Carolina - The Native Americans

The Machapunga Indians

The name, Machapunga, is said to mean "bad dust," or "much dirt," in the native Algonquian language.

The Machapunga belonged to the Algonquian linguistic stock.

The Machapunga group primarily lived in what are present-day Hyde, Washington, Tyrrell, Dare, and part of Beaufort Counties, North Carolina.

The only village named is Mattamuskeet (probably on Mattamuskeet Lake in Hyde County). However, we should probably add Secotan on the north bank of Pamlico River in Beaufort County, and perhaps the town of the Bear River Indians.

The Machapunga seem to have embraced the larger part of the descendants of the Secotan, who lived between Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds when the Raleigh colony was established on Roanoke Island (1585-86), though the Pamlico may also have been included under the same head.

They were reduced to a single village by 1701, took part with other Indian tribes of the region in the Tuscarora War, and at its close were settled on Mattamuskeet Lake with the Coree.

In 1761, a small number were still living in North Carolina, evidently at the same place, and the Rev. Alexander Stewart reported that he had baptized seven Indian and mixed-blood children belonging to the "Attamuskeet, Hatteras, and Roanoke." On a second visit two years later he baptized twenty-one more.

The Machapunga are estimated by Mooney (1928) to have numbered 1,200, including some smaller tribes, in 1600.

In 1701, Lawson gives 30 warriors, probably less than 100 souls.

In 1775, there were said to be eight to ten on the mainland and as many more on the offshore banks.

In 1761, the number of warriors was only seven or eight. The Bear River Indians may have combined with these.

In the form Machipongo, the name is applied to a post village in Northampton County, VA.


© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved