Native American dog, 1585

1585-john-white-pomeiooc-dog-in-upper-half-of-imageIn  1585, approximately 600 prospective colonists left England en route for the New World. Though stormy seas forced them into a brief layover on Puerto Rico, the colonists eventually arrived in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and started building a fort on Roanoke Island. Within five years, the colony and all of its colonists had vanished. The mysterious fate of this “lost colony” has intrigued historians for years, but that is not the only thing that makes this colony significant. An artist named John White was among the first settlers on Roanoke Island, and he produced many watercolor paintings during his initial thirteen-month stay in eastern North America. Most significantly, he produced numerous watercolors depicting the local Native Americans and their customs. My favorite painting is the one featured below (and sampled above), which depicts the Indian village of Pomeiooc. If you look in the upper-left-hand quadrant of the painting, you’ll notice a medium-sized dog. Though other Europeans had mentioned Native Americans dogs in their written chronicles, White’s watercolor is the earliest visual representation of a Native American dog by a European. To learn more about White’s paintings, check out the excellent “Virtual Jamestown” website at this link.

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