They were here first, but their stories were considered irrelevant by Daves, Mangum, and scores of other early historians. History and memory, it is clear, often walk hand in hand. Certain stories become part of the record. They are meaningful, significant, and resonant. They provide important answers to what we consider the important questions. They help us make sense of ourselves, or they educate or entertain us.
Other stories we cast aside. They are uninteresting and trivial, it seems, so we forget them. We must be honest about this. We make choices about the stories we want to tell.
The Head in Edward Nugent's Hand: Roanoke's Forgotten Indians by Michael Leroy Oberg
We can continue to cast the story of Roanoke in mythic terms, if we choose, and view it as the opening act in the great drama of English colonization in America. Efforts such as these can shape how we remember historical events and help define the record and the significance of the past. Green made his choices about the stories he wanted to tell.
In the opening act, an announcer tells the audience, in case they do not already know, that we are gathered here this evening to honor the spiritual birthplace of our nation and to memorialize those heroic men and women who made it so.
Here these pioneers of a new order, of a new form of government, lived and struggled, suffered and died. And in the symbol of their endurance and their sacrifice let us renew our courage and our hope, and by doing so prove to ourselves and to the world that they did not die in vain. For as we keep faith with them, so shall we keep faith with ourselves and with future generations who demand of us that a nation of liberty and free men shall continue on the earth.
This was, after all, an American, and not an American Indian, drama. We can tell this story, too, but we must remember that there is more than one way to look at the past. We can, for instance, view Roanoke and the attempt to settle there not as a heroic beginning, but as an English failure and an Indian victory, even if the fruits of that victory were decidedly ambivalent. This belief has informed much of the writing of American history, and it always has been part of the story of Roanoke. Walter Clark, for instance, who spoke at Roanoke Island in , seemed to believe that all Indians had become extinct.
Where the smoke of a lonely wigwam rose, Clark asserted, now the roar of great cities fills the ear and the blaze of electric lights reddens the sky.
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Where then amid vast solitudes the war-whoop resounded, boding death and torture, now rise a thousand steeples and anthems to the Prince of Peace float on the air. Where the plumed and painted warrior stealthily trod the narrow war-path, mighty engines rush. Where a few thousand naked savages miserably starved and fought and perished, now one hundred millions of the foremost people of all the world live and prosper.
The Indian is gone, Winston said, a conclusion that for him followed logically from his belief that there is no room on earth today for vicious, incompetent, and immoral races. White civilization is triumphant because it is best. Settlers move in and Indians retire, a story that seemed to repeat itself consistently as the American frontier advanced westward across the continent. For these North Carolinians the process bore a certain inevitability.
The frontier was, as Frederick Jackson Turner described it, the outer edge of the wave and the meeting point between savagery and civilization. The Indians did not retire, at least at the outset.
White civilization was not triumphant, at least at the beginning. The colonists did not advance: they went home, or they disappeared. Here, at Roanoke, the Indians may have won. This, in itself, makes Roanoke a unique story. The Indians stayed and the colonists disappeared, but with enormous and shattering consequences for all, including ourselves, for this particular story of Roanoke might help us understand our history differently.
Indeed, the attitudes that cast native peoples as relics, as doomed warriors fighting the forces of time and modernity, endure. Many Americans continue to believe that native peoples, defeated and on the path to extinction, disappeared in the face of European invaders who are too often described as being more sophisticated, developed, modern, or advanced. Perhaps, by looking at this familiar and foundational story anew, we can challenge these colonial assumptions.
At Roanoke, we can tell this story of encounter free from the tragic burden of subsequent events. We can view the relations that developed between native peoples and English men and women at Roanoke in terms other than of inevitable decline.
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Roanoke provides us with a perfect opportunity to examine, in close compass, what happened when natives and newcomers first encountered each other, in one of the few recorded settings where Indians were not defeated and driven off. To reverse the focus of the Roanoke story we must emphasize events different from those that have concerned previous historians.
In particular, we shall look at the killing of one Indian, and its consequences, in early America. The story you are about to read is that of a human head or, more precisely, how the head of an Algonquian leader named Wingina came to be held by a young colonist one summer day in It is a story that encompasses the British Isles and the Carolina coast, English manor houses and Indian longhouses, fortified outposts and palisaded Indian villages. Telling this story forces us to consider the question of just what constitutes a historically significant event, and who decides and why.
The brutal act of violence executed by Edward Nugent is almost never specifically mentioned in history textbooks. His name, and that of the weroance he beheaded, are not commonly known. The crime, it seems, has been erased and silenced and forgotten, deemed not relevant to the larger narrative of American history. But the killing of this Algonquian leader had important consequences for the native peoples of the Carolina Sounds, and the short-lived English attempts at settlement brought misery and suffering that are difficult to imagine.
But we must imagine. Historians agree only on the basic outlines of the story.
The course will also examine the impact of the war on African Americans, Native Americans, women, and ordinary citizens. Students will engage with the social consequences of the Revolution, post-war economics, post-war politics, post-war society, and the arguments for and against the establishment of a strong central government culminating in the Philadelphia Convention and the ratification of the Constitution of Writing Seminar is a course focusing on a specific topic while emphasizing writing practice and instruction, potentially taught by any member of the College faculty.
Because this is primarily a course in writing, reading assignments will be briefer than in traditional topic courses, and students will prove their understanding of the subject matter through writing compositions rather than taking examinations. Wingina was decapitated by one of Raleigh's men, Edward Nugent, in the summer of [ citation needed ].
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The Head in Edward Nugent's Hand: Roanoke's Forgotten Indians
For the inhabited place, see Wingina, Virginia. Stewart, George New York: Random House. The History of the World. London: for Walter Burre.