habitation of the Iroquois, 
and was accurately described, nevertheless 
it is quite evident other similar structures 
differed in certain details, and that all were 
not exactly alike in interior arrangement. 
Some appear to have had small closet-like 
compartments for storage purposes placed 
between the larger divisions which served 
for sleeping and living apartments. Such 
variations probably occurred at different 
tim:es and among the several tribes. 

It is c^uite remarkable that a people pos- 
sessing such a complex form of government 
did not, until after the middle of the 
eighteenth century, erect a structure which 
was retained solely as a council house, or 
gathering place, as was the custom among 
the southern tribes. Before that time the 
house of the Fire Keeper of tlie nation was 
in reality the capitol, where tribal ques- 
tions were discussed and where ambassa- 
dors from other tribes were received. 

The people of the Five Nations had 
extensive fields and gardens, surround- 
ing or near their villages, and raised vast 
quantities of corn and vegetables. Much 
corn would be deposited in pits, excavated and lined with bark for 
the purpose, and these after being filled with grain would be covered 
with other sheets of bark with a mass of earth above. Such caches, 

Fig. 3.— rian of Onondaga longhouse, 
1743. (FromBartram.) 


often filled with carbonized grain, have been found on many long- 
deserted village sites. Other similar pits served as places for the 
storage of various possessions of the people, such as skins, cured meats, 
and different vegetables. It will be recalled that ' ' a Cave or Vault," 
filled with corn, was discovered by the French in 1679 beneath the 
floor of every wigwam at the great village of the Illinois, but among the 
Iroquois it was the custom to prepare the caches outside the dwellings. 

When away from their villages the Iroquois erected a small tem- 
porary shelter of rather unusual form: "It was triangular at the 
base, the frame consisting of three poles on a side, gathered at the 
top, but with space sufficient between them for a chimney opening." 
This frame was covered with sheets of bark after the fashion of 
the larger structures. (Morgan, (2), I, p. 310.) But even a 
simpler form of shelter was known to the people of the region, as 
described by one who enjoyed its protection. On the night of July 
11, 1743, while on his journey to Onondaga, Bartram and his party 
encamped in the vicinity of the Indian settlement of Shamokin, near 
the forks of the Susquehanna, when "about break of day it began to 
rain and the Indians made us a covering of bark got after this 
manner: They cut the tree romid through the bark near the root, 
and make the like incision above 7 feet above it, there horizontal 
ones are joined by a perpendicular cut, on each side of which they 
after loosen the bark from the wood, and hewing a pole at the small 
end gradually tapering like a wedge about 2 feet, they force it in. till 
they have compleated the separation all romid, and the bark parts 
whole from the tree, one of which, a foot diameter, yields a piece 7 feet 
long and above 3 wide : And having now prepared four forked sticks, 
they are set into the ground the longer in front; on these they lay 
the cross-poles, and on them the bark. This makes a good tight 
shelter in warm weather." (Bartram, J., (1), pp. 20-21.) 

Temporary shelters of some simple form must necessarily have been 
made by all tribes, but seldom were they seen or described by those 
who have left accounts of their journeys through the Indian comitry 
of a century and more ago. The shelter mentioned by Bartram may 
have been of the form used tliroughout the eastern area. 

The site of the palisaded Onondaga town which was attacked by 
the French led by Champlain in the year 1615 was identified some 
years ago. It stood in the town of Fenner, 3 miles east of Perryville 
in the present Madison County, at the outlet of Nichols pond. 
As described by Champlain it was surrounded by a quadruple 
palisade, very strongly built, as shown in the accompanying drawing. 
(Champlain, (1), p. 444.) Tliis, one of the earliest illustrations of 
an Iroquoian settlement, is reproduced in plate 8, h. This location 
was within the lands of the Oneida, east of the Onondaga, although 
it was evidently a settlement of the latter tribe, one of their prmcipal 

bushnell] native villages AND VILLAGE SITES 55 

villages. But a much earlier description of an Iroquoian town has 
been preserved, and although not within the limits of the United 
States it should now be mentioned. Hochelaga, the Huron settle- 
ment which stood on the site of Montreal, was visited by Jacques 
Cartier during his second expedition in the year 1535. A very crude 
and inaccurate drawing of the palisaded village was given on pages 
446-447 of the third volume of Ramusio, printed in Venice in 1556. 
The description was translated and used by Hakluyt (Cartier, (1), 
p. 220), but the illustration was omitted. After referring to the fields 
of corn the account continues: 

*'In the midst of those fields is the citie of Hochelaga, placed neere, 
and as it were joyned to a great mountaine that is tilled round about, 
very fertill, on the top of which you may see very farre, we named it 
Mount Roiall. The citie of Hochelaga is round, compassed about with 
timber, with three course of Rampaires, one within another framed 
hke a sharpe Spire, but laide acrosse above. The middlemost of them 
is made and built as a direct line, but perpendicular. The Rampiers 
are framed and fashioned with peeces of timber, layd along the 
gromid, very well and cmmmgly joyned togither after their fashion. 
This enclosure is m height al^out two rods. It hath but one gate or 
entrie thereat, which is but with piles, stakes, and barres. Over it, 
and also in many places m the wall, there be places to runne along, 
and ladders to get up, all full of stones, for the defence of it. There 
are in the towne about fiftie houses, about fiftie paces long, and 
twelve or fifteens broad, built all of wood, covered over with the 
barke of the wood as broad as any boord, very finely and cmminly 
joyned togither. Within the said houses, there are many roomes, 
lodgmgs and chambers. In the middest of every one there is a great 
Court, in the middle whereof they make their fire. They live in 
common togither: then do the husbands, wives and children each 
one retire themselves to their chambers." 

Such was an Iroquoian village nearly four centuries ago, when first 
visited by Europeans, and the description is quite similar to that of 
the Mohawk Castle just one century later. It is quite evident that 
little or no change had taken place in the manners of the people 
during the century. They lived as they had for generations, and so 
continued until about the time of the Revolution. Another view of 
Hochelaga appears on the Lescarbot map of 1609, and is now repro- 
duced as plate 8, a. Five houses are shown surrounded by a palisade, 
with one gate facing the south. 

As already mentioned, innumerable village sites have been dis- 
covered tliroughout the comitry of the Five Nations, many of which 
have been identified as having been occupied during the early days 
of the colony. In many instances traces of the palisades, or remains 
of the embankments by which the settlements were surrounded and 


protected, have been encountered. Similar sites have been en- 
countered in the territory westward from that of the Five Nations, 
south of Lake Erie. These were probably the towns of the ancient 
Eries, the Cat Nation of the French, who disappeared from history 
about the middle of the seventeenth century. There may have been 
little or no difference in the appearance of the towns of the Huron, 
the Erie, and the Five Nations. Some were strongly palisaded; 
others were open, with the habitations more scattered. 

Extending southward from the land of the Five Nations, following 
the valley of tbe Susquehanna tc the shores of Chesapeake Bay, lived 
other Iroquoian tribes, the best known being those whose name is 
now applied to the river along which their villages once stood. Here 
they were met by Capt. John Smith and his party of Virginia colo- 
nists during the summer of 1608. The English were awed when they 
encountered these people. ' 'Such great and well proportioned men, 
are seldome seene, for they seemed like Giants to the English, yea 
and to the neighbours : yet seemed of an honest and smiple dispo- 
sition, [and they were] with much adoe restrained from adoring the 
discoverers as Gods." Their principal towns were some miles above 
the mouth of the river, were g ix ^in number, and some, if not all, were 
protected by palisades. The houses were covered with mats or 
bark, and probably very often both mats and bark served to cover one 
structure. An engraving, entitled ' 'The IndianFort Sasquesahanok," 
appeared on the Moll map of 1720. This, however, was obviously 
copied from the dra^ving of Pomeioc made by Wliite in 1585. In 
printing the plate the view was reversed, but the relative arrange- 
ment remained the same. The curious landscape was evidently 
prepared to add to the deception; nevertheless the general appearance 
of the village may not have differed greatly from the picture, which 
was probably typical of the whole region. This is reproduced in 
plate 9, a. On the Herrman map of 1673 a cluster of eight houses, 
surrounded by a palisade, bears the legend "The present Sassqua- 
hanna Indian fort," and is placed on the right bank of the stream 
just above the Conewago Falls, in the present York Comity, Penn- 
sylvania. The latter was probably one of the ancient sites earlier 
indicated on Smith's map as being the position of a "King's howse." 
On the same map Smith shows the town of Utchoivig on what appears 
to have been the West Branch of the Susquehamia. This, according 
to the belief of Hewitt, was probably near the present city of Lock- 
haven, Clinton County. Just below Lockhaven, in the West 
Branch, is Great Island, known to have been the site of ancient 
Indian settlements, and which may have been, and probably was, at 
one time occupied by the Susquehamia village of Vtchomig. The 
Susquehanna were driven southward by the Iroquois, or Five 
Nations, about the year 1675, and later the valley of the stream was 


occupied by the Delaware and other Algonqiiian remnants who were 
forced westward by the encroachment of European settlements on 
the Atlantic coast. In the year 1768 Great Island was partly occu- 
pied by the important Delaware village where Newoleeka, or Newah- 
leeka, was chief. It was often mentioned in the history of the period. 
(Colonial Records of Pa., (1), p. 428 et seq.) Many implements and 
objects of native origin have been discovered in the region which, in 
the days before the coming of the colonists, was probably a favorite 
locality of the Indian, one where game and fish were plentiful and 
easily obtained. A view of the upper end of Great Island, taken from 
the high cliff bordering the river, is shown in plate 9, h. Tliis was the 
site of the ancient village. 

In southern Virginia the Nottoway and Meherrin were connected, 
linguistically, with the tribes just mentioned, being Iroquoian, as 
were the neighboring Tuscarora and possibly the Coree, likewise the 
powerful Cherokee, whose many villages were scattered through tlie 
valleys of the southern mountains. A very interesting description 
of the protected town of the Nottoway which stood in Southampton 
County, Virginia, is preserved, and it is evident the place had main- 
tained its primitive appearance, unchanged, since the settlement of 
the colony. The Nottoway continued their tribal organization as 
late as 1825, though greatly reduced in numbers. The town was 
visited by Col. William Byrd on April 7, 1728, and was described 

''This fort was a square piece of ground, inclosed with substantial 
puncheons, or strong palisades, about ten feet high, and leaning a 
little outwards, to make scalade more difficult. Each side of the 
square might be about a hundred yards long, with loop-holes at 
proper distances, through which they may fire upon the enemy. 
Within this inclosure we found bark cabins sufficient to lodge all 
their people, in case they should be obliged to retire thither. These 
cabins are no other but close arbours made of saplings, arched at the 
top, and covered so well with bark as to be proof against all weather. 
The fire is made in the middle, according to the Hibernian fashion, 
the smoke whereof finds no other vent but at the door. . . The 
Indians have no standing furniture in their cabins but hurdles to 
repose their persons upon, which they co\er \vii\\ mats and deer- 
skins." (Byrd, (1), pp. 34-35.) 

This conformed with the custom of the northern Iroquois tribes 
where the strongly palisaded central village served as a place of 
refuge for the people of the outlying districts in times of danger. 
Not far distant from the town of the Nottoway stood, a few years 
before, the village of Paski, where during the month of October, 1711, 
De Graff enried halted when on his way to Virginia: 


, "That village was fortified with palisades and the houses or 
cabins were neatly made out of tree bark, they stood in a circle, 
and in midst of them was a beautiful round place, in its center a 
big fire, and around it the Council setting on the ground, that is the 
leaders of the Tuscoruros' nation." (De Graffenried, (1), p. 937.) 

This reference, though brief, is of gi'eat interest, as it proves that 
within a short distance of one another stood both round and quad- 
rangular inclosures, built by people of the same stock, though not 
of the same tribe. And it is remarkable how closely the description 
of the village of Paski conforms with the picture of Pomeioc; a 
circular palisade surrounding a number of bark-covered houses 
placed in a circle, a great fire iii the middle of the open space, with 
a group of Indians gathered around. 

During the war with the colonists the Tuscarora and their allies 
erected palisaded strongholds. In January, 1712, such a fort was 
built on the bank of the K"euse some 20 miles west of Newbern. 
This was taken by the whites on the 28th of the same month. The 
site is well known, and numerous arrow points and other objects of 
stone found there are thought by some to have been used and lost 
at the time of the encounter, although the Indians unquestionably 
had an ample supply of firearms. 

The mat and bark covered habitations of the eastern tribes, in 
addition to the characteristic structures of the Iroquois, or Five 
Nations, were of two general tyj^es, the circular, dome-shaped wig- 
wam, and the more quadrangular form with the arched roof. The 
latter was used tliroughout tidewater Virginia, and was clearly 
described by the early writers. It was likewise shown in White's 
drawings made of the villages standing in the northeastern corner of 
North Carolina in the summer of 1585. These were not far from the 
country of the Tuscarora, who, however, appear to have erected 
both ty])es of dwellings. Soon after the beginning of the year 1701, 
Lawson "met with 500 Tuskereros in one Hunting Quarter. They 
had made themselves streets of houses built with Pine Bark, not with 
round tops as they commonly use, but Ridge Fashion, after the 
manner of most other Indians." (Lawson, (1), p. 32.) "Ridge 
Fasliion," in this Cjuotation, undoubtedly refers to the Virginia 
form of structure, the long arched roof described by the historians 
as resembling arbors in the English gardens. The dome-shaped 
habitations of the Carolina Indians — and the account refers more 
particuliarly to the Tuscarora and Coree — ^were described by Lawson 
(p. 105). They were usually covered with cypress bark, but when 
this was not to be had cedar or pine was used, the latter being con- 
sidered the poorest. Many long saplings were cut, "at the tliickest 
end of which they generally strip off the bark, and warm them well 
in the fire, which makes them tough and fit to bend; afterw^ards 


they stick the thickest ends of them in the gi-ound, above two yards 
asunder, in a circuhir form, the distance they design the Cabin to be 
(which is not always round but sometimes oval) ; then they bend the 
tops and bring them together and bind their ends with bark of trees, 
that is proper for that use, as Elm is, or sometimes the Moss that 
grow on the Trees . . . They have other sorts of Cabins without 
Windows, wliich are for the Granaries, Skins, and Merchandizes; 
and others that are covered overhead and the rest left open for air. 
These have reed Hurdles like Tables, to lie and sit on in summer, 
and serve for pleasant Banc^ueting Houses in the Hot Season of the 
Year. The Cabins they dwell in have Benches aU around, except 
where the door stands. On these they lay Beasts-Skins and Mats 
made of Rushes, whereon they sleej) and loll. In one of these several 
Families commonly live, though all related to one another." 

Considering the size and importance of the Cherokee it is surpris- 
ing how little is known regarding the appearance of their dwellings 
and other structm-es. But their villages were not compactly built, 
as among other tribes. The houses were widely scattered and were 
often far removed from the center of the community, or village, 
which was indicated by the town house. Unlike the Creeks, so 
Bartram WTote in 1789 — 

"They have neither the Square nor the ChunJcy-Yard. Their 
Simimer Council House is a spacious open loft or pavilion, on the 
top of a very large oblong building; and the Rotunda, or great Hot 
or Town House, is the Council House in Cold seasons. Their private 
houses or habitations consist of one large oblong-square log build- 
ing, divided transversely into several apartmants; and a round hot- 
house stands a little distance off, for a winter lodging-house." 
(Bartram, W., (1), pp. 56-57.) 

A few years earlier it was said: "They build theu- houses with 
wood and ciel them with clay mixed with straw, so as to render them 
tight and comfortable. They have many small towns dispersed 
among the mountains." (Rogers, (1), p. 202.) The Cherokee 
and Creeks not only differed in the arrangement of the buildings 
but in the manner of their construction. The rectangular habitation 
of the Cherokee was one story in height, formed of logs "stripped of 
their bark, notched at their ends, fixed one upon another, and after- 
wards plaistered well, both inside and out, with clay well tempered 
with dry grass, and the whole covered or roofed with the bark of the 
chestnut tree or long broad shingles." (Bartram, W., (2), p. 365.) 
This was partitioned transversely and formed into thi-ee apartments, 
connected by doors. A few yards away from the house, opposite 
the main entrance, stood a small, conical, earth-covered lodge, 
known as the winter hothouse. 


