We can credit the Powhatan and other Native American groups with some common words in English. When the colonists arrived on the East Coast, they encountered many new things, particularly plants, animals, and foods. Those native words were soon absorbed into English. Here are some well-known words from the Powhatan, who spoke Virginia Algonquian.
|opossum||apasum||white dog-like animal|
|tuckahoe||tockawhoughe||reduced to flour|
|wampum||wampumpeag||white string of beads|
The Powhatan's language died out around 1785, and most of the many Eastern Algonquian languages are extinct today. But every time we eat pecan pie or see a raccoon scamper in our yards, we have the original Virginians to thank.
—Taryn L. Salinas