Tomocomo

Powhatan Indian Counselor

 

 

Tomocomo  video Script


Wahunsenecah, Chief Powhatan

Wahunsonacock, Chief Powhatan photo 1607. A Nation Takes Root

Uttamatomakkin, also known as Tomocomo, was a priest-counselor to Chief Powhatan.

Matachanna, his wife, was Pocahontas’ half-sister.

Tomocomo’s homeland was Tsenacommacah — a territory in present-day Tidewater Virginia controlled by the Powhatan Chiefdom in the early 17th century when English colonists arrived. It encompassed about 100 miles inland from Cape Henry to the west and north and included the areas east of the fall line on the rivers emptying into the southern Chesapeake Bay.

Pocahontas

Pocahontas in English dress.

Chief Powhatan sent Tomocomo and his wife along with several other Indians to accompany Pocahontas and her husband, John Rolfe, on their visit to London in 1616 — with instructions to count the number of people in England and find out if Smith was alive. Other Indians had gone to England before — sometimes viewed as entertaining curiosities.

In the early 17th century, the population of London was somewhere between 250,000 and a half million (if surrounding areas are included) — far greater than that of Virginia, which was comprised of a few hundred English colonists at Jamestown and an Indian population of over 14,000.

In London, where the constant use of coal was widespread, there were tall buildings and other massive structures. A wide variety of people lived in and traveled through the port city, where everything from food to furniture was bought and sold.

Captain John Smith

Captain John Smith

Captain John Smith wrote of meeting Tomocomo in London where he reported they “renewed their acquaintance.”

The Reverend Samuel Purchas, a writer, described meeting Tomocomo at the home of his “good friend Master Doctor Goldstone, where he was a frequent guest… and heard him discourse of his country and religion.”

Pocahontas and Tomocomo may never have had a formal audience with King James; but it is believed that, in January of 1617, they were brought before him at the Banqueting House in Whitehall Palace in London.

When Tomocomo returned to Virginia later that year, he was said to have raged “against England, English people,” and the former lieutenant governor of Jamestown, Thomas Dale. When the colonists refuted his claims, the Indian leaders chose not to believe his tirades, and Tomocomo was disgraced.

In 1617 an epidemic of “bloody flux” struck both English and Indians in Virginia. Tomocomo may have been one of the carriers of the fever to the Indians when he returned from England.

Nothing is known of Tomocomo’s life after that time.