Monday, July 31, 2017

The Tribe of the Dogue

I live on land that was once owned by Lord Fairfax, about 12 miles down river from George Washington's Mount Vernon, less than 5 miles from the Pentagon, and about 5 miles from the CIA.

If I head out my driveway, I can be at the Whitehouse in about 15 minutes. Robert E. Lee's former house, is about 3 miles away, and is now Arlington Cemetery.

The fall line of the Potomac River is a short walk below my house -- the reason for the port of Georgetown across, the river.

I mention all this because the rich forested land around my house was once inhabited by native Americans who fished the Potomac River and hunted the forest for deer and wild turkey, but they are rarely mentioned in the historical record of the area.

Above the fall line were the start of the Siouan people, whose reach extended into Ohio, and below the fall line were the Algonquian whose tribes, at the time of the first white men in the region, were organized under the aegis of Powhatan, aka Wahunsunacawh (1545 – 1618).

The native Americans of this region were almost entirely wiped out by disease, war, and murder long before Washington was a town, much less a city.

The Alonquians in this area were Nanticoke, and among them were the Dogues people, who were also know as the Taux or Tacci.

The Dogue lived from above Aquia Creek up to the fall line, and they were fisherman and small-plot farmers as well as hunters, living in barrel houses covered by reed and bark mats.

Dogue Creek, which enters the Potomac at George Washington's Mount Vernon estate, is named after the tribe.

It was attacks by the Dogue that, in July of 1675 launched Bacon's Rebellion, the first uprising in the Colonies, which was sparked by the refusal of the British-governor to retaliate against the Indians (who were retaliating for being waylaid by the Colonials) and seizing land that was wanted by white and black settlers.

Bacon's Rebellion terrified the British, as poor white indentured servants, free blacks, and slaves, were, for the first time, operating in economic and political solidarity. In order to make sure that kind of thing never happened again, apartheid-like laws and rules were put into place and formally codified in 1705 as the Virginia Slave Code, which served to help entrench racial division in Virginia for the next 250 years.

The Dogue are no longer a tribe. They were made extinct by disease and warfare.  What few stragglers remained into the mid 1700s were assimilated into other tribes, and their records washed away by the racist policies of Virginia's 20th Century legislature which systematically sought to force people into black and white boxes without any recognition of native tribes or mixed race people.

Today, there is a very small little town located in the heart of what was once Dogue territory. Clifton, Virginia has a population of about 300 people and, due to efforts to preserve the watershed, houses in the area all sit on 5-acre or larger lots. which means there is a good deal of forest and field with most folks living in homes worth a million dollars or more.    

Clifton has a truly excellent ice cream place
, a good restaurant, a wine store, a general store, and two places for coffee, as well as an old railroad crossing that was central to Union forces during the the Civil War.  

The town has put up a lot of markers on their small collection of old houses in the tiny history district, noting houses visited by Presidents, where movies were written, and where a crew man on the Titanic once lived.

What is not mentioned on any sign in the town are the original settlers -- the Dogue. They had disappeared 200 years before the town was founded and now are not even a memory.

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