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Wereoance of the Secotan (Roanoke) Native Americans leader
Personal details
Died1 June 1586
Dasamonquepeuc, North Carolina
Cause of deathDecapitated
Known forFirst North American Native American leader to be confronted by English settlers in the New World; murdered by one of Sir Walter Raleigh's men

Wingina (died 1 June 1586; Dasamonquepeuc [in present North Carolina]) — later called Pemisapan — was the first North American Native American leader to be confronted by English settlers in the New World. He was wereoance (principal chief, king) of the Secotan (Roanoke) Native Americans in present-day North Carolina during Sir Walter Raleigh's two expeditions (1585, 1586) and was murdered by the English.[1] 1


Before the first English settlement on Roanoke Island, Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe explored the area (April 27, 1584) on behalf of Raleigh, who had received an English charter to establish a colony a month earlier. During their expedition, Barlowe took detailed notes relating to conflicts and rivalries between different groups of Native Americans.[2] In one account, Wingina explained his tribal history, about a neighboring tribe at the mouth of the Neuse River, the Neusiok, referred to as the "Neiosioke" by Barlowe. According to Wingina, the Secotans endured years of warfare with the Neiosioke, and "some years earlier," he met with the Neiosioke king, to ensure a "permanent coexistence." The two leaders arranged a feast between the two groups. An unspecified number of Secotan men and 30 women attended a feast in the town of Neiosioke. The Neiosioke ambushed the Secotans at the feast, and by the time fighting ended, the Neiosioke had "slewn them every one, reserving the women and children only."[3]

In conveying this "inter-tribal" history to Barlowe, Wingina saw an opportunity to advance the interest of the Secotans. Wingina and his people attempted on several occasions to convince the English to join them in devising a surprise attack against the Neiosioke. The Englishmen, uncertain of "whether their perswasion be to the ende they may be revenged of their enemies, or for the love they beare to us," declined to help the Secotans wage war against their rivals. Instead, the English established a trusting relationship with the Secotans, exemplified by the willingness of two Secotan chiefs, Manteo and Wanchese, to accompany Amadas and Barlowe back to England.[4]

Wingina was decapitated by one of Raleigh's men, Edward Nugent, in the summer of 1586.[5]


  • Raleigh's 1584 expedition recorded the name of the regional king (Wingina) and reported to Queen Elizabeth I that he ruled over the land known as Wingandacoa. She was probably influenced by this report to modify the name of the colony to "Virginia", in part alluding to her status as the "Virgin Queen." It is the oldest surviving English place-name in the United States not wholly borrowed from a Native American word, and the fourth oldest surviving English place name, though it is Latin in form.[6] However, on Raleigh's subsequent voyage to the area, he recorded that Wingandacoa, the Carolina Algonquian word the English had heard upon his first arrival in 1584, means "What good clothes you wear!" and was not the native name of Wingina's country.[7]
  • USS Wingina (YTB-395)
  • Wingina Avenue, Manteo, North Carolina
  • Wingina, Virginia

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oberg, Michael Leroy (2010), The Head in Edward Nugent's Hand: Roanoke's Forgotten Indians (Series: Early American Studies), University of Pennsylvania Press.
  2. ^ Hoffman, Paul E. (1987), Spain and the Roanoke Voyages, 26-27.
  3. ^ Stick, David (1983), Roanoke Island: The Beginnings of English America, 36, 42, 50-51.
  4. ^ Stick, Op. cit.., 51-52.
  5. ^ Oberg, Op. cit.., University of Pennsylvania Press.
  6. ^ Three names from the Roanoke Colony are still in use, all based on Native American names. Stewart, George (1945). Names on the Land: A Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States. New York: Random House. p. 22.
  7. ^ Raleigh, Walter (1617). The History of the World. London: for Walter Burre. p. 175-6.