Tag Archives: frontier rough and tumble

Going Powhatan #4: Going to the Library

I live in Henrico County, VA.  I used to think we have a nice library system.  I was wrong.  We actually have a scintillating library system.

Back in November, as I was lining up resources and information for my Going Powhatan project I seemed to recall that Henrico County Public Library (“HCPL”) had an “ask a librarian” function on the website.  So I jumped over and took a look.  Sure enough, there it was.  “Can’t go inside on account of COVID,” I thought.  “Might as well give it try.”  I clicked the link and typed a quick message asking for assistance compiling a reading list of the most highly-referenced books on the lifeways of the native tribes of Virginia with an emphasis on the frontier period and prior (pre-1912).

I immediately got a phone call — a phone call! — from a nice librarian named Kareema (I found out later she was Kareema Hamdan, Area Branch Manager of HCPL).  She said that they were working on it and they’d get back to me.  “This is  the sort of thing that librarians live for,” she said.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I thought it would be fun to see what they came up with.  I thanked her and waited patiently for a reply.

About a week later I got the following email from Kareema which said,

Hi Mitch,

I sent out a request to our librarians for any information we could provide to assist with your research and reading list. As you will see, we gathered more than just book titles so I hope some of this information is helpful to you. Please feel free to follow up with us if we can assist further.

Thank you,

Kareemah

Librarians who contributed:

Lisa Kroll
Elizabeth Hadley
Kelsey Crossley
Barbra Salas

Below are the resources and links they provided to me.  I’m still stunned by the amount of work they put into this, awed by its comprehensiveness, and deeply appreciative for the contribution they made to the project.  I told Kareema that she and her entire team were going in the book’s dedication, and I meant it.

The most insightful resources were the two relating to depiction of Native Americans in literature.  I’m not an insensitive person, but I can be a little naïve.  I honestly felt that sincerely immersing oneself in the language and lifeways of Virginia’s Native Americans was in and of itself a gesture of the greatest respect.

It never occurred to me that a reasonable person could view this project as disrespectful or exploitative.  But when I saw the references provided by the librarians, an old memory resurfaced.

Many years ago I met a fellow who assumed my first book was by and for neo-Nazis just because it had a red and black cover that featured a crow which he thought was an eagle.  I had been gut-punched.  I assured him that my book was most certainly not in any way inspired by, associated with, related to, or sympathetic toward anything Nazi — neo- or otherwise.  But was he still laboring under the misconception?  You know what they say about first impressions.

It all came back to me and my stomach knotted like kudzu.  What if somebody misunderstood what I was doing with this project?  How could I have forgotten that painful lesson?  Back then I had an excuse.  It was my first book as a self-published, freshman author.  But I’ve written six books since then.  I hope I’m older and wiser.

Thanks to the nudge of some kind librarians, and to the memory of an old lesson re-learned, I determined to break my back trying as hard as possible to see this project the way others might.

I started by reading a couple of contemporary books by and about local native peoples — Chickahominy Indians – Eastern Division: A Brief Ethnohistory by Elaine and Ray Adkins and  The Chickahominy Indians of Virginia Yesterday and Today by Eleanor West Hertz. I will read more.  And I will also get the opinions of local tribespeople before I publish.


Print titles owned by Henrico County Public Library

  • Eastern Shore Indians of Virginia and Maryland by Helen Rountree ( Any title by Helen Rountree should be worthy of reading)
  • The Powhatan Landscape: An Archaeological History of the Algonquin Chesapeake by Martin Gallivan
  • Indians in Seventeenth Century Virginia by Ben McCary
  • The Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes.  Detroit: Gale, 1998.
  • Encyclopedia of native tribes of North America by Michael Johnson
  • The Powhatan landscape : an archaeological history of the Algonquian Chesapeake  Martin D. Gallivan,
  • Powhatan Indian place names in Tidewater Virginia Martha W. McCartney
  • The true story of Pocahontas : the other side of history : from the sacred history of the Mattaponi Reservation people by Linwood Custalow
  • Pocahontas and the Powhatan dilemma : an American portrait  Camilla Townsend, Camilla
  • Monacan millennium : a collaborative archaeology and history of a Virginia Indian people by Jeffrey L. Hantman
  • The Virginia Indian Heritage Trail edited by Karenne Wood.
  • RELATION OF VIRGINIA : a boy’s memoir of life with the Powhatans and Patawomecks by Henry Spelman (on order as of 11/2020) https://www.upress.virginia.edu/title/1636
  • First People: The Early Indians of Virginia | UVA Press Incorporating recent events in the Native American community as well as additional information gleaned from publications and public resources, this newly redesigned and updated second edition of First People brings back to the fore this concise and highly readable narrative. Full of stories that represent the full diversity of Virginia’s Indians, past and present. www.upress.virginia.edu

