First Peoples of Virginia

Algonquian-Speaking Peoples

Algonquian-Language Distribution

Map of tribes belonging to Algonquian language family at the time of European contact

The Algonquian-speaking languages include several that were found on what is now the Virginia coastal plain, spoken by Powhatan tribes and their allies, including the Rappahannock and Chickahominy. This is a far-reaching language family that includes the Cree people of Canada, the Ojibwe or Anishnabe  of the Minnesota region, and the Blackfeet and Cheyenne of the Plains.

According to Algonquian oral tradition, the Virginia speakers entered the region several hundred years before the English arrived, from the north, where they had previously lived among the Lenni Lenape, or Delaware peoples. Anthropologists believe they may have arrived earlier, based on evidence obtained from pottery markings.