Sunday, May 1, 2022


 … and the BLACK PANTHER 

© Michael Auld- 

For the Powhatan Museum

Many people, Native and non-Native arrive in Washington, DC with almost zero knowledge about the city’s Native Americans indigenous to the Nation’s Capital! I’ve lived in DC since 1962, met may of its Indigenous surviving families who have specific tribal surnames. Here’s an insight…

-Breaking the code of a Capitol’s History-

First, we begin with a Land Acknowledgement by Washingtonian Native, Rose Powhatan (Pamunkey/Tauxenent), from the leading nation in the historic Powhatan Paramountcy.

Today, strolling around a peaceful Capitol Hill grounds recently stormed by violent insurrectionists just a couple of Januaries ago, it’s hard to envision that this was Wahunsenacawh’s quiet, wooded, multi-stream coursed Place of the Caucus. Yet, there is still a horrific reminder of a ghostly past. However, one does not have to wait for a European-inspired Halloween for a Native American event.

What if you were walking down the hallway of the US Capitol Building and came across this guy?

Well, there is a Black Panther stalking the building! He just doesn’t crouch and growl. He grows menacingly gigantic… Rushes towards you, then SPRINGS!!! Doesn’t floor you, but jumps over your head … And disappears!

Many a Capitol  Hill guard has seen one just like this!

This could happen to you as it reportedly has to a number of people in this white marble building during a National crisis. A black cat appearance has not yet been reported during the Insurrection. Although the story is well known in DC, it is only told on the radio on October 31st’s All Hallows’ Evening when ghosts and goblins roam the streets of the city.

A little goblin

But, what the Washington DC skeptics forget is that this Black Panther story only occurs on the Native American land of Washington, DC's Powhatan Paramountcy. As it also does on Powhatan's Mantle. 

Powhatan Mantle's crouching panther.

Jaguars and their black offspring, the panther, once roamed in the climes of North America before the connecting Central American land bridge was formed. Then they migrated south into the wet and dry forests.

The US Capital was built on the once large cat’s domain on what we now call “Capitol Hill”,  Wahunsenacawh’s favorite place to Caucus.

The word “caucus” is his Algonquian term for a Powhatan councilor or a caucauasu, and the occasion was blessed by a shaman’s ceremony called a pauwau or curing dance which the English named a powwow, or “to gather” for a meeting.


Above: Wahunsenacawh beside the Tiber Creek at the Place of the Caucus his favorite location on Capitol Hill to meet surrounding nations as the Powhatan or “Dreamer.” 

Wahunsenacawh had many beautiful places in his domain, but Capitol Hill’s Tiber Creek was special to his eyes. As seen, it was his favorite place to caucus with surrounding Algonquian nations, even after Captain Jonh’s Smith and the other employees of the British Company of London arrived in Attan Akamik in 1607. Wahunsenacawh’s title was the Powhatan or the  “Dreamer”, the largest name which Smith placed on his map of the entire area of the territory which became “The Virginia Territory.” Smith’s Powhatan Territorial map included most of eastern Virginia, Southern Maryland, a northern portion of North Carolina, and the extensive   Tauxenent, and beaver pelt-trading Nachocthank’s Federal City, which then became Washington DC. Captain Smith’s impression was that the Nachocthank’s “Anacostia” neighborhood was at one time a part of Powhatan’s vast domain.

What Was Powhatan’s Territory? 

What can we believe about the area which John Smith recorded on his map as “Powhatan”?

An examination of John Smith’s pivot map shows the largest word “Powhatan” was placed over an entire area which includes all the tribes of DC. How did he know to whom territory belonged? The people whom he met and recorded were the primary informants who told him so. 

Early and contemporary writers have many differing opinions and interpretations of this history. However, they were not there in 1607. The only outsider to record information about the Powhatan Paramountcy was Captain John Smith, via his map and his journal. 

So, what about the haunted Capitol large cat’s paw-prints?

More than one person in the US Capitol has seen the panther-sized cat! The term “reality” comes from the corroboration of an incident. That is, if only one person saw the large cat, the sighting could be considered fiction. This is not the case with our friend, the Black Panther. And we’re not talking about the willing suspension of Hollywood disbelief here.

When a phenomenon is corroborated it is considered a reality. Yet the repeated sighting of the image of a large panther-like cat in the halls of the Capitol is usually referred to as a Halloween story. These real-life occurrences are passed off in our culture as inexplicable phantoms. Nothing to see here is the official refrain. But what if the explanation goes deeper than ghostly appearances which have shaken a number of Capitol Hill guards? What if there is concrete evidence of a cat’s footprint like the one in the photo below?