From the William & Mary Libraries: Virginia Indian Research References

Websites affiliated with VA tribes or with tribe specific information

Publishing / Book Guidance by Native Americans about Native Americans in literature :

  • http://www.oyate.org/ “Oyate is a Native organization working to see that our lives and histories are portrayed with honesty and integrity, and that all people know that our stories belong to us.”
  • Established in 2006 by Dr. Debbie Reese of Nambé Pueblo, American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) provides critical analysis of Indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books. Dr. Jean Mendoza joined AICL as a co-editor in 2016. https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/

Resources on Indigenous Virginians from HCPL Databases (you will need your library card number to access)

Ebsco eBooks High School:

Plants of Virginia

  • Britton, Nathaniel Lord, and Addison Brown. An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada, and British Possessions: From Newfoundland to the Parallel of the Southern Boundary of  Virginia, and from the Atlantic Ocean Westward to the 102d Meridian. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1913.  An oldie but a goodie, in three volumes, comprehensive and still useful although the taxonomy is dated; available online at the Biodiversity Heritage Library, https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/bibliography/940#/summary
  • Flora of North America, http://beta.floranorthamerica.org/Main_Page Comprehensive work in progress.
  • Foster, Steven, and James A. Duke. Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition. Peterson Field Guides. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. Of limited use without second, identifying guide; general info about medicinal use, not specific.
  • Peterson, Lee. Peterson Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999. Drawings and photos, habitat descriptions, seasonal guides, and preparation instructions; of limited use without second guide.
  • Virginia Department of Forestry. Common Native Trees of Virginia: Tree Identification Guide. 2007. Of limited use; available as free download from http://www.dof.virginia.gov/shop/index-books.htm
  • Virginia Native Plant Society,https://vnps.org/ Has info about Virginia natives, including regional guides geared toward the home gardener which can be downloaded for free, https://vnps.org/virginia-native-plant-guides/
  • Virginia Wildflowers, https://virginiawildflowers.org/ Amateur site with identifying photos of wildflowers found in southwestern Virginia; includes limited info on edible and medicinal plants and fungi.
  • Weakley, Alan S., J. Christopher Ludwig, and John F. Townsend. Flora of Virginia. Fort Worth: Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 2012. Large coffee-table book highly recommended by naturalists; first formal update of local flora since the 18th century; best of all, most of the information is accessible via (much cheaper) app, courtesy of the Flora of Virginia Project,https://floraofvirginia.org/

If you liked this post…

There’s a good chance you’d love my e-book The Wildwood Workbook: Nature Appreciation and SurvivalClick here to download it in any format.  35 exercises guaranteed to deepen your relationship with nature and get your heart and mind engaged like never before.  120 pages.

Want to study Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble martial arts?  Click here to enroll in the Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts distance learning program for just $19,99/month — all learning materials, testing and certificates included (and a free hat and t-shirt when you sign up too).

Book Review: “Talks to Teachers on Psychology” by William James

An esteemed and pragmatic colleague sent me a copy of William JamesTalks to Teachers on Psychology.  As you can see by the grainy picture on the right, this First Rate Publishers edition is strangely and inexplicably titled incorrectly as Talks to Teachers on Philosophy which isn’t  at all ‘first rate.’  But it is for two entirely different reasons that I recommend those wishing to read this book purchase another edition, those being (a) it lacks page numbers and (b) the type is extremely small.

Upon receiving the book I was perplexed.  Why would my associate want me to read this 100+ year-old psychology book?  Was there some nudge-nudge-wink message here?  This and other questions assailed me.  But the gift-giver being the sort of fellow who shoots straight both literally and figuratively, I quickly saw that this was simply a sincere gift of something he deemed valuable and important.  So I rolled up my sleeves and dug in. 

