The prologue draws a contrast between the typical starting point for Chesapeake history—John Smith’s captivity narrative—with an alternative point of departure—a Pamunkey ritual performed around a map of the Powhatan world. A shift from American master narratives and colonial-era celebrities toward local forms of knowledge and deeper histories of place raises several challenging questions: How did the landscapes of the Chesapeake—defined in the broadest terms to include natural settings as well as built environments, representations of spaces, and experiences of places—contribute to the making of Tsenacomacoh and the unmaking of the Powhatan chiefdom? What role did maize and horticultural towns, political centers, sacred locations, and valued objects play in this landscape? Do maps, settlement arrangements, and burial traditions point us toward Virginia Algonquian modes of dwelling and of making history? Might a deeper history of Tsenacomacoh’s spaces, places, and pathways bring to the fore silences in the way colonial histories are recounted today?.
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