The Cherokee town of Cowe (Kawi'yi, Mooney) stood on the banks 
of the Little Tennessee, about the mouth of Cowee Creek, in the 
present Macon County, North Carolma, among the beautiful hills 
and valleys of the southern Alleghenies (pi. 10, a). When visited 
by Bartram in the spring of 1776, the town consisted of about 
100 dwellings, and here was a town house large enough to allow 
several hundred persons to gather within. This occupied the summit 
of an artificial mound some 20 feet in height. The building rose 
30 feet higher, making the peak of the roof 50 feet above the sur- 
rounding area. Bartram's description of this structure is of much 
interest (op. cit., pp. 366-367) : 

"They firsL fix in the ground a circular range of posts or trunks of 
trees, about six feet high, at equal distances, which are notched at 
top, to receive into them from one to another, a range of beams or 
wall plates; within this is another circular order of very large and 
strong pillars, above twelve feet high, notched m like manner at 
top, to receive another range of wall plates; and within this is yet 
another or third range of stronger and higher pUlars, but few in 
number, standing at a greater distance from each other; and lastly, 
iu the centre stands a very strong pillar, which forms the pirmacle 
of the building, and to which the rafters are strengthened and bound 
together by cross beams and laths, which sustain the roof or covering, 
which is a layer of bark neatly placed, and tight enough to exclude 
the rain, and sometimes they cast a thin superficies of earth over all. 
There is but one large door, which serves at the same time to admit 
light from without and the smoke to escape when a fire is kindled; 
but as there is but a small fire kept, sufficient to give light at night, 
and that fed with dry small sound wood divested of its bark, there 
is but little smoke. All aromid the inside of the buildmg, betwixt 
the second range of pillars and the wall, is a range of cabms or sophas, 
consisting of two or tliree steps, one above or behind the other, in 
theatrical order, where the assembly sit or lean do%\Ti ; these sophas 
are covered with mats or carpets, very cuj'iously made of thin splints 
of Ash or Oak, woven or platted together; near the great pillar in 
the centre the fire is kmdled for light, near which the musicians seat 
themselves, and round about this the performers exhibit their dances 
and other shows at public festivals, which happen almost every night 
tln-oughout the year." 

The night of Bartram's visit the people had gathered in the town 
house at Cowe to "rehearse the ball-play dance." The town was to 
play against another on the next day. 

The tovnx house at Tellico, a Cherokee village m the present Mon- 
roe County, Tenn., stood on the summit of a mound 12 feet in height, 
which Was in the midst of the old fields, near a bend of the Little 
Tennessee, not far from Cowe. The houses were falling apart, and 


the whole had the appearamce of desolation. (Hawkins, B., (2), p. 
112.) The structure at Tellico was probably similar to that at Cowe 
and Chote. All town houses of the Cherokee were probably much 
alike, difTering only in size and minor details. 

During the latter part of the year 1761 Lieut. Timberlake, of the 
British forces, while on a mission to the Cherokee, reached the im- 
portant to^\ni of Chote, in the present county of Monroe, Tennessee, 
opposite the ruins of Fort Loudon. Here in the tovm. house of 
Chote, "the metropolis of the country," gathered the headmen of 
the neighbormg to^^^ls "to hear the articles of peace read." This 
mrst have been one of the most important and largest buildings 
ever erected by the Cherokee, but in form it did not differ from that 
at Cowe, as the description will prove: 

"The town-house, in which are transacted all public business and 
diversions, is raised with wood, and covered over with earth, and 
has all the appearance of a small mountain at a little distance. It 
is built in the form of a sugar loaf, and large enough to contain 500 
persons, but extremely dark, having, besides the door, which is so 
narrow that but one at a time can pass, and that after much wuiding 
and turning, but one small aperture to let the smoke out, which is 
so ill contrived, that most of it settles m the roof of the house. 
Within it has the appearance of an ancient amphitheatre, the seats 
bemg raised one above another, leaving an area in the middle, in 
the center of which stands the fire; the seats of the head warriors 
are nearest it." (Timberlake, (1), p. 32.) 

And Chote continued to be the "metropolis" of the nation for 
many years. Here the chief men would gather and deliberate, and 
here the representatives of the colonies, and later of the States, 
would come to meet the Cherokee in council. Letters now preserved 
in the Department of Archives, Virginia State Library, Richmond, 
shed much light on tl^e Cherokee during the latter part of the eight- 
eenth century. One of these letters, being of great historical 
interest, reads: 

Chotee 19tli Sepr 1785- 


Agreeable to your Excellencys Instructions I have been Very Attentive to the 
Indians Since July Last at •which time I returned from Charlestown, at my arrival one 
of the principal [men] moved off and Several Families out of the different To\vns. I 
neA'er see them in such Confusion before. I have had Several Meetings ^vith them 
in wliich time my old friend Oconstota who never forsook my Council died, their 
Confusion arose from the delay of the Treaty and the rapid Encroachments on their 
Lands. Several houses are Built within a Mile of their To^vns. Together with the 
Talks from the differt Tribes of Indians some of wliich are now among them and 
More Expected Shortly. Their Council broke up yesterday which has been Sitting 
Six days, the old Tassel imforms [me] that the Wyandots Chief who is with them tells 
him that the Six Nations of Indians are at peace with Yirg" but all the other Tril^es 
are at War, that the Shanees have been tlirough the Different Tribes for their assist- 
ance who have promised to give it this fall and march a Large army against Kentuckey, 


also the different parts of the frontiers of Virg« that the Shanees are to Lie Still till the 
Western Indians arrive at which time the[y] are to send Runners to the Cherokee 3 
Chocta-ws, Chickisaws & Creeks, -with the war Hatchett, but he says he will not accept 
of it. they appear much Better Reconciled then they were some time past. — 

I Divided What public goods was on hand among them & the Chickisaws who I sent 
for to these Towns & which had a wonderful Effect, tho after all my Exertions I fear 
the Chickamoggas will accept the war Hatchett. — I expect to set out for that quarter 
tomorrow and I beg leave to assure your Excellancy that nothing shall be Lacking on 
my part to keep them in good humour till the General Treaty which comes on with the 
Creeks the 24th of Next Month & with the Cherokees, Chickisaws & Chocktaws the 
15th Nov^ after Every thing is Settled with them I shall Hurry down to Richmond 
in order to Settle all my public accts. ' ' 

The letter continues and refers to certain persons living among 
the Indians, and then closes. It was written by Joseph Martin 
and was addressed to "His Excellency Patrick Henry Esq*" Governor 
of the State of Virginia." 

Forwarded with the precedmg letter was a document, part of which 

is now quoted: 

Chotee 19th Septr 1785 
Brother — 

I am now going to Speak to you I hope you will hear me. I am an old man 
and almost thrown away by my Elder Brother — the ground I Stand on is very Slip- 
pery — tho I Still hope my Elder Brother will hear me and take pity on me. As we 
were all made by the Same great Being above we are the Children of the same 
parent — I therefore hope my Brother will hear me. 

It then describes the encroachments of the whites on lands always 
acknowledged as belonging to the Cherokee, claimed and- occupied 
by them, and refers to the coming treaty, then continues: 

I once more Beg that our Elder Brother will Take pity on us and not take our 
ground from us because he is Stronger than we — the great Being above that made us 
all placed us on this Land and gave it to us and it is ours — our Elder Brother in all 
the Treaties we ever had gave it to us also and we hope he will not think of taking 
it from us now. 

I have Sent with this Talk a String of ^\^lite Beads which I hope my Elder 
Brother will take hold of and think of his younger Brother who is now in. Trouble 
and Looking to him for Justice. 

Given out by the Old Tassell for himself & whole Nation in presence of the 
headmen of the Upper & Lower Cherokees & Interpreted by me. 

James McCormack 
For the Governor of Virginia & North Carolina. 

It is interesting to laiow that the string of white wampum which 
accompanied this is still preserved with the paper, now turned yellow 
with age. There are 29 beads on the string, all polished and worn, 
and these were evidently quite old even when sent from Chote, when 
the old men of the Cherokee were seekmg justice for their people. 
These and other papers of a similar nature have recently been dis- 
covered by the State archivist, Morgan P. Robinson, and it is gratify- 
ing to know they will now be carefully preserved together with other 


documents belonging to the days when Virginia had to treat with the 
Indians on its frontiers. 

Such were the town houses, the council houses of the Cherokee, 
among the most interesting buildings reared by the native tribes. 
In general appearance they must have closely resembled the ha])ita- 
tions of the Omaha, the Mandan, and other tribes of the upper 
Missouri Valley, although often much larger than the majority of 
the latter and of more elaborate ulterior construction. 

Wliile many of the toA\ais stood on one side of the river, others are 
known to have occupied both banks of the stream. The settlement 
of Sinica {I'su^niglji, Mooney) formerly stood on Keowee River, about 
the mouth of Conn cross Creek, in the present Oconee County, South 
Carolina. It was visited by Bartram in May, 1776, at which time he 
wrote that it was "situated on the East bank of the Keowe river, 
though the greatest number of Indian habitations are on the oppo- 
site shore, where likewise stands the comicil-house, m a level plam 
betwixt the river and the range of beautiful lofty hills, which rise 
magnificently, and seem to bend over the green i^lams and the river: 
but the chief's house with those of the traders, and some Indian 
dwellmgs, are seated on the ascent of the heights on the opposite 
shore." (Bartram, W., (2), pp. 327-328.) This was a new town 
only recently built 

The town house was the prmcipal structure m the Cherokee vil- 
lages, but among the neighboruig Muskhogean tribes, as will be 
shown on the following pages, the town house, or ''rotunda," was 
but one of a group of important buildmgs in each town. 

As previously stated, the southern section of eastern United States, 
that is, the greater parts of Mississippi and Alabama, and wide regions 
of Florida, Georgia, South Carolma, and Temiessee, was claimed or 
actually occupied by Muskhogean tribes. The best Ioioami of these 
were the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and the numerous lesser tribes which 
were united as the Creek Confederacy. The Natchez, although dis- 
tantly related, should probably be considered as belonging to this 
linguistic family. Occupymg such a vast region, extending from the 
Mississippi to the Atlantic, and from, the high mountainous country 
of the north to the swampy lowlands bordering the Gulf of Mexico 
(pi. 10, I, c), the different tribes developed distinct manners and cus- 
toms, many being shown in the form and appearance of villages. 

Although the Choctaw have been well known to Em^opeans for 
several generations, and their to\\'ns were visited by many who left 
accounts of colonial Louisiana, yet no clear description of a primitive 
Choctaw village is knowTi to have been preserved. However, their 
settlements do not appear to have been compactly built, but were 
probably scattered over a wide area, in the midst of a virgin forest, 
each habitation with a small garden. Recently a brief though very 


interesting description of their habitations has been cUscovered in an 
unpublished manuscript which evidently dates from, the early part 
of the eighteenth century: 

"Their house is nothing else than a cabui made of pieces of wood 
of the size of the leg, buried in the earth and fastened together with 
lianas, wliich are very flexible bands. These cabins are surrounded 
with mud walls without whidows; the door is only from tliree to four 
feet in height. They are covered with bark of the cypress or the 
pme. A hole is left at the top of each gable-end to let the smoke out, 
for they make their fires in the middle of the cabins, which are a 
gunshot distance from each other. The inside is surrounded with 
cane beds raised from tliree to four feet from the ground." 

Heavy skins, such as those of the bear, buffalo, or deer, served as 
coverings; others were spread upon the "cane beds." Their food 
was prepared in vessels of earthenware. Tliis description, although 
quite ambiguous in detail, evidently refers to structures of wattle- 
work (fig. 4), covered with clay in a plastic state, to wliich grass or 
Spanish moss had probably been added. While the preceding ac- 
count was presented as a general 
description of Choctaw dwellings, 
it should be accepted as referring 
more particularly to those members 
of the tribe who lived away from 
riG.4.-Exampieoiwauieuoik. (From the lowlauds bordcrmg the coast, 

Handbook of American Indians.) ,. ^ , i t /■ , V < /-n 

acting on the beliei that Choctaw 
lived along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain and eastward. Accord- 
ing to the statements of several old Choctaw now occupying a few 
acres of land near Bayou Lacomb, which enters Lake Pontchartrain 
some 10 miles east of Mandeville, the primitive habitations of the 
"old people" who lived near the shore of the lake were of two forms, 
circular and rectangular. The frames were formed of small saplings, 
the tops and sides covered with palmetto thatch. Many of the circu- 
lar structures were quite large and served as shelter for many per- 
sons. The single door usually faced the south. The fire was kindled 
on the ground within near the center, the smoke passing out tlu'ough 
an opening made for the purpose in the center of the top or roof. 
Some examples of the rectangular thatched dwelling have been built 
and occupied witlfin the past few years, one being shown in figure 5. 
This particular structure stood near Mandeville, St. Tammany Par- 
ish, on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, m 1879 (Busluiell, (3), 
p. 7). Some 20 miles east of Mandeville was the Choctaw settlement 
of Bonfouca, where Pere Rouquette erected his first chapel during 
the year 1845. A part of this settlement as it was the next year is 
shown in plate 11, this bemg a reproduction of a painting made by 
Bernard, bearing the date 1846. This represents a group of women 


in the foreground, near a firo in the open. Others are gathered be- 
neath the shelter on the left, wliile to the right of the door of the far 
cabin a woman is busily engaged with mortar and pestle, probably 
prepai'ing Tcomho asJiish. The use of the large carrying basket, the 
IcisJie of the Choctaw, is clearly indicated, and the group in the fore- 
ground may be engaged in preparing dyes and the materials for bas- 
ket making, with strips of cane scattered on the ground. The open 
shelter was probably in use throughout the South and the one which 
stood at Bonfouca in 1846 was imdoubtedly t3rpical of all. It closely 

Fig. 5.— Choctaw house of palmetto thatch. 

resembled the houses of the Seminole as described on another page. 
This may have been the ''summer house," so often mentioned. 

Within the past few years traces of a settlement, or camp site, 
have been encountered on a slight ridge, a hundred yards or more 
from the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, about 12 miles northeast of 
New Orleans. Many bits of pottery are found mingled with the 
shells and sand, and human remains have been discovered. This 
may have been a landing place on the shore of the lake, where parties 
coming from the opposite side would encamp, or those returning 
would await favorable weather before attempting to cross. 

In the year 1771 it was said the buildings of the Choctaw were 
"exactly similar to those of the Chicasaws." (Romans, (1), p. 83.) 
108851°— 19 5 


This would indicate that each family had three separate structures — 
a summer house, a corn house, and a winter house. This again may 
refer to the northern part of the tribe, living in the neighborhood 
of the Chickasaw. The same writer left a very interesting statement 
regarding the small temporary shelters erected by the southern tribes 
when away from their villages. He wrote of the Muskhogean people 
(p. 65): 

"A Choctaw makes his camp in travelling in form of a sugar loaf; 
a Chicasaw makes it in form of our arbours; a Creek like to our sheds, 
or piazzas, to a timber house; in this manner every nation has some 
distinguishing way. ' ' 

Similar customs as they existed among the Narraganset, the 
Algonquian tribes of Virginia, the northern Iroquois, and others, 
have already been cited. 

In the vicinity of Lake Pontchartrain lived several Muskhogean 
tribes whose connection with the Choctaw proper has not been clearly 
determined. All appear to have been closely allied, possibly forming 
a confederation of tribes similar to that of the Creek confederacy in 
early times. Among these were the Acolapissa, Tangipahoa, and 
others. A village of the former tribe then standing on the left bank 
of the Mississippi a short distance above New Orleans was visited 
by Charlevoix January 4, 1722, at which time he wrote: 

"This is the finest in all Louisiana, though there are not above two 
hundred warriors in it, who, however, have the reputation of being 
very brave. Their cabbins are in the form of a pavilion . . . They 
have a double covering, that within being a tissue of the leaves of 
Lataniers trees, and that without consists of Matts. The chief's 
cabbin is thirty-six feet in diameter: I have not hitherto seen any of 
a larger size, that of the chief of the Natchez being no more than 
thirty." (Charlevoix, (1), II, p. 285.) 