The volume is thin.  Expecting not much to chew on, I figured I’d read it across one or two nights and send a quick note of thank you.  But but O, happy surprise!  I reached into the sack for a puppy and found a python.  It is a thin book — true enough — but thin, not like boarding house soup, but thin like a fang.  It bites to bone and holds fast.

This little bugger took me two weeks to dissect.  As you can see by the photo above, I put ten tabs in the book to mark key points to return to later.  There’s no magic to that number, it just worked out that way.  Here they are in brief:

  1. Focus on gaining the student’s attention.  Make a lasting impression that is lifelong.  Above all, create a “devouring curiosity” in the student.
  2. Engage student’s senses with material objects, or at least with stories of action, rather than with abstract ideas.  Be excellent and imitable.  Pull students forward by inspiring students to emulate you.  Pushing doesn’t work.
  3. When students “back” (like a horse before a hurdle) or get stuck (either outwardly with attitude or inwardly with self-frustration) move on.   Let them forget the sticky spot.  Then make a circuitous approach later using a slightly different approach so that they don’t recognize the spot.  Often they’ll leap right over without incident.
  4. Help them build good habits.  Habits are far more powerful than most people believe.
  5. Make substitutions for negative ideas, perspectives and thoughts.  Phrase things as “dos” not “don’ts.” Accentuate the positive (see #2 above).
  6. Feelings and actions are behaviorally linked.  To some extent we are afraid because we flee and sad because we cry.  To modify behavior, act how you wish to feel.  “Action seems to follow feeling,” James says, “but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.”  Brilliant.
  7. Relaxation reduces wasted energy and prevents moods, nervous breakdowns, melancholy and more.  Harmony, dignity, ease and calm are the key to excellence and happiness.  This speaks directly to revelations I’ve had recently through the Going Powhatan project.
  8. In a related vein, there is a lengthy quotation from a book called The Practice of the Presence of God, the Best Ruler of a Holy Life by Brother Lawrence that also relates to the idea of grace as both a physical and mental state.
  9. Another lengthy quote attributed to one Josiah Royce from his book The Religious Aspect of Philosophy.  Brilliant.
  10. A long section at virtually the end of the book about the tendency of people to polarize that was incredibly insightful and completely relevant to the political environment in the U.S. in the world today.  It could’ve been written this week.  This bit is scintillating as a star ruby.

I’m not ashamed to admit that James was a big hole in my knowledge of philosophy, and happy to report that it is far from plugged but at least somewhat patched.  I have added The Varieties of Religious Experience to my reading queue as well.

A truly estimable book.  Highly recommended, especially to educators, parents, pastors, managers and leaders of all stripes.


If you liked this post…

There’s a good chance you’d love my e-book The Wildwood Workbook: Nature Appreciation and SurvivalClick here to download it in any format.  35 exercises guaranteed to deepen your relationship with nature and get your heart and mind engaged like never before.  120 pages.

Want to study Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble martial arts?  Click here to enroll in the Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts distance learning program for just $19,99/month — all learning materials, testing and certificates included (and a free hat and t-shirt when you sign up too).

Going Powhatan #3: Training the Hunter

Last year I wrote a post about the formidable faculties of the cricket frog in which I made the connection between predator-prey behaviors and the birth of meditation and contemplation.  Since that time I’ve started to make even more connections.  I’m actually beginning to think that religion has its origin in hunting behaviors — the foremost reason being that there seems to be an obvious connection between religious rituals and ideas and appreciation for the sacrifice the animal is making so that we can live.

Bobcats are cool.

A house cat is either cruel or not conscious in the way that a human being is conscious.  Felines play with their food while it is still alive.  People — at least those commonly thought to be healthy and well-adjusted —  treat living food animals with decency and respect, butcher them humanely, and make gestures of respect before partaking of them in the form of a meal.  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

I’ve ordered a copy of Matt Rossano’s highly regarded book Supernatural Selection: How Religion Evolved and I’m hoping it will more deeply inform my thinking on this topic.  I’ve read some of his articles online and he seems like a someone who’d be fun to talk to.  Perhaps I can rope him into an interview at some point.  Here are some of Rossano’s really interesting pieces:

Did Meditating Make us Human?
The Christian Revolution
Are Infinities More Scientific than God?

