Sunday, September 22, 2019


© 2019 by Michael Auld 
(With added photo)

Michabo the Great Hare and other tales: 

As told by Rose Powhatan (*Pamunkey/Tauxenent) at two venues.

Kennedy Center's 2019 promo photo of Rose Powhatan (Tauxenent/Pamunkey) in her traditional Algonquian buckskin dress, telling the "Michabo the Hare Story," fire engraved on the shaft of her Powhatan totem. From a set of photographs promoting the new REACH Building that was constructed in her father's ancestral Washington, DC's Native American Tauxenent Territory, next to the Powhatan Confederacy's Cohonkarutan ("River of the Geese") later called the "Potomac" River by the English.

Rose Powhatan carrying on a tradition estimated to be over 12,000 years old. The epic is about a giant hare called Michabo. He had a priestly following by Algonquian speakers, the largest linguistic Indigenous group in North America. He was known throughout their land from Canada to the Carolinas. His time-honored tales live on through Rose’s storytelling in her city of birth, her father’s Tauxenent territory in N.W. Washington, D.C. This city is a part of a larger land area that also includes Northern Virginia, where some of her Boston family grew up hunting and fishing with their Pamunkey (Mills) family. Algonquians married each other within their confederated nations. Rivers were not boundaries, but highways and food sources.

Here, Rose is standing in front of her fire engraved "Treaty Story" Powhatan Totem. The sculpture is a modern 1982 rendering of a traditional set of totem poles captured in 1585 in watercolors by the English watercolorist, John White. This totem is on loan to the Riverbend Park as part of a Tauxenent installation in the park's Visitors Center. The pictographic story on the shaft of this totem has a tale used on some Pamunkey traditional pots made from the early 1900s.   

Annual Treaty images from Pamunkey pottery
Line 1: 
Each year when the geese fly....Indians.....go on a journey....across the meet with the Governor of Virginia 
Line 2
: There they meet.....and smoke the pipe of
 peace ...give firs and other game....and remain at peace.
*The Treaty of 1677 was signed with the King of England by Cockacoeske, the Queen of Pamunkey on behalf of those tribes under her leadership and other neighbors of her Powhatan Paramountcy.                                                             

From the time of Powhatan II, Pamunkeys have traveled from Tidewater Virginia, settled outside D.C., in southern Maryland and have been born, lived, been educated, worked and have been buried in the Nation’s Capital. This was, of course, Powhatan II’s favorite Capitol Hill location by the Tiber River, to caucus (from a Powhatan Algonquian word) with surrounding nations. Chroniclers stated that "Powhatan never left his area."

Rose’s stories are a part of D.C.’s Powhatan Confederacy that emanated from her maternal center on the Pamunkey Reservation in King William County, Virginia. This was the “Place of the Sweat” as Pamunkey translates. It was also thought to be their temple center for Wahunsenachaw, publicly known as Powhatan II, father of Pocahontas.

Above: Items from the grave of a shaman in the Great Mound, Hopewell, Ohio. Incidentally, there is also a mound on the Pamunkey Reservation in King William County, Virginia, the oldest reservation in North America. Powhatan II is said to be buried in this mound.

Above: Artist's rendering of an Algonquian priest with a Michabo 
copper headdress.

MICHABO (Mí-chá-bó)
The Great Hare

The Algonquian culture hero was the creator of the world and the impersonation of life. He was reputed to possess not only the power to 
live, but also of creating life in others. He was chief of all the animals 
And in ancient times caused mankind to be born from the dead bodies 
of the first of those who died, thus giving rise to the widespread belief 
among these Amerindians that they had their life force from animals. He impersonated life in an unlimited series of diverse personalities. He was life struggling with many forms of wanting, misfortune, and death that comes 
to the bodies and beings of nature. In his journeying over the earth, he destroyed many ferocious monsters of land and water whose continued existence would have placed in jeopardy the fate of the people.

One of these monsters was the Great-Horned Serpent. The fossil bones of extinct animals occasionally brought to light, are said to be the remains of monsters destroyed by the Great Hare.

“One day, Michabo went hunting with his friends, the wolves. Suddenly, 
water began to rise and covered the Earth. Michabo held on to his 
magic bow to save himself.”

