‘Been heres’ are original ‘come heres’

Since I first put down some roots in Rappahannock, 47 years ago, I keep hoping to meet some local Native Americans. So far everyone around here just seems to be some variation or descendant of “Come Heres.”

Can’t we all just get along and appreciate diversity? In a hundred years we will all be “Been Theres” anyway. And the population then will all just be a bunch more “Come Heres.”

Heck, even Native Americans were “Come Heres” across the Bering Strait from Asia eons ago.

Tom Wilkins


Editor’s note: Until they disappeared in 1728, the Manahoacs and three subtribes — Hassinunga, Tegninateo and Whonkentia — settled along these “headwaters of the Rappahannock River,” hunting, gathering and farming.

Captain John Smith in 1608 met Manahoacs “who lived in at least seven villages” along the upper stretches of the Rappahannock River. Those Manahoacs (“Been Heres”) who survived infectious diseases brought by white Europeans (“Come Heres”) were eventually absorbed into the Iroquois tribes of New York, specifically the Cayuga nation.

In 1870, “a merry old man named Mosquito” living in Canada announced himself as “the last of the Manahoac” and rightful owner of northern Virginia. Ethnologist Horatio Hale, who met with Mosquito, confirmed he was the last full-blooded speaker of the Manahoac language (Virginia Siouan).

Today, there are eleven organized tribes in Virginia.

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