Much has been written regarding the Natchez, one of the most 
interesting of the native American tribes, and the greater part of 
the available material has been gathered and presented in a single 
volume (Swan ton, (1)). The Natchez settlements, at one time 
nine in number, lay scattered along the course of St. Catherines 
Creek, a few miles from the left bank of the Mississippi, on the eastern 
edge of the present city of Natchez. The dwellings were evidently 
widely dispersed and did not form a compact group. One village, 
the home of the great Sun, probably served as the center of the nation. 
This was the stopping place of Charlevoix on December 25, 1721, when 
he prepared a brief description of the town (op. cit., II, p. 256) : 

''The cabbins of the great village of the Natchez, the only one I 
have seen, are in the form of square pavilions, very low, and without 
windows. Their roofs are rounded pretty much in the same manner 
as an oven. Most of them are covered with tiie leaves and straw of 


maiz. Some of them are built of a sort of mud, which seemed toler- 
ably good, and is covered outside and inside with very thin mats. 
That of the great chief is rough cast very handsomely in the inside: 
it is likewise larger and higher than the rest, being placed in a more 
elevated situation, and has no cabbins adjoining to it. It fronts a 
large square, which is none of the most regular, and looks to the north. 
All the moveables I found in it were a bed of j^lanks very narrow, and 
raised about two or three feet from the ground; probably when the 
chief lies down he spreads over it a matt, or the skin of some animal. 
, . . These cabbins have no vent for the smoke, notwithstanding those 
into which I entered were tolerably white. The temple stands at 
the side of the chief's cabbin, facing the east, and at the extremity 
of the square. It is built of the same material, with the cabbins, 
but of a different shape, bemg an oblong square, forty feet in length, 
and twenty in breadth, with a very simple roof, in the same form as 
ours. At each extremity there is something like a weather-cock of 
wood, which has a very coarse resemblance of an eagle. The gate is 
in the middle of the length of the building, which has no other open- 
ing: on each side there are seats of stone. Wliat is ^dthiii is quite 
correspondent to this rustic outside. Three pieces of wood, joined 
at the extremity, and placed in a triangle, or rather at an equal 
distance from one another, take up almost the whole middle space 
of the temple, and burn slowly away. An Indian, whom they call 
keeper of the temple, is obliged to tend them, and to prevent their 
going out. If the weather is cold he may have a fire for hmiself, for 
he is not allowed to warm himself at this, which burns in honour of the 
sun . . . Ornaments I saw none, nor anything indeed which could 
inform me that this was a temple. I saw only three or four boxes 
lying in disorder, with a few dry bones in them, and some wooden 
heads on the ground, of somewhat better workmanship than the eagles 
on the roof. In short, if it had not been for the fire, I should have 
believed this temple had been deserted for some time, or that it had 
been lately plundered." 

The structure designated the temple was themost important building 
in the village. As should be expected, the various early descriptions of 
the Natchez village did not always agree in detail, but it is possible to 
form a rather clear conception of their appearance. According to 
Du Pratz, who gave a vivid account of the method of constructing the 
houses, all the cabins were perfectly square, none less thaii 15 feet each 
way, and some 30 or more feet on a side. Hickory saplings about 4 
inches in diameter were placed firmly in the ground at the four 
corners. Others, probably smaller, were arranged about 15 inches 
apart in lines between the corner posts, forming the walls of the struc- 
ture. Poles were then fastened on the inside of these in a horizontal 
position, bound and held by split canes. The four corner poles, which 


were as much as 20 feet in length, were bent inward, thus meeting in 
the center of the frame, and were fastened. The poles along the 
sides were likewise bent in and so secured to the four principal sup- 
ports. The frame was then covered with a "mortar of mud mixed 
with Spanish beard, with which they fill up all the chinks, leaving no 
opening but the door, and the mud they cover both outside and inside 
with mats made of the splits of cane. The roof is thatched with turf 
and straw intermixed, and over all is laid a mat of canes, which is 
fastened to the tops of the walls by the creeping plant. These huts 
will last 20 years without any repairs." (Du Pratz, (1), II, pp. 224- 

Within the habitations raised platforms, a foot or more above the 
ground, served as sleeping places. These were covered with heavy 
skins during the cold season, and often with mats during the summer. 
Bags fiUed with Spanish moss were used on the beds. Low stools were 
seen by Du Pratz but were seldom used. Surrounding the houses 
were fields of corn, their principal food. The corn was pounded and 
crushed in wooden mortars, formed by hollowing sections of trees. 
Pottery vessels of many forms were made, some of sufficient size to 
hold 15 quarts. Little now remains to mark the sites of the settle- 
ments of these interesting people who, at the time of the first coming 
of the French, ranked as one of the most important tribes of the lower 
Mississippi Valley. 

Near the northeastern corner of the present State of Mississippi, 
in the vicinity of the headwaters of the Yazoo and Tombigbee Rivers, 
about the region now included in Union and Pontotoc Counties, lived 
the Chickasaw, ever enemies of the neighboring Choctaw, although 
speaking the same language and having many customs in common. 
Writing of the Chickasaw in 1771, Romans said: 

"They live nearly in the center of a very large and somewhat 
uneven savannah, of a diameter of above three miles. . . They have 
in this field what might be called one town or rather an assemblage of 
butts, and very narrow and irregular; this however they divide into 
seven, by the names of Melattaw (i. e.) hat and feather, CJiatelaw (i. e.) 
copper town, Cliukafalaya (i. e.) long town, Hikiliaw (i. e.) stand still, 
Chucalissa (i. e.) great town, Tuckahaw (i. e.) a certain weed, and 
AsTiuck Jiooma (i.e.) red grass ; this w^as formerly inclosed in palisadoes, 
and thus well fortified against the attacks of smaU arms, but now it 
lays open." (Romans, (1), pp. 62-63.) 

Among the Chickasaw each family had a group of three buildings, 
instead of the single structure usually claimed by an Indian family. 
This was likewise the practice among the Creek, who, however, often 
added a fourth, a storehouse. Romans described the houses of the 
Chickasaw as they were in 1771 (op. cit., p. 67) : 

"Their habitations at home consist of three buildings, a summer 
house, a corn house, and a winter house, called a hot house; the two 


first are oblong squares, the latter is circular, they have no chimnies 
but let the smoke find its way out through a hole at the top in their 
dwelling houses, but in the hot houses, where it can, in these they 
make large wood fires, on the middle of the floor, which being by even- 
ing all coals, they enter it, and sleep on benches made round the inside 
of the building." 

As Romans remarked, the buildings of the Choctaw were ' ' exactly 
similar to those of the Chickasaw," this description should therefore 
apply to the houses of both tribes, especially to the northern Choctaw 
living near the Chickasaw. 

James Adair, who spent many years as a trader among the southern 
Indians, and whose work treats principally of the Chickasaw among 
whom he lived the greater part of the time, has left a detailed account 
of the manner in which they constructed their different houses. 
(Adair, (1), pp. 417-421.) The whole village aided in the work, "and 
frequently the nearest of their tribe in neighboring towns, assist 
one another. . . In one day, they build, daub with their tough 
mortar mixed with dry grass, and thoroughly finish, a good commo- 
dious house. They first trace the dimensions of the intended fabric, 
and every one has his task prescribed him after the exactest manner. 
. . . For their summer houses, they generally fix strong posts of 
pitch-pine deep in the ground, which will last for several ages." 

The posts being of equal height were notched to hold the waU 
plates. A larger post was then placed in the middle of each gable 
end, and another in the center of the house to mark the position of 
the partition. The frame was completed by using many small split 
saplings and some larger logs, all of which were secured by tying. 
The outside was made of "pine, or cypress clap-boards, which they 
can split readily; and crown the work with the bark of the same trees, 
all of a proper length and breadth, which they had before provided." 

The covering was held in place by split saplings, tied to the frame 
at the ends. 

" They provide themselves for the winter with hot-houses ... To 
raise these, they fix .deep in the ground, a sufficient number of strong 
forked posts, at a proportional distance, in a circular form, all of an 
equal height, about five or six feet above the surface of the ground: 
above these, they tie very securely large pieces of the heart of white 
oak, which are of a tough flexible nature, interweaving this orbit, from 
top to bottom, with pieces of the same, or the like timber. Then in 
the middle of the fabric they fix very deep in the ground, four large 
pine posts, in a quadrangular form, notched a-top, on which they lay 
a number of heavy logs, let into each other, and rounding gi-adu- 
ally to the top. Above this huge pile, to the very top, they lay a num- 
ber of long dry poles, all properly notched, to keep strong hold of the 
under posts and wall-plate. Then they weave them thick with their 


split sapplings, and daub them all over about six or seven inches thick 
with tough clay, well mixt w^th withered gi'ass: when this cement 
is half dried, they thatch the house with the longest sort of dry grass 
that their land produces. They first lay on one round tier, placing a 
split sappling a-top, well tied to different parts of the under pieces 
of timber, about fifteen inches below the eave: and, in this manner, 
they proceed circularly to the very spire, where commonly a pole is 
fixed, that displays on the top the figure of a large carved eagle. At 
a small distance below which, four heavy logs are strongly tied together 
across, in a quadrangular form, in order to secure the roof . . . The 
door of tliis winter palace, is commonly about four feet high, and so 
narrow as not to admit two to enter it abreast, with a winding passage 
for the space of six or seven feet, to secure themselves both from the 
power of the bleak winds, and of an invading enemy. As they usually 
build on rising ground, the floor is often a yard lower than the earth, 
which serves them as a breast work against an enemy: and a small 
peeping window is level with the surface of the outside ground . . . 
in the fall of the year, as soon as the sun begins to lose his warming 
power, some of the women make a large fire [within the house] . . . 
When the fire is a little more than half burned down, they cover it 
over with ashes." 

During the night the occupants of the beds or couches would reach 
with long canes and ''strike off some of the top embers," thus keeping 
a glo%ving surface exposed. The fire would usually die out about 
the break of- day. The same author (p. 421) refers to the council 
house, one in every town, "the only difference between it, and the 
winter house or stove, is in its dimensions, and application. It is 
usually built on the top of a hill; and, in that separate and imperial 
state house, the old beloved men and head warriors meet on material 
business, or to divert themselves, and feast and dance with the rest 
of the people." 

It is remarkable how similar is Catlin's description of the earth- 
covered structures of the Mandan, as seen by him during the early 
part of the last century, and the preceding account by Adair of the 
appearance and construction of the winter house of the Chickasaw. 
It is difficult to believe they did not have a conmion origin, and al- 
though the Mandan were then living far beyond the limits of the 
region treated in the present paper, nevertheless Catlin's description 
should be quoted as it will tend to make more clear the origin of cer- 
tain sites to be mentioned on another page. 

The gi-eat village of the Mandan stood on a high point on the west 
bank of the Missouri. The point was at a bend of the river which 
thus protected it on three sides, and Catlin wrote: 

"They have therefore but one side to protect, which is effectually 
done by a strong piquet, and a ditch inside of it, of three or four feet 


in depth. The piquet is composed of timbers of a foot or more in 
diameter, and eighteen feet high, set firmly in the ground at sufficient 
distance from each other to admit of guns and other missils to be fired 
between them.'' 

The structures witliin the protected area were very close together — 

"They all have a circular form, and are from forty to sixty feet in 
diameter. Their foundations are prepared by digging some two feet 
in the gi-ound, and forming the floor of earth, by leveling the requisite 
size for the lodge. The floors or foundation are all perfectly circu- 
lar . . . The superstructure is then produced, by arranging, inside 
of tliis circular excavation, firmly fixed in the ground and resting 
against the bank, a barrier or wall of timbers, some eight or nine 
inches in diameter, of equal height (about six feet) placed on end, and 
resting against each other, supported by a formidable embankment 
of earth raised against them outside; then, resting upon the tops of 
these timbers or piles, are others of equal size and equal in numbers, 
of twenty-five feet in length, resting firmly against each other and 
sending their upper or smaller ends towards the center and top of the 
lodge ; rising at an angle of forty-five degi^ees to the apex or sky-light, 
which is about tlu*ee or four feet in diameter, answering as a chimney 
and a sky-light at the same time. The roof of the lodge being thus 
formed, is supported by beams passing around the inner part of the 
lodge about the middle of the poles or timbers, and themselves up- 
held by four or five large posts passing down to thejloor of the lodge. 
On the top of, and over the poles forming the roof, is placed a complete 
mat of willow boughs, of half a foot or more in thickness, wliich pro- 
tects the timbers from the dampness of the earth, with which the 
lodge is covered from bottom to top, to the depth of two or three feet; 
and then with a hard or tough clay wliich is impervious to water, and 
which with long use becomes quite hard." (Catlin, (1), I, pp. 81-82.) 

A circular excavation some 4 or 5 feet in diameter, a foot or more 
in depth and curbed with stones, made in the center of the floor of 
the structure^ served as the fireplace. Beds were formed by stretch- 
ing buffalo skins over frames of poles lashed securely together. 
These extended around the inside wall and each was curtained by 
skins, some of which were elaborately painted, others being decorated 
with quillwork. These beds are quite suggestive of the "cabins" 
seen by Dickenson in the great round houses which stood in the vil- 
lages on the coast north of St. Augustine during the autumn of 1699, 
and which are described on another page. 

The earth lodge was erected by many of the plains tribes, including 
the Pawnee, and in plate 12 is reproduced a very remarkable photo- 
graph of a Pawnee village made about 50 years ago. The great town 
houses of the southern tribes undoubtedly resembled these struc- 
tures, althouo-h some seem to have had a thatch of grass outside the 


earth covering. Some of the more ancient villages in the lower 
Mississippi Valley may have resembled the Pawnee village of half a 
century ago. 

It is quite evident the town houses of the southern tribes in early 
times stood on the smnmit of artificial mounds wliich had been 
erected for the purpose. This was certainly true among the Cherokee 
and Creeks, and probably among the Chickasaw. Seldom were the 
villages of the southern tribes compactly built. The separate dwellings 
or groups of structures which constituted the unit were often widely 
scattered, surrounded by their own fields and gardens. In such 
instances the town house became the center of the community, the 
gathering place for the people, just as the courthouse serves as the 
rallying place in rural districts. The custom of erecting the towTi 
house on the summit of an artificial mound may have been inaugu- 
rated through a desire to elevate the structure above the level of the 
water in time of flood, as many of the towns stood on the lowlands 
along water courses. In tliis connection it is more than probable 
the occurrence of one or more mounds at widely separated places 
along the southern rivers indicate the site of a former village, and 
while slight traces now remain of the toAMis, which are undoubtedly 
quite extensive, many including a hundred or more houses, it is 
easily conceived that such a condition would have resulted from the 
freshets which have swept away practically all signs of the former 

A century or more ago the towns of the Creek confederacy were 
munerous tliroughout the country they then occupied. The con- 
federacy, formed of many small tribes and remnants and parts of 
others, as a whole, was the largest division of the Muskhogean linguis- 
tic family. The towns of the Upper Creeks were in the valleys of 
the Coosa and Tallapoosa, streams which unite a short distance above 
the city of Montgomery, Alabama. The Lower Creeks were farther 
southeast on the Chattahoochee and Flint Kivers. Of the' Lower 
Creek towns Cussetah was one of the most important, and possibly 
one of the most ancient, as its name has been identified in the narra- 
tive of De Soto's expedition in 1540. It stood on the left bank of the 
Chattahoochee, a few miles below the present city of Columbus, 
Georgia. A description of the town as it was in 1820 proves it to 
have been an important center: 

"It appears to consist of about 100 houses, many of them elevated 
on poles from two to six feet high, and built of unhewn logs, with 
roofs of bark, and little patches of Indian corn before the doors. 
The women were hard at work, digging the ground, pounding Indian 
corn, or carrying heavy loads of water from the river: the men were 
either setting out to the woods with their guns, or lying idle before 
the doors ; and the cliildrcn were amusing themselves in little groups 


... In the center of the to^^'n, we passe^.. a large building, with a 
conical roof, supported by a circular wall about tliree feet high: close 
to it was a quadi-angular space, enclosed by four open buildings, 
with rows of benches rising above one another: the whole appro- 
priated, we were informed, to the Great Council of the town, who 
meet, under shelter, or in the open air, according to the weather. 
Near the spot was a liigh pole, like our May-poles, with a bird at the 
top, round which the Indians celebrate theu' Green-Corn Dance. 
The town or to^\^lsllip of Cosito is said to be able to muster 700 war- 
riors." (Hodgson, (1), p. 265.) 

At this time the village had lost much of its i:)rimitivc aspect, but 
the rotunda, "a large building with a conical roof," had evidently 
retained its ancient form. Here stood two rather large artificial 
mounds, one circular, the other rectangular, relics of earlier days 
when the former was probably surmounted by the great round struc- 
ture, the winter council house. The site of this once large settlement 
has been cultivated for many years; the two ancient mounds have been 
worn down by the plow and soon will have disappeared. No traces 
remain of the many houses, the public square, and the larger building 
which served to bound it. A few objects of stone and small frag- 
ments of pottery are found scattered over the surf ace^ — all that marks 
the position of the once important town of Cussetah, and what is 
true concerning this ancient site is equally true of many others 
throughout the country between the Mississippi and the Atlantic. 

