Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: Edy Turner’s Vocabulary of the Nottoway Language, 4 March 1820


Edy Turner’s Vocabulary of the Nottoway Language

Vocabulary of the language of the Nottoway Tribe of Indians,

obtained from an old Indian Woman of the name of Edie Turner,

the 4th of March 1820.

Of the Universe
1.  The Sun Aheeta
2. The Moon Tethrāke
3. The Stars Deeshū1
4. The Clouds Uraseque2
5. Thunder Hahenū
6. Lightning Towatgeheterise
7. Air Yautatch
8. God Quakerhuntè
9. Devil Otkum
10. Rain Yountoutch3
11. Snow Kankaus4
12. Ice Owees
13. Fire Auteur
14. Water Auwa
15. A River Joke
16. A great River Onoschioke
17. The Ocean Owan-Fetchota.5
18. A Mountain Yenun-Tenuntè
19. The Woods Ora-racoon6
20. Rocks Oruntag
21. Light Youhanhū
22. Darkness Asuntā
23. A Swamp Reenu
24. Sand Oter
25. Gold or Copper Geekquan
26. Silver Wanee
27. Iron Owena
28. Heaven Quakeruntika.
 Of the Human Species.
1. Man Enihā7
2. An old man Akuhor.
3. A young man Aquatio.
4. A boy Aqueianha
5. A woman Ekening.
6. An old woman Aquasquari
7. A young woman Chewasrisha
8. Death Anseehe
9. A dead body Wahehun
10. The head Setarakē8
11. Marriage Gotyāg9
12. A husband Gotyakum
13. A wife Dekes10
14. A son Wakatonta11
15. A daughter Eruhā12
16. A King Tirer
17. The belly Unkē13
18. My belly Setunke
19. Your belly Getunke
20. The hand or fingers Nunke14
21. My hand Sesnunke
22. Your hand Gesnunke
23. The right hand Panunkee
24. The left hand Matapanunkee
25. The thigh Otitchag
26. The knee Sunsheke
27. The leg Franseke
28. The foot Saseeke15
29. The hair Howerac
30. The eyes Unkoharac
31. The mouth Eskaharant
32. The ears Suntunke
33. The tongue Darsunke
34. The teeth Otosag
35. The neck Steereke
36. The nose Oteusag
37. The lips Oarāg
38. The chin Ochag
39. The toes Seeke
40. Blood Gātkūm
41. Skin Ohonag
42. Flesh Skeshunke
43. Nails Yetunke
44. Heart Sunke16
45. The cheeks Ekunsquare
46. The breath Untures
47. The Eye-brows Eskarunke
48. A Shoemaker Yuntaquaankum.
 Of Animals
1. A Cow Tosherung
2. A dog Cheer
3. A cat Tose
4. A hog Waskarrow
5. A boar Garhusung
6. A deer Aquia17
7. A mouse Rosquenna18
8. A rat Oyentu
9. A bull frog Drakon
10. Fish Kaintu
11. A Shad or Herring Rohan
12. An Eel Kunte
13. A crab Sosune
14. A snake Antatum
15. A bird Cheeta
16. A turkey Kunum
17. A Hen Tawrettig19
18. A Fox Skeyu
19. A Wolf Huse
20. A Squirrel Osarst
21. A Rabbit Querū
22. A house-fly Dēēsrere
23. A Bee Ronuquam
24. A Shell Odorsag
25. A Deer-skin Aquia-ohonag
26. A Wing Ohuwistāg
27. A Feather Awonkrāg
28. Wool Ostoharag
29. The tail Orwisag
30. Horns Osherāg
 The Vegetable Kingdom
1. A Tree Geree
2. A Pine Ohotee
3. A red oak Coree
4. A Cypress Rasso
5. Grass Oherag
6. Firewood Geka
7. Ashes Oquag
8. Bread Gotateru
9. Potatoes Anton
10. Peaches Rashēē
11. Cherries Ratung
12. Apples Quaharrag
13. Strawberries Weesrunt
14. Briars Oster
15. A leaf Oharrak
 Division of Time
1. A year Wokenhu
2. The new year Unksawa-Wokenhu
3. The new moon Dotratung
4. Spring Shantaroswache
5. Summer Genheke
6. Autumn Basheke
7. Winter Goshera
8. Morning Suntetung
9. Day-time Antyeke.
10. Mid-day Anteneekal
11. Evening Gensake
12 Night-time Asunta
 Domestic Articles
1. A House Onushag
2. The house of some individual.  Weynushag
3. A door Ototorag
4. A chimney Odeshag
5. A Knife Osakenta
6. A Stick Ocherura
7. A Gun Ata
8. A Bed Sattaak
9. Milk Canu
10. Spirits Anuqua
11. Clothes Aquast
12. Smoke Okyer
13. Shoes Otagwāg
14. Stockings Orisrāg
15. Leather Totierhiā
16. Linen Nikanrārā
17. Fat meat Oskaharag
18. Lean meat Oharag
19. A Fiddle Eruskarintita
20. A Bottle Chewak
21. Paper Orirag
1. White Owheryakun20
2. Black Gahuntee21
3. Red Ganuntquare
4. Green Sekatequantain
5. Long Ewis
6. Short Newisha
7. Great Tatchanawihiē
8. Little Newisha
9. Deep Tatchanuwiras
10. Sharp Watchoka
11. Round Tatowenonte.22
12. Smooth Chuwatee
13. Rough Genuaquast
14. Hard Wokoste
15. Strong Wakoste
16. Weak Genuheha
17. Dry Yourha
18. Wet Yaorā
19. Ugly Yesaxa
20. Beautifull Yesaquast
21. Good Waquast23
22. Bad Wassa
23. Hot Tariha
24. Cold Watorae
25. Angry Thatcharore
26. Happy Thatchanunte
27. Unhappy Dodoitchewakeraksa
28. Old Onahahe
29. Young Osae
1. One Unte24
2. Two Dekanee
3. Three Arsa
4. Four Hentag
5. Five Whisk
6. Six Oyag25
7. Seven Ohatag
8. Eight Dekra
9. Nine Deheerunk
10. Ten Washa
11. Eleven Unteskahr
12. Twelve Dekaneskahr
13. Thirteen Arsaskahr
14. Fourteen Hentagskahr
15. Fifteen Whiskahr
16. Sixteen Oyagskahr.
17. Seventeen Ohatagskahr
18. Eighteen Dekraskahr
19. Nineteen Deheerunkskahr
20. Twenty Dewartha-Unteskahr
21. Thirty Arseneewarsa
22. Forty Hentagneewarsa
23. Fifty Wiskaneewarsa
24. Sixty Oyagneewarsa
25. Seventy Getaganeewarsa
26. Eighty Dekraneewarsa
27. Ninety Deheerunkneewarsa
28. A Hundred Kaharsthree
29. A Thousand Unteyoasthree.
1. To walk
2. To ride Unksatā
3. To fly Getya
4. To swim Orerunte
5. To drink Ararher
6. To eat Untchore
7. To throw Esungwisatae
8. To cry Tehesuhand
9. To sleep Kentus
10. To fight Wauntrehu
11. To wound Yahterund
12. To kill Untatreeyou
13. To hear Thrahunta
14. To see Waskehee
15. To smell Saharantoo
16. To touch Swarore
17. To speak Wasweke
18. To hunt Kunun
19. To fish Watchunund
20. To love Tatchadanuste
21. To hate Dotautche
22. To pray Duntanharu
23. To stab Untequaru
24. To cut Untatren
25. To break Wayetcherorag
26. To drown Untoreesweg
27. To hang Waharee
28. To strike Untateuheerug
29. To shoot Untatehag
30. To listen Satuntatag
31. To wash Gakuhar
32. To run Sarioka
33. To leap Deuntirasrag.

