This portion of an engraving by Theodor de Bry depicts a 16th century Algoniquian man in what would later become North Carolina. Image/The Museum of the Southeast American Indians.

By: Zachary C. Young, Editor-in-Chief

The newest exhibit showcased at the Museum of the Southeast American Indian is the “Wuskitahkamik Miyai: Intersection of Worlds.” This exhibit features original 16th century engravings by Thedor de Bry that were created based on watercolors by John White and portray indigenous Algonquian people during first contact with Europeans as they began to settle America.

John White recorded what he saw and learned during his time while the first colonies were being established. White took this information back to England when he returned to get supplies for the colonies. White’s work was published in German, Latin and Spanish.

The engravings are part of the Michael N. Joyner Collection at the Ackland Art Museum at UNC-Chapel Hill and have been loaned to the Museum of the Southeast American Indian.

Nancy Fields, the Curator and Director for the Museum of the Southeast American Indian, appreciates that the exhibit is being held here at UNCP.

“This exhibit includes engravings that illustrate the first images of Native people ever seen by the outside world. Each engraving is over 400 years old,” Fields said.

This is significant in terms of self-determination and representation, both of which are issues that Indigenous communities work tirelessly to address.

“The Museum of the Southeast American Indian is the first American Indian Museum to exhibit this collection and interpret the engravings from a Native point of view. We are not only exploring the images of Native peoples but looking deeper to understand their views and opinions about the colony,” Fields said.

Tyler Karpovich, Collections Specialist for the Museum of the Southeast American Indian, said this exhibit being showcased at UNCP is significant for the Indigenous communities in the region.

“We are trying to juxtapose the images of the Lost Colony and first contact with Hamilton McMillan’s Lost Colony theory,” Karpovich said.

Fields wrote of the connection between this exhibit and the Lost Colony of Roanoke as well, saying John White was the governor of that colony.

“These were the people who were teaching the colonist how to live in the area. These were the people the colonist were forging relationships with. You can see the humanity in the engravings,” said Fields. “When you view the exhibit, you are peering into a window of time not long before the colony disappeared.”

The Lost Colony of Roanoke is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in American history.

John White left the inhabitants of the colony to obtain supplies from England. When White returned there were no signs of the colony he left behind, only the words “CROATOAN” and “CRO” carved in wood.

White believed his colony to have relocated with the Croatoan tribe, but there has never been definitive proof to support this theory.

The exhibit opened on Feb. 14
and will be on display until May 14. The Museum of the Southeast American Indian is located on the first floor of Old Main and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.