In the preceding account of Cussetah as it was a century ago is a 
reference to ' 'a quadrangular space, enclosed by four open buildings." 
This was the Public Scpare, so characteristic of the Creek towns. As 
described by Bartram in 1789: 

' 'The Public Square of the Creeks consists of four buildings of equal 
size, placed one upon each side of a quadrangular court. The prin- 
cipal or Council House is divided transversely into three equal apart- 
ments, separated from each other by a low clay waU. This building 
is also divided longitudinally into two nearly equal parts; the fore- 
most or front is an open piazza, where are seats for the council. The 
middle apartment is for the king (mico) , the great war chief, second 
head man, and other venerable and worthy chiefs and warriors. The 
two others are for the warriors and citizens generally. The back 
apartment of this house is quite close and dark, and without en- 
trances, except tliree very low arched holes or doors for admitting the 
priests. Here are deposited all the most valuable public thmgs, as 
the eagle's tail or national standard, the sacred calumet, the drums, 
and all apparatus of the priests. Fronting this is another building 
called the 'Banqueting House;' and the edifices upon either hand are 
haUs to accommodate the people on public occasions, as feasts, fes- 
tivals, etc. The three buildings last mentioned are very much alike 



[BULL. 69 

and differ from the Council House only in not having the close back 
apartment." (Bartram, W., (1), pp. 53-54.) 

The relative positions of the three principal features of the Creek 
towns, the "Chunky- Yard, Public Square, and Rotunda," as ar- 
ranged in the "modern Creek towns, " was shown by the accompany- 
ing plan made by Bartram in 1789 (fig. 6). In this A represents the 
public square, with the four buildings. B "the Rotunda; a, the door 
opening toward the sc[uare; the three circular lines show the two rows 
of seats, sofas, or cabins; the punctures show the pillars or columns 
which support the building; c, the great central pillar, or columns 
surrounded by the spiral fire, which gives light to the house." C 
represents a part of the chunky yard. Now, while this was the plan 
as followed in later times, the earlier arrangement was different, 
having the chunky yard between the other units of the group. 

§ <^MittlHI!lMI'll 

5 -^////(iiiiiHlJUl 

Fig. 6.— Principal structures of a Creek town in 1789. 

Bartram's sketch of the older method is reproduced in figure 7. It 
was described thus (p. 52) : 

' 'A, the great area, surrounded by terraces or banks, B, a circular 
eminence, at one end of the yard, commonly nine or ten feet higher 
than the groimd round about. Upon this mound stands the great 
Rotunda, Hot House, or Winter Council House, of the present Creeks. 
It was probably designed and used by the ancients who constructed 
it, for the same purpose. C, a square terrace or eminence, about the 
same height with the circular one just described, occupying a position 
at the other end of the yard. Upon this stands the PuUic Square. 
The banks inclosing the yard are indicated by the letters h, h, h, h] 
c indicates the 'Chunk-Pole,' and d, d, the 'Slave-Posts.' Sometimes 
the square, instead of being open at the ends ... is closed upon 
all sides by the banks. In the lately built [1789], or new Creek towns, 
they do not raise a mound for the foundation of their Rotundas or 




Public Squares. The yard, however, is retained, and the pubhc 
buildings occupy nearly the same position in respect to it. They also 
retain the central obelisk and the slave-posts." 

Following this description of the more ancient towns, it appears 
quite evident that the large circular mound on the site of Cussetah 
was occupied by the rotunda, while the four buildings inclosing the 
public square stood on the summit of the large rectangular work, 
and the space between the artificial mounds was covered by the 
chunky yard. Cussetah should probably be accepted as having been 
a typical Creek town, presenting features characteristic of many 
villages in the valleys of the Flint 
and Chattahoochee, Coosa, and 
Tallapoosa; the villages of the 
Chickasaw may have been quite 
similar. A concise description 
of the manner of constructing a 
great circular house has been pre- 
served. (Hawkins, B., (1), pp. 
71-72.) It was called by the 
Creeks Chodc-ofau tlduc-co, and 
by the traders was known as the 

''Eight posts are fixed in the 
gTound, forming an octagon of 
thirty feet diameter. They are 
twelve feet high, and large 
enough to support the I'oof . On 
these, five or six logs are placed, 
of a side, drawn in as they rise. 
On these, long poles or rafters, to 
suit the height of the building, 
are laid, the upper ends forming 
a point, and the lower ends pro- 
jecting out six feet from the oc- 
tagon, and resting on posts five feet high, placed in a circle round 
the octagon, with plates on them, to which the rafters are tied with 
splits. The rafters are near together, and fastened with splits. These 
are covered with cla}', and that with i)ine bark ; the wall, six feet from 
the octagon, is clayed up; they have a small door into a small por- 
tico, curved round for five or six feet, then into the house. The space 
between the octagon and the wall, is one entire sopha, where the 
visiters lie or sit at pleasure. It is covered with reed, mat or splits. 
In the center of the room, on a small rise, the fire is made, of dry 
cane or dry old pine slabs, split fine, and laid in a spiral circle. This 
is the assembly room for all people, old and young; they assemble 
every night, and amuse themselves with dancmg, singing, or conver- 


Fig. 7.— Older method of placing the principal 
structures in a Creek town. 


sation. And here, sometimes, in very cold weather, the old and 
naked sleep. In all transactions which require secrecy, the rulers meet 
here, make their fire, deliberate and decide." 

The peculiarity of a fire of split canes, ''laid in a spiral circle," as 
mentioned in the preceding description, attracted the attention of 
Bartram. As witnessed by him, many pieces of split cane, about 2 
feet in length, were prepared, "then placed obliquely crossways 
upon one another on the floor, forming a spiral circle round about 
the great centre pillar, rising to a foot or eighteen inches in height 
from the ground; and this circle spreading as it proceeds round and 
round, often repeated from right to left, every revolution encreases 
its diameter, and at length extends to the distance of ten or twelve 
feet from the centre, more or less, according to the length of time 
the assembly or meeting is to continue. By the time these prepara- 
tions are accomplished, it is night, and the assembly have taken 
their seats in order. The exterior extremity or outer end of the 
spiral circle takes fire and immediately rises into a bright flame (but 
how this is effected I did not plainly apprehend; I saw no person 
set fire to it; there might have been fire left on the hearth, however 
I neither saw nor smelt fire or smoke until the blaze instantly as- 
cended upwards), which gradually and slowly creeps round the 
centre pillar, with the course of the sun, feeding on the dry canes, 
and affords a cheerful, gentle and sufficient light until the circle is 
consumed, when the council breaks up." (Bartram, W., (2), pp. 

This was certainly a singular manner of adding warmth and light 
to the interior of the council house, and the same writer remarked 
in another work ((1), p. 27.) : 

"The Spiral Fire, on the hearth or floor of the Rotunda, is very 
curious; it seems to light up in a flame of itself at the appointed 
time, but how this is done I kno\v not." 

The four structures bounding a typical Cceek town "square" 
were clearly described by Hawkins, who wrote about the year 1800. 
All were of equal size, covering a space of about 40 by 16 feet, 8 
feet pitch, of one story, " the entrance at each corner. Each building 
is a wooden frame, supported on posts set in the ground, covered 
with slabs, open in front like a piazza, divided into three rooms, the 
back and ends clayed, up to the plates. Each division is divided 
lengthwise, into two seats ; the front, two feet liigh, extending back 
half way, covered with reed mats or slabs; then a rise of one foot, 
and it extends back, covered in like manner, to the side of the build- 
ing. On these seats they lie or sit at pleasure." 

The structure facing the east was the " Mic-co's cahin," the center 
apartment always being occupied by the village chief, or Mico, and 
here would be received the chiefs of other towns, the Indian agent. 


and others of note. The division on the right was occupied by the 
principal counsellors, the " Mic-ug-gee, " and that on the left by the 
''E-ne-hau Ul-gee," 'people second in command. Facing the south 
was the warrior's cabin. 

"The head warrior sits at the west end of his cabin, and in his 
division the great warriors sit beside each other. The next in rank 
sit in the centre division, and the young warriors in the tliird." 

On the south side of the square, facing north, stood the "cabin 
of the beloved men." These are great men who, by reason of notable 
deeds, have become advisers or counsellors of the chief and sit in the 
south division of his cabin. "The family of the Mic-co, and great 
men who have thus distinguished themselves, occupy this cabin of 
the beloved men." The fom-th building facing the square, that on 
the east, was the ''cahin of the young people and their associates." 
(Hawkins, B., (1), pp. 68-71.) 

As previously mentioned, Cussetah stood on the left bank of the 
Chattahoochee a short distance below the present city of Columbus, 
Georgia. On the opposite side of the stream, about 3 miles below 
the falls facing Columbus, was the ancient village of Coweta. A 
fishing station on the left bank of the river at the foot of the falls 
belonged to the people of Coweta, but the lands from there south- 
ward to Cussetah were claimed by the latter. Coweta was visited 
by Governor Oglethorpe in 1740 and a brief account of the town 
was recorded in a journal kept by a member of the expedition, the 
original manuscript being in the British Museum. From it the 
following extracts were made : 

"Their Houses or Hutts are built with Stakes and Plaistered w*** 
clay Mixed with Moss which makes them very warm and Tite. They 
dress their Meat in Large pans made of Earth and not much unlike 
our Beehives in England." 

The night of the arrival of the English at Coweta they were enter- 
tained by the chief men, by whom they were conducted to "the 
Square to see the Indians dance. They dance round a large Fire by 
the beating of a small Drum and six men singing, their dress is very 
wild & frightful, their faces painted with several sorts of colours, 
their hair cut short except three locks one of w'^'' hangs over their 
Forehead like a horses fore top. Tliey paint the short Hair and stick 
it full of Feathers. They have Bells and rattles about their Waist 
and several tilings in their hands. Their dancing is of divers Ges- 
tures and Turnings of the Bodies in a great many frightful Postures. 
The women are mostly naked to the waist wearing only one short 
Peticoat W^*^ readies to the Calves of their Legs." (Buslmell, (4), 
p. 573.) 

The towns of the Creek confederacy were either "war towns" or 
"peace towns," and while Coweta belonged to the former class the 


Hitcliiti town of Apalachicola, on the left bank of the river some 
miles southward, belonged to the latter. Visited by Bartram, it was 
described as being ' ' the mother town or Capital of the Creek or Mus- 
cogulge confederacy: sacred to peace; no captives are put to death 
or human blood spilt here. And when a general peace is proposed, 
deputies from all the towns in the confederacy assemble at this 
capital. . . And on the contrary the great Coweta town ... is 
called the bloody town, where the Micos, chiefs, and warriors assemble 
when a general war is proposed; and here captives and state male- 
factors are put to death." (Bartram, W., (2), p. 387.) 

At this time the town had already become less important than in 
earlier days, and Bartram ' ' viewed the mounds or terraces, on wliich 
formerly stood their town house or rotunda and square or areo- 
pagus," while near by was an ''extensive oblong square yard or 
artificial level plain," evidently the ancient chunky yard. Bartram 
places this town 12 miles below Coweta but Hawkins ((1), p. 64) 
shows it to have been at least 22 miles below the falls. 

A log house, as constructed by the Creeks toward the close of the 
eighteenth century, is showai in plate 13. Tliis is after Schoolcraft, 
who referred to it as ''Tlie Creek house in its best state of native 
improvement in 1790." The origmal drawing was made by J. C. 
Tidball, V. S. A. (Schoolcraft (1), V, p. 394.) 

Homes among the Creeks did not always consist of a single house but 
usually of a group of four structures, and this was clearly described 
by Bartram when speaking of the chief of "the town of the Apala- 
chians, " that is, the Hitchiti town of Apalachicola, previously men- 
tioned. Bartram wrote: 

"His villa was beautifully situated and well constructed. It was 
composed of tlu-ee oblong uniform frame buildings, and a fourth, 
four-square, fronting the principal house or common hall, after this 
manner, encompassing one area. The hall was his lodging house, 
large and commodious; the two wings were, one a cook-house, the 
other a skin or ware-house; and the large square one was a vast 
open pavilion, supporting a canopy of cedar roof by two rows of 
columns or pillars, one within the other. Between each range of 
pillars was a platform, or what the traders call cabins, a sort of sofa 
raised about two feet above the common ground, and ascended by 
two steps; this was covered with checkered mats of curious manu- 
facture, woven of splints of canes dyed of different colors; the middle 
was a four-square stage or platform, raised nine inches or a foot 
higher than the cabins or sofas, and also covered with mats. In 
this delightful airy place we were received." (Bartram, W., (l),pp. 

The plan accompanying this account is reproduced in figure 8. 
This "villa" was probably far more elaborate than the majority of 



Creek homes, but in general arrangement it was evidently quite 
similar to many others. Whether the custom was very ancient may 
never be kno^^^l, and to what extent it prevailed among the Lower 
Creek to\vns has not been ascertained, but it was the regular custom 
at Kulumi, a town of the Upper Creeks which formerly stood on the 
right bank of the Tallapoosa, in Montgomery County, Alabama, and 
undoubtedly the structures in the many neighboring villages were 
similarly placed. Kulumi, the Coolome of Bartram's narrative, 
stood on the bank of the Tallapoosa. The "new town," the build- 
ing of which had very lately been completed, stood on the west side 
of the stream, wliile on the opposite side were the old fields and a few 
Indian habitations marking pM^^a^a* 


the position of "old Coolome 
town. ' ' Regarding the build- 
ings of the "new to^vn," it 
was said: 

' ' Their houses are neat com- 
modious buildings, a wooden 
frame with plaistered walls, 
and roofed with Cypress bark 
or shingles; every habitation 
consists of four oblong square 

Fig. 8.— Home of the chief at Apalachicola. 

houses, of one story, of the same form and dimensions, and so situated 
as to form an exact square, encompassing an area or court yard of 
about a quarter of an acre of ground, leaving an entrance into it at 
each corner. Here is a beautiful new square or areopagus, in the 
centre of the new town." (Bartram, W., (2), p. 395.) 

Leaving Kulumi, he continued up the river to Atasi, wliich stood on 
the left bank of the stream m the present Macon County, Alabama. 
The evening of his arrival, together with many traders, he went 
to the "great rotunda" and here were assembled "the greatest 
number of ancient venerable cliiefs and warriors" he had ever seen 
together. There they remained the greater part of the night, 
drmking cassine and smoking tobacco. The rotunda was "a Vast 
conical building or circular dome, capable of accommodating many 
hmidred people." It was constructed and furnished within as were 
similar structures among the Cherokee, but much larger than any he 
had seen among the latter tribe. There were "people appomted to 
take care of it, to have it daily swept clean, and to provide canes for 
fuel, or to give light." (Bartram, W., (2), p. 449.) 

On the right bank of the Tallapoosa, a short distance above 
Kulumi, was the ancient town of Tukabatclii, occupying a level valley 
about 2\ miles below the falls. Hawkuis stopped here on December 
16, 1796, and entered in his journal: "I this day paid a visit to the 


old men at the town house and partook with them of the black drmk. 
I then visited the falls and lands adjoining to the town. The falls 
are at 2^ miles above the town house." (Hawkins, B., (2), p. 37.) 
It was at Tukabatchi that Tecumseh, in 1811, met the chiefs of the 
Upper Creeks and endeavored to persuade them to join in the pro- 
posed war against the Americans. When he realized that he had not 
succeeded in his designs he is said to have remarked: "I leave 
Tuckhabatchee directly, and shall go straight to Detroit; when I 
arrive there, I will stamp on the ground with my foot, and shake down 
every house in Tuckhabatchee." (Drake, (1), p. 144.) Tliis caused 
fear and consternation among the people of the nation, and it 
is remarkable that later in the year occurred the great earthquake 
m the central portion of the Mississippi Valley, and it is evident the 
shocks were felt as far as Tukabatclii, where the houses were shaken 
dowTi. To the Indian mind there was a direct connection between the 
threat made by Tecumseh and the natural phenomenon. 

The custom of whitewashing the various structures was evidently 
quite general among the southern Indians, and several materials were 
used, including decayed shells, white clay, and in later days lime 
was prepared by burning oyster and clam shells. To what extent the 
houses were otherwise decorated is not knowTi, although it was done 
among the Creeks and probably followed to some degree by the other 
tribes of the region. Bartram, when replying to a question respecting 
this phase of art among the Indians, wrote: 

"The paintings which I observed among the Creeks were com- 
monly on the clay-plastered walls of their houses, particularly on 
the walls of the houses comprising the Public Square . . . The walls 
are plastered very smooth with red clay, then the figures or symbols 
are drawn with white clay, paste, or chalk; and if the walls are 
plastered with clay of a wliitish or stone color, then the figures are 
drawai with red, bro\vn, or bluish chalk or paste." (Bartram, W., 
(1), p. 18.) The drawings represented many forms of animal and 
plant life. 

