What is WEYANOKE?

In 1619, one year before the Mayflower landed, about 20 Africans from Angola traveling aboard a Spanish ship were captured by a privateer, either a  Dutch ship or an English ship flying a  Dutch flag. When the pirates ran out of food they stopped at Pt. Comfort, now Ft. Monroe ("Freedom's Fort") in Hampton, Virginia, then sailed up what is now the James River. The pirates sold the Africans into indentured servitude to Jamestown's Governor Yeardley, in exchange for food and water. 

Knowing that he was acting against regulations forbidding trafficking with pirates, Yeardley hid the Africans away on his tobacco plantation across the Chickahominy River at Weyanoke, a few miles from where the Weyanoke Indians lived in what is now Charles City County, Virginia. "Weyanoke," in the Algonquin-related language of the Weyanokes, meant "sassafras," and referred to a tree commonly found in the area. The root of the sassafras tree was (and still is) used to make a deliciously aromatic tea with medicinal properties. Sassafras was the Jamestown settlers' first cash crop, and was marketed in Europe as a cure-all.

Thus was formed, at Weyanoke, the first African community in an English-speaking colony in North America. While these were not the first Africans in the colony, they are the first now known to have lived together in a community.

Weyanoke. Where the transition from "African" to "African American" began.