Monday, June 27, 2016

Writing "Alsoomse and Wanchese" -- The Lake That Had Been a Fire
Three months ago (March 2016) I decided that my novel needed a hostile confrontation between hunters of the central Pamlico Sound Algonquian mamanatowick Wingina and those of the upstart weroance of Pomeiooc village, Piemacum, that would worsen relations between the two feuding leaders.  In the novel I have had Wingina the master of these central North Carolina coastal villages -- Roanoke, Dasemunkepeuc, Croatoan, Pomeiooc, Aquascogooc, and Secotan – since 1579  (See map:  This confrontation is to take place in February 1584.  Food is scarce; villagers subsist now almost entirely on fish and what can be shot with bow and arrow. A large-scale hunt must be conducted in areas not regularly visited, areas where game has not been overhunted.
Wingina had chosen to split the hunters of the two villages into two groups.
The Dasemunkepeuc group would paddle into the Great Waters [Albemarle Sound], pass through the narrow entrance [south of Haulover Point] into the Large Lake [East Lake], travel beyond where they had hunted during the First Cohonk Moon, and select one of the marshy peninsulas bordering the Twisted Waters’s [South Lake’s] six prongs.
The Roanoke group, eschewing Dasemunkepeuc’s two nearby lengthy creeks [Spencer and Callaghan Creeks] – would  travel a half day (south) along the marshy coastline to the farthest place where Dasemunkepeuc and Roanoke braves hunted, a  mostly fresh water lake a short distance inland from a narrow shoreline of sawgrass, giant cordgrass, and infrequent red cedar. Tales passed down many generations told of a great fire here [Stumpy Point Bay] that had burned below the ground for two moons before the gods of fire and water had intervened and filled the exposed, smoldering hole with underground water.
Deer and bear were plentiful; but hunting them here would be risky; the Pomeiooc hunted here also.  The Lake That Had Been a Fire was somewhat closer in distance to Dasemunkepeuc than to Pomeiooc.  Not until Piemacum’s recent assertion of power had mutual use of the lake been a difficulty. 
I needed to do two months of research to determine the location of this necessary, conflict-generating confrontation for two reasons.
First, the location had to be in disputed territory somewhere between Pomeiooc and Dasemunkepeuc.  Most of the Pamlico Sound mainland is impenetrable swamp and pocosin wetland.  Fresh water for deer is plentiful enough in the interior but reaching it and, more especially, removing slain deer to canoes left at the Pamlico Sound shoreline  would have been extremely difficult.  I needed to find navigable streams originating far enough in the interior where water would be fresh.  Searching a coastal map, I found no such streams emptying into Pamlico Sound until I reached Pomeiooc-controlled territory. 
Second, I found no freshwater ponds or lakes near the salt or brackish marsh coastline.  Here is a picture of a salt marsh.  (  And here a brackish marsh.  ( 
To stage a confrontation somewhere along this coastline, I realized that I needed to learn much more about these marshes than I knew. 

For instance: the lower the marsh, the longer the surface is immersed in tidal waters. Low marshes in North Carolina are dominated by smooth cord grass (Spartina alteriflora). These plants form a monoculture in the areas of the marsh that are regularly flooded by salt water. They have salt glands on their stems that excrete salt. Areas slightly higher in the marsh are dominated by the species black needle rush (Juncus roemarianus).  Here is a picture containing both smooth cord grass and the black needle rush.  ( 

Note that the salt marsh cord grass in the picture is close to the water both in the foreground and background. The black needle rush does not appear in the foreground at all, but occupies a zone landward of the cord grass in the marsh in the background. As is probably obvious, the landward portion of the marsh surface is flooded less regularly than the creekside portion. The creek floods out of its banks with each high tide, but it floods deeply enough to immerse the black needle rush zone only a few times each month.

These plants have a very high tolerance for salinity variation. In the high marsh, the salt content of the soil goes up when freshwater evaporates on hot, dry days. As a result, the soil salinity may be more than double that of nearby estuarine water. When it rains, the soil salinity drops rapidly, sometimes to levels near fresh water.