During the eighteenth century many families removed from the 
Lower Creek towns, on the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers, to 
Florida, and so became known as the Seminole, a name derived from 
the. Creek word meaning "separatist" or "runaway." Later they 
were joined by others from the Upper Creeks, and soon established 
many settlements, first in the northern and central parts of the 
peninsula, gradually moving southward seeking refuge among the 
vast swamps in the region about Lake Okeechobee. 

The town of Cuscowilla, which, in the year 1774, stood near the 
shore of the lake of that name, in the present Alachua County, 
Florida, was an important and probably typical Seminole village. 


Described as it was at that time it was said that it "contains about 
tliirty habitations, each of wliich consists of two houses nearly the 
same size, about thirty feet in length, twelve feet wide, and about 
the same in height. The door is placed midway on one side or in the 
front. This house is divided equally, across, into two apartments, 
one of which is the cook room and common hall, and the other the 
lodging room. The other house is nearly of the same dimensions, 
standing about twenty yards from the dwelling house, its end fronting 
the door. Tliis building is two stories high, and constructed in a 
different manner. It is divided transversely, as the other, but the 
end next the dwelling house is open on three sides, supported by posts 
or pillars. It has an open loft or platform, the ascent to which is by 
a portable stair or ladder; tliis is a pleasant, cool, airy situation, and 
here the master or chief of the family retires to repose in the hot 
seasons, and receives his guests or visitors. The other half of this 
building is closed on all sides by notched logs; the lowest or ground 
part is a potatoe house, and the upper story over it a granary for 
corn and other provisions. Their houses are constructed of a kind 
of frame. In the first place, strong corner pillars are fixed in the 
ground, with others somewhat less, ranging on a line between; 
these are strengthened by cross pieces of timber, and the whole with 
the roof is covered close with the bark of the Cypress tree. The 
dwelling stands near the middle of a scjuare yard, encompassed by a 
low bank, formed with the earth taken out of the yard, which is 
always carefully swept." (Bartram, W., (2), pp. 189-191.) 

Cuscowilla became the principal town of the group of settlements 
whose inhabitants were considered as forming the Alachua tribe, and 
who were very active in the Seminole war during the years from 
1835 to 1842. The town visited by Bartram in 1774 was then known 
as the new town, and the name CuscoAvilla had been applied to it. 
"The ancient Alachua on the borders of the savanna" had been 
abandoned by reason of the unhealthf ulness of the locality. The new 
to^^^l had a "public square or council-house," where the chief men 
gathered to conduct important business. In many respects the 
to-^vn resembled the later villages of the Creeks, but the buildings 
were fewer in number, and some had been combined and arranged to 
serve various purposes. 

The recent Seminole dwellings, as they have stood among the 
Everglades of southern Florida within the present generation, but 
which undoubtedly perpetuate an ancient form of native structure, 
differ from any known to have been built by the Creeks, and they may 
have been derived by the newcomers from some remnants of the 
native tribes, gf whom so little is knoAvn. 
108851°— 19 6 


A typical house standing in the Everglades in the year 1880 (pi. 14, 
h), measuring about 16 feet in length and 9 feet in width, was thus 
described : 

* 'It is actually but a platform elevated about three feet from the 
ground and covered with a palmetto thatched roof, the roof being 
not more than 12 feet above the ground at the ridge pole or 7 at the 
eaves. Eight upright palmetto logs, unsplit and undressed, support 
the roof. Many rafters sustain the palmetto thatching. The plat- 
form is composed of split palmetto logs lying transversely, flat sides 
up, upon beams which extend the length of the building and are 
lashed to the uprights by palmetto ropes, thongs, or trader's ropes. 
This platform is peculiar, in that it fills the interior of the building 
like a floor and serves to furnish the family ^vith a dry sitting or lying 
down place when, as often happens, the whole region is under water. 
The thatching of the roof is quite a work of art: inside, the regularity 
and compactness of the laying of the leaves display much skill and 
taste on the part of the builder; outside^with the outer layers 
there seems to have been less care taken than with those within — 
the mass of leaves of which the roof is composed is held in place and 
made firm by heavy logs, which, bound together in pairs, are laid 
upon it astride the ridge." (MacCauley, (1), p. 500.) 

The structure just described, open on all sides and without a 
partition, was one of three similar buildings, which stood "at three 
corners of an oblong clearing," about 40 by 30 feet in extent. In one 
of the three houses the platform was only half the size of the others, 
the ground thus left uncovered being used as a hearth, although in 
dry weather, when it was not necessary to remain under shelter, 
the fire was usually made in the open space between, or rather 
surrounded by the three buildings. 

Like the great majority of the native tribes of eastern United 
States, these, living at the farthest point southward, had a custom 
of erecting a temporary lodge or shelter when away from their perma- 
nent settlements. These evidently differed in form. Some resem- 
bled "wall tents and others like single-roofed sheds," but all appear to 
have been formed of a framework covered with palmetto. A sketch of 
a shelter encountered by MacCauley at Horse Creek is reproduced in 
plate 14, a. A raised platform near the lodge served as a place for 
depositing food, utensils, and other possessions of the people. 

In the preceding reference to the placing of three separate buildings 
"at three corners of an oblong clearing," it is interesting to trace 
the custom of the Seminole back tlirough several generations to their 
old homes on the Chattahoochee. Three or four separate structures 
were there grouped about a small open space, each group being the 
home of a family, but the houses were of a more substantial nature 
and furnished far more protection to the occupants, nevertheless the 


simple covered platforms found among the Everglades were well 
suited to the climate and natural environment of the southern 

Muskhogean tribes extended eastward to the coast and unquestion- 
ably the Quale, of Spanish narratives, were of this stock. Their 
home was among the low islands and the adjacent mainland — the 
coast of the present State of Georgia. Here they were probably 
living in the early years of the sixteenth century, when visited by the 
Spanish explorers, who left a rather vague description of certain large 
structures seen by them. 

"There are some principal houses along that coast each one of 
which must have been intended among that people for a village, 
because they are very large and are made of very tall and very grace- 
ful pines; and above they leave their limbs and leaves, and after they 
leave a row or rank of pines as a wall and another at the other end 
(i. e. side), leaving between a \vidth of fifteen or thirty feet from one 
row to the other, and a length of perhaps three hundred or more feet. 
The limbs join above, and so there is no need of roof or covering, 
and yet they cover the whole upper part with mats very well placed, 
interwoven in the openings or prospects between the said pines, 
and within there are other pines crosswise to the surface of the first, 
which double the thickness of the wall. So the mud wall remains 
thick and strong, because the timbers are near together: and in each 
of these said houses there may well be or be contained two hundred 
men, and live in them." Other structures were mentioned having 
"walls of lime and stone (which lime they make of shells of sea 
oysters) and these are one and one-half times as high as a person, and 
the rest of that height one and one-half times that of a person is of 
pine timbers, of which there are many." (Oviedo, (1), III, pp. 630-631.) 

These were evidently long, narrow structures, erected among the 
pines, which served as natural supports. The dimensions given may 
not be correct, nevertheless such extensive houses could have been 
reared by the native tribes and would not have differed greatly in 
size from the longest of the communal dwellings seen in early days 
among the Five Xations. The walls were constructed of wattle 
covered with clay which was applied in a plastic state and allowed to 
dry and harden. The branches of the bordering pines served as a 
nf.tural roof or covering, but this was evidently augmented by 
"mats," probably a thatch laid over a light framework. TMiether 
this was in reality a great communal dwelling, as among the Iroquois, 
or served the purpose of the large, circular town house of later genera- 
tions, may never be known, but in later years the latter form was 
encountered among the Guale, in their village along the coast north- 
ward from St. Aug-ustine. 



[bull. 69 

On September 29, 1699, Jonathan Dickenson, a member of a party 
whose vessel had been cast ashore far down the coast o-f Florida 
several months before, left St. Augustine and soon reached the 
Indian village of Santa Cruz. Here, so he wrote, "we were directed 
to the Indian warehouse [fig. 9.1. It was built round, having 16 
squares and on each square a cabin built and painted, which woiJd 
hold two people, the house being about 50 feet diameter; and in the 
middle of the top was a square opening about 15 feet. This house 
was very clean; and fires being ready made near our cabin, the 
Spanish captain made choice of cabins for him and his soldiers and 
appointed us our cabins. In this town they have a Friar and a large 

Fig. 9. — Plan of the interior of the " Indian warehouse" at Santa Cruz, 
drawn from Dickenson's description. The square represents the opening 
in the roof. 

house to worship in, with three beUs; and the Indians go as con- 
stantly to their devotions at all times and seasons, as any of the 
Spaniards. Kight being come and the time of their devotion over, 
the Friar came in, and many of the Indians, both men and women, 
and they had a dance according to their way and custom. We had 
plenty of Casseena drink, and such victuals as the Indians had pro- 
vided for us, some bringing corn boiled, others pease; some one thing, 
some another; of all which we made a good supper, and slept till 

Continuing northward, the town of St. Marys, on the extreme 
southeastern point of Georgia, was reached October 2, 1699. And 




here "we were conducted to the ware house [fig. 10], as the custom is, 
every town having one: we understood these houses were either for 
their times of mirth and dancing, or to lodge and entertain strangers. 
The house was ahout 31 feet diameter, built round, with 32 squares; 
in each square a cabin about 8 feet long, of a good height, painted 
and well matted. The center of the building is a quadrangle of 
twenty feet, being open at the top, against which the house is built. 
In this quadrangle is the place they dance, having a great fire in the 
middle. In one of the squares is the gate way or passage . . . Tliis 
was the largest town of all, and about a mile from it was another called 
St. Pliilip's." (Dickenson, (1), pp. 90-93.) 

Fig. 10.— Plan of the " warehouse " at St. Marys, October 2, 1699, as suggested by 
Dickenson's description. The square shows opening in the roof. 

The narrative continues: "We understood that the Carolina 
Indians, called the Yammasees, which are related to these Indians, 
were here about a month before, trading for skins." The Yamasi 
were at that time living (p. 105) "about two or tliree days' rowing 
from Charleston," southward. 

These large circular structures at once suggest the "rotimdas" of 
the Creeks, and the town houses that existed among the Chickasaw and 
Cherokee. However, they were probably of lighter construction and 
had a much larger opening in the center of the roof or covering. The 
house at Santa Cruz was described as being 50 feet in diameter and 
having the circular wall divided into 16 sections, or "squares," each 
of which was occupied by a "cabin," the latter meaning berth or 


sleeping place. The "cabins" were probably separated from one 
another by mat partitions, with other mats covering the ground. 
Assuming the diameter to have been correctly given, each of the 16 
divisions would have been 9 or 10 feet in length against the wall. 
The similar structure at St. Marys was evidently much larger, the 
wall space being divided into 32 sections, one of which served as the 
entrance while each of the others, 31 in number, contained a 'Vabin" 
or berth about 8 feet in length. The diameter of this house was 
given as 31 feet, but this was evidently an error and should have read 
81. A house of this size and form could readily have been built by 
the native tribes, as a structure 80 feet or more in diameter, with an 
open space some 20 feet square in the center of the covering, would 
have reduced the maximum expanse of the roof to about 30 feet. A 
roof of these dimensions and having several supports could easily 
have been constructed in a locality where long, slender pines were 

About 20 years ago the remains of an ancient structure were dis- 
covered in a shell mound standing on Little Island, on the left, or 
north, side of Broad River, about 20 miles from the ocean, in Beaufort 
County, South Carolina. This would have been within the limits of 
the country occupied by the Yamasi at the time of Dickenson's nar- 
rative. The mound was elliptical in outline and measured about 150 
feet from north to south and 100 feet from east to west. Its height 
was 14 feet. The remains of the structure were encountered in the 
north half of the mound. They were of a building having four walls 
with rounded corners, the entrance being at the southeast corner. 
A plan of the house is reproduced in figure 11. It averaged about 41 
feet from east to west and 36 feet from north to south, being rather 
irregular. The walls were about 4 feet 3 inches in height, and had 
a maximum thickness near the top of 5 inches. Tlie walls had been 
made of wattlework covered with clay, and although the wood had 
long ago rotted away the impressions of the posts and connecting 
pieces remained. 

"The uprights varied in diameter from 3| to 6 in. and projected 
6 to 8 in. above the top of the wall. Some left molds in the clayey 
sand above the shell, indicating considerable enlargement around the 
top. . . The uprights, which were from 14 to 19 in. apart, w^ere 
held together by twelve parallel chcular cross-pieces, probably vines, 
each about 3/10 of an inch in diameter, surmounted by a circular 
stringer about 1 in. in diameter, over which the clay had been turned 
and rounded. At places marks in the clay plainly showed where the 
cross-pieces and the stringer had been attached to the uprights, prob- 
ably by vines, ... At irregular distances, usually but not always 
between consecutive uprights, on the top of the wall, were semi- 
circular depressions from 2 to 4 in. in diameter, which had undoubt- 



edly held ends of poles serving as rafters. . . . There were present 
in the floor of the structure numerous circular holes representing 
ends of former supports, some of which probably upheld the roof." 
Near the center of the floor was a large firebed, six feet in diameter; 
east of it was a mass of clay "like a seat, circular with rounded top, 
9 in. in height and 1 ft. 4 in. in diameter." The skeleton of a child 
was found fourteen inches below the floor, a short distance southeast 
of the central fireplace. Evidently the shell and clay mound had 

'i,riFit PLACE 





Fig. 11.— Plan of4 n ancient structure in Beaufort County, South Carolina. 

been intentionally raised over the ancient house. (Moore, (1), pp. 

Few objects were discovered in the mound, or associated with the 
ruin, and nothing of European origin was encountered, therefore there 
is no way to approximate the age of the ancient structure, which may, 
however, belong to the period of the long house of Oviedo, and they 
may not have been many miles apart. Ruins of other structures 
may be covered by some of the many shell mounds scattered along 
the coast, to be revealed at some future time. 

The tribe or tribes of southern Florida, whose identification and 
connection linguistically with other tribes has not been determined, 


but who may have been Muskhogean, occupied the coast in the year 
1699, and their villages were encountered by Dickenson and his ill- 
fated party as they moved northward to St. Augustine, during the 
late summer and autumn of that year. (Dickenson, (1).) Tlie 
references to the native habitations which are found in the narrative 
of the shipwreck are all too brief, but they are of the greatest interest. 
On July 25, 1699, the party reached a native village which evidently 
stood on the north side of Jupiter Inlet, and this was described (p. 
17) as being composed of — 

''little wigwams made of small poles stuck in the ground, which they 
bent one to another, making an arch, and covering them with thatch 
of small Palmetto leaves. . . . We were directed to a wigwam, which 
afterwards we understood to be the Cassekey's (cacique) ; it was about 
a man's height to the top, and herein was the Cassekey's wife and 
some old women, sitting on a cabin made with sticks, about a foot 
high, covered with a mat; and they made signs for us to sit down on 
the ground which we did." As previously mentioned the term 
''cabin," as used in this narrative, referred to a small space within the 
house which was probably partitioned off by mats. In this instance 
it was occupied by a raised platform and covered with a mat, serving 
as a sleeping place at night. Five days later, July 30, 1699, Dicken- 
son had advanced as far as the north side of Indian River Inlet, where 
they discovered an Indian settlement. The house of the chief was 
about forty feet in length and twenty-five feet in width, formed of a 
framework and covered on sides and top with palmetto leaves. 
"There was a range of cabins on one side and two ends; at the 
entering on one side of the house, a passage was made of benches on 
each side leading to the cabins ; on these benches sat the chief Indians, 
and at the upper end of the cabin was the Cassekey seated. . . . The 
Indians were seated as aforesaid, the Cassekey at the upper end of 
them, and the range of cabins was filled with men, women and 
children, beholding us. . . . In one part of this house, where a fire 
was kept, was an Indian man, having a pot on the fire wherein he was 
making a drink of a shrub, which we understood afterwards by the 
Spanish is called Casseena. . . . The drink when made cool to sup, 
was in a shell first carried to the Cassekey" (p. 33). 