But I digress.  As part of my Going Powhatan project I’ve learned a couple of very interesting things about how Virginia Algonquian adults trained their young boys to hunt.

Powhatan matriarchs didn’t let their male children eat breakfast unless they were able to hit a moving target with an arrow. According to the sources referenced by Rountree, mom would toss up a chunk of moss and sonny boy had better pierce it or else walk around with a growling belly until the next meal. The specifics are lacking. We have no idea at what age this practice began or ended, how many tries were allowed, and so on.

We might logically assume that it came to an end when the boys were old enough to hunt with their fathers, uncles, older brothers and neighbors. Hunting trips could last for days, and it seems unlikely that a boy could be expected to go without food for several days.  Then again there is the complex, terrifying and virtually incomprehensible manhood ritual known as the huskanow in which boys were, according to some accounts, caged, starved, and exposed for extended periods.  I’m setting that aside for now.  Baby steps as the saying goes.

I’m keeping it simple.  If I “miss” my morning martial arts practice, I don’t eat breakfast.

Next Time: Going to the Library

———————-

Project Bibliography

Adkins, Elaine and Ray. Chickahominy Indians – Eastern Division: A Brief Ethnohistory.  Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2007.

Gooley, Tristan. How to Read Nature: Awaken Your Senses to the Outdoors You’ve Never Noticed. New York: The Experiment, 2017.

Hertz, Eleanor West.  The Chickahominy Indians of Virginia Yesterday and Today. Muskogee: Indian University Press, 1992.

Mitchell, Robert. The Wildwood Workbook: Nature Appreciation and Survival.  Richmond: Lulu Press, 2019.

Rogers, Robert. Journals of Robert Rogers of the Rangers: The Exploits of Rogers & the Rangers from 1755-1761 in the French & Indian War in His Own Words.  Leonaur, 2005.

Rossano, Matt J. “Did Meditating Make us Human?”  In Cambridge Archaeological Journal vol. 17 no. 1 (January 2007)  47–58.

Rountree, Helen C. The Powhatan Indians of Virginia: Their Traditional Culture. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989.

Siebert, Frank T. “Resurrecting Virginia Algonquian from the Dead: The Reconstituted and Historical Phonology of Powhatan” in Studies in Southeastern Indian Languages. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1975.

 

 


If you liked this post…

There’s a good chance you’d love my e-book The Wildwood Workbook: Nature Appreciation and SurvivalClick here to download it in any format.  35 exercises guaranteed to deepen your relationship with nature and get your heart and mind engaged like never before.  120 pages.

Want to study Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble martial arts?  Click here to enroll in the Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts distance learning program for just $19,99/month — all learning materials, testing and certificates included (and a free hat and t-shirt when you sign up too).

Fast and Dicey: Mettle Maker #238

DID YOU KNOW…

  •  …that every mettle maker is an actual training session I completed during the preceding week (or when I’m on vacation a re-post from yesteryear).
  • …that the weekly mettle maker, although supporting both of my martial arts programs, revolves around the two monthly focal points of Cabal Fang?
  • …that every mettle maker contains four segments — martial, fitness, survival, and spiritual?
  • …that I don’t sell ads, I’m not a content engine trolling for eyeballs, and you are not the product?  If you like what you’re reading, buy my books or enroll in my programs. ‘Nuff said.
  • That  people who engage with the content by doing some of the work and/or posting in the comments have been known to get discount coupons for books and merch from Mitch’s General Store?