Possible paw prints on the U.S. Capitol floor (@ChatPergram)— The US Capitol Historical Society blog. October 28, 2021

Are these paw prints associated with Powhatan’s Mantle? 

To understand the history of paw prints embedded in the floor of the Capitol, one must know the history of a mountain lion on Capitol Hill.

“One of the most well-known and oft-repeated Capitol ghost stories is that of the Demon Cat. Stories about the Cat date back to at least 1862, when Union soldiers were temporarily housed in the Capitol building. Night watchmen claimed that there was a black cat who could grow to unworldly proportions before it pounced on its victim. Physical evidence of the Demon Cat might even exist in the paw prints that are visible today on the Capitol floor, as well as the initials, “DC,” scratched into the ground. The Demon Cat reportedly appeared before national tragedies, such as Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, the Stock Market crash in 1929, and John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.”


A composite rendering of Powhatan's Place of the Caucus next to the Goose or Tiber Creek on Capitol Hill, composed from Captain John Smith's 1608 drawings.

Can you imagine the fanfare when Wahunsenacawh traveled with his entourage of warriors, advisors, priests, some women, and children from his densely populated southern capital of Werowocomoco on today's York River, to the northern land of the Tauxenent of contemporary Washington DC and Northern Virginia? Canoes were waiting in DC to ferry him back down to America's first capital of Werowocomoco. 

He did not have to travel with his entire retinue of 100 wives and their nursing children all the way along the Cohonkarutan River. The elderly, warrior/hunters remained back in their villages to protect and oversee daily lives. The Werowance could visit his northern wives' villages along the way. If Pocahontas traveled with him, she could have stayed in her half-brother, Taux Powhatan's village of Tauxenent. This was his mother's village, not too far from the Place of the Caucus across the Cohonkarutan River, much later named the “Potomac” by the English for their Patawomeck allies in today's Stafford County.

This enlarged segment of Captain John Smith's map of Algonquian tribeswhich he located next to or near the rivers within the approximated later 10-square-mile (in the green area) 1791 demarcation of the Federal City. The Potomac and Anacostia Rivers are in blue. Smith did not go inland from the large rivers and missed hundreds of locals affiliated with the main longhouses whose villages were next to wooded inland streams. Similar to the forested Tiber and other creeks of DC's Capitol Hill.

In Wahunsenachawh's day, the Patawomeck were a crafty bunch. They were not unlike the Rappahannock man who also became an English confidant and who ratted out Wahunsenachawh's brother, the War Chief, Opichancanoegh's plans in one of his coordinated attacks during his three Anglo-Powhatan wars of Homeland Security. The Patawomecks conspired with Governor Samuel Argyll to kidnap Princess Pocahontas for a ransom of life-saving corn. The Powhatans seemed to have considered the Englishmen to be worthless farmers whom they associated with the noisy cohonks. The English invaders also seemed to be lazy gold hunters whose greed for the yellow metal caused them to hunt for it instead of planting their own corn for survival. The English pests continued to raid and steal corn from Powhatan farmlands. Also, the Powhatan valued trade copper from the north more than gold, since this jewelry metal’s color represented the life-giving sun. 

To the Powhatan, the pale-hued seemingly entitled foreigners were mostly rude city folk with coarse manners, and who were mostly from a crowded, smelly metropolis. They were only distantly controlled by businessmen of the Virginia Company of London. After all, if the Englishmen who came to Attan Akamik were successful entrepreneurs, why risk their lives in a wilderness of savages? What type of person would place their lives in a formidable, distant, dangerously wooded, and fearsome wilderness with a plethora of unfamiliar beasts locally called mussascns, the '"white beast" aposoum, the masked aroughcun, mountain lions, wetland mosquitoes, and the like. Not to mention angry savages poised to end a "civilized" man's existence with a sneaky arrow from the dark woods, or a Powhatan tamahaac to the head. To the English of the time, even in their own country, the deep, dark woods was a foreboding place of wood fairies, ogres, and the like.

The corn-hungry English Governor had to conspire with the minor Patawomeck chief, Japazaws, and his wife to lure the young married girl, Matoaka, a.k.a. Pocahontas, to be kidnapped for the price of a copper pot. You might think this a trivial ransom payment, but to these Powhatan Patawomeck, as seen, copper was more valuable than gold. Besides, they got to have the Cohonkarutan River named after them by the grateful English invaders. 