MS (PPAmP); in the hand of Ellen W. Randolph (Coolidge); beneath title, in Peter S. Du Ponceau’s hand: “Communicated by Mr Jefferson”; numerous words translated in right margin by Du Ponceau into the Choctaw, Delaware, Naudowessie, Onondaga, Tuscarora, and Wyandot languages, with only those not included in the enclosure to his letter to TJ of 13 July 1820 noted below. Text bound with short works by John Heckewelder and Christian F. Kampman and also a newspaper clipping, apparently from the Petersburg Intelligencer, dated 17 Mar. [1820] and entitled “THE NOTTOWAY INDIANS,” which reads “The only remains in the state of Virginia, of the formidable tribes which once composed the Powhatan confederacy, are the Pamunkeys and Nottoways with a few Mottoponies. The Nottoway Indians in number about twenty seven, including men, women and children, occupy a tract of seven thousand acres of excellent land upon the west side of Nottoway river, two miles from Jerusalem, in the county of Southampton. The principal character among them is a woman, who is styled their Queen. Her name is Edie Turner. She is nearly sixty years of age, and extremely intelligent, for although illiterate, she converses and communicates her ideas with greater facility and perspicuity than women among the lower orders in society. She has a comfortable cottage well furnished, several horses and cows, and keeps her portion of the settlement in a good state of cultivation. The ancient Nottoway or Powhatan language is only known to the queen and two other old Indians. This language is evidently of Celtic origin; and appears equally harmonious and expressive as either the Erse, Irish, or Welch. It has two genders, masculine and feminine; three degrees of comparison, and two articles; but the verbs are extremely irregular.”