Fast and Dicey: Mettle Maker #238

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes.  Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, or light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.
  • 10 minutes of command and mastery with your weapon of choice.  Select a dull practice weapon (wooden knife,  tactical pen, stick, gun, cane, stick, whatever floats your boat) and set a timer for 8:00.  Repeat the following until the timer beeps: Slip Ball or Air Strikes x 1o, Push-ups x 5,  Reverses x 5 (if you can’t do your wrestling moves with your weapon in hand you have a problem), Standing Broad Jumps x 5.  This drill was created with Command and Mastery Dice ©.  Click here to get a set.
  • 10 minutes of frontier fitness.  Get yourself a sledgehammer and a sandbag and set a timer for 10:00.  Climb a half-pyramid until the timer beeps of Shovels, Loads, Shoulder Rolls, and Air Strikes x 4 (Palms, Steam Donkeys, Caulks, etc.).  This drill was created with Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble Fitness Dice ©.  Click here to get a set.
  • Bug-out heavy.  Don’t assume you can quickly get out of trouble carrying a load.  Slip on a backpack of at least #25 and hike for at least 20 mins.  Do that weekly and work your way up to 1+ hours with #40+ so that, if you ever have to get out of Dodge you can do so.  And, as an added bonus, it’ll make long hikes with light and medium packs really fun and easy when you go on adventures!   See video below of my last adventure with my daughter Morgan and her fiancé Jack — it’s hilarious!
  • Empty your cup.  The idea is an ancient one.  If you fast from food and improve your ability to control what you allow into your mouth, you will also control what you allow into your mind, heart, and spirit — and you might even be able to fill the empty space thus created with spiritual food and drink.  This is why fasting is so prevalent in all traditional religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and orthodox forms of Christianity.  Assuming you have no precluding health conditions of course, try skipping one, two or even three meals (silly rabbit — breakfast actually means “to break your fast” after a whole day of not eating).  Consider a permanent change, like one of the traditional fasting forms (such as abstaining from meat on Fridays) or giving up something that you enjoy but you know isn’t good for you — like soda, alcohol, candy, or tobacco.  Some folks think that you can’t say “Yes” with all your heart without first learning how to to say “No.”
  • If it ain’t in the training journal it didn’t happen.  Do the work, the external and internal, and write about what you did and thought in your journal.  Introspection, self-examination and measurement are the key to progress.

 



TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts is just $19.99/month and that’s your choice if you’re interested in Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble — the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (1607 – 1912). What are you waiting for — enroll today!

Going Powhatan #2: Bathing Cold

Rountree’s “The Powhatan Indians of Virginia”

The first book I read about the natives of Virginia was Helen C. Rountree’s The Powhatan Indians of Virginia: Their Traditional Culture.   It’s the most referenced book on the subject written to date, and Rountree is the foremost living expert on Virginia’s natives.  You can take issue with some aspect of Rountree’s work if you like, but you cannot sidestep her.  Read and contend with Rountree or you don’t know squat.

And the first thing I learned from Rountree about the Powhatan that deeply impressed me was the bit about the cold baths. According to her historical references, the Powhatan were as clean as people living in huts could be, mainly because each morning they all migrated down to the local water source to bathe – regardless of the weather. She also said that, to harden them to the cold, babies were bathed as well.

Allow me to insert a paragraph break so you can let that sink in a second.

Cold baths are no laughing matter. I had previously done cold baths indoors as part of various training regimens I’ve tried over the years. Let’s just say that the subject comes up in martial arts circles. Armed forces from the Spartains of Ancient Greece to the Seals at Naval Base Coronado attest to the power of cold water to awaken the warrior within. But outdoors? I started this program in an October considerably warmed by climate change. Even so, bathing cold outdoors in the winter seemed a little nutty. And yet there was a resonance I couldn’t deny, a strange synchronicity I couldn’t ignore.

The original Cabal Fang Temple before the new paint job in 2019

In my suburban yard I have a 9’ by 14’ shed that is finished like a tiny house with insulation and heat that we’ve been calling “the temple” since moving to the property 20 years ago. We started calling it “The Cabal Fang Temple” when I founded Cabal Fang martial arts in 2009, a name we borrowed when we founded our the 501 (c)(3) non-profit Cabal Fang Temple, Inc. Cabal Fang is Hermetic martial arts (for more information please visit www.cabalfang.com) and, on the surface of it at least, has very little if anything to do with primitive skills, my love for Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble martial arts, or the “Going Powhatan” project at all.  Although, due to lack of money, Cabal Fang has always been taught on the grass at local parks 12 months a year, so there’s that little bit of overlap in terms of “outdoorsiness” I suppose. But there was also a strange coincidence.  At the time I was reading Rountree’s book, I was struggling with what to do about remodeling the temple. The plan was to transform it from a hybrid space into a proper chapel, to make it a purely spiritual building and move my martial arts training to a new building to be constructed elsewhere on the property.