Pocahontas and her baby child, possibly a girl, had uncharacteristically been moved to her husband, the young war captain Kokum’s village to hide her from roaming Englishmen who sought to do the Powhatan’s minor daughter harm. Except for the Werowance, Wahunsenacawh, the Powhatan custom was that married men moved to their wife-owned house and village. The crafty pair of royal Patawomeck opportunists succeeded in their joint Anglo plot. Matoaka arrived at the Patawomeck village in today’s Stafford County, Virginia, next to the Cohonkarutan. She was coaxed on board Samuel Argyll’s ship for a pretend tour of the English vessel. Depending on the storyteller’s motive, the rest of the tale is in the painting below. 

The composition of the Capitol’s giant painting is both history and fiction created in a less rustic, but a more Roman-like setting. For Disney and The New World moviemakers though, the real 11-year-old Princess Pocahontas had a fictional pedophilia affair with the 27-year-old Captain John Smith, whom she called “father” upon their later reacquaintance in London. Besides, no romance here. Smith had to curtail his American visit, to return to England for treatment of a lap injury. Messing with gunpowder in his lap, the explosive blew up, causing him "to lose a lot of flesh." 

[Our poor misinformed children of the future will have to be re-educated about both trashy renderings of the Pocahontas stories and the equally misguiding Capitol painting below.] 

Above:  fictional love affair movie between a little girl and a brave “adventurer” whose later writings concocted a story about Pocahontas’s “saving” of John Smith from her father’s “savagery.”

Above: An idealized painting with Senate-like onlookers and ground-sitting savages, titled “The Baptism of Pocahontas” hangs in the Capitol Rotunda near her father’s Place of the Caucus. The composition speaks volumes. Dressed in a virginal white gown, this portrayal of the Princess is a subtle but serendipitous acknowledgment of her as Washingtonian royalty.

Her capture and forced conversion to the Church of England’s protester Catholicism, now called Protestants, she was held as a hostage and succumbed to the Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological illness, later caught by Patty Hurst. The Malady was Pocahontas’s undoing and contributed to her death at the County of Kent’s Gravesend, England.

Although she did not die from the Stockholm syndrome, she did die from the Englishman’s disease, called an immigrant’s disease, as London’s mortal filth often killed foreign arrivals who came to town.

Pocahontas' a half brother, Taux Powhatan of today's Arlington and Fairfax County had been luckier than his sister. He remained in his mother’s village of Tauxenent where she was visited by Wahunsenacawh on his pilgrimages up and down the yearly raucous Cohonkarurtan River, the favored place of the noisy Fall-arriving Canadian cohonks or geese. The only remnant of that powerful river’s original name is the derogatory name for white people (“honkeys”), their loud honky-tonk music, and the sound, honk, made by an automobile’s equally loud horn. 

DC's Menacing Large Black Cat

The only large cat to have visited the Tiber Creek on today’s Capitol Hill within the original Federal City’s boundary stone markers which became Washington, DC, was on the Mantle of the second Powhatan, Wahundenachawh. We don't know much about his father, Powhatan the First, who had originally organized seven to eight Algonquian-speaking tribes presumably near Werowocomoco on the York River. We can only surmise that he and his entourage were from the Mayan south. The Maya were also seafarers one of whose trading vessels Columbus had contentiously encountered in the Gulf of Mexico. Columbus's ship had been stuck on a sandbar when a Maya trading vessel tried to wave off the pesky Italian and his Spanish crew. The Powhatan "Dreamers" or, we believe Pauhtuns, were men who the Tidewater people had told the English, were ruling "men who came up from the south."

Children's tour Powhatan's Mantle, London, England.

In the images on the map-like Powhatan’s Mantle, the large robe is made from four deerskins embossed with over 7,000 shells. The design is of a man flanked by his two totems, a deer and a "mountain lion", surrounded by the number of nations within his expanding Paramountcy. 

I believe that it is the Powhatan Mantle's depiction of a Spirit Cat on the large robe which, as previously described, haunts the Capitol Building

However, the black panther, a color variation of the jaguar, is sacred to Central American warriors and is a Maya protector. Large cats are also revered by Native Americans throughout our hemisphere. It is no mystery that Wahunsenacawh’s protective totem was thought to be a mountain lion, but, because of his legendary ancestral line to the Maya civilization, his protector was possibly a black jaguar, the one saw angrily stalking the Capitol hallways and believed to have left its footprints there.

But, is this myth or reality? Only the paw marks can tell.


Large stone head of a Mayan Bacab or Pauhtun god.

