Author: D. Brad Hatch

D. Brad Hatch is a member of the Patawomeck tribal council, a traditional knowledge keeper, and trained archaeologist focused on material culture and historic preservation.

Patawomeck Tribe

The Patawomeck tribe is a state-recognized Indian tribe based in Stafford County. Dating its presence on the south bank of the Potomac River to about AD 1300, the tribe lived relatively far from the English settlement at Jamestown but nevertheless played a major role in the politics and warfare of the early colonial period. In an effort to maintain its own independence, the Patawomeck tribe regularly played its more powerful Indian neighbors and the English colonists against one another. Tribal members traded food to starving colonists in 1609; hosted an English boy, Henry Spelman, for a time; and helped the English kidnap Pocahontas, daughter of the paramount chief Powhatan. Not only did the Patawomeck not participate in the weroance, or chief, Opechancanough‘s attack against the English in 1622, they possibly helped the English to poison Opechancanough the next year. (He survived.) English settlements did not encroach on Patawomeck land until the 1650s. At first the county courts and General Assembly defended the Patawomeck against bad English behavior that included an attempt to frame the Patawomeck weroance for murder in 1662. But just four years later, in 1666, the governor’s Council called for the Patawomeck Indians’ “utter destruction.” A 1669 census recorded no Patawomeck warriors. The Patawomeck remained in Virginia, mixing their native traditions with English habits and largely converting to Christianity. Like other Virginia Indians, they struggled to preserve their identity and culture from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. In February 2010, the Commonwealth of Virginia granted the Patawomeck Indian Tribe of Virginia state recognition.