When the English colonists settled Jamestown in 1607, the Patawomeck Tribe was a very large tribe of the Powhatan Federation. They quickly made friends with the English colonists and eventually even became their allies, refusing to help the leader of the Powhatan Federation, Chief Opechancanough, younger brother of Powhatan, who tried to obliterate the English in the great massacres of 1622 and 1644. Without the help of the Patawomeck Tribe, the settlement of Jamestown would almost certainly have failed to survive. The Patawomecks supplied the Jamestown settlement with corn and other food when they were starving.
In 1607, the Patawomeck Tribe was settled in the areas we now know as Stafford and King George Counties. The English pronounced the name of the tribe as “Potomac,” from which the Potomac River derived its name. Their chief, called the “Great King of Potomac” by the English, appears to have married the sister of the Great Chief Powhatan. The Great King’s next younger brother, I-Oppassus, or “Japasaw,” as the English called him, was the Lesser Chief of the Tribe. Japasaw was known as “Chief Passapatanzy,” as that was where he made his home. The famous Indian princess Pocahontas, daughter of Powhatan, was visiting Japasaw’s family at the time that she was taken captive by the English, who had hoped to use her as a bargaining chip to force her father to release the English captives that he had.
Pocahontas had many family ties to the Patawomecks. Her mother has long been thought by historians to have been a member of the Patawomeck Tribe. Also, one of Japasaw’s two wives was a sister of Pocahontas, and the first husband of Pocahontas was Kocoum, the younger brother of Japasaw.
The rule of the Patawomeck Tribe eventually fell to Japasaw’s son, Wahanganoche, sometimes called “Whipsewasin” by the English. Those were very troubled times for the Patawomecks, as several influential colonists tried to take away the land of the chief by making false accusations against the tribe for the murders of certain colonists. Chief Wahanganoche was taken prisoner by the English and was forced to stand trial in Williamsburg. The chief was acquitted of any wrong doing, much to the dismay of the greedy colonists who wanted his land. In 1663, on his way home from Williamsburg, Chief Wahanganoche lost his life. From implications in a letter written by Col. John Catlett, it appears that the chief was ambushed and murdered in Caroline County near the Camden Plantation. It is ironic that his silver badge, given to him in Williamsburg by authority of the King of England, for safe passage over English territory, was found 200 years later at Camden, where it had apparently been lost as a result of the chief’s murder.
Shortly after the death of the chief, in 1666, the English launched a full-scale massacre against the Patawomecks and other area Virginia Indian tribes. Most of the men of the Patawomeck Tribe were killed, and the women and children were placed in servitude. Two of the chief’s sons made it across the river to Maryland but were captured by an enemy tribe and were turned over to the English. A few of the Patawomeck children, who were orphaned by the 1666 massacre, were taken in by area colonists.
Chief Wahanganoche was very shrewd in allowing a number of his daughters to marry well-to-do English colonists in the area. He must have been careful to instruct them to pass on the Indian ways to their children. It is because of the children of those daughters and some of the orphan children of 1666, who also married English colonists, that the Patawomeck Indians and their culture survived. The descendants of these Patawomeck children intermarried with each other, and many of their descendants have continued to marry cousins of Patawomeck descent to keep the blood strong. They passed on the Indian ways of agriculture and of hunting and fishing that have been used up to the present day in Stafford County. Some of the current tribal members are still able to construct the intricate eel baskets just like their Patawomeck ancestors did more than 400 years ago.
The descendants of the Patawomeck Tribe banded together in the 1700s in the White Oak area of Stafford, which was in King George County until the county boundaries changed in the late 1770s. This was in walking distance from the Passapatanzy area, where many of the descendants still live today.
--Written by Bill Deyo, Patawomeck Tribal Historian
MEMBERSHIP IN THE PATAWOMECK TRIBE
We welcome all people of legally documentable Patawomeck Indian lineage who are dedicated to reviving and keeping alive the heritage of our ancestors to become active members of the Patawomeck Tribe if they meet the requirements listed below.
-In order to qualify for tribal membership, your Patawomeck family lineage must be documented. This is a step you must complete, to the best of your abilities, before requesting membership. The Tribe does not have the time or resources to complete the genealogy for every applicant. We do have access to various vital records of local families, (i.e. Newton, Monteith, Green, Sullivan, etc...)and may be able to fill in gaps during the application review process but the burden of genealogical proof lies with you, the applicant.
-Your family must be listed on the 1860 census of the White Oak area of Stafford County or closely surrounding area (such as the city of Fredericksburg or Pasapatanzy in King George)
-Your family must have interacted with the White Oak or closely surrounding area in the 20th century.
HOW TO APPLY FOR MEMBERSHIP
***Each Individual must complete a separate application.*** We do not extend Group/Family Memberships***
1. Gather copies of the following documents.
Please do not send the original documents! We may not be able to return them to you.
• Certified birth certificate for each individual applying for membership
• a 6 generation copy of your family tree, including siblings for each family group
• pertinent marriage certificates and death certificates
• any other copies of documents that may be necessary for documentation purposes: Family Bible pages, Church Records, etc..
Remember - You need to provide legal documentation of your relationship with a Patawomeck Ancestor or a current Active Tribal Member. Please provide copies of all pertinent documentation that show this relationship.
2. Request an application from the Membership Committee for each individual via email or by writing to the address below:
Patawomeck Indians of Virginia
c/o Debbi Shelton
319 Chatham Heights Rd.
Fredericksburg, VA 22405
After you receive the application, Print and/or fill it out and mail it to the address shown on the application, with the copies of your documentation, family tree, and any other application documents.
Only legal guardians may sign the application for minors. If you are not the natural parents, please provide copies of any court documents granting you guardianship over the individual.
Adopted children are not entitled to Full Tribal Membership. They may be eligible for Honorary Membership.
We do not accept applications via email at this time and incomplete applications without required documentation will be denied without review.
The membership approval process could take up to a year.
When the application arrives at the Membership Committee's desk, they will review the application & documentation with the Tribal Historian. After they have reviewed the application, they will present it at the next scheduled quarterly Council meeting for approval. If your application is approved, you will then be contacted with information on obtaining a Tribal Membership Card.
Benefits of Membership
All Tribal Members, over the age of 18, can bring concerns to the Tribal Council but only Council members can vote at the quarterly Council meetings.
All members, 18 years and older, can vote at the Annual meetings.
All members, of all ages, have the right and are encouraged to participate in our events and language classes.
Tribal Members with Honorary Status as explained on the application, by Federal and State Law, are not qualified to apply for any Native American benefits or grants extended to members of Federal and State Recognized Indian Tribes.
October 20, 2013
Council Meeting 1:00PM White Oak Volunteer Fire Department
November 2, 2013
3rd Annual Patawomeck Heritage Craft Show at Bethel Baptist Church 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Chief John Lightner
1416 Brent Street
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
c/o Debbi Shelton
319 Chatham Hieghts Rd, Fredericksburg, VA 22405