Act 1: First on the Land

Native-Americans, residents for centuries in what the Europeans call the New World, are visited briefly in 1524 by a Florentine navigator, Giovanni da Verrazano, who passes what is now the Outer Banks of North Carolina. His men go ashore and, seeing the Pamlico Sound with no land in sight, decide it is a western sea and name it for their leader -- Verrazano's Sea. What is now North Carolina is depicted as a narrow spit leading to open waters.

Lok Map with Verrazano's Sea, John Carter Brown LibraryWhile this land is truly the "New World" to these visiting Europeans, Native-Americans have been on the land for at least 10,000 years. Archaeologists differ on when the first Americans came to this land and how they arrived, but we know that whole civilizations developed, prospered and vanished before these native peoples who observe Verrazano's landing came to live in what is now North Carolina. [Malinda Lowery]

The first Europeans find many different native peoples, most in small farming communities near streams and rivers. Their languages in the northern part of Carolina are Algonquian and in the south and west they speak a range of Iroquoian and Siouan tongues. Europeans see in these Native Americans many shared cultural traits and, though they see them as human beings, they view them as a people who have not been given the opportunity to accept the religions of the Old World. [Arwin Smallwood]

Indians sharing foodThe Native Americans have very different ideas about both their environment and their communities from those the Europeans are accustomed to. Tribes take only what they need from the abundance around them and they do not accumulate wealth as in Europe. What is not needed is shared with others and no one was allowed to go hungry.

But they could be as vicious as any when it came to dealing with outsiders. Strife was not uncommon, even in this seeming paradise. [Harry Watson]


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