John Lawson and His Fateful Encounter with the Tuscarora

“Next Day, about 10 a Clock, we struck out of the Way, by the Advice of our Old Indian. We had not gone past two Miles, e’er we met with about 500 Tuskeruros in one Hunting-Quarter. They had made themselves Streets of Houses, built with Pine-Bark, not with round Tops, as they commonly use, but Ridge-Fashion, after the manner of most other Indians. We got nothing amongst them but Corn, Flesh being not plentiful, by reason of the great Number of their People. For tho’ they are expert Hunters, yet they are too populous for one Range; which makes Venison very scarce to what it is amongst other Indians, that are fewer; no Savages living so well for Plenty, as those near the Sea.”

-John Lawson describing one of his first encounters with the Tuscarora Indians in A New Voyage to Carolina.

Lawson did not fare well in a later meeting with the Tuscarora. He and Baron Christoph von Graffenreid were captured and held prisoner by the Indians during a trip up the Neuse to discover its source. Von Graffenreid was eventually released by the Tuscarora, who believed he was the governor. Lawson was killed, reportedly on this date 300 years ago.

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