The English colonists had never laid eyes on a raccoon before coming to the New World, so they adopted the local Virginia Indian word for the animal. Smith’s account is of the robe worn by Chief Powhatan during one of their meetings. Today raccoons are frequently seen on the island drive, especially in the early evening hours. The bones of raccoons that had been processed for food are commonly found in James Fort-period trash deposits. Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists also discovered the skull of an aged raccoon with an intense wear pattern on the teeth. Could this raccoon have been kept as a pet? In the wild, raccoons typically don’t live long enough to develop this kind of tooth wear pattern.
“Before a fire upon a seat like a bedsted, he sat covered with a great robe, made of Rarowcun skinnes, and all the tayles hanging by.”
-Captain John Smith, speaking of Chief Powhatan