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Blunt (or Blount), Tom

by F. Roy Johnson

ca. 1675-ca. 1739

Tom Blunt (or Blount), a head chief and king of the North Carolina Tuscarora Indians, of obscure parentage, lived in the Upper Towns. During his time these numbered seven and formed one of three confederacies of the Tuscarora nation; they were located in the upper coastal plains on the Tar and Roanoke rivers and their tributaries and were frequented by Virginia traders during Blunt's boyhood. In a matrilineal society, he rose to political power, as a member of the bear clan, through his mother and her people. Whether because of blood ties or admiration, his name is the same as that of two Englishmen, Thomas Blount of Chowan Precinct in North Carolina and Tom Blunt, who from 1691 to 1703 served as Virginia's official interpreter to the Indians south of the James River. Blunt acquired a speaking knowledge of English.

The English of Carolina in particular were indebted to Tom Blunt for minimizing the Tuscarora War of 1711-13, by leading the Upper Towns on a neutral course, and for keeping the peace on the frontier for a quarter of a century afterward. By 1711 he was in high repute throughout the Tuscarora nation. The head men of the hostile towns consulted him as to what should be done with Christoph de Graffenried and John Lawson.

Virginia claimed much of the credit for keeping Blunt neutral during the war. His people had become dependent on Virginia traders: they had abandoned their bows, and control of their powder supply controlled their take of game for food and skins. After Virginia invoked trade restrictions, Governor Thomas Pollock of North Carolina wrote Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia that Blunt was "very earnest for peace and to have trade as formerly." And de Graffenried, who credited Blunt with saving his life, said that this king and chief was "full of sense" and much inclined toward the English.

Near the end of the Tuscarora War, Blunt was persuaded to assist the English by bringing in King Hancock, ringleader of the 1711 massacre, for execution and by taking nearly thirty scalps of other leaders and enemies.

Immediately after the Indian hostilities had been crushed, the North Carolina council recognized Blunt for his faithfulness and good service and made him chief of all Indians to the south of the Pamlico River. About three thousand of the Tuscarora had survived the war. Of these, about one thousand subjected themselves to Blunt, and the remainder fled beyond the frontier and began migrating to the North. So reduced in strength, the Tuscaroras under Blunt found themselves exposed and open to attack by the Catawbas and other enemy Indians. In 1717, for greater safety, the North Carolina council permitted them to settle on their old Skanwaknee hunting grounds north of the Roanoke River in present Bertie County. Here they established two towns, one of which was Resootska, or "to our grandfather," named in honor of King Blunt.

The English treated Blunt as an absolute monarch. The few matters of misconduct of his Indians were taken directly to him, and he acted effectively to preserve the peace. In 1723 he informed the council that a group of northern Indians were expected that fall "to seduce the young men of the nation from him in order to Comit mischief." Following the Indian custom of hospitality, Blunt gave the unwanted visitors food and shelter, and they did no injury to the English of North Carolina.

Within a few years, Blunt, on the threshhold of old age, saw his nation weakening. Whites, hungry for land, began to encroach upon his reservation; by 1731 northern Indians had enticed away all but six hundred of his people; and an undetermined number had left to work for the whites.

Blunt was dead before 5 Mar. 1739. At this time the great men of the Tuscarora nation petitioned the North Carolina council to elect a new king.

Of the king's family, we know that his wife and two of his children and a sister's son were captured by the Meherrin Indians during the Tuscarora War and redeemed for him by the Carolina government.


Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians, North of Mexico, vol. 2 (1907–10)
F. Roy Johnson, The Tuscaroras, vol. 2 (1967)
Herbert Paschal, Jr., "The Tuscarora Indians in North Carolina" (M.A. thesis, University of North Carolina, 1953)
William L. Saunders, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina, vols. 12 (1886).



Im a Blount. That was my mothers maiden name. Her family is from Lumberton North Carolina...theyre Lumbee Indians. I too would like to know if I'm a descendant of Tom Blount.

My family is from Bertie County , I know my ancestors have lived their for many years and they are Blounts. How can I find out if Tom Blount is my great, great, great great grandfather.

I am a Blount and I stay in Nash Country but from Kinston and trying to find out all the family so can you please contact me at thanks

Dear Walter,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and sharing your family history and question. In order to do that, you would need to begin researching your family history.  

Here is the link to the Genealogy Research page on the State Library of N.C. website --  You'll find helpful resources, as well as educational videos, on how to get started.  And if you happen to be near Raleigh, you may visit the State Library and State Archives in person to work on researching your North Carolina roots.

Please let us know if you have additional questions.

Best wishes,

Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library

Hello, I am of the Onondaga, Snipe Clan, bloodline of the hereditary Chief Corn Planter and Tadadaho Andrew Gibson. The Onondaga Snipe Clan are the "Keepers of the Great Binding Law of Peace, and the Execution of, gven to our Ancestor's by the Peacemaker". We also hold the Land Title to USA/Canada, it has been filed at the Onondaga County Court House, Syracuse, NY. Under the Conveyance Title: Onondaga Nation Clan of Snipe. Also, the United Tribal Nations Organization has reinstated all 749 SOVEREIGN Tribal Nations into the United Nations, 2009 and the Deed to the Western Hemisphere was presented at the UN in 2008. All nations have been returned their Sovereignty, original territories, mineral rights, natural resources. If the Tuscarora's are not willing to claim their inherent right to their original territories we, the Onondaga Clan of Snipe will and we will move our people there because the Tuscarora's that are here at Onondaga are trying to take over the Onondaga's Original Territories. If they do not reply to our notice we will take claim and move our people to their territory and charge them property taxes. Thank uou and we will send reply for request of removeale of all inhabitaints. Tank you!

Why do you not have any pictures of Tom Blunt. People who are reading this would really like to know what he looks like.

Thank you for your suggestion. If you know of any images of him we can use, please send us the information on them. It can be difficult to find images or portraits of some individuals from that time period. 

Thanks again!


Michelle Underhill, NC Government and Heritage Library

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