One of the earliest documented encounters between Europeans and Native people living in what is now the United States, occurred in 1524, when explorer Giovanni da Verrazano sailed into the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Sixty years later, under a charter granted to Sir Walter Raleigh by Queen Elizabeth I of England, Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe sailed to Carolina to “discover, search out, and view such remote heathen and barbarous lands, Countries and territories.” Upon their return to England, Arthur Barlowe and expedition artist John White captured the imagination of the English court with accounts and illustrations of their adventures. Two American Indians, Manteo and Wanchese also returned with them as exotic guests. Raleigh immediately made plans for a second expedition under the direction of Ralph Lane. This time White was accompanied by the scientist, Thomas Harriot. This second excursion reached the coast of North Carolina in July 1585. The men set to work exploring, mapping, and documenting the region.
Harriot and White went to great lengths to describe and document their interactions with the many native groups they met. Harriot learned to speak some Algonquin and quickly ingratiated himself into Indian society. White painted watercolors of people, animals, plants, villages, and activities such as boat building, fishing, and cooking. After their return to England, Harriot published a small book called A brief and true report of the new found land of Virginia. The journals and illustrations of their experiences in Carolina are some of the most important historical documents of early Carolina available to researchers today. Scroll through the images above to see just a few of John White’s amazing watercolors. These images are provided courtesy of © Trustees of the British Museum. More information is available at www.britishmuseum.org.
Today, there are approximately 4.1 million Americans Indians living in the United States. They are members of more than 800 Indian tribes or nations. There are 565 federally recognized nations which act as sovereign governments with control over their own land and people. North Carolina is home to approximately 99,550 Native people. As of 2010, there are 12 state recognized American Indian tribes and organizations in North Carolina and one tribe also is a federally recognized nation. Fort Bragg consults with federally recognized tribes when post activities may affect expressions of their cultural heritage and their ties to the land that is now Fort Bragg.