north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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Essay:
      Dasemunkepeuc was an Algonquian village on the mainland shore of Roanoke Sound, near modern-day Mann’s Harbor. It was the principal home of Wingina, a weroance (a regional leader) well-known to Thomas Harriot, John White, and Ralph Lane, as well as fellow Indians Manteo and Wanchese. Historian Michael L. Oberg makes numerous references to the village in his study presenting the Indian perspective of the Roanoke colonies entitled The Head in Edward Nugent’s Hand.

      Aside from its local importance to the Algonquian Indians, Dasemunkepeuc was the village that Ralph Lane and his party attacked in June 1586. During the fray, Wingina, then known as Pemisapan, was injured. He escaped into the woods but Edward Nugent, a colonist, pursued him. Nugent emerged from the woods with Pemisapan’s head in his hand. Within a few days, Lane’s colonists returned to England with Sir Francis Drake.

      Thus, in Oberg’s recasting of the story of the colonies as an Indian story, Dasemunkepeuc is a village in which a critical event occurred. It is a place, and, indeed a murder, that has been lost to time and to English interpretation. As Oberg states, “Telling this story forces us to consider . . . what constitutes a historically significant event, and who decides and why . . . The crime, it seems, has been erased and silenced and forgotten, deemed not relevant to the larger narrative of American history. But the killing for 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.”

      Dasemunkepeuc was abandoned by the Algonquian Indians in 1587, when they killed White’s close advisor George Howe, as a spiritual act of revenge for the murder of Pemisapan, for whom they still mourned. The consequences of Howe’s killing were real and frightening, thus the Indians moved to Secotan or a village further in the interior. The modern Roanoke-Hatteras tribe considers Dasemunkepeuc their historic capital.


References:
Michael L. Oberg, The Head in Edward Nugent’s Hand (2008)
John Swanton, The Indians of the Southeastern United States (1946)
Thomas Harriot, A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1588)
James Horn, A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke (2010)
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