The stumbling block was money. I didn’t have the funds to construct a new building. And yet I was feeling the call to move forward in a powerful way. And so, when I read about the Powhatans’ daily bathing in cold streams, I had my answer: suck it up and train outdoors. What was the big deal? That’s how we train in the Cabal Fang club. At the park there’s a picnic shelter for refuge from rain, sleet and snow, and I have covered patio here at the house. The whole problem was in my head. Cabal Fang is always practiced outdoors. Why would Cabal Fang ever need an indoor training space? And why should a Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble martial arts instructor and primitive skills expert like me ever whine about the loss of indoor training space? But this is how human beings can be. We fear change, we miss the obvious, and we like our lives soft and cushy.

Powhatan bath

My “Going Powhatan” wash basin

I immediately went out and bought one of those heavy-duty resin storage sheds for a couple of hundred bucks and moved all the martial arts gear out of the temple so I could start the renovation. My next purchase was a one-gallon galvanized pan which I put that on my patio table, and next to it a watering can. Every morning about 6 AM, before I start my martial arts training, I pour a little water into that pan, strip to the waist, and wash up.

Next Time: Training the Hunter


If you liked this post…

There’s a good chance you’d love my e-book The Wildwood Workbook: Nature Appreciation and SurvivalClick here to download it in any format.  35 exercises guaranteed to deepen your relationship with nature and get your heart and mind engaged like never before.  120 pages.

Want to study Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble martial arts?  Click here to enroll in the Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts distance learning program for just $19,99/month — all learning materials, testing and certificates included (and a free hat and t-shirt when you sign up too).

Going Powhatan #1: Speaking Powhatan

strachey powhatan

Some of Strachey’s Powhatan words in his actual hand

According to the National Museum of the American Indian, over 500 native languages were spoken in North America prior to European contact.  Of those 500 languages, the Catalog of Endangered Languages reports that only 150 are still spoken today.  There were thousands of tribes as well, of which only about 600 remain. 

 

strachey powhatan

The number of tribes the diversity of languages bears out what we find in historical accounts and archaeological finds, which is that 

the native tribes of North America were insular, territorial and, for want of a better word, grumpy.  Ritual violence, intertribal warfare, conflict, dispute and bloodshed were a part of daily life.  In addition to their words, they did a fair amount of their talking with weaponry.

Just because they didn’t shy away from a fight doesn’t mean their languages weren’t rich, beautiful and complex.  I know this because, as part of this project, I decided I should learn how to speak Powhatan.  But I soon found out that Powhatan was one of first indigenous languages to go extinct.  Powhatan, or Virginia Algonquian, hasn’t been spoken since the 1790s.  Fortunately though, Willam Strachey, an English writer who made it to to Virginia after being stranded in Bermuda by the shipwreck of the Sea Venture, wrote extensively on the language and culture of the Virginia’s natives.¹   We have his word lists, as well as John Smith’s.  And thanks to linguists like Frank Siebert and Blair Rudes, who have poured over the work of Stachey and Smith and put together partial reconstructions, we have at least the skeleton of Virginia Algonquian.

As soon as you jump in four things jump right back at you.  First, Powhatan has provided American English with more loan words than any other indigenous tongue.  Raccoon, opossum, tomahawk, hominy, terrapin, hickory, chum, moccasin and persimmon all come from Powhatan, and that’s just the short list.²

Second, it’s an agglutinating language.  Word order isn’t all that important because you just keep adding prefixes, suffixes and circumfixes onto the root word until you get the meaning you want. A properly conjugated verb is a sentence unto itself. 

Third, it’s an action language.  Verbs are conjugated based on whether they are transitive or intransitive and nouns are declined based on if they are proximate (nearby) or obviative (over there).  This is a language designed to tell you what’s moving, what’s not moving, and who’s doing what to who.

And fourth, it’s hard to learn.  The two biggest snares are that it has very little in common with English and there’s nobody to practice conversation with.  But hopefully that conversation problem will dissipate.  There are people trying to bring the language back.  The Patawomeck tribe up in Stafford, Virginia are teaching language classes using the materials Blair Rudes prepared for the movie The New World, and the Eastern Woodlands Revitalization Project is also spearheading an effort.³

For the time being though, I’m on my own.


¹ Strachey, William. 1610-1612. The Historie of Travaile Into Virginia Britannia Ed. Richard Henry Major. London: Hakluyt Society, 1849.