Black needle rush can cover large areas in coastal salt and brackish tidal marshes, and is easily recognizable by its characteristic grayish-green to blackish hues. Its "stem tips" are very sharp pointed and stout. "Stems" in this species are actually leaves that are rounded so tightly that they appear to be very sharp-pointed stems.   Another picture:

Picture of a brackish marsh:

During my research, hoping to find a freshwater source close to the shoreline of Pamlico Sound somewhere between the Algonquian villages Dasemunkepeuc and Pomeiooc, I came upon an article about a once coastal lake formed, possibly, by a forest fire or set deliberately by natives years before 1584, the lake eventually becoming a part of Stumpy Point Bay.  The lake existed as late as the 1700s.  Here is Stumpy Point Bay on a map.  ( 

According to Harold Lee Wise in his book History of Stumpy Point, “John White’s maps of circa 1585 show no indications of Native American settlements there. Still, there is no doubt that Indians, perhaps in their fishing endeavors, were the first to discover the place now called Stumpy Point. The land was part of the Chiefdom of Secotan when Englishmen came to the area in the late 1500s.  At the time, Stumpy Point Bay was not a bay; rather, it was a lake. On a 1733 map drawn by Edward Moseley, an enclosed body of water labeled Stumpy Point Lake appears. The same name is on another map drawn in 1770; however, by that time, there is a small inlet connecting the lake with the sound, creating a bay.  Here is the 1733 map.  (,+nc,+map&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwip9LOMpr_NAhVB2WMKHVdMDOoQ7AkIOQ&biw=1024&bih=694#imgrc=lB8DU6zvX-5lTM%3A)

“A legend arose about the creation of the bay involving the Indians. Lucy Best, a Hyde County native who moved to Stumpy Point in 1903, remembered an old tale passed down to her from previous generations.  … ‘Now all this happened before I ever came to Stumpy Point but they told me that the Indians ... burned out the lake and it took thirteen moons. I don’t guess they knew what dates there was so they counted moons. I don’t know whether it was new moons, full moons or what. But that was the way the lake got burned out. They said it took thirteen moons to burn it out.’

“It may never be known if there is any truth to this old story. Most likely, it is a Native American legend dating far back in their folklore. Indians told a similar ‘burning out’ story about Mattamuskeet Lake. There is a chance it could be based on fact. Because the soil around the area contains peat, lingering ground fires are a big problem for firefighters whenever the forest burns. It is not hard to imagine peat-filled ground smoldering for months and eventually burning completely away enough that water covers the ground enough to create a lake.”

Eventually, the lake became part of Stumpy Point Bay.

In May 2012, a huge fire consumed thousands of acres of mainland vegetation south of Stumpy Point Bay, precisely what Mr. Wise imagined.  Here is a picture and a map of the area of destruction.  (

Salt and brackish marshlands eventually become estuarine shrub/scrub land, which can be defined as any shrub/scrub-dominated community subject to occasional flooding by tides, including wind tides.  Wax myrtle and eastern red cedar predominate.  Downy serviceberry is also present.

(  Here you see black needle rush along the water’s edge along with a new plant, the freshwater sawgrass (cladium jamaicense) growing landward of it. In the background, you see red cedars growing naturally between the freshwater marsh and the pine forest in the background. In this area the water contains salt only on unusually high tides or when strong onshore winds blow up the estuary. The water here is still affected by the tides. On rising tides river and stream water gets deeper, although most of the time it remains fresh.
Fresh water marshes are found farther inland.  They are grassy areas flooded for extended periods during the growing season.  Included are marshes associated with lakes, managed impoundments, some Carolina Bays, and other non-tidal marshes.  Vegetation consists of sedges, millets, rushes, grasses, giant cane, cattail, arrowhead, pickerelweed, arrow arum, and smartweed.  Picture:
In Alsoomse and Wanchese I have made the eastern shore of the “lake that had been a fire” (not yet a part of Stumpy Point Bay) a salt marsh.  The western shoreline of the lake shares the characteristics of a brackish marsh, a shrub/scrub semi-marsh, and a fresh water marsh.  Here are some excerpts that utilize marsh information.
It was mid-afternoon when the occupants of the three canoes, rounding the inward-curving mainland, took their first look at their desired landfall. Wanchese, in the third canoe, scanned the shoreline of tall cordgrass and black needle rush, which they would have to enter, and saw no indication of human activity.  Intent upon the vegetation, he did not see immediately, as Taraquine did, the irregular column of gray smoke rising lazily from somewhere behind the hidden lake.
Taraquine’s curse enlarged his vision.
Pomeiooc women were cooking. That meant their men had already killed game. How many sleeps had they been hunting? How much longer would they remain?
They had pushed their way through thick cordgrass to feel beneath their feet mucky ground.  Fairly quickly, at the corner of the lake, far enough away from the ocean water, the salt marsh became wet clay with needle rush and then saturated, peaty soil, hosting sedges, pickerelweed, and arrow arum interspersed with serviceberry, red cedar, and wax myrtle.  A bit farther ashore, where fresh water from underground sources fed into the lake, they had come upon the same brushwood and depressions filled with tall cattails. 
To approach their site, the Pomeiooc would have to travel the ocean facing side of the lake’s shoreline through cordgrass and needle rush or choose the easier way, the mainland side, circumventing more conveniently the flesh-slicing needle rush and colonies of sawgrass.  The women, the two boys, and Huritt’s party were now searching for fuel for the fire. Tanaquincy had gathered the remaining men about him.  Who would wade across the lake to try to locate in the ocean-facing cordgrass the Pomeiooc canoes?
The fire, begun during the night, had burned in daylight long enough, in Tanaquincy’s judgment, to alert the Pomeiooc across the lake. Tanaquincy’s group, Huritt’s group, and Taraquine and Tihkoosue from Wanchese’s group had retired into the serviceberry and wax myrtle – the women farther removed – to wait. Wanchese and Machk had kept expanding the breadth of the raft that Tanaquincy, Cossine, Mingan, Wanchese, Machk, and Taraquine had constructed during much of the night.  … Machk and he had laid another relatively straight red cedar limb next to the branches that had already been tied together. Both he and Machk heard simultaneously the sound of wax myrtle branches pushed against and snapped back. They rose instantly from their crouch.
            A voice beyond the wax myrtle reached them. “There are three of us. We come to talk. May we approach?”
Pictures: (a maritime shrub swamp dominated by wax myrtle (Morella cerifera ) and saltmeadow cordgrass (Spartina patens)
Downy Serviceberry:
Arrow Arum:

