Native American Artifacts and More

I just have to rave about the amazing morning we had!  I have a very good friend who is a distant relative (12x Great Granddaughter) of Pocahontas.  She is a member of the Powhatan tribe… and has quite a number of artifacts that have come down her family line that date back 400 years or so!  I organized an event to have her speak to some of the homeschoolers in our area this morning.  It was fabulous! (P.S. Be sure to scroll down to the end to grab some of our free Native American packets!)

So… now to share some photos of these amazing artifacts!

Ms. Angie laid out a number of hides on the floor and the kids were welcome to feel all the different she had laid out on the floor. She had deer, raccoon, rabbit, skunk, squirrel, beaver, and black bear hides.

She also had fabulous artifacts on display.

Native American Artifact DisplayOnce everyone arrived she gave a wonderful talk!

Ms. Angie does presentations professionally for schools, groups, and has given presentations at the Powhatan Indian Village at Jamestown settlement as well. We were so lucky to have her come speak to our group!

This coyote shield is one of the items she took to the Smithsonian to be carbon dated. It dates back to the early 16th century (though some of the cloth was added later).  This was a ceremonial shield and spirit protector.

Coyote-shieldShe brought out some music instruments. Can you tell what animal this comes from?

turtle claw music instrumentIt comes from a turtle.  It is a shaker!

She had one of the girls come up and model some of the artifacts she had. She has on:

  • a skirt made of deer hide
  • a turtle shell bag
  • a sewing kit (the white necklace)
  • gardening tool (antler) with coyote fur

Native American Dressed Up

She explained how boys built up their skills. She shared a couple of games boys played to improve their eye-hand coordination.  Then she explained how boys would first use a stick (third one down). Then they would transition to a sharpened stick (the one at the bottom) before transitioning to an arrow with a point.

DSC02279-arrows

Once boys were old enough to hunt, they would shave their head on the side that they drew back the arrows.

One of the boys also helped model some of the things. He has a racoon bag.  In the picture to the right, there is a possum bag and a birch-bark bag that would have been used for collecting berries.  Our model said he didn’t want to shave half of his hair off, though!! 🙂

Native American artifacts - racoon bagI think what was amazing about the morning was that Ms. Angie wove stories of her ancestors with the (mistaken) history that many of us have learned.

Our family spent a morning with Ms. Angie several years ago… and here are a few things I wrote in that post:

Some background about Pocahontas: Most Americans have heard of Pocahontas. This was actually a nickname, her real name was Matoaka. Disney made a famous, though not accurate, film about her life.  Many of us know that Pocahontas was the daughter of the Powhatan Indian chief, Wahunsonacock. She was born in 1595 (This was 11 years before the first settlers arrived at Jamestown).  Most people also know that she married an English settler.  The Disney movie implied that she fell in love with John Smith, but there is no evidence of this.  She married John Rolfe, an English settler, when she was 19.

The information shared by the Powhatan Renape Nation explains that when she was 17, Pocahontas was taken prisoner by the English when she was there for a social visit. She was held hostage for over a year. During her captivity, John Rolfe took a “special interest” in the young prisoner.  As a condition of her release, she agreed to marry Rolfe.  They married in 1614 and shortly after that they had a son, Thomas.

Pocahontas and Rolfe went to England with their son. This was good propaganda for The Virginia Company of London. According to the Powhatan Renape Nation website:

She was wined and dined and taken to theaters. It was recorded that on one occasion when she encountered John Smith (who was also in London at the time), she was so furious with him that she turned her back to him, hid her face, and went off by herself for several hours. Later, in a second encounter, she called him a liar and showed him the door.

Not long after that Pocohantas, John Rolfe and their son were heading back to Virginia when she became ill. She was taken off the ship and soon died. She was just 21. Her father died the following spring (in 1618). During the next few decades, the Powhatan people were decimated and dispersed and their lands were taken over.

What happened to Thomas Rolfe?  Pocahontas’s son stayed in England. He was brought up by his uncle. He never saw his father again because by the time he returned to Virginia (probably around 1635) his father, John Rolfe, had died.

One thing that Ms. Angie shared with us — and that is not written down in the history books — was a story that was passed down through her family; she was told that Pocahontas was actually a widow. At around age 14, Pocahontas married a lesser chief named Kocoum, an elite Potowomac warrior and guard at Werowocomaco (the Powhatan capital village). Some believe they had one child, but the name and gender is unknown, and Kocoum passed away after an encounter with the colonists. Her marriage to John Rolfe was her second marriage. Ms. Angie says she has no way of verifying that, but that is what was passed down orally through her family line as well as referenced in The True Story of Pocahontas: The Other Side of History by Dr. Linwood “Little Bear” Custalow and Angela L. Daniel “Silver Star.”

What made this visit so extraordinary, were the objects we were able to touch and hold… Again, this is the coyote shield that has been passed down through her family. As I said above, she said she had taken it to the Smithsonian to be carbon dated. It dates back to the early 16th century (though some of the cloth was added later). The kids and I got to hold it as Ms. Angie explained that this was a ceremonial shield and spirit protector.

DSC02373CoyoteShield

This is a coup stick that was passed down through her family.  It is also over 400 years old, but was not traditionally used by Powhatan warriors. The origin is unknown, but this might have been a trade item.

DSC02243-coup-stick

So, that was about it! We sure had a wonderful morning. (Hopefully everyone else did as well!)Native American ArtifactsYou might be interested in this post, which highlights some of the free Native American resources we have here on the blog!

Free Native American Notebook Pages

See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter. You might also want to check out some of our resources pages above (such as our Science, Language Arts, or History Units Resource Pages) which have links to dozens of posts.  You might want to join our free Homeschool Den Chat Facebook group.  Don’t forget to check out Our Store as well. :) Homeschool Den StoreHappy Homeschooling! ~Liesl

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