² Siebert, Frank. 1975. “Resurrecting Virginia Algonquian from the dead: The reconstituted and historical phonology of Powhatan,” Studies in Southeastern Indian Languages. Ed. James Crawford. Athens: University of Georgia Press, pp. 285–453.

³ Rudes, Blair. 2006. “Giving Voice to Powhatan’s People: The Creation of Virginia Algonquian Dialog for ‘The New World’” Paper written for Coastal Carolina Indian Center.

Next Time: Bathing Cold


If you liked this post…

There’s a good chance you’d love my e-book The Wildwood Workbook: Nature Appreciation and SurvivalClick here to download it in any format.  35 exercises guaranteed to deepen your relationship with nature and get your heart and mind engaged like never before.  120 pages.

Want to study Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble martial arts?  Click here to enroll in the Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts distance learning program for just $19,99/month — all learning materials, testing and certificates included (and a free hat and t-shirt when you sign up too).

Going Powhatan: Introduction

tomahawk knife spoon gourd basket

tomahawk, knife, spoon, gourd water bottle, and basket (all but tomahawk and knife made by me)

I’ve been into primitive skills, nature appreciation, and survival for twenty years.  But when I read a book about monks in October of 2020 — yes, a book about monks — something really clicked.

 

And after reading this book I saw that I had grown a somewhat complacent in my primitive skills — that it was time to take my training to the next level.  But that’s not all I realized.

The timing was what one might call propitious.

Over the preceding six months I had begun to have increasing difficulty reconciling my love of martial arts with my enrollment in Ekklesia Epignostika Seminary in pursuit of Holy Orders in the Old Catholic faith.   But when I read A Different Christianity, Robin Amis’ book about the Orthodox monks of Mount Athos in Greece, and learned about how they think, act, feel and believe, I saw a hint of something shared. Things started making sense in a way they never have before.

amis a different christianity

It became clear to me that there were footprints running through all three territories — martial arts, religion and primitive skills — and those prints were the lifeways of the native peoples who once inhabited my home state of Virginia.

So to fully knit together all of my passions, and wend my way toward integration of mind, body and spirit, I decided to follow those footprints wherever they may lead.  This is my journey into unexplored territory — the lifeways of the historic Powhatan people.

Next time: Learning to speak the Powhatan Language


If you liked this post…

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Want to study Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble martial arts?  Click here to enroll in the Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts distance learning program for just $19,99/month — all learning materials, testing and certificates included (and a free hat and t-shirt when you sign up too).

 

 

Warrior Rising: Martial Arts Training Involution #196

Tough constitutional this month.¹  Most take a little over 20 mins to start but get knocked down to ~15 by the end of the month.  This one took 30+ the first time and still hasn’t been done in under 20 yet.

The fifth exercise is generating questions so here’s the low-down.  Whether you’re in Japan or Joliet  there’s only so many ways for a warrior to kneel and stand while maintaining a stable base for fight or flightThe Japanese Get-up is the traditional method I learned doing Japanese and Korean martial arts, and it’s pretty universal.

Which means it also applies to Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble.  Can’t you you imagine a mixed bag of strangers, natives, farmers and trappers perhaps, kneeling around a trading blanket?  If you were in that circle, wouldn’t you’d want to appear as non-aggressive as possible while also maintaining your ability to fight or flee at any moment?  Sure you would.  There’s a video below.

Warrior Rising: Martial Arts Training Involution #196

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes. I generally do 8 minutes of MBF or either 2-3 minutes each of (a) something aerobic, like jogging of jumping rope (b) some light calisthenics like Half Squats, Push-ups on knees, Touching toes, Arm Swings etc. and (c) shadowboxing or light heavy bag work.
  • Heavy bag ziggurat for power.  In architecture, a ziggurat is a stepped pyramid in the ancient Mesopotamian style.  In training terms, a ziggurat is what I call a stepped pyramid for time instead of for reps using 30 second (:30) increments.  Set timer to beep every :30.  Strike heavy bag with full power for one :30 interval then then rest for :30.  Then strike for two intervals (1:00) then rest for :30.  Then do three (1:30/:30), four (2:00/:30) and finally five intervals (2:30/:30) and go back down again.  That will be a total of = 16.5 minutes of oxygen sucking goodness.
  • Complete the February constitutional.  Beginners take care — this one’s real peach.  If you can only do half, that’s fine.  Carve away it and maybe you get through all of it by the end of the month.
  • 10 minutes of eyes open contemplation.  Set a timer for 10 minutes, have a seat in your posture of choice, and regulate your breathing.  Remain completely motionless.  Do not fidget, wiggle or scratch and do not think in words.  Simply sit and experience reality in stillness.  

