288 Tuscarora Nation Road
Maxton, NC 28364-7012
The Tuscarora ("hemp gatherers") are a Native American people of the Iroquoian-language. Before the arrival of Europeans in North America, the Tuscarora had migrated south and settled in the region now known as Eastern Carolina. This most numerous and powerful indigenous nation in North Carolina lived along the Roanoke, Neuse, Tar (Torhunta or Narhontes), Pamlico, and Cape Fear rivers in North Carolina.
Early Europeans noted the Tuscarora in North Carolina had three tribes: Kǎ'tě’nu'ā'kā' (People of the Submerged Pine-tree, also written Kautanohakau); Akawěñtc'ākā' (doubtful, also Kauwetseka); and Skarū'ren' (hemp gatherers, also known as Tuscarora).
In late 17th and early 18th-century North Carolina, European colonists reported two primary branches of the Tuscarora: a northern group led by Chief Tom Blunt (King Blount), and a southern group led by Chief Hancock. Varying accounts circa 1708-1710, estimated the number of Tuscarora warriors as from 1200 to 2000. Historians estimate their total population may have been three to four times that number.
The Tuscarora traditionally were said to occupy the "country lying between the sea shores and the mountains, which divide the Atlantic states," in which they had twenty four large towns, which contain the villages for over 6,000 warriors.
Because of Tuscarora numbers and their reputation as fierce warriors, Tuscarora leaders were "courted" for their help even during the attempted French invasion. The letter below from George Washington shows they were sought after for military prowess.
George Washington Papers, 1741-1799
The letter states,
To King Blount, Capt Jack and the rest of the Tuscarora Chiefs.
Brothers and Friends. This will be delivered you by our brother Tom, a warrior of the Nottoways who with others of that nation have distinguished themselves in our service this summer against our great and perfidious enemies.
The intent of this is to assure you of our real friendship and love and to confirm and strengthen that chain of friendship which has subsisted between us for so many years past….a chain like ours founded on sincere love and friendship must be strong and lasting and will I hope endure while the sun and stars give light.
Brothers you can be no strangers to the many murders and cruelties committed on our countrymen and friends by that false and faithless people the French who are constantly endeavoring to corrupt the minds of our friendly Indians and Lord have stirred up the Shawnee and Delaware with several other nations to take up the hatchet against us and at the head of many of their Indians have invaded our country, laid waste our lands, plundered our plantations, murdered defenseless women and children, burnt and destroyed wherever they came….which has enraged friends the Six Nations, Cherokees, Nottoways, Cattawbas, and all our Indian allies and prompted them to take up the hatchet in our defense against these disturbances of the common peace.
I hope Brothers you will likewise take up the hatchet against the French and their Indians as our other friends have done and send us some of your young men to protect our frontiers and go to war with us against our notiss and ambitious Frenchmen and to encourage your warriors, I promise to furnish them with arms, ammunition, clothes, provision and ever necessary for war…and the sooner you send them to our assistance the greater ___ will give us of your friendship and the better shall we be enabled to take just revenge on the cruelties.
May you live a happy prosperous people and may we act with sincere love and friendship and while rivers run and trees grow is the sincere wish of your friend and Brother.
Signed with George Washington’s signature
In confirmation of the above and in hopes of your compliance with my request…I give you this string of wampum.
The Tuscarora remaining in North Carolina are still centered primarily in Robeson County; but notable populations also reside in neighboring Cumberland, Scotland, and Hoke Counties North Carolina, in Dillon County South Carolina, as well as in Sampson and Harnett Counties North Caroina.
As decades have passed, the struggle for indigenous rights has been never ending. As North Carolina counties were established, the Tuscarora tribal people remained strong and formed isolated settlements with blood kinship of Tuscarora in Bertie, Bladen, Columbus, Robeson, Sampson, and New Hanover counties.
The Tuscarora War
Chief Blunt occupied the area around what is present-day Bertie County, North Carolina, on the Roanoke River. Chief Hancock lived closer to present-day New Bern, occupying the area south of the Pamlico River. Chief Blunt became close friends with the Blount family of the Bertie region and lived peacefully.