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Frederick Douglass -- Anger and Despair
There was a lot of life, rough and immediate, in Fells Point.  All too often, the two constables were called to log in another body fished up from under one of the wharves, and the night watchman had to be eluded as he patrolled the docks.  Boys trailed along after seamen just come ashore, trying to catch some of their swaggering worldliness.  As Frederick grew, he began to do more than just watch.  Sixty years later, he wrote to Benjamin Auld, Tommy’s younger brother, reminiscing about Sundays spent with the “Point boys” fighting at the old drawbridge with the “Town boys” who had come over to try for their share of the excitement on the docks.  He was, he admitted, “sorry to say” that he “was often … as bad as the worst.”
            If there was any democracy in Maryland in the 1830s, it existed down the Fells Point alleys and behind the wall of Durgin and Bailey’s shipyard.  There a ragtag band of little boys were about the deadly serious business of playing.  No one had yet succeeded in teaching them that color or status had anything to do with who should be hunkering down with whom on curbstones of cellar doors or behind the shipyard.  The boys talked about everything and anything, including what they would be when they grew up.  Frederick reminded some that while they would be free at twenty-one, when they reached their majority, he would not.  They could not see that this made sense, and said so.  “I do not remember ever to have met with a boy, while I was in slavery, who defended the slave system” (McFeely 33-34).
One day, before the end of the school term, several of Frederick’s friends began to talk about sections of speeches they had had to memorize from a book of oratory.  No doubt Frederick was amused by his friends’ comic renderings, but he insisted upon learning the title of the anthology.  With fifty cents, money he had managed to save, he bought from a neighborhood bookstore his own copy of The Columbian Orator.
            Alone, behind the shipyard wall, Frederick Bailey read aloud.  Laboriously, studiously, at first, then fluently, melodically, he recited great speeches.  With The Columbian Orator in his hand, with the words of the great speakers of the past coming from his mouth, he was rehearsing.  He was reading the sound—and meanings—of words of his own that he would one day speak.  He had the whole world before him.  He was Cato before the Roman senate, Pitt before Parliament defending American liberty, Sheridan arguing for Catholic emancipation, Washington bidding his officers farewell.  These were men whose words surely were actions, and the virtues they extolled had a reach so broad that a Baltimore slave boy could include himself with their range.  The Columbian Orator was a book of liberties, of men exhorting mankind to a sense of higher callings … (McFeely 34-35).
            Among much of other interesting matter, I found in it a dialogue between a master and his slave.  The slave was represented as having run away from his master three times.  The dialogue between them occurred when the slave was retaken the third time.  In this dialogue, the whole argument in behalf of slavery was brought forward by the master, all of which was disposed of by the slave.  The slave was made to say some very smart as well as impressive things in replay to his master—things which had the desired though unexpected effect, … the voluntary emancipation of the slave on the part of the master.
            … The readings of these documents enabled me to utter my thoughts, and to meet the arguments brought forward to sustain slavery; but while they relieved me of one difficulty, they brought on another even more painful than the one of which I was relieved.  The more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers.  I could regard them in no other light than a band of successful robbers, who had left their homes, and gone to Africa, and stolen us from our homes, and in a strange land reduced us to slavery.  I loathed them as being the meanest as well as the most wicked of men.  As I read and contemplated the subject, behold! That very discontentment which Master Hugh had predicted would follow my learning to read had already come to torment and sting my soul to unutterable anguish.  … It had given me a view of my wretched condition, with the remedy.  It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out.  In moments of agony, I envied my fellow-slaves for their stupidity.