Panthers, jaguars, and mountain lions are integral parts of Amerindian cultures as are large cats in worldwide beliefs as objects of power. The Powhatan people told the arriving Englishmen that their leaders had come from the south. Some writers believe that they were descended from the Pauhtun, Four Bacabs or gods which, according to the Maya who revered the strength of the Jaguar god, held up the four corners of the world. The Pauhtun/Powhatan were pyramid and mound-builders. Powhatan or Wahunsenacawh is buried in a mound on the oldest reservation in the USA, the federally recognized Pamunkey Reservation. He was Pamunkey a.k.a. “Place of the Sweat” a religious temple village, exactly like his other three villages of that name located in his territory of St. Mary’s, Prince George’s, and Charles Counties in Maryland. Charles County is still the home township of Pomonkey. Wahunsenacawh’s burial mound in King William County, Virginia is covered with herbal sassafras trees. His over 100,000 descendants from his 100 wives are still here, as many have never left DC and the DMV. His son, Taux Powhatan’s mother’s tribe still resides in Fairfax County, some are descendants of the werowansquaw (female leader), Keziah Powhatan who burned down the Fairfax County’s courthouse in 1752.

DAR plaque at Tyson’s Corner, Fairfax County, Virginia acknowledging the event.

It seems that Keziah Powhatan and her warriors who did the deed felt that they could get no English justice since King Charles I gave over seven million acres of her people’s land to his cousin, Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron. A party animal, he has many mixed-race descendants in the DMV, some of whom carry his name.

Fairfax County, Virginia's namesake, Thomas Fairfax, 6th lord and baron of Cameron, was the friend and patron of George Washington's early life, born in Leeds Castle, Kent, England, 1693; died at his seat at "Greenway Court", Frederick County, Virginia, December 12, 1781; son of Thomas, Lord Fairfax of Cameron, and of Catharine, daughter of Lord Culpeper.


Hidden Washington: Cohonk/Goose or Tiber Creek 

The Tiber Creek and Capital's view.

When Wahunsenachawh arrived at Capitol Hill's "Cohonk", a.k.a. Goose Creek (renamed the Tiber), based on a report that this was his favorite locale to caucus, he must have fallen in love with what he saw. and undoubtedly returned many times. He would have been greeted with a fanfare of dancing, whooping, and drumming in a well-watered and verdant landscape, fit for a formidable royal highness, negotiator of the amalgamation of over 30 individualistic tribes

This chosen topography had numerous streams coursing through wetlands with at least over 260 species of animalsnot including insects, just around the surviving Rock Creek Park alone.

A signed verdant but missing wooded view of the Capitol with James Creek in the foreground and the Capitol in the background where 70% of DC's streams have disappeared. Artistic photo by De Lancey Gill, Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Winged relatives would have been fluttering and sailing in the air and maneuvering through trees, males serenading mates, some before daybreak. Some of these birds would have been newly arrived flocks of songbirds from South America and the Caribbean. Carrier pigeons that would blacken the sky in 1607, had not yet been hunted into extinction. On the forest's floor, there would have had crawlers of various kinds, not all venomous, but like the box turtle or their swimming cousin laying on logs over similar smooth streams. One main creek, Wahunsenachawh's favorite, would have tumbled off a hill that rose up to portend the place for deliberation that he would make famous in his lifetime. We now call that locale Capitol Hill.

If this was his chosen time for the caucus during spring, the forest would have come alive with white and pink flowering Dogwoods, and red-violet Redbuds. Later, gigantic medicinal Catawba trees would have been covered with snowy white and purple blossoms. Equally tall Tulip Poplar with green-tinged blooms would later follow. Fauna would have abounded, both in the form of the four-legged herds of whitetail deer, the fat winged ones such as waterfowl, and the water's shad would make the Cohonkarutan boil on their way to spawning grounds near the fall line. This was the bounty on which his Indigenous band of Algonquians would also have feasted. Centuries later the lush hillock that he cherished would become the center of a new Nation's Capital.

Both the names Capitol and Tiber were imposed on the American landscape alluding to a Greco-Roman ideal by Euro-Americans, of duplicating Europe in the Americas, probably also the sentiment of French-loving Jefferson. Except for the African-inspired obelisk named the Washington Monument, governmental buildings are Neo-classical renderings of an ideal “New Roman Empire”. 

Laying out a city in the grid format is from one of the world’s oldest Central American civilization's achievements of Teotihuacan in ancient Mexico. However, newly arriving Europeans in the Americas, then ignorant of this hemisphere's antiquity, used a Eurocentric model, based on Africa’s ancient Egyptian metropolis’s concepts of city planning. The construction of a Federal City over the Powhatan Paramountcy was a typical custom of eradicating the “Savage Beuty” of the original landscape. 

However, how did Powhatan see his Amerindian domain?