By contrast, Chief Hancock had to deal with more numerous colonists' encroaching. They raided the villages and kidnapped the people to be sold into slavery. The colonists also transported some Tuscarora to Pennsylvania to be sold into slavery.
Both groups suffered substantial population losses after exposure to Eurasian infectious diseases epidemic to Europeans. Both also suffered territorial encroachment. By 1711, Chief Hancock believed he had to attack the settlers to fight back. Chief Tom Blunt did not join him in the war.
The southern Tuscarora collaborated with the Pamlico, the Cothechney, Coree, Woccon, Mattamuskeet and other tribes to attack the settlers in a wide range of locations within a short time period.
Their principal targets were against the planters on the Roanoke, Neuse and Trent rivers, as well as the city of Bath.
They attacked on September 22, 1711, beginning the Tuscarora War. The allied Indian tribes killed hundreds of settlers, including several key political figures among the colonists.
Governor Edward Hyde called out the North Carolina militia and secured the assistance of South Carolina, which provided 600 militia and 360 allied Native Americans under Col. Barnwell.
In 1712, this force attacked the southern Tuscarora and other nations in Craven County at Fort Narhontes, on the banks of the Neuse River. The Tuscarora were "defeated with great slaughter; more than three hundred were killed, and one hundred were made prisoners.
The governor offered Chief Blunt leadership of the entire Tuscarora Nation if he would assist in defeating Chief Hancock. Blunt succeeded in capturing Hancock, who was tried and executed by North Carolina.
In 1713, the Southern Tuscarora were defeated at their Fort Neoheroka (formerly spelled Neherooka), with 900 killed or captured in the battle.
After defeat in the battle of 1713, about 1500 Tuscarora fled to New York to join the Iroquois Confederacy, while as many as 1500 additional Tuscarora sought refuge in the colony of North Carolina.
For survival, some Tuscarora accepted tributary status, but the majority of the Tuscarora remained in North Carolina. In 1715, seventy of the southern Tuscarora went to South Carolina to assist against the Yamasee.Those 70 warriors later asked permission to have their wives and children join them, and settled near Port Royal, South Carolina.
Under the leadership of Tom Blunt, the Tuscarora who remained in North Carolina signed a treaty with the colony in June 1718. It granted a 56,000 acres (230 km2) tract of land on the Roanoke River in what is now Bertie County.
This was the area occupied by Chief Blunt and his people. The colonies of Virginia and North Carolina both recognized Tom Blunt, who had taken the last name Blount, as "King Tom Blount" of the Tuscarora.
Both colonies agreed to consider as friendly only those Tuscarora who accepted Blount's leadership. The remaining Southern Tuscarora were forced to remove from their villages on the Pamlico River and relocate to the villages of Ooneroy and Resootskeh in Bertie County.
In 1722, the Bertie County Reservation, which would officially become known as "Indian Woods," was chartered by the colony, but later was leased illegally.
Over the next several decades the colonial government continually reduced the Tuscarora tract, forcing land cessions of the encroaching settlers. They sold off portions of the land in deals often designed to take advantage of the Tuscarora.
A number of Tuscarora decided to leave their traditional homelands. Many of the Southern Tuscarora acquired land patents from King George III and moved into their known hunting grounds surrounding the Cape Fear River in North Carolina, primarily in New Hanorver and Bladen County, which later became Robeson County.
Several Tuscarora Indians were able to obtain regain their land back from the Royal British Crown through land patents before July 4, 1776, the Declaration Day of Independence and on June 21, 1788, when the U.S. Constitution became a law in the State of North Carolina.
Due to continuous encroachment, abuse, and harassment after the Tuscarora War of 1711-1713, many Tuscarora people began migrating north to join the Five Nations Confederacy while others removed to swamps lands just south of the Cape Fear River settling near Drowning Creek.
288 Tuscarora Nation Road
Maxton, NC 28364-7012