Captain John Smith on the Nanticoke


Captain John Smith Chesapeake, American Indians and the Indigenous

 Landscape of the Upper Nanticoke River, Delaware

Daniel R. Griffith, MA

Griffith Archaeology Consulting


Virginia R. Busby, PhD

Hillside Consulting, LLC

The upper Nanticoke River watershed in Delaware is significantly associated with the voyages of exploration of Captain John Smith in June 1608, the Indian people of the watershed and is illustrative of the 17th century natural environment of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. In the field, archaeologists would identify the Nanticoke town sites identified by Captain John Smith as roughly linear arrangements of discrete households or household clusters paralleling the river, though during the period of occupation the households would be linked by wood lots, land and water trails, and active and fallow agricultural fields defining an integrated cultural landscape.  The upper Nanticoke River drainage in Delaware was a rich and varied Indian cultural landscape. Over time, John Smith’s voyage of exploration led to increasing English trade and then European settlement which had profound and lasting effects on the watershed’s indigenous population – the Nanticoke Indians


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