Edy (Edie, Edith) Turner (also known as Wané Roonseraw) (ca. 1754–1838), leader of a dwindling group of residents on the reservation of the Nottoway Indians, was apparently a lifelong resident of Southampton County. She was described in 1808 as possessing a farm of thirty-four acres and being employed at “knitting, sewing and what is usual in common housewifery.” Turner signed petitions to the Virginia General Assembly on behalf of her tribe, succeeded in obtaining title in her own right to part of the reservation in 1830, and provided information to a number of visitors about Nottoway language and culture. She owned one slave in 1830 and was the only Nottoway of her time to leave a will (Helen C. Rountree, “Edy Turner: The Nottoway Indians’ ‘Female Chief,’” in Cynthia A. Kierner and Sandra Gioia Treadway, eds., Virginia Women: Their Lives and Times [2015–16], 1:244–59; Nottoway Indian Trustees to William H. Cabell, 18 July 1808 [Vi: RG 3, Governor’s Office, Executive Papers]; petitions by Nottoway Indians, 16 Dec. 1818, 11 Dec. 1821 [Vi: RG 78, Legislative Petitions, Southampton Co.]; Gentleman’s Magazine: and Historical Chronicle 91 [1821]: 505–6; DNA: RG 29, CS, Southampton Co., 1830; Southampton Co. Will Book, 12:106–7).

1Du Ponceau here added “Del. Gischuh. Wyand. Tisuh (Moon).”

2Du Ponceau here added “Wyand: Teeshoo (Stars) Bart. App. 20” (Benjamin Smith Barton, New Views of the Origin of the Tribes and Nations of America [Philadelphia, 1798], appendix, p. 20).

3Du Ponceau here added “Tusc: Untuch.”

4Du Ponceau here added “Tusc: Acaunque.”

5Du Ponceau here added “Ganiatáre.”

6Du Ponceau here added “Onond. Garonta, a wood.”

7Du Ponceau here added “Onond. Etschinak.”

8Du Ponceau here added “Anúwara.”

9Next to this and following line Du Ponceau added “Tusc. Kateeouké, Wife.”

10Du Ponceau here added “Chok: Tike.”

11Du Ponceau here added “Onond. Hahawak.”

12Du Ponceau here added “Onon. Echròyehawak.”

13Du Ponceau here added “O. Otquænta Tuscar. Ootqueh.”

14Du Ponceau here added (superfluous closing parenthesis after “hand” editorially omitted) “O. Eniáge (hand or finger).”

15Du Ponceau here added “O. Ochsitage.”

16Du Ponceau here added “Aweriáchsa.”

17Du Ponceau here added “Scænónto.”

18Du Ponceau here added “Zinówa.”

19Du Ponceau here added “Gitgit.”

20Above this word Du Ponceau added “Onond: Orhestoku.”

21Du Ponceau here added “On: Jahūntschi.”

22Du Ponceau here added “On: Tiodwenóni.”

23Du Ponceau here added “Naud. Washtaw.”

24Du Ponceau here added “Naudow. Wonchaw.”

25Du Ponceau here added “Tusc: Houeyoc. Bart. lxvii.”

Index Entries

  • Barton, Benjamin Smith; New Views of the Origin of the Tribes and Nations of America search
  • cattle; mentioned search
  • Choctaw Indians search
  • Coolidge, Ellen Wayles Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); as TJ’s amanuensis search
  • Delaware Indians search
  • Erse language search
  • Heckewelder, John; and Indians search
  • horses; mentioned search
  • Indians, American; Choctaw search
  • Indians, American; Delaware search
  • Indians, American; in Va. search
  • Indians, American; languages search
  • Indians, American; Mattaponi search
  • Indians, American; Naudowessie search
  • Indians, American; Nottoway search
  • Indians, American; Onondaga search
  • Indians, American; Pamunkey search
  • Indians, American; Powhatan search
  • Indians, American; Tuscarora search
  • Indians, American; Wyandot search
  • Irish language search
  • Kampman, Christian Frederick search
  • language; Erse search
  • language; Indian (American) search
  • language; Irish search
  • language; Welsh search
  • Mattaponi Indians search
  • Naudowessie Indians search
  • New Views of the Origin of the Tribes and Nations of America (B. S. Barton) search
  • Nottoway Indians search
  • Onondaga Indians search
  • Pamunkey Indians search
  • Powhatan Indians search
  • Turner, Edy (Edie; Edith; Wané Rooseraw); identified search
  • Turner, Edy (Edie; Edith; Wané Rooseraw); Vocabulary of the Nottoway Language search
  • Tuscarora Indians search
  • Virginia; Indians in search
  • Welsh language search
  • women; documents by; E. Turner search
  • Wyandot Indians search