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Monday, January 9, 2012

Andaste / Anasazi / X / W

A 1916 NY Times article about the Susquehannocks, also known as the Andaste.  They were the first Native Americans to meet the "white" invaders from Europe.

"Captain John Smith, historian of Virginia, came in contact with war parties of Andaste Indians.  He found that they had terrorized all the tribes in the region, including the Powhatan people.  John Smith remarked at that time on the great size of the Andaste warriors, and the enormous pipes they had, sufficient to beat out a man's brains.  He also commented on the superiority of the weapons of these Indians, and of their ferocious appearance when clad in bearskins.  He bought some of the weapons and, returning, explained to the Powhatans that he had captured them, and this gave the Indians surrounding the colony a great opinion of his bravery, his prowess in war.

"The Andaste was the only tribe that stood out against the Iroquois, but after awhile they were overwhelmed by numbers and were exterminated before the era of scientific research in America.

"...Over the head of one of the skeletons was a bear's jaw, indicating the bearskin headdress which had startled the doughty Captain.  In another, a massive pipe, carved to represent a beaver, and here a handsomely made stone axe, a pottery vessel, and fragments of others, made in a fashion unmistakably that of the Iroquois tribes, to which stock the Andastes belonged.

"Perhaps most interesting of all to the historians is the fact that in one of the graves, which, judging by the good preservation of the bones, had been dug at a later period than some of the others, a string of beads fashioned of copper, obtained from the whites at an early period in our history -- perhaps from Captain Smith -- was found about the neck of the Indian.  The salts of the copper had preserved a tiny fragment of the warrior's beaver skin robe and the braided sinew upon which the beads had been strung.

"... For some strange reason no burial grounds belonging to these later Andaste were discovered, and the rich crops of grain and tobacco which covered their old abiding places prevented our party from using the shovel."

Evidently they found sites where the Andaste / Susquehannock wigwams had stood at one time in rows, each one having a fireplace in front of their homes.  Evidently they just somehow mysteriously disappeared, sometime after having met up with the Europeans, never to be seen again; no trace of their bodies or anything.  Hmm.

The Andaste were related to the Iroquois, as were the Cherokee. That's interesting, because although I'm of average height, my mother, grandmother, and all of my great-aunts (three of whom I'd met) were all very tall for women (near 6 ft).  My mother's four brothers are/were quite tall as well (over 6 ft).  The elder women were obviously Indian ladies (although not fullblooded), with very nice manners (soft-spoken), olive skin, dark hair, and brown eyes.

One of my uncles (a Lieutenant in the Vietnam war during the worst part of it) looks like a blue-eyed Indian, lol.  It was difficult to gauge how tall my gg-grandmother (Cely Bird) was, from her photograph, but she also appeared long-limbed.  As I recall, Cely looked quite fine-boned and slender (like me and some of the sisters); not at all chunky or boney.  Her hair was thick and wavy, and as long as she was tall.  Her skin was neither very dark nor very light (Grandma and her sisters were all kind of olive-skinned with dark hair and brown eyes, while my skin is more copper-toned).  In the photo, she was barefoot in the yard, wearing a traditional Cherokee, homemade light-colored calico dress (except hers was fairly plain and simple, nothing fancy).

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