STORY ENDING: "And...That's where women and men came from. The End." 

This Great Flood and human origin story told here on her father’s ancestral Tauxdnent land at the Riverbend Park on September 7, 2019, by Rose Powhatan (Pamunkey/Tauxenent). The story was repeated a couple days later at the other Tauxenent’s Washington, DC territory on which the Kennedy Center sits and had its first ****Land Acknowledgment 

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY'S news article on Rose Powhatan at the 8:30 a.m. Private Opening of the Kennedy Center's new REACH Building's Land Acknowledgment observance. She was the primary indigenous Native American representative for the REACH ceremony for the arts building that was constructed on her paternal Tauxenent territory just across from their traditional hunting ground on DC's Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River. 

Incidentally, Roosevelt Island was a source of Tauxenent beaver pelt trade, fishing, and hunting the noisy bird, the "cohonk" (Canadian geese that flocked there yearly in the thousands in Fall, giving the river the raucous name "Cohonkarutan"  or "River of the Geese". Cohonk was also the source of the English words "honk," "honky" and "honky-tonk"). The Tauxenent island seemed to have also given the last remnants of the  Nochoctank survivors a temporary place of refuge in 1668 after they had been driven from the bank of the Anacostia River. The final report of the Algonquian Nochoctank was reported sighting in Detroit, Michigan. 
TOP MAP (area in red): There were two major Algonquian nations in Washington, DC, the Tauxenent (East and 
West of the Potomac River), and the Nochotank who occupied a town on the SE bank of the Anacostia River, and other tribal Algonquian villages within the city proper.  This is the first map of  Washington, DC to show the District of Columbia's Wards approximately within the historic Powhatan Confederacy Territory. (Click on the map to enlarge).



I have witnessed that research by qualified historians in local Native American history must be consulted before beginning an all-important Land Acknowledgment ceremony. In Washington, DC this task can be daunting since the Nation’s Capital attracts members of many Native groups from around the nation to Federal jobs. Among Native Americans, language or ethnicity can be defining identity markers for the indignity of an Amerindian nation. As it stands today, there are many non-Algonquian pretenders who are now claiming the title of "Washington, DC's Indians." The city, as part of the Eastern Woodlands, was not comprised of the other historic Iroquoian or Siouan competing nations. It was Algonquian and continues to be so defined up until this modern era. DC’s problem is that local Amerindian history is not taught in our schools. This dilemma leaves the city wide open for misinformation to our city's students. Yet, there are many published authoritative authors whose careers have been on the Powhatan Confederacy and its surrounding area. 

As a result of continued tribal sovereignty, it also stands to reason that those extinct Algonquian-speakers tribal villages who were linguistically connected should be represented by the city's surviving Algonquian descendants who have never left their area.

The continuation of cultural practices is important to being indigenous. Rose Powhatan's WashingtonDC 
residencyher Algonquian storytelling and the continuation of her ancient Amerindian traditions in her contemporary artworks, qualifies her as an Indigenous Wisdom Keeper.


1.    *The Pamunkey was the leading nation in the historic Powhatan Confederacy, who met with Captain John Smith in 1607. Both it’s leader Powhatan II and his minor daughter, Pocahontas, was Pamunkey whose Reservation in King William County in Virginia is the oldest in the USA. Inheriting eight nations from his father, Powhatan, his 32-34 Algonquian nation “empire” as the English perceived it, was the largest political territory led by one man in North American history. He allowed the USA to come into existence, yet only his daughter is so honored in the Capitol's Rotunda, by a large painting of her baptism. Why has Powhatan II not equally honored in the Nation's Capital?
2.    **Attan Akamik = "Our Fertile Country", one of the names for Powhatan II's territory.
3.    ***Pamunkey means "Place of the Sweat", an allusion to the sacred or temple location of the powerful "empire," sometimes called a "confederacy." They are technically the historic progenitors of a major portion of Washington, DC and should be so recognized in all sovereign territory to territory Land Acknowledgements in the Nation's Capital (See DC map above).
4.    ****What is a Land Acknowledgment?
A Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories.

5. To see first person videos and information on the Land Acknowledgment, go to:
6. DC Neighborhood map:,_D.C.#/media/File:DC_neighborhoods_map.png