The Indians Were Here First

During the period of first white contacts, the Indian tribes inhabiting the area of the present state of North Carolina were a of three linguistic stocks — the Iroquoian, Siouan, and Algonkian.  

In 1588 Thomas Heriot (1560-1621) authored the Brief and True Report on the New Found Land of Virginia. Reviews of his writings have included,the towns he saw were all small, and always close to the water. Except on foot, through forest and swamp, the Indian's only method of transportation was by canoe. This necessitated their towns being close to the water. Most of these towns contained ten or twelve houses constructed of small, upright poles, fastened together with strips of bark or rawhide."  

In Beaufort County: Two Centuries of Its History, C. Wingate Reed wrote, 
"When the first settlers began to filter south into the Pamlico River area, they did not find the Indians as populous as the Raleigh explorers had found them…approximately 13,800. A little more than a century later, at about the time of the founding of Bath Town, John Lawson estimated the Indian population of eastern Carolina as approximately 5,000.

"This reduction of the Indian population is not all attributable to the white man, though he is responsible for most of it. John Archdale, Governor of Carolina in 1694, attributes the reduction in strength to 'a great mortality' of a few years previous. This was probably an epidemic of smallpox, a disease to which the Indians were very susceptible…a disease unknown to the Indians before the white man came.”

John Lawson wrote, in his Letter to the Lord Proprietors, “The Indians of North-Carolina are a well-shap'd clean-made People, of different Statures, as the Europeans are, yet chiefly inclin'd to be tall. They are a very streight People, and never bend forwards, or stoop in the Shoulders, unless much overpower'd by old Age…Their Bodies are a little flat, which is occasion'd, by being laced hard down to a Board, in their Infancy.

"Their Colour is of a tawny, which would not be so dark, did they not dawb themselves with Bears Oil, and a Colour like burnt Cork. This is begun in their Infancy, and continued for a long time, which fills the Pores, and enables them better to endure the Extremity of the Weather…Their Teeth are yellow with Smoaking Tobacco, which both Men and Women are much addicted to. They tell us, that they had Tobacco amongst them, before the Europeans made any Discovery of that Continent...Although they are great Smokers, yet they never are seen to take it in Snuff, or chew it.” 

Lawson also wrote that the Indians made “Tobacco-pouches of his [the pelican’s] Maw” and used conk shells as their wampum. See more detail on the Coree Indian post.