The Chickahominy Become "New Englishmen"
Original Author: Johann Theodore de Bry
Created: 1618
Medium: Engraving
Publisher: Virginia Museum of History and Culture

The Chickahominy Become “New Englishmen”

At the conclusion of the First Anglo-Powhatan War in 1614, the English captain Samuel Argall, seated on the mat, negotiates a separate treaty with the Chickahominy Indians, who were independent from the Powhatan paramount chiefdom. One of the elders speaks to the assembled Chickahominy about the terms of the treaty. As part of the peacemaking process, Indians in the background bring tribute and trade items to the colonists; likewise, a dead deer and several birds are presented at right.

This engraving is from a 1619 Latin edition of Johann Theodor de Bry's Americae, Part 10, which includes an illustrated version of Ralph Hamor's True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia, a firsthand account of life in the colonies that had been published four years earlier in London without any images. Hamor described the scene that took place on the "Chicohominie, an arme of our river some seaven miles from James Town" where the assembled Indians awaited the English. Among the conditions for peace, the Indians agreed to "take upon them … the name of Tassantasses or English men, and be King James his subjects, and be forever honest, faithfull and trustie unto his deputie in their countrie." In addition, the Indians agreed to deliver a yearly supply of corn as tribute; in turn, they would receive a certain number of tomahawks or small hatchets. The entire assembly agreed to the terms "with a great shout, and noise," according to the author.

Johann Theodor de Bry followed in the tradition of his father, Theodor de Bry, whose engravings had accompanied Thomas Hariot's A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia (1588), a firsthand account of the Roanoke colony. Hariot had traveled there with the artist John White and approximately 600 colonists in 1585. Both de Brys based their images of Indians on the watercolors made by White during that expedition; the engravers, however, also added European elements in their depictions.