Reporters and Mythmakers: Depicting Virginia Indians

Virginia by William Hole (compiled 1608, published 1624)

Popularly known as the John Smith map of Virginia, this engraving was actually completed by William Hole based on information provided by John Smith. As was typical of maps drawn by or intended for mariners, it offers the seaman's perspective on the land—in other words, the water is at the bottom, so that, in this case, west is at the top.

It also includes illustrations of the area's Indians, engraved by Hole. At the top left is Powhatan, who at the time Smith compiled the map was the paramount chief of Tsenacomoco, an alliance of Algonquian-speaking Indians. At right is a warrior identified as being part of the Iroquoian-speaking Susquehannock people, who lived in what is now Pennsylvania and whom Smith described as "giants."

But Hole never traveled to Virginia, so how did he know what Virginia Indians looked like?


Virginia by Wiliam Hole (compiled 1608, published 1624)