They next arrived at the village of Jece, some 10 or more miles 
north of the inlet and about one-haK mile from the shore, surrounded 
by a swamp (pp. 45-46). Here, durmg the night of August 4, 1699, 
occurred a violent storm. The wind blew from the northeast and 
rain feU in torrents. "The king's house was knee deep with water 
and like to continue rising; I removed with my wife, child, Robert 
Barrow, and Benjamin Allen to an Indian house that stood on a hill 
of oyster shells, and in this house we remained the whole day." 
The wind blew steadily from the northeast and the waters flooded 


the lowlands and that night continued to rise until it reached the 
house, which soon "was afloat." The storm raged the following 
day and ''the houses were almost blown to pieces and the Indians 
were often tying and mending them," Interesting indeed is this 
reference to "a hill of oyster shells," which may have indicated the 
position of an even more ancient settlement, but it was not sur- 
mounted by the house of the chief of the village or by any structure 
resembling a "town house," or a "temple," as would have been the 
custom among the majority of southern tribes. Here the chief's 
dwelling stood on low ground, easily reached by the flood. 

Surviving this midsummer storm, the party resumed their journey 
northward and a few days later they reached a locality which appears 
to have been a short distance beyond Mosquito Inlet, probably on the 
mainland not far from the present village of Ormond, Volusia County. 
Going ashore (pp. 70-71), they found the "place was an old Indian 
field on a high bleak hill, where had been a large Indian house, but it 
was tumbled down." This had probably been the site of a Timucuan 
town, and villages said to have been standing not far away may have 
been occupied by remnants of this people. (PI. 15, a, h.) 

Wlien the Timucuan tribes became known to Europeans, through 
the discoveries of Ponce de Leon, who landed near the site of the 
present city of St. Augustine in the year 1513, they occupied many 
villages scattered across the northern part of the peninsula from the 
Atlantic to the Gulf. On the Atlantic coast they extended northward 
to Cumberland Island, on the present Georgia coast, and conse- 
quently claimed both banks of the St. Marys. Much information 
respecting the manners and customs of these people has been derived 
from the notes and drawings prepared by Le Moyne. (Le Moyne, 
(1).) Two of the latter are reproduced in plate 16, being copied from 
the engravings as presented in part 2 of De Bry's great collection of 
voyages in 1591. Plate 16, a, appeared as plate 22 in Le Moyne's 
narrative and there bore the legend: "There are in that region a 
great many islands, producing abundance of various kinds of fruits, 
which they gather twice a year and carry home in canoes and store 
up in roomy low granaries built of stone and earth and roofed tliickly 
with palm branches and a kind of soft earth fit for the purpose." 
Evidently the illustration shows one of the "granaries," but how true 
either the drawing or legend may be remains a question not easily 
determined. The materials of which this structure was said to have 
been formed at once recall the rather vague reference in Oviedo to 
houses having "walls of lime and stone," encountered within this 
region a generation earlier. The walls in both instances may have 
been formed of fragmentary pieces of coquina, easily secured at cer- 
tain places along the coast, and which might readily have been con- 
sidered by the early writers to have been artificially prepared. The 


roof was undoubtedly thatched with palmetto, which was exten- 
sively used for this purpose wherever it was obtainable. 

A palisaded town is shown in plate 16, I, a reproduction of Le 
Moyne's plate 30. A part of the descriptive text accompanying 
the illustration reads : 

"The chief's dwelling stands in the middle of the town and is 
partly imderground in consequence of the sun's heat. Aroimd this 
are the houses of the principal men, all lightly roofed with palm 
branches, as they are occupied only nine months in the year, the 
other tlu-ee . . . being spent in the woods. When they come back, 
they occupy their houses again; and if they find the enemy has burnt 
them down, they build others of similar materials." 

It is difficult to reconcile the preceding statements with a con- 
temporary description of the dwellings of the same people, but it 
is possible that " the cliief's dwelling" of Le Moyne's account and 
the large structure in the following narrative of Hawkins's voyage 
referred to great houses similar to the "warehouses" mentioned by 
Dickenson as standmg in the country of the Guale on the same 
coast in the year 1699. Early in the year 1565 the Enghsh reached 
the coast of Florida and soon arrived at the mouth of the River of 
May, the present St. Johns, and near by discovered a native village, 
thus briefly described in the narrative: 

"Their houses are not many together, for in one house an hundred 
of them do lodge; they being made much like a great barne, and in 
strength not inferiour to ours, for they have stanchions and rafters 
of whole trees, and are covered with palmito-leaves, having no place 
divided, but one small roome for their king and queene. In the 
middest of this house is a hearth, where they make great fires all 
night, and they sleepe upon certaine pieces of wood hewen in for the 
bowing of their backs, and another place made high for their heads, 
which they put one by another aU along the waUes on both sides." 
(Hawkins, J., (1), pp. 516-517.) 

Unfortunately the form of the structure was' not mentioned, but 
it was probably round, with one entrance and a large opening in the 
center of the roof. The small space partitioned off for the use of the 
chief was probably as described, although difi^erent from any custom 
prevailing among the Muskhogean tribes. Likewise the wooden 
head rests, and larger rests for the back, were not found among the 
tribes to the northward but suggest a southern culture. 

On the Gulf coast of Florida, extending northward from the 
vicinity of Tampa Bay to the Ocilla River, were other Timucuan 
tribes. One of their villages, Ucita by name, stood on the shores 
of the bay, and near it, on Friday, May 30, 1539, landed the Spanish 
forces under the command of Don Ferdinando de Soto. The town 


was briefly described, the following account being quoted from the 
narrative of the expedition "written by a Gentleman of Elvas:" 

''Tliey came to the towne of Ucita, where the Governour was, on 
Simday the fii"st of June, being Trinitie Sunday. The towne was of 
seven or eight houses. The lordes house stoode neere the shore, 
upon a very hie mount, made by hand for strength. At another end 
of the townie stood the church, and on the top of it stood a fowle 
made of wood, with gilded eies. Here were found some pearles of 
small valew, spoiled with the fire, which the Indians do pierce and 
string them like beades, and weare them about their neckes and 
handwrists, and they esteeme them very much. The houses were 
made of timber, and covered with palme leaves." (Elvas, (1), pp. 

In this translation the word "temple" should be substituted for 
"church." Two structures different from the ordinary habitations 
stood in this ancient village: one the temple, the other described 
as "the lordes house," the chief's dwelling, or it may have resembled 
the tovm. house, or rotunda, of the more northerly tribes. In addi- 
tion to these were five or six simple dweUings. This may have been a 
typical village of the time and region, and the most interesting refer- 
ence to the erection of the chief's dweUmg on the summit of an arti- 
ficial mound, erected for the purpose, suggests the probable origin 
and use of other mounds standing along the coast. 

Southward from Tampa Bay lived the Calusa, of whom very little 
is known. The tribe, or tribes, mentioned under this name in the 
early Spanish and French records probably occupied or dominated 
the lower half of the peninsula, reaching from the southern keys to 
the boundary of the territory of the Timucuan tribes. As nothing 
is now kno\\Ti of the language of the Calusa it is not possible to trace 
their connection, if any existed, with the neighboring villages. They 
are described by the old writers as a brave and warlike people, and 
as they are said to have had nearly fifty settlements about the year 
1567 they must have been comparatively numerous. Many of their 
towns were probably near the coast, where, among the marshes and 
shallow inlets, on the mainland though often on the low keys, were 
great mounds of sand and shells which served as elevated sites for 
their habitations and other structures. These were often connected 
by extensive artificial canals or lagoons, and were surrounded by the 
luxuriant semitropical vegetation of the region, by which they are 
now covered and hidden from view. WhUe many of these elevations 
may be considered accidental shell heaps, either cast up by the sea 
or resulting from the gathering of moUusks for food, others were 
intentionally raised as elevated sites, as was the mound at Ucita. 
Some of the mounds, artificial or natural, served as places of burial, 
but do not appear to have been erected for that purpose. 


About the beginning of the seventeenth century the Calusa are 
knowTi to have maintained regular intercourse with Cuba, passing to 
and fro in their canoes. Such intercommunication may have been 
even more extensive in earlier times. 

Three stocks remain to be considered — Siouan, Uchean, and 
Tunican — widely separated and not extensive. 

It is quite evident that some generations before the French entered 
the valleys of the Mississippi and Ohio, and discovered the rich lands 
lying westward from the AUeghenies, Siouan tribes had occupied the 
region about the headwaters of the latter stream, whence they had 
removed westward, reached the Mississippi, and there scattered. 
But all the tribes of this stock then living in the east did not join in 
the movement, and at the time of the settlement of Virginia, and for 
manj^ years later, tribes belonging to this linguistic family occupied 
the piedmont country, between the Algonquian territory on the east 
and the AUeghenies on the west, and may even have continued into 
the mountain valleys. In Virginia were the several tribes which 
formed the Monacan confederacy, and the better known Saponi 
and Tutelo, whose villages about the year 1675 were near the southern 
boundary of Virginia, in the valley of the Roanoke. Other related 
tribes occupied the country southward probably to and beyond the 
Santee, in central South Carolina. For many years after the coming 
of the English colonists there must necessarily have been some inter- 
course between them and the various tribes in question, but unfortu- 
nately few accounts have been preserved of the manners and customs 
of the native people, and little is known of the appearance of their 
many towns and camps. Practically all of the available information 
relating to the habits of the ''Siouan tribes of the East" has been 
collected and presented in a single, small volume. (Mooney (1).) 

The "town house" of the southern tribes found its counterpart 
among the eastern Siouan, although they may have been of somewhat 
lighter construction. But whether such structures w^ere erected by 
the neighbors of the Monacan northward is not known. However, 
if a statement by Lawson is to be accepted literally they were not 
found north of the Saponi. 

On December 28, 1700, John Lawson, surveyor general of Carolina, 
started from Charleston on a journey through the Indian country. 
The account of his experiences was later printed in his History of 
Carolina, a volume filled with information pertaining to the customs 
of the native tribes of the region through which he passed. Early in 
the year 1701 his party, consisting of several Englishmen and Indian 
guides, arrived at the village of the Waxsaw, probably on the bank 
of Waxsaw Creek, a tributary of the Catawba, in the country now 
embraced within the present Lancaster County, South Carolina, and 
Union and Mecklenburg Counties, North Carolina. Here the English 


witnessed a native ceremony ''held in commemoration of the Plenti- 
ful Harvest of Corn they had reaped the Summer before. . . . These 
revels were carried on in a flouse made for that purpose, it being 
done round, with white benches of fine Canes joining along the wall; 
and a place for the door being left, which is so low, that a man must 
stoop very much to enter therein. This Edifice resembles a large 
Hay Kick; its top being pyramidal, and much bigger than their 
other Dwellings, and at the building whereof every one assists until 
it is finished. All their Dwelling houses are covered witli Bark, but 
this differs very much; for it is very artificially thatched with Sedge 
and Rushes. As soon as it is finished they place some one of their 
Chiefest men to dwell therein, charging him with the diligent preser- 
vation thereof. ... In these state Houses is transacted all public 
and Private Busmess . . . the most aged and wisest meet, deter- 
mining what to Act, and what may be most convenient to omit . . . 
The House is as Dark as a Dungeon and as hot as one of tlie Dutch 
Stoves in Holland. Tliey had made a circular Firfe of split canes in 
the middle of the House; it was one Man's employment to add more 
split Reeds to this at one end as it consumed at the other, there 
being a small Vacancy left to supply it with Fuel." (Lawson, 
(1), pp. 18-19.) 

The house must have been very large, as the account continues 
with a description of a dance in which "a parcel of women and girls, 
to the number of Thirty odd" participated. The drum used on this 
occasion "being made of dress'd deer's Skin, tied hot upon an eartliern 
Porridge Pot." The entire narrative is of the greatest interest. 
The day after the ceremony the party left the Waxsaw village, and 
later during their journey (p. 20) ' ' met with several Towns of Indians, 
each Town having its capitol, theatre or State House, such Houses 
bemg found all along the road, until you come to Sapona, and then 
no more of those buildings, it being about 170 Miles." A few days 
later, when arriving at one of the Catawba villages, Lawson and his 
attendants occupied "one of the Cliief Men's Houses, which was one 
of the Theaters I spoke of before. " 

Every village was undoubtedly provided with sweat houses, some 
of which were arranged temporarily while others were of a more 
permanent nature. Lawson wrote (p. 21): 

''The Indians of these parts use sweating very much. If any 
Pain seize their Limbs or Body, immediately they take Reeds or 
smaU Wands, and bend them umbrella fashion, covering them with 
skins and match coats. They have a large Fire not far off wherein 
they heat stones or (where they are wanting) Bark; putting it into 
this" Stove, which casts an extraordinary heat. There is a pot of 
water in the Bagnio, in which they put a bunch of an herb bearing a 
silver Tassel, not much unfike Aurea Virga. With this vegetable 


they rub the head, temple and other parts, which is reckon'd a pre- 
server of the sight, and strengthener of the Brain." 

Contmuing their journey through the wilderness they soon reached 
the town of the Saponi, on the banks of the Yadkin, in the vicinity 
of the present Salisbury, near the center of the State of North Caro- 
lina, The village was protected by palisades, but the houses were 
not described, although it was said that near the town (p. 25) 
"within their cleared land are several Bagnios, or Sweating Houses, 
made of stone in shape like a large oven. " These were quite different 
from the hght, quickly made structures encountered among the 
Waxsaw. The night the party rested at Saponi the entire palisade 
was blown down by a violent wind from the northwest. They next 
arrived at "the Keyauwee's Town," which was protected by pal- 
isades similar to those surrounding the Saponi village. Tlie Ke}- 
auwee town was, as suggested by Mooney, about 30 miles northeast 
of the Yadkin, in the neighborhood of the present High Point, 
Guilford County, North Carolina. 

From these meager references to certain settlements it is possible 
to visualize the general appearance of towns among the eastern 
Siouan tribes. Many of the villages were protected by encircling 
palisades, and within the most prominent structure was the round 
town house, or "theater," of Lawson. Surrounding this were the 
dwellings of the people, and these probably resembled the "arbour- 
like" structures of the neighboring Algonquian tribes. 

The Siouan tribes of the far south — ^that is, the Biloxi and the 
neighbormg Pascagoula and Moctobi of the Gulf coast region, and 
the Ofo, or Ofogoula, whose home was in the valley of the Yazoo, 
in the present State of Mssissippi — appear to have followed the 
general custom of the people of the southern country and erected 
houses of wattle, covered with clay in a plastic state. The principal 
villages were protected by "palings" or palisades, and if the descrip- 
tion of the Biloxi village visited by Iberville in 1700 is to be accepted 
as accurate, and if it was a typical village of the time and region, 
then the method of surroimding and protecting a group of dwellings 
was far more secure and complicated in the south than among the 
northern tribes. 

During the spring of the year 1700 Iberville discovered the ruins 
of the Biloxi town on the bank of the Pascagoula, about 20 miles 
above its mouth, and wrote of it (Margry, (1), IV, pp. 425-426): 

"The village is abandoned, the nation having been destroyed two 
years ago by sickness. Two leagues below this village one begins 
to find many deserted spots quite near each other on both banks of 
the river. The savages report that this nation was formerly quite 
numerous. It did not appear to me that there had been in this 
village more than from thirty to forty cabins, built long, and the 


roofs, as we make ours, covered with the bark of trees. They were 
all of one story of about eight feet in height, made of mud. Only 
three remained; the others are burned. The village was sm-rounded 
by paUngs eight feet in height, of about eighteen mches in diameter. 
There still remain tln-ee square watch-towers (guerites) measuring 
en feet on each face; they are raised to a height of eight feet on 
posts; the sides made of mud mixed with grass, of a thickness of 
eight inches, well covered. There were many loopholes through 
which to shoot their arrows. It appeared to me that there had been 
a watch-tower at each angle, and one midway of the curtains (au 
milieu des courtines) ; it was sufficiently strong to defend them 
against enemies that have only arrows." (Quoted from Dorsey- 
Swanton, (1), p. 6.) 

Wliether these comparatively small tribes had 'Hown houses" 
within their villages, as did others, is not known; but it is evident 
their dwellmgs were rather long and narrow, probably quite similar 
to the "oblong-square" structures of the Chickasaw and Choctaw, 
and although speaking a different language and differing to a certain 
degree in mamiers and customs the villages of these small tribes 
may have resembled those of their more powerful neighbors. 

The Winnebago, the detached Siouan tribe whose home was in the 
central part of the State of Wisconsia, had many customs in com- 
mon \^'ith then- Algonquian neighbors. Theii" villages were similar 
in appearance. A painting of a settlement of the Winnebago, made 
by Capt. Eastman and reproduced in Schoolcraft ((1), II, pi. 23), 
is here shown as plate 17. 

Next to be mentioned are the Yuchi, of whose early history very 
little is known. But there is reason to suppose that they were at 
one time a nmnerous people, whose home, at the time of the coming 
of the Spaniards, was among the mountains, possibly neighbors of 
the Cherokee. They moved from place to place, evidently appearing 
in early records under various names, and finally settled in the valley 
of the Savannah, where they were later met by Europeans. 