¹ If you’re new around here, a constitutional is a set of 7 calisthenics.  In Cabal Fang we create a new constitutional at the beginning of each month and work it twice a week with the goal of getting it done in under 20 minutes.


If you enjoyed his training involution you’d probably enjoy my books and other products.  Why not check them out?

 

Crop Circles: Martial Arts Training Involution #195

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This training involution is called “Crop Circles” because (a) you go in circles and (b) it contains exercises that can are based on real chores one might do on a farm growing crops.

Real-world fitness is built in to Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble martial arts and is central to Cabal Fang as well.

This particular involution was created using Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble Dice © available here.

Crop Circles: Martial Arts Training Involution #195

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes. I generally do 8 minutes of MBF or either 2-3 minutes each of (a) something aerobic, like jogging of jumping rope (b) some light calisthenics like Half Squats, Push-ups on knees, Touching toes, Arm Swings etc. and (c) shadowboxing or light heavy bag work.
  • A Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble pyramid.  Get yourself a weight — a sandbag, large bucket full of rocks, or even a dumbbell if that’s all you have.  Suggested weights beg/sm #40, int/med #60, adv/lg #80.  Set up a bench, shelf, truck bed, etc. to load onto.  Beg/sm 3′ high, int/med 4′, adv/lg 5′.  Mark off an 8′ – 10′  diameter  circle.  Cabal Fang folks, and others who fight unarmed, go empty-handed.  FRT folks, stick a sheathed tomahawk in your belt.  Others who train armed, select your dull weapon of choice.  Pick up the weight in one hand and Suitcase Carry it around the circle once.  Then pick it up and load it onto your bench/shelf, release, then pick it up and put it back on the ground.  Deploy your weapon and pursue an imaginary enemy around the circle one time with maximum malice.  Next, with weapon in hand, complete one shoulder roll.  Then walk 2 circles, load your weight 2 times, pursue the enemy around the circle 2 times and do 2 shoulder rolls.  Then 3 of each, 4 of each, and 5 of each, then go back down to 1 of each.  Take as few 12-second breaks as needed to finish.  Your goal should be to complete this in 20 minutes or less.
  • 10 minutes of eyes open contemplation.  Set a timer for 10 minutes, have a seat in your posture of choice, and regulate your breathing.  Remain completely motionless.  Do not fidget, wiggle or scratch and do not think in words.  Simply sit and experience reality in stillness.  

If you enjoyed his training involution you’d probably enjoy my books and other products.  Why not check them out?

 

Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble Home Training Program is Live!

How would like to learn to fight the way your ancestors did, using Bowie knife, tomahawk, fisticuffs and wrasslin’?  Would you like to get active, lose some weight, get fit, and build a closer connection to the great outdoors?  Well, we’ve got a program for you!

 

Make no mistake — this isn’t just historical reenactment material.  This is real self-defense, real martial arts, and real frontier skills and lifeways  that are as effective today as they were in the old days.

 

What is Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble?  Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble is an American martial art that encompasses the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period — from the founding of the first permanent American settlement at Jamestown in 1607 through the annexation of Arizona as the 48th state in 1912.

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  • Bobcat Martial Arts hat and t-shirt ($29.98 value)

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You’ll receive a monthly module, book, assignment, etc.  Do the work and keep a training journal.

If you have any questions, schedule a coaching call. One monthly 30-minute coaching call included with tuition.

When ready to test for rank, send in scans, pdfs or pictures of your training journal for review.  Video testing also required for Red Bandanna and up. For Black Bandanna your videos will need to include videos of you training with others. All tests for rank advancement are included in monthly tuition.

Program does not include equipment such as heavy bags, gloves, dull training weapons, etc. But we will provide direction on DIY options, cheap alternatives, and substitution suggestions if needed.

The program is now live.  Click here to enroll!