A map of the four sources of the Goose or Tiber Creek which was near Wahunsenacawh’s Place of the Caucus, reveals a concept that is not alien to the Americas. Capitol Hill rose like a Maya pyramid mound, a possible auspicious location of Four Waters which flowed into the mighty Cohonkaruton or the English renamed “Patawomeck” River. This Eurocentric pension for renaming Indigenous place names added to the almost complete obliteration of the Amerindian landscape. One cannot overlook the spiritual references that the unspoiled topography of Washington DC had on the Dreamer, bringing a more profound understanding of why Wahunsenacawh favored this converging location within his Paramountcy. DC was indeed a perfect and auspicious location for an intertribal caucus.

"Just inside the Soldiers’ Home’s fence along Rock Creek Church Road, NW, one can still see the bricked channel of the Tiber’s headwaters." - Hidden Washington Tiber Creek


Many Powhatan people, as warriors, have fought in all of America’s wars since before the American Revolution. Some of them helped to build the major icons of The Nation’s Capital. In spite of Segregation and the 1924 Racial Integrity Act enacted to eradicate off-reservation  Indians, and, by extension, the DMV's remaining Indigenous descendants, the extended families have prospered. Some Native Americans from the Powhatan Paramountcy and affiliated tribes either remained poorly educated on tribal lands, built their own schools, or moved away to Oklahoma and other states to be educated, but returned to their tribal areas to become leaders.  

Some hid out in more prosperous Black or White communities, still retaining knowledge of or their ties to the land of their ancestors. By leaving the reservations their race was changed from "Indian" to "colored" or mulatto, a way of document genocide. Although many lost a lot of land to that and displacement, the Indigenous descendants of the DMV survived in a variety of rewarding professions. However, today, there is a resurgence among indigenous descendants of the Americas.

Joseph Mills (Pamunkey), did not become a stonemason or Area quarry miner as did some of his relatives. They quarried mines such as the one which is off Quarry Road in Lenair  Heights, DC where the National Zoo built the bear cages over thousand-year-old, ancient ancestral bluestone mines. Their labors produced stones for the DC canals, bridges, the interior of the Washington Monument, and the infamous spooky “Exorcist Steps" in Georgetown. Their mined stones built the floor and eves of the Capitol Rotunda which houses their ancestral cousin, Pocahontas’s Baptism. Joe went into businesses for himself, owning a laundromat in Southwest, DC, as well as a lucrative business in prized spirits on the side. Many of his customers were the DMV's wealthy and those in the legal establishment.

Above: (Top) A composite illustration of Joseph Mills (Pamunkey) as Wahunsenacawh, superimposed over a Powhatan Territorial map of the DMV’s 10-square-mile Federal City. An astute entrepreneur who had businesses in both Fairfax County and Southwest Washington, DC in one trade which he had learned on the Pamunkey Reservation. He also spoke Greek with Nick Chaconas, his partner during Prohibition, and was the father of 21 Washingtonians.

(Below) A collection of photographs of just a few Powhatan Paramountcy descendants, of which there are thousands, The photos cover from the late 1800s Pamunkey Reservation School and the the1907 "Pocahontas Pagent" reenactment to today's powwow participants at the bottom.

A photograph of the Powhatan Museum's powwow booth at the annual Chickahominy Festival & Powwow, Charles City, Virginia. This is an example of the continuation of the Powhatan Confederacy/Paramountcy's educational outreach. The wearable items and prints were designed by Rose Powhatan (Pamunkey/Tauxenent) and the author, provided educational information on the People of the First Encounter, the Taino (1492), and the Powhatan Paramountcy (1607}.


(1) Recent attempts on YouTube to restore some of the streams around DC's neighborhoods. See what downtown streets and buildings are covering up.

(2) The contemporary removal of controversial Confederate statues is but part two in the process of correcting historical mistakes. In 1958, Native Americans were the first to protest imagery which diminished their value as human beings. Offensive 1844 ant-Native American statues titled the "Discovery of America", and "The Rescue", were removed in 1958 by the actions of the National Congress of American Indians and individual activists, an Indigenous woman, Leta Myers Smart (Omaha} of Nebraska. American-born sculptor Horatio Greenough who created The Rescue wrote that the statue below was meant “to convey the idea of the triumph of the whites over the savage tribes."

Controversial dispariging Columbus statue titled "Discovery of America" showing a cowering Taino woman which was removed from the Capitol steps in 1958.

"The Rescue", an 1845 sculpture portraying that century's sentiment about the saving of America from the "savages" for the white man's civilizing purposes. No mention of the Amerindian Genocide was ever made.