Overview VS.1
Overview VS.2
Overview VS.3
Overview VS.4
Overview VS.5
Overview VS.6
Overview VS.7
Overview VS.8
Overview VS.9
Overview VS.10

home   contact

SOL Documents
Instructional Links
School Connections
Maps & Photos


Locating three American Indian language groups (the Algonquian, the Siouan, and the Iroquoian) on a map of Virginia.



  • Complete a KWL chart about the American Indians (First Americans) with the students, using graphic organizers from

  • Have students read a teacher-selected book about the early Virginia American Indians (First Americans).

  • Have students read Becoming a Homeplace from the Virginia Historical Society Web site:
    http://www.vahistorical.org/ . . ./explore-story-virginia/early-virginia-1775/becoming-homeplace?legacy=true

  • Point out that the Virginia American Indians (First Americans) were called the Eastern Woodland Indians. Help the students conclude that the land in early Virginia was covered with forests.

  • Show a map of Virginia with the five regions of Virginia. Point out the Coastal Plain (Tidewater) region and its rivers.

  • Remind the students that Christopher Columbus called the people he found in the lands he discovered “Indians” because he thought he was in the Indies (near China).

  • Introduce the term artifact. Display any sample artifacts. Ask students, “How do we know Indians lived in Virginia?” and record the responses on a chart. Define artifact with the students and make a list of possible artifacts. Discuss what the artifact tells us about the Virginia American Indian (First American). Show the picture from EasternWoodlandsIndians2.pdf entitled Virginia Indians’ Artifacts.

  • Explain there were three major language groups in early Virginia, the Algonquian, the Siouan, and the Iroquoian). Display a Virginia map that demonstrates the location of each language group. Use the available map in the Virginia Atlas.

  • Review that Algonquian was spoken primarily in the Tidewater region and the Powhatans were a member of this group. The Algonquian Indians were the largest group that lived in Virginia. The Algonquians lived mostly along the Tidewater and Eastern Shore of Virginia. More than thirty-two different tribes of Algonquians lived in Virginia when the English settlers arrived. Some of these tribes were the Powhatan, the Chesapeake, the Accomac, and the Pamunkey. The first Indians that the English met in Virginia were Algonquians. These Indians had a chief named Powhatan. He was an important ruler. Powhatan was the ruler of many groups of Algonquian Indians (known as the Powhatan Confederacy) who lived along Virginia's coastline. The Powhatan Indians hunted deer and turkey. They grew corn, beans, and squash. They fished for crabs, oysters, and fish. Families lived in longhouses that the women made. Men and women had different jobs. The men hunted, fished, and fought enemies. The women built houses, grew crops, gathered food, and made pottery, clothes, and meals. They also raised the children. The Powhatans depended on the rivers and the Bay to transport them to other villages and for food and drinking water. There were no roads, wagons, or horses to carry them or their items.

  • Show a map of Virginia with the five regions of Virginia. Point out the Piedmont region and its rivers.

  • Review that in the piedmont and mountain regions of Virginia lived the Siouan Indians of the Monacan and Mannahoac tribes, arranged in a confederation ranging from the Roanoke River Valley to the Potomac River, and from the Fall Line at Richmond and Fredericksburg west through the Blue Ridge Mountains. They were an agricultural people who grew the “Three Sisters” crops of corn, beans and squash, and they had domesticated a wide variety of other foods, including sunflowers, fruit trees, wild grapes and nuts. They lived in villages with palisaded walls, and their homes were dome-shaped structures of bark and reed mats. These Monacan ancestors hunted deer, elk and small game, and they would leave their villages every year to visit their hunting camps. The Monacans traded with the Powhatans to the east and the Iroquois to the north.

  • Show a map of Virginia with the five regions of Virginia. Point out the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Valley and Ridge, and the Appalachian Plateau regions and their rivers.

  • Review that Iroquoian was spoken in Southwestern Virginia and in Southern Virginia near what is today North Carolina: the Cherokee were a part of this group. The typical Cherokee town consisted of 30 to 60 houses and a large council house. Homes were usually wattle and daub, a circular framework interwoven with branches (like an upside-down basket) and plastered with mud. The entire structure was partially sunken into ground. In later periods, log cabins (one door with smokehole in the bark-covered roof) became the general rule. The large council houses were frequently located on mounds from the earlier Mississippian culture, although the Cherokee themselves did not build mounds during the historic period. Used for councils, general meetings, and religious ceremonies, the council houses were also the site of the sacred fire, which the Cherokee had kept burning from time immemorial.

  • On a Virginia wall map, label the location of each language group in one color and use another color label to identify a tribe of each language group. Have the students label their own Virginia maps as well.

  • Make a time line of Virginia history to be displayed in the classroom or hall. Each class will add to the time line as events are studied. Each class could use a different color to indicate a specific time period.

  • Create a chart to compare the three main American Indian (First American) language groups in Virginia in the early 1600s.



Produced by Prince William County Public Schools in collaboration with
the Virginia Department of Education. All rights reserved. Filnet Inc.
Updated on August 11, 2008.