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Mattamuskeet Indians

by R. S. Spencer Jr. and William G. DiNome, 2006

Copy of John White drawing, "Indians Fishing", Large Canoe w/ Fire in center of it; 4 Indians are fishing from the canoe; various types of fish are shown in the water; in wooden wooden frame w/ glazing." Roanoke Island; 1907. Image courtesy of the North Carolina Museum of History, access #: 1914.235.8 .The Mattamuskeet Indians, also known as the Machapunga or Marimiskeet Indians, inhabited the region of present-day Hyde County at the time of the attempted settlements on Roanoke Island in the 1580s. According to explorer John Lawson, by 1701 the Mattamuskeet/Machapunga were reduced to a single village, called Mattamuskeet, and numbered about 30 warriors (representing a probable total of less than 100 people). The Mattamuskeet were known as expert watermen. They likely became dependent on European trade, as did their neighbors, and in the years prior to the Tuscarora War (1711-13) they undoubtedly witnessed their share of the clashes that were becoming frequent between natives and European settlers. Along with the Bay River Indians and the Pamlico Indians, the Mattamuskeet joined the lower Tuscarora, the Coree, the Woccon, and possibly other tribes, in fighting against European settlers in the Tuscarora War.

Following the war, several remnant Indian bands, comprised mainly of Mattamuskeets and Corees, were relegated to a Mattamuskeet reservation, an isolated tract of about 36 square miles of marsh and low ridges bordering Lake Mattamuskeet in Hyde County. The Coree evidently did not remain long on the reservation. The Indians occupying the reservation began selling off their land to white settlers as early as 1731, and the final sale, dissolving the reservation, occurred in 1761. Sporadic references to surnames common among these Indians continued to be recorded through the 1800s, and some surnames survive in Hyde County today.

The Mattamuskeet apparently faced constant pressure from white settlers, and in 1724 Mattamuskeet "kings" John Squires and John Mackey petitioned the Colonial Council for their lands to be surveyed and conveyed as a formal grant. The grant was approved in 1727, but the actual survey seems never to have occurred. The Indians had been given 10,240 acres, but in reality they received a considerably larger number of acres in exchange for two buckskins and an annual quitrent of one shilling per 100 acres.

Squires served as chief of the Mattamuskeet from 1718 until his death in the 1740s, apparently residing on a 150-acre tract at the mouth of Mattamuskeet Creek, later renamed Middle Creek. After Squires's death, a leadership struggle appears to have occurred, with power split between several individuals.

Alexander Stewart reported after his 1761 trip to the area that the Roanoke and Hatteras Indians had joined the Mattamuskeet and were residing with them at that time. Stewart baptized more than 25 Indians during his visits in 1761 and 1763. The Mattamuskeet Indians declined in number, and in 1792 the entire reservation was sold for £50 to a white settler. That deed was signed by four adult females and three children.

By the early 1800s, apprentice bonds revealed that Mattamuskeet Indian youth were being taught trades by white masters. Afterward the remaining individuals with Mattamuskeet Indian surnames were frequently referred to as "free persons of color" and apprenticed as such and also listed in the Hyde County census records under that classification. Even in the late twentieth century, some Hyde County families-including the Collins, Barber, Chance, Clayton, and Bryant families-can trace their Indian heritage back to the Mattamuskeet.


Patrick H. Garrow, The Mattamuskeet Documents: A Study in Social History (1975).

Douglas L. Rights, The American Indian in North Carolina (1947).

John Reed Swanton, The Indians of the Southeastern United States (1946).

Ruth Y. Wetmore, First on the Land: The North Carolina Indians (1975).

Image Credit:

Copy of John White drawing, "Indians Fishing", Large Canoe w/ Fire in center of it; 4 Indians are fishing from the canoe; various types of fish are shown in the water; in wooden wooden frame w/ glazing." Roanoke Island; 1907. Image courtesy of the North Carolina Museum of History, access #: 1914.235.8.

Origin - location: 



I would like to have more information on the tribe. Mattamuskeet


According to I’m a descendant of Chief John Squires


Me too, but my DNA history does not show any Native American linkage. also says I'm a descendant of the Newbern colonist from Germany, yet again no DNA evidence....Have you had your DNA analyzed?


part of the problem is that Mattamuskeet tribe is non-existant so there is no DNA test that would show it because there is no one to compare it to. The reason your DNA test can show you are x% Irish or something like that is they have enough people from Ireland who have had their DNA done to compare it to. You might want to read up on DNA and Native American ancestry. These are books our library has on the subject and if you cannot visit us, check with your local public library. Sorry the link is long.

Hope this helps,

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage LIbrary


I recently traced my lineage to the Machapunga tribe. Can you reach out to me via email?


MOST so called African Americans have two major geneaologies ( AMERICAN INDIANS & BLACK EUROPEAN COLONIST / INDENTURED SERVANTS) They lied tovus about African slaves.. Alex Haley got sued for making up and PLEAGERIZING a fictional book to create "roots".. I HAVE ALL THE PROOF OF WHAT IM SAYING ON MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL (KURIMEO AHAU).. This article is just more Confirmation and correlation.. It only days "white" because they want us to assume all Europeans were white but that is not correct history. Manyvtimes the "white" master or Colonist apprenticing these Indians were actually their family or father..


Israel Pierce B1760 ?, Great GreatGrandFather, his Daughter Elizabeth ? Simmons B1816 GreatGrandmother, her Daughter Annie M Simmons Pugh B 1837 Grandmother and my father Jack John Gallop B 1913


Hello, I am a descendent of Israel Pierce too. One of Ase and Elizabeth Simmons grandchildren Arinda Pugh (Mann) B1863 married Issac Mann B1855. One of their children was Luther MannB1889 of Manteo, NC he married Amy Echo (Simmons) Mann B1894 and one of their children is my grandfather Noah Carlton Mann B1936.


My great parents were Daniel Clifton Mackey & Eva M. Morris, Mackey , of Scranton NC .I am a member of the Mattamuskeet Band .


I am a direct descendant of Chief John Squires.

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