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ERIC Number: EJ990039
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 30
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0095-182X
Cockacoeske, Weroansqua of the Pamunkeys, and Indian Resistance in Seventeenth-Century Virginia
Schmidt, Ethan A.
American Indian Quarterly, v36 n3 p288-317 Sum 2012
In August 1676 Nathaniel Bacon brought his campaign to "ruin and extirpate all Indians in general" to the Green Dragon Swamp on the upper Pamunkey River. While there, he attacked and massacred nearly fifty Pamunkey Indians, who had been at peace with the government of Virginia for thirty years. Having once formed the backbone of the mighty Algonquian-speaking Powhatan Chiefdom, the Pamunkeys now numbered fewer than two hundred warriors and had lived in a state of dependence and subjection to the Virginia government since the end of the Anglo-Powhatan Wars in 1646. From the time of her accession to the position of Pamunkey "weroansqua" in 1656, the Pamunkey leader, Cockacoeske, had spent twenty years of her life navigating the tangle of policies, proclamations, customs, and expectations that constituted Virginia's complex political and legal system to achieve her ends. Now in the space of a few short weeks, an army made up of nearly six hundred western Virginians who blamed her people for the attacks of Iroquoian Indian groups from Maryland had nearly destroyed all of her progress. Ironically, of the principal actors involved in Bacon's Rebellion, Cockacoeske exerted the most lasting impact on Virginia's future. The Queen of Pamunkey managed to survive the rebellion and signed the 1677 Treaty of Middle Plantation, which effectively ended hostilities between the Virginians and area Indian groups. Cockacoeske represents one in a long line of Indians in general and Virginian Algonquians in particular who "sought cooperation rather than conflict" and "coexistence on shared regional patches of ground rather than arms-length contact across distant frontiers" who but sought to do so on Native terms. Cockacoeske's importance cannot be grasped simply by examining her life and career in isolation. Instead, one must begin long before her birth with the forging of the paramount chiefdom led by her kinsman Powhatan in the late sixteenth century. The generations of external and internal strife between the creation of the Powhatan Chiefdom and Cockacoeske's rise to power provide considerable clues as to the nature of Powhatan leadership. Additionally, the particular combination of gender and spirituality that underlay Powhatan leadership offers a very powerful explanation for why it was that only a woman such as Cockacoeske could fill the leadership void created by the chiefdom's defeat in 1646. In short, the very spiritual weaknesses endured by men during the latter half of the seventeenth century brought opportunities for leadership to Powhatan women. (Contains 51 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Virginia