Indian Town of Arrohateck

Ashuaquid (fl. 1607)

Ashuaquid, an Arrohateck chief, was the head of a tribe consisting of about sixty warriors who resided in a town on the north bank of the James River about thirteen miles below the fall line, well within the territory that was part of Powhatan's original inheritance. Powhatan frequently placed a close relative, such as a son, brother, or sister, in such leadership positions, but evidence of Ashuaquid's relationship to Powhatan is lacking. In May 1607, Ashuaquid's tribe twice welcomed Christopher Newport and a small group of men who were exploring the upper reaches of the James River. Later, after learning that the colonists' fort at Jamestown had been attacked by Indians hostile to the settlers, Ashuaquid advised the colonists on who their enemies were and how to better defend against them. The Arrohateck tribe is last mentioned in William Strachey's record of his visit to Virginia in 1609. The Arrohateck site had been abandoned by 1611 and the fate of Ashuaquid is unknown. MORE...

 

Ashuaquid, also known by the name of his tribe, was one of the first Native American leaders with whom the colonists had important dealings. On May 21, 1607, Christopher Newport set out from Jamestown with a small company of men to explore the upper reaches of the James River. Two days later they arrived at Arrohateck. Ashuaquid gave them a lavish entertainment, complete with ceremonious hospitality. When the expedition resumed its westward journey, five members of the tribe accompanied it as guides. The expedition stopped at the next village upriver, where Parahunt, one of Powhatan's sons, was the king. There the explorers were again treated with great hospitality. When the expedition returned to Ashuaquid's village on May 25, yet another feast took place.

When the English departed Arrohateck town the second time, Navirans, Ashuaquid's young brother-in-law, accompanied them as a guide. Newport's party reached Jamestown on May 27 and found that more than 200 members of the Paspahegh tribe had attacked it the previous day, killing one man and wounding twelve others, one of them fatally. During the next few days the Indians made several small assaults on the colonists. Told of this attack by Navirans, Ashuaquid sent messengers to inform the Englishmen who their enemies were and to advise them to cut down the high weeds around the fort so that the attackers could be seen more easily. In the early months of the English colonizing effort Ashuaquid thus proved a firm, though perhaps not very important, friend.

By the autumn of 1609, perhaps due to attempts to establish a fort upriver, the Arrohatecks had become less friendly toward the English and were no longer willing to trade with them. Crowded by new English settlements and perhaps already weakened by exposure to European diseases, the Arrohateck population began to dwindle. The tribe is last mentioned in William Strachey's record of his visit to Virginia in 1610. By September 1611, when Sir Thomas Dale undertook to found the town of Henricus near the falls of the James, the Arrohateck town site had been deserted. The surviving Arrohatecks were probably assimilated into another tribe, perhaps that was headed by Parahunt closer to the fall line. The personal fate of Ashuaquid is unknown. He may have fallen victim to a disease caught from, or died in a skirmish with, the Englishmen he had once welcomed to his town.

Time Line

  • May 21, 1607 - Christopher Newport sets out from Jamestown with a small company of men to explore the upper reaches of the James River.
  • May 23, 1607 - Christopher Newport and a small company of men exploring the upper reaches of the James River arrive at the the Arrohateck village, a town on the north bank of the James River about thirteen miles below the fall line. The tribe's chief Ashuaquid gives them lavish entertainment, complete with ceremonious hospitality.
  • May 25, 1607 - Christopher Newport and a small company of men exploring the upper reaches of the James River return to Ashuaquid's Arrohateck village, and another feast takes place.
  • 1609 - William Strachey records the name of the Arrohateck tribe in his record of his visit to Virginia. This is the last mention of the tribe.
  • September 1611 - By this date, the village once occupied by Ashuaquid and the Arrohateck tribe is deserted.
Further Reading
Rountree, Helen C. "Ashuaquid." In Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Vol. 1, edited by John T. Kneebone, J. Jefferson Looney, Brent Tarter, and Sandra Gioia Treadway, 231–232. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1998.
Cite This Entry
  • APA Citation:

    Rountree, H. C., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Ashuaquid (fl. 1607). (2013, July 8). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Ashuaquid_fl_1607.

  • MLA Citation:

    Rountree, Helen C. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Ashuaquid (fl. 1607)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 8 Jul. 2013. Web. READ_DATE.

First published: June 8, 2010 | Last modified: July 8, 2013


Contributed by Helen C. Rountree and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Helen C. Rountree is professor emerita of anthropology at Old Dominion University and author of Pocahontas's People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries (1990) and Pocahontas, Powhatan, Opechancanough: Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown (2005).