Identity of Robeson County Indians Traced By Scientist
Romantic Theory About Descent from "Lost Colony" Given Shattering Blow by Science - Traced to Siouan Tribe of Indians - Best Known in Northwest
Washington, July 11, .. (AP)
The Romantic theory that Sir Raleigh's "Lost Colony" lives on in the "Croatans" of Robeson county, N.C., today received a shattering blow from science. Dr. John R. Swanton, ethnologist of Smithsonian Institution, announced the tentative tracing of the identity of the "Croatan to the Siquan stock of Indians, best known in the northwest. By a study of early documents, tribal connections, and language, Swanton connected them closely with the Cheraw, a Siouan people first encountered in South Carolina by DeSoto in 1540. And thus the cryptic word "Croatan," found carved upon a tree on Roanoke Island in 1590 as the sole trace of the "lost colony" means nothing in their lives. It was conferred upon them by Hamilton McMillan of Fayetteville, N.C., (he was of Red Springs, Robeson county), in support of his hypothesis they were descendants of the lost colonists.
There is no reason to believe that they have any connection with the lost Virginia colony established by Sir Walter Raleigh," the Smithsonian statement said. "Croatan was the name of an island, and an Algonquin Indian town just north of Hatteras, to which the survivors of the Raleigh colony are supposed to have gone. "But, assuming that the colonists did remove to Croatan, there is not a bit of reason to suppose that either they or the Croatan Indians ever went farther inland." Dr. Swanton started on his quest of the actual origin of a racial group, which now number about 8,000 persons of mixed Indians and white blood at the request of a delegation of the Indians themselves.
A colonial census in 1754 was found which told of a lawless people living at the headwater of the Little Peedee who had possesed themselves of land without patent and without paying any quit rents.
Earliest Tribal Records
"They presumably were recognized as whites at that time, but there is little doubt that they really were the ancestors of the present day Croatans," was the statement of the findings. Actually, Dr. Swanton held, the predominant element in the blood of this lost people may have been the Keyauwee tribe of Siouans rather than the Cheraw, but he held the latter name could most appropriately be preserved as being the better known and more agressive branch of the family. The misnamed "Croatans," Dr. Swanton pointed out were only one of many "lost races" scattered in population island through the east and especially in the south -- all predominately of Indian origin, but with strong admixtures of other racial stocks.
But the "Croatans" are found now -- they're Cheraws.
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