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Manteo sketch

In the waning days of summer, it is a treat to have time to explore some old American towns, including ones I’ve seen before but now yielding new perspectives.  From the waterfront in the small town of Manteo, North Carolina, for instance, it’s impossible to miss the colorful sailing ship just across the water. Today, while enjoying the breezes blowing through a large gazebo right on the water, it was possible to sketch and paint while watching boats come and go through the inlet of Shallowbag Bay.

More than four hundred years ago, a fleet of such colorful sailing ships arrived near this very spot. The “Elizabeth II” is a replica of Sir Walter Raleigh’s flagship in the fleet of seven under his command when he brought colonists in 1584 to settle in the region of Virginia.  The colonists ended up (at least with respect to the known settlement) going no further than Roanoke Island, where Manteo is located.  Already living here at that time, of course, were native American Indians, namely the Croatan tribe believed to be part of the larger Carolina Algonquian tribe.

Illustration:  Watercolor and waterproof ink by Black Elephant Blog author

Illustration: Watercolor and waterproof ink by Black Elephant Blog author

In Sir Walter Raleigh’s first group of colonists was an artist, John White (who later became the new colony’s governor), who recorded scenes of native American life in watercolors.  White’s watercolors, now in the British Museum, were the first visual record the British people received of the people, customs, and the flora and fauna of the newly discovered land.  What happened next is both better known and unknown;  White returned to England to get help for the new colony and the colonists who remained behind, including his daughter and infant granddaughter, faced an uncertain future.  They were never seen again by Europeans, leading to the story of the “Lost Colony” and a mystery which remains unsolved today.  Recent discoveries suggest, however, that the colonists may have divided into two groups and assimilated into friendly native Indian tribes in areas beyond Roanoke Island where they had first landed.

Discoveries, encounters, blending, observations, perspectives, and “lost colonies”–all topics to be returned to this fall when this blog resumes its original ‘focus’ (as per the “About” page!)  about challenges involved in adapting to new circumstances.

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