In 1729 a chief of the Lower Creek town of Cussetah, on the Chat- 
tahoochee, married three Yuchi women, and a few years later, having 
gathered about him many families from the latter tribe, settled a 
new town some miles below at the mouth of Uchee Creek, in the 
present Russell County, Alabama. This village was visited by Bar- 
tram early in July, 1776, at a time when such memorable events 
were transpiring m his home city, Philadelphia, and he said of it: 

''The Uche town is situated in a vast plain, on the gradual ascent 
as we rise from a narrow strip of low ground inmiediately bordering 
on the river: it is the largest, most compact and best situated Indian 
towTi I ever saw; the habitations are large and neatly built; the 
walls of the houses are constructed of a wooden frame, then lathed 


and plaistered inside and out with a reddish well tempered clay or 
mortar, which gives them the appearance of red brick walls; and 
these houses are neatly covered or roofed with Cypress bark or 
shingles of that tree. . . . Their own national language is alto- 
gether or radically different from the Creek or Muscogulge tongue. 
. They are in confederacy with the Creeks, but do not mix 
with them; and, on account of their numbers and strength, are of 
importance enough to excite and draw upon them the jealousy of 
the whole Muscogulge confederacy, and are usually at variance, yet 
are wise enough to unite against a common enemy, to support the 
interest and glory of the general Creek confederacy." (Bartram, 
W., (2), pp. 386-387.) 

The "town house," and probably the greater part of the settlement, 
stood on the right bank of the river, and in 1799 Hawkins wrote: 

"Opposite the town house, on the left bank of the river, there is 
a narrow strip of flat land from fifty to one hundred yards wide, then 
high pine barren hills ; these people speak a tongue different from the 
Creeks; they were formerly settled in small villages at Ponpon, 
Sal tke tellers, (Sol-ke-chuh,) Silver Bluff, andO-ge-chee,(How-ge-chu,) 
and were continually at war with the Cherokees, Ea-tau-bau and 
Creeks." (Hawkins, B., (1), pp. 61-62.) 

How interesting would be a lengthy description of these ancient 
villages, with an account of the manners and customs of the people; 
but none is known to exist. 

The Tunican is the last of the seven linguistic groups to be men- 
tioned. Although one of the smaller stocks during historic times 
they may, in earlier days, have been far more numerous and powerful. 
When encountered by the early French explorers, the Tunica claimed 
land on both banks of the Mississippi, their principal village being at 
one time on the banks of the Yazoo, sometime known as ' ' the river 
of the Tounika," a short distance from its confluence with the Missis- 
sippi, in the present Warren County, Mississippi. 

Wlien the Jesuit, Pere Gravier, descended the Mississippi late in 
the autumn of 1700, he rested at the mission which had been estab- 
lished near the group of villages a short distance above the mouth of 
the Yazoo. He described the habitations of the Tunica as being 
"round and vaulted," and they evidently resembled the houses of the 
Natchez, being "lathed with canes and plastered with mud from 
bottom to top, within and without, with a good covering of straw." 
The door was the only opening, and a small "lighted torch of dried 
canes" furnished sufficient heat to cause the interior to be "as hot as 
a vapor bath." Within all was neat and clean, their beds being 
arranged on posts 3 feet above the floor, and covered with mats 
formed of split canes. Near the dwellings were granaries ' ' made like 
dovecotes, built on four large posts, 15 or 16 feet high, well put 


together and well polished, so that the mice can not chmb up, and 
in this way they protect their corn and squashes." (Gravier, (1), 
p. 135.) 

Charlevoix, during his journey down the Mississippi, arrived at 
the Tunica village December 28, 1721. This, however, was not on 
the site of the village visited by Gravier some 20 years before. The 
to\\ai was built about a square "about a hundred paces in diameter." 
The dwellings were of two forms, round and square, the former as ' ' at 
the Natchez." The house of the chief was square and was decorated 
with ''figures in relief, not so badly executed as one would expect." 
(CharlevoLx, (1), II, pp. 279-280.) Evidently there was a gi-eat 
similarity in the appearance of the villages of the different tribes 
who, at the time of the coming of Europeans, occupied the lower 
Mississippi VaUey. The method of construction was evidently the 
same throughout the region, the principal variation being in tlie form 
and size of the various structures. 

In some parts of the Mississippi VaUey the sites of ancient villages 
arc indicated by groups of earth circles — seldom squares — each evi- 
dently marking the position of a separate structure. The dimensions 
would correspond favorably with the sizes of dwellings and "town 
houses" as recorded by the early writers and quoted on the preceding 
pages. Two suggestions may be offered in regard to the origin or 
cause of these traces of former habitations. First, they may represent 
the mass of earth which served as the covermg for the framework, 
the wall, and in some instances the roof, of the structure. After the 
building had fallen to rum, and the timbers rotted away, the earth 
covering would have remained, probably a circular embankment. 
The second theory has been suggested by known customs among the 
Siouan tribes of the upper Missouri Valley. Wlien fearing an attack 
or seeking additional protection for the occupants of the tipis, a slight 
excavation was made within the tipi and the earth thus removed was 
placed around the inside of the structure. This explains the origin 
of large clusters of small circles in the comitry once occupied .by the 
Siouan tribes through the vallej^ of the Missouri, This custom is 
knowTi to have been followed as late as September, 1862, during the 
Sioux uprising in southwestern Minnesota. When the site was aban- 
doned, and the tipi removed, the excavation would gradually become 
filled with particles of earth and sand carried by the winds and b}^ 
the growth and decay of vegetation. As the result of this filling in, 
the surface which served as the floor when the tipi stood over the 
excavation has become covered, consequently traces of former 
occupancy, such as the fire beds and bits of broken pottery, are found 
below the present surface. This may explain the origin of certain 
of the smaller circles encoimtered east of the Mississippi. One of the 
108851°— 19 7 


most interesting gi-oups stands on McKee Island, in the Tennessee 
River, a short distance above Guntersville, Marshall County, Ala- 
bama. A ridge extends the length of the island, and — 

"Along the middle part of the ridge are various sites on^e occupied 
by wigwams, all circular so far as we could determine, except one 
which was square. The sites were marked by depressions and had 
been surrounded by small embankments, but as the gromid had been 
under cultivation m the past, exact measurements were not obtaui- 
able. . . One of our circular depressions, 32 feet in diameter, was 11 
inches beloW the suiTOunding level, which perhaps included part of 
the original embankment. Diggmg in this site disclosed a fireplace, 
about centrally situated, made up of three layers of burnt clay, show- 
ing that the level of the fireplace had been raised from time to 
time. . . . The largest site, 52 feet square, was 1 foot 8 inches below 
the level around it." (Moore, (2), p. 282.) 

As the area occupied by this ancient village site had been under 
cultivation the small embankments must necessarily have become 
somewhat spread, therefore the measurements given must be greater 
than the size of the circles and square at the time they were made. 

A group of small circles m Wilson Coimty, Tennessee, was exam- 
ined and the interesting discovery was made that within some were 
stone-lined graves. This corresponds with the known custom of 
some Muskhogean tribes of depositing the remains of the dead in 
graves beneath the floor of their dwelling, which they continued to 
occupy. Such was the habit among the Chickasaw, withm whose 
territory the present county of Wilson may have been included, and 
this group may mark the site of an early village of tliis tribe. 

Quite similar to the site on McKee Island was another discovered 
on the sunmiit of a bluff some 60 feet in height, overlooking Barren 
River, in Barren County, Kentucky. Here 16 lodge sites could be 
traced, ''partly raised on the outer rim and depressed in the center. 
In the center of each, a foot beneath the surface, were found coales, 
the gram of the wood being easily distinguished as oak and poplar. 
The diameters of these rings average about 18 feet in diameter." 
(Evans, (1), p. 609.) 

These had evidently not been touched by the plow, and therefore 
remained nearly in then* original condition, although the cavity 
withm the circle had been partly filled through natural causes. This 
group bears a very strong resemblance to those existmg in the upper 
Missom'i Valley. 

Other groups of circles have been discovered north of the Ohio, 
one being on the bank of Clear Creek, Union County, Illinois. Here 
the village site, as indicated by the cncles, is surrounded by an 


"Tlie 'hut rings' or small circular depressions surrounded l)y 
slight earthen rings . . . are scattered irregularly over the wooded 
portion of the inclosure, the number exceeding 100. They vary in 
diameter from 20 to 50 feet, and in depth from 1 to 3 feet and are 
often but a few feet apart." (Thomas, (1), pp. 155-159.) 

Another site described by the same. winter stands in Brown County, 
Illinois, about 3 miles west of Perry Springs Station. Here (p. 119) 
" the dwelling sites vary considerably m size, some being as much as 
70 feet in diameter, and some of them 3 feet deep in the center after 
fifty years of cultivation." These may have become greatly spread 
and otherwise modified as a result of the long-continued plowing of 
the surface. 

Undoubtedly some of the groups of circles just mentioned are the 
remams of clusters of structures which resembled those of the Man- 
dan, Pawnee, and other Upper Missouri Valley tribes. But it is also 
known that similar dwellings were erected in the Mississippi Valley, 
and in 1682 Tonti mentioned the Taensa village, in the present Tensas 
Parish, Louisiana, where the houses were '^plac'd in divers rows . . . 
being all made of Earth," which evidently referred to structm^es of 
wattlework, a mass of earth over a frame of poles. These were nec- 
essarily smaller, although they must have resembled the winter 
houses and town houses of the Chickasaw and Cherokee. 

Wliile the great majority of village and camp sites are now indi- 
cated by the occurrence of bits of broken pottery and objects of dif- 
ferent materials scattered over the surface, which has remamed at 
practically the same level as before it was occupied, nevertheless in 
some parts of the South, usually near water courses, are elevations 
which have resulted from long-continued occupancy of a restricted 
area. Such sites may cover an acre or less, and are formed by the 
accmnulation of shells, charcoal, and general camp refuse which 
gradually increased to a height of several feet. Such elevations are 
usually classed as mounds, but it will be readily understood that 
they were accidental and not the intentional work of man. 


In reviewing the many references presented on the preceding 
pages, it is interestmg to observe the characteristic features of the 
habitations and other structures erected by the native tribes who 
formerly occupied Eastern United States. It is quite remarkable 
that in the North, where the long winters were most severe, the 
dwellings were covered with barks or rush mats, which often fur- 
nished many openings through which the winds could enter. Very 
different were the winter houses of the Muskliogean tribes of the South, 
as well as those of the Cherokee. These great earth-covered struc- 
tures, the largest buildings erected bv anv of the eastern tribes, were 


termed "hot-houses" b3^-the traders, by reason of the temperature of 
the interiors. And among many of the southern tribes the dwellings 
were similarly strong and secure, but in the far South, near the Gulf 
coast and scattered over the peninsula of Florida, were shelters 
covered with a thatch of palmetto. 

Among many Algonquian tribes each family usually occupied a 
single wigwam, covered with mats or sheets of bark, either dome- 
shaped or in the form of an arbor with rounded roof and flat ends. 
The long communal dwellings were typical of the villages of the 
Iroquois, while in the South the home of each family often consisted 
of a group of two, three, or four separate buildings, each of which 
served a special purpose. 

The villages differed in appearance as well as did the separate 
structures. Some, more particularly among the numerous widely 
scattered Algonquian tribes, were groups of small wigwams, close to 
one another and often surrounded by palisades. In other localities 
where there was less danger of being attacked by their enemies, the 
habitations were more separated, often with gardens and fields 
between, and unprotected by palisades. Among the Iroc[Uois or 
Five Nations a strongly fortified central village, usually protected by 
a double or triple line of palisades, served in times of danger as the 
gathering place for the peojjle of the surrounding region, similar in 
many respects to the various "stations" in Kentucky and other 
parts of the western country a centuiy and more ago. In the South, 
among the Creeks, the Cherokee, and others, a to^^^l would often 
extend for several miles along the bank of some stream, or over the 
lowlands on both sides of the vallc}^, but the center of the settlement 
would be the town house, usually placed on the summit of an artifi- 
cial mound, in and around which the people would gather to hold 
their dances and to enact their difi'erent ceremonies. 

Sweat houses were probably to have been found in all the villages 
of the North, but less often in the South, and the quotation from 
Lawson would probably apply to the people over a wide area, although 
referring particularly to the eastern Siouan. 

A custom which was evidently c[uite fixed in the South was that 
of placing a carved wooden figure of a bird above the council house, 
the temple, or the most important building of the town. This was 
first witnessed by the Spaniards at Ucita, in the year 1539, when 
they saw "a fowle made of wood, with gilded eies" above the roof of 
the temple. Charlevoix in 1721 described the Natchez temple as 
having at each end "something like a weather-cock of wood, which 
has a very coarse resemblance of an eagle," while a few years later 
Adair wrote of the large winter houses of the Chickasaw "where 
commonly a pole is fixed, that displays on the top the figure of a large 
carved eagle." And a century ago when Hodgson visited the Lower 
Creek town of Cussetah he saw "a high pole . . . with a bird at the 




top, round whicli tho Indians celebrate their Green-Corn Dance." 
This he likened to the May poles in England. While this custom 
was not restri(^ted to the tribes occupjang the southern part of the 
country, nevertlu'less these scattered references tend to recall the dis- 
(^overy, some years ago, of mail}" remarkable carved wooden figures 
at Key Marco, on the lower west or Gulf coast of Florida. One of 
these interesting objects, representing the head of a deer, is shown in 
figure 12. 

Evidently some of the larger structures among the southern vil- 
lages were constructed with the floor lower than the surrounding 
surface. Such a custom was unknown in the North, and to what 
extent it was practiced in the f^:--?-^^ 

South is not yet determined. Thc^ 
first reference is found in Le 
Mojme's description of a village on 
the east coast of Florida in 1564, \n 
which he said, "The chief's dwell- 
ing stands in the middle of the town 
and is partly underground, in con- 
sequence of the sun'sheat. ' ' Adair 
mentioned the floor of the Chicka- 
saw town or winter house being be- 
low the surrounding afea. It was, 
so he WTote, ' ' often a 3'ard lower 
than the earth, which serves them 
as a breast work against an enemy: 
and a small peeping window is level 
with the surface of the outside 




Fig. 12.— Head of deer carved in wood, discovered at 
Key Marco, west coast of Florida. 

ground.'' Nearly two centuries 

elapsed between the writings of Le Moyne and Adair, and the wide ter- 
ritory between the coast of Florida and the home of the Chickasaw 
was occupied by many tribes. 

In addition to the more permanent structures within the towns 
every tribe seems to have had a particular form of temporary shelter, 
or lodge, easily and quickly raised, to serve as their hunting camps 
or when on distant journeys. According to several early writers it 
was possible to identify the tribe to which a party belonged by the 
form of their shelters. 

Such were the peculiar features of the village and the various 
structures reared by the many tribes found occupying the wide 
region between the Mississippi and the Atlantic when that great 
wilderness was first entered by the missionary and explorer, trader 
and colonist, when narrow trails traversing the vast primeval forests 
served to coimect the widely scattered settlements. Now many of 
the ancient sites are covered by the principal cities of the Nation, 
and the courses of the forest trails are followed bjnts great highways. 


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Abxaki— ' rage 

.lwelluii;s ... 23 

s^roiip, location of 10 

manner of sleeping 23 


A PAIR, James, description by, of Chiclcasiw 

houses 69 

.\lachua tribk. settlement of SI 


and Iroquoian villages, similarity of. . . . . 26 

dwellings described by Roger Williams. . 20 

family, tribes of 10 

Apalachee Ixdiaxs. invasion of country of . 15 


a peace town 78 

home of the chief at 7S,79 

Atasi, fotnnda nt 79 


preparation of, for coverire dwellings r4 

See Birch bark. 

