Carolina - The Native Americans

The Chowanoc Indians

The meaning of Chowanoc in Algonquian is "people at the south."

The Chowanoc belonged to the Algonquian linguistic family and were evidently most nearly allied to the other North Carolina Algonquians.

They were primarily located on the Chowan River about the junction of Meherrin and Blackwater Rivers in what is present-day North Carolina.


Maraton, on the east bank of Chowan River in Chowan County.

Ohanoak, on the west side of Chowan River not far below Nottoway River probably in Hertford County.

Catoking, (probably) near Gatesville, in Gates County.

Metocaum, on Chowan River in the present Bertie County.

Ramushonok, apparently between the Meherrin and Nottoway Rivers in Hertford County.

In 1584-85, when first known to Europeans (Roanoke Colony), the Chowanoc were the leading tribe in northeastern North Carolina.

In 1663, they entered into a treaty with the English by which they submitted to the English Crown, but they violated this in 1675 and after a year of warfare were compelled to confine themselves to a reservation on Bennett's Creek which became reduced in 1707 from twelve square miles to six square miles.

They sided with the colonists in the Tuscarora War (1711-1715), and at about the same time were visited by a Church of England missionary, Giles Rainsford.

In 1723, a reservation of 53,000 acres was set aside for them conjointly with the Tuscarora, and in 1733, they were given permission to incorporate with that tribe.

They continued to decline in numbers until in 1755 Governor Dobbs stated that only two men and three women were left.

In 1584-85, one of the Chowanoc towns, Ohanoak, was said to contain 700 warriors, and Mooney (1928) estimates their numbers at about 1,500 in 1600.

In 1707, they were reduced to one town with about fifteen fighting men, but at the end of the Tuscarora War their numbers were placed at 240.

In 1731, less than 20 families were reported ,and by 1755 only five individuals, as above noted.

The Chowanoc seem to have been the most powerful Algonquian tribe south of the Powhatan.

Their memory is preserved in the names of Chowan River and Chowan County, and in the designation of a small post office the county of the name, all in North Carolina.


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