An example of strictly enforced decorum can be found in the proceedings of the council that advised the mamanatowick, or paramount chief. According to the Reverend John Clayton, writing in 1687, "The Junior [councillor] begins first & delivers his sentiment without interruption." Each councillor speaks in his turn, "thus orderly they every one declare their judgemts, & advice," only after which the paramount chief speaks. When a chief met with a foreign dignitary, his entourage sat in respectful silence. Beverley wrote of an occasion where a weroance was speaking formally to an English delegation in New Kent County: "and during the time of his speech, one of his attendants presumed to interrupt him, which he resented as the most unpardonable affront that could be offered him." The chief responded to this affront by immediately killing the man, then continuing "on again with his speech where he left off."
For deeper grievances, though, there was the practice of taking enemies captive in battle and, if they were male, torturing them to death. (Although never the subjects of torture, women nevertheless participated in torturing others.) The victim was expected to be utterly stoic while this was done. In fact, when captured Englishmen cried out under torture, they were mocked by the Indians, whose traditions taught them that such outbursts demonstrated weakness.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Rountree, H. C. Manners and Politeness in Early Virginia Indian Society. (2014, May 30). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Manners_and_Politeness_in_Early_Virginia_Indian_Society.
- MLA Citation:
Rountree, Helen C. "Manners and Politeness in Early Virginia Indian Society." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 30 May. 2014. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: June 10, 2011 | Last modified: May 30, 2014
Contributed by Helen C. Rountree, 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).