Bark-covered dwellings— 

in the North 23, 24,99 

types of 58 

Bark strELTERS 54 

Bartram, John— 

on Onondaga cotuicil house 52 

on temporary shelters M 

Bartram, Wm.— 

on A palachicola dwellings 7? 

on Cherokee town house 60 

on public square of the Creeks 73 

on spiral fire 76 

on town of Cuscowlla 81 

on war and peace towns 77 

on Yuchi town 95 

Beaufort CotTNTV, S. C, ancient structure 

in 86 

Biard, Pierre, on customs of New England 

Indians 22 

BiLOXi Indians— 

dialect of 16 

territory occupied by 16 

villages of 94 

Birch bark, used to cover dwellings 23 

Bird, carved .figure of, above council house . . 100 

Black n.» wk's village 45 

BoNi'OUCA , Choctaw settlement of 64 

Bossu, N., explorations of 40 

burla.l customs of muskhogean tribes. . . 98 

Burial place of the Senecas 28 

BUSHNELL, P. T., Jr.— . 

on the Saco ;..- 19 

quoting Oglethorpe on r'oweta 77 

Byrd, Col. Wm., description by, of Nottoway 

town 67 

Caches of corn 41, .>3 

Caiioklii TRIBE— Page 

belonging to Illinois confedoraey 42 

country occupied by 11.43 

village of ■ 12 

Calusa Indians. toA-ns of '.U 

Caoquias, ^^llage of the 12 

Cape Cod dwellfngs 22 

Carolina Indians, habilations of 58 

Carved fioxjee above council }iouse lOO 

Carved head of dekr 101 

Catawba Indians, reference to if. 

Catlin, George, description by, of Mandan 

village 70 

Cayuga, one of the Six Nations 13 

Champlain, expedition of 18 


description of \illage by 66 

explorations of 12 

\-isit of, to Illinois village 41 

Cheraw Indl\N5, reference to 16 

Cherokee tribe- 

country occupied by 13 

dwellings 59 

encroachment by whites on lands of. ... . 62 

Chesapeake Bay, settlements on 30 


buildings of 6*^ 

country occvipied by T 14 

Choctaw tribe— 

habitations of '>4 

country occupiel by 14 

Chote, the "metropolis'' of the Cherokee... . 61 

Chu-nky yard of Creek toavns 74 

Communal dwellings- 

of Long Island tribes 28 

of the Five rations 48 

of the Iroquois . 100 

of the ifahican .. 26 

of the Timucua 90 

Conestoga. See Susquehakna. 

Congaree Indians, reference to 16 


habitations of -'.S 

reference to 13 

Corn, caches of ti . 53 



carved figure above 100 

of the Creeks 74 

of the Housatonic Indians 25 

CowE, location of 60 

Coweta, description of 77 

Creek confeder.\cy— 

formation of 14 

location of villages 14 

t OAAUS of 72 




("REEK TOWNS, principal structures of . 74, 75. 7G 

ruMBERLiVND RivFE, village on 46 

CuscowiLLA, description of Si 


arrangement of buildings in 75 

description of 72 

Dabi.on, PfeRE C, quoted on Illinois Indians. 3S 
Dankers and SLiTiTER, quoted on Long 

Island dwellings 28 

Decoration of houses 52 

De Graffenried, quoted on villageof Paski. 5S 

Delaware Indians, territory occupied by. . 11 
Dickenson, Jonathan— 

on Florida habitations.. SS 

on Indian " warehouse " S4 

Dome-shaped habitations of Carolina In- 

DL\NS ■ .-,.s 

Du Pratz, Natchez houses described by. . . . tu 
Davelling, type of, determined by material 

available 23 

Earth circles, explanation of 97 

Earth lodge of the Cherokee 59 

Earthquake in ;MississirPi Valley SO 

Earthworks of Ohio, probable builders of. 16 
Erie tribe— 

possible settlers on James River 37 

territory occupied by 13 

war of, \rith confederated Iroquois 3S 

Everglades of Florida, tjrpical house in. . 82 

Fenner, K. Y., site of Onondaga town 54 

Filson, John, Old Chillicothe described by . 47 
Five Nations- 

country occupied by ; 48 

tribes composing 13 

Floors, level of 101 


southern, villages of SS 

tribes inhabiting 15 

typical house in Everglades 82 

Food supply — 

of eastern Indians 10 

of Illinois Indians 42 

Fox Indl\ns— 

territory occupied by 11, 12 

village of, on Rock River i-1 

Ganundesaga Castle 27 

Geogr.\^phio omsiONS of ea.stern Unitfh 

States 9 

Germ.^ntown, Pa., former village on site oi. U 
Gookin, Daniel, quoted on New England 

dwellings 24 

Granaries of Timucuan Int)ians 89 

Graves, sfone-lined, in Wilson County, Tenn. 9S 

G RAVIER, PfeRE J., Tamaroa ^^llage \isited by 43 

Great Island, Pa., occupied by Delaware. . 57 
GUALE tribe— 

houses of 83 

islands occupied by 15 

Hawkins, Benj.— 

on construction of " hot-house " 75 

on Creek stmctures 76 

Sha^^Tiee settlement visited by 47 

Hawkins, J., Florida habitation described 

by 90 

Hewitt, J. N. B., quoted on descent among 

the Iroquois 50 

I 'age 

Hochelaga, description of .55 

Hodgson, Adam, description by, of Cussetah 72 
Hopkins, Samuel, on construction of wig- b 

warn 25 


construction of, among Creeks 75 

of the South lOO 

Housatonic Indi vns, dwellings of, describeri 25 

Housatonic Valley, tribes of 11 

Hudson River— 

dwellings on 28 

tribes on 11 

Humphreys, David, quoted on Mohawk cus- 
toms 51 

Hunting practices of Narraganset In- 
dians 21 

Huron Indlans, reference to 13 

Illinois confederacy, tribes composing 11, 42 

iLUNOis Indians— 

great \illage of, described by Rasles 41 

great village of, visited by La Salle 40 

\nllages of .38 

Ilunois, State of— 

Indians of 11 

dwelling sites m Brown County 99 

dwelling sites in Union Coimty 98 

Indlvna, Indians of 11 

Iroquoian family, territory' occupied by . . . 13, 14 

Iroquois, League of the, formation of 13, 50 

Iroquois tribes— 

houses and villages 48 

shelters 54 

-^'illage sites 48 

\-illages similar to Algonqman 26 

Jece, village of 88 

Joliet, journey of .39 

Kaskasku. tribe— 

territory occupied by 11 

\-illage of 41 

visited by the French 11 

Kaunaumeek, a Housatonic village 25 

Kecoughtan, site of 33, 35 

Kentucky, Barren Coimty, lodge sites Ln. . . 98 

Keowee River, settlement on 63 

KuLUMi, description of houses in 79 

Laet, J. de, on Hudson River dwellings 29 

Lahontan, Armand, on fortified \-illages 26 

Lake Pontchartrain— 

Indian structure on 64 

settlement on 65 

tribes in vicinity of 66 

Languages, diversity of 17 

La S.vlle, explorations of 12, 38 

Lawson, John— 

on Carolina habitations 58 

on \'illage of Waxsaw 92 

Le.\gue of the Iroquois, formation of 13, 50 

Len.ipe Indians, territory occupied by 11 

Letters concerning the Cherokee 61 

Log house of the Creeks 78 

Long house— 

at Onondaga 52 

of the Narraganset 21 

Long Island, habitations of 19, 28 

Long, Stephen H., on Fox village 44 



LomsiANA, wattlework and earth structures 

in 09 

Lower Mohawk Castle, site of i>l 

MacCaulet, Clay, description by, of house 

in Everglades X2 

McKee Island, Ala., earth circles on 9S 

Mahican tribe— 

territory occupied by U 

villages of 2fi 

Maine settlement, described by Cham- 
plain !■' 

Maine, tribes of. iti 

Malecite habitations 22 

Manahoac group, named by Capt. John 

Smith.. 1<> 

Mandan Indlvns— 

structures of 71 

village on Missoiu-i River 70 

Manhattan, signification of name 11 

Manhattan tribe, territory occupied by 11 

Maps, showing position of Indian villages 18 

Marquette, journey of SS, 39 

Martin, Joseph, letter written by 61 

Maryland, villages of Eastern Shore of 30 

Mascoutens, great ^-illage of 39 

Mass.vchuset tribe, territorj' occupied by. . 10 

Mat-covered habitations, types of 58 

Meheerin tribe, territory occupied by 13 

Menominee Indians, territory occupied by . 11 
MuMi Indians— 

territory occupied by 11 

settlement of 39 

MlCBIGAMEA tribe— 

of the Illinois confederacy 42 

territory occupied by 11 

village of 43 

Michigan, Indians of 11 

MicMAC tribe— 

habitations of 22 

territory of 10 


Mohawk tribe— 

one of Six Nations 13 

\allage of, described 51 

Mohegan tribe, territory occupied by. ... . 10 

Monacan confederacy, chief town of Ki 

Montreal, site of Hochelaga 55 

Mooney, James— 

on the Riekohockan 37 

population estimated by 9 

Moore, Clarence B.— 

on Alabama village sites 98 

on South CaroUna stracture 86 

Morgan, L. H., quoted on communism 

among Indians 29 


accidental 99 

circular, indicating dwelling sites 97 

indicating village sites 72 

Mourt, George, quoted on dwellings on 

Cape Cod 22 

Munnsville, N. Y., village near 51 

Munsee Indians, territory occupied by 11 

Muskhogean tribes, country occupied by. . 14, 63 

Nanticoke village, near Cambridge, Md ... 31 


Naples, N. Y., village near 50 

Narraganset tribe— 

customs of 20 

defeat of 11 

hunting practices of 21 

temporary nature of villages 20 

territory occupied by 10 

NAsiivaLE, Tenn., site of former Shawnee 

village 12, 46 

Natchez Indlans— 

location of settlements 66 

dwellings of, described 66 

territory occupied by 14 

war of, with French 14 

Neutrals, at war with Algonquian tribes. . . 12 

New England tribes lo 

dwellings of 21, 24 

North Carolina, tribes cf 16 

Nottoway tribe — 

reference to 13 

town of, described 57 

Ofo Induns— 

dialect of 16 

territory of 16, 94 

Ohio, Indians of 11 

Ohio Valley, former occupants of 15 

Ojibway, linguistic relations of 12 

Old Chillicothe, description of 47 

Omaha, signification of name 16 

Oneida, one of the Si.x Nations 13 

Oneida village, described 51 

Onondaga town, site of 54 

Onondaga tribe, one of the Six Nations 13 

Onondaga, village of 52 

OviEDo Y Valdez, quoted on Quale struc- 
tures 83 

Painting on walls 52, 80 

Pausaded villages 23, 

26, 27, 30, 40, 54, 57, 90, 94, 100 

Palmetto-thatched house 65 

Palmetto-thatched shelters lOO 

Paski, village of, described 58 

Passamaquoddy Induns, temtory occupied 

by 10 

Pawnee earth lodges 71 

Peace towns of the Creek confederacy. 77 

Pemberton, E . , on work of David Bramer:! . 25 

Penn, Wm., treaty concluded by, in 16S2 11 

Penobscot tribe, territory occupied by 10 

Peoru tribe— 

discovered by Marquette 11 

territory of 11 

village of, on Illinois 40 

village of, on Mississippi 39 

Pequot tribe , territory occupied by 10 

Play house of the Narraganset 21 

Pomeioc, description of 34 

Pontdalamia , a village of the Kaskaslda. . . . 11 

estimated by James Mooney 9 

estimation of, by number of sites mis- 
leading 45 

Powhatan, chief, described by Capt. John 

Smith 36 

Powhatan cont'ederacy, boundary line of. 16 


Powhatan tkibi;^ I'age 

country occupio' I by 37 

oustoms of 32 

meaning of name 37 

villages of 31 

Public Square of the Creeks 73,74 

Quadrangular dwelling? 5S 

QuAPAW, signification of name l«i 

Raleigh, Sir Walter— 

expeditions of 11,31 

\dllages discovered by expeditions of 33 

Rasawek, location of Ki, Sebastien— 

on Abnaki village 23 

on Illinois Indians -. 41 

Richmond, Va., village on present site of 37 

Roanoke Indians, discovered by Raleigh'* 

expedition 11 

Rock River, villages on 44 

Romans, Bernard, description by, of Chick- 
asaw village , 68 

Rotunda of Creek towns 73, 74 

Rushes, used in construction of dwellings.. 3S,99 


Indian name for 19 

village at mouth of 19 

Saint Esprit, Mission of 3S 

St. Lawrence RrvER , tribes near 11 

St. Louis, Mo., •^'illage near 12 

St. Marys, Ga., Indian warehouse at 85 

Santa Cruz, Fla., village of 84 

Santee Indians, reference to Ifi 

Saponi Indians— 

reference to 16 

location of villages 92 

Sauk and Fox- 
linguistic relations of 12 

villages on Rock River 44 

Sauk Indians, territory occupied by 11 

Schoolcraft, II. R., on Siouan tribes 16 

Secotan, drawing of, by John White 34 

Seminole, origin of the name 80 

Seminole Home, group of structures com- 
prising 82 

Seminole town, described 81 

Seminole tribe, origin of 15 

Seneca tribe— 

one of the Six Nations 13 

village site of 27 

Shackamaxon. village of 11 

Shawnee tribe— 

country occupied by 11, 12, 46 

linguisitc relations of 12 

migrations of 12 

Shell heaps, indicating villages on Chesa- 
peake Bay 30 

Shell mounds— 

atJece, Fla 88 

on Little Island, South Carolina 86 

Shelters, temporary— 

of the Narraganset 20. 21 

of the Seminoles 82 

SiNiCA, location of 63 

Siouan tribes— 

migration of 15 

territory of 92 

Six Nations, tribes composing the 13 

Smith. Capt John— Page 

description of Powhatan by 36 

meeting of, with the Susquehanna 56 

villages indicated by 33 

South CAROLfNA, tribes of is 

Spiral fire of council house 76 

Squier, K. G., on Ganiuidesaga Cast:-e 27 

Stockbridges. Sec tonic Indian.s. 

Strachey, William, on Powhatan %iilages. . 31 
Susquehanna Indl\ns— 

meeting of, \dth Capt. John Smith 56 

territorj- occupied by 13 

■ viilaces of _ 56 

Sweat houses 93, 100 


Tallapoosa River, settlement on 46 

Tamaroa tribe— 

country occupied by 11, 43 

member of Illinois confederacy 42 

villages of 12, 43 

Teatontaloga, description of 51 

Tecumseh, meeting of, with Upper Creek 

chiefs 80 

Tellico, town house at 60 

Tennessee, Wh-son County, earth circles in 98 

Timberlake, Henry, on Cherokee town- 
house 61 

Timucuan Indlvns— 

country inhabited by 15 

villages of 89 

Tonti, Henri DE, on village of Pontdalamia. 41 


at Tellico 60 

at Waxsaw 93 

ofCowee ■ 60 

of eastern Siouan tribes , 92 

of the Sha^\-nee 47 

on mounds 72 

TO'W'n square, structures surrounding, de- 
scribed 76 

Tsonontowan, Seneca village of 50 

TuKABATCHi, location of 79 


country occupied by 17, 96 

houses of 96 


country inhabited by 13 

dwellings of... 58 

fort of, on Neuse River 58 

one of the Six Nations 13 

village of 58 

war of 13, 58 

TuTELo Indians— 

reference to 16 

villages of 92 

UCHEAN family, territory occupied by 16 

UciTA, Timucuan town of 91 

Utchowig, probable site of 56 

Van Curler, Arent, explorations of 51 

Van der Donck, quoted on Iroquois houses. 48 

Verrazzano, John de, expedition of 19 

Village site.s— 

meaning o. term 15 

number of, misleading 45 

size of, misleading 18, 21 

spots chosen for 18 

Villages, appearance of 100 



■ rago 


native villages of 31, 3(5 

linguistic comieclion of tribes of 57 

Siouan tribes in 16 

\ IRGINIA COLONY, coiintry occupied by 3(5 

Wabash River, village on Itj 

Waccamaw Indians, territory occupied by . . 15 

Wampanoag tribe, territory occupied by. . . 10 
Wampum, string of, accompanying Cherokee 

document ; . . . (i2 

Wappinger Indians, territory occupied by . . 11 

War towns of the Creek confederacy ... 77 
Warehouse, Indian— 

at Santa Cruz, Fla. S4 

at St. Marys, Ga .! So 

Watch houses in fields 34 

Watch-towers of Biloxi \t:llage 95 

Waitlework, dwellings of— 

in Choctaw settlements (i4 

in Siouan tribes 94 

in Taensa village , 09 


Waxsa w, village of 92 

Werowacomoco, site of 35 

Wiute, John, drawings of 34 

Whitewashing of Indian structures 80 


method of construction 25 

of Algonquian tribes li), ino 

Williams, Roger, on New England habita- 
tions 19 

Winnebago tribe, on Green Bay, Wis 16 

Winnebago villages 95 

Wisconsin, Indians of n 

Yamasee War, reference to 12 

Yamasi Indians— 

ancient structure of :... gti 

. territory inhabited by n 

Yuriii Indians— 

band of, possible settlers on James River. 37 

country inliabited by 95 

to«Ti of. 9.5 





MINN., 1900 








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