            I often found myself regretting my own existence and wishing myself dead; and but for the hope of being free, I have no doubt but that I should have killed myself, or done something for which I should have been killed (Douglass 54, 55, 56).
In Baltimore, as he had earlier on the Lloyd plantation, Frederick witnessed first hand the wretched condition of his people.  Frequently from the docks he had seen groups of despondent slaves, shackled together, herded like animals onto sailing ships, their destination the Southern markets and a harsh, brief existence on the large plantations in Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana.  For Frederick, escape from slavery seemed possible; for them it would never be.
In comparison to them, and to his brothers and sisters, he had been fortunate.  He was much better fed and clothed; he had freedom of movement in the streets of the city which afforded him unending learning experiences.  “There is a vestige of decency, a sense of shame, that does much to curb and check those outbreaks of atrocious cruelty so commonly enacted upon the plantation,” he wrote years later.  The city slave owner, Frederick concluded, did not want the reputation of being a cruel master, above all else, a master who deprived his chattel food.  But there were exceptions.  Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton, who lived directly across the street from the Aulds, were an example.
            He owned two slaves.  Their names were Henrietta and Mary.  Henrietta was about twenty-two years of age.  Mary was about fourteen; and of all the mangled and emaciated creatures I ever looked upon, these two were the most so.  His heart must be harder than stone, that could look upon these unmoved.  The head, neck, and shoulders of Mary were literally cut to pieces.  I have frequently felt her head, and found it nearly covered with festering sores, caused by the lash of her cruel mistress.  … I used to be in Mr. Hamilton’s house nearly every day.  Mrs. Hamilton used to sit in a large chair in the middle of the room, with a heavy cowskin always by her side, and scarce an hour passed during the day but was marked by the blood of one of the slaves.  The girls seldom passed her without her saying, “Move faster, you black gip!” at the same time giving them a blow with the cowskin over the head or shoulders, often drawing the blood.  … Added to the cruel lashings to which these slaves were subjected, they were kept nearly half-starved.  They seldom knew what it was to eat a full meal.  I have seen Mary contending with the pigs for the offal thrown into the street (Douglass 50-51).
The fact that his life was better now than most every slave he had ever met did not ease his growing anger and despair.  The thought of escape from bondage was the antidote.  Such thoughts, however, gave him little comfort.
In 1831 he read from a discarded newspaper about the unsuccessful slave insurrection of Nat Turner in Virginia and of the slave owner hysteria that it caused.  From other newspapers and from conversations with other blacks -- some slaves, others free -- he learned about abolitionists, men who lived in the northern states and who demanded the end of slavery.  Their existence may have comforted him somewhat, but he knew that unless he acted upon his condition himself he would remain a slave, with or without them.  If he ever were to become a free man, he would have to leave Baltimore a fugitive; but without a specific plan and without a specific destination, he knew that he would eventually be caught.  Indeed Master Hugh’s words had been prophetic.  He was discontented; he was unhappy.  Despite the existence of abolitionists, despite his own unformed notions of escape, in his deepest despair he believed he would be a slave for life.
Works Cited:
Douglass, Frederick.  Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.  New York, Penguin Books USA inc., 1968.  Print.
McFeely, William S.  Frederick Douglass.  New York, W. W. Norton & Company, 1991.  Print.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Frederick Douglass -- Learning to Read
Sophia Auld continued the reading lessons.  She taught Fredrick the alphabet.  After he had learned the letters, she taught him to spell words of three or four letters.  “Without knowing exactly what she was doing, Sophia Auld began the end of slavery for this particular slave.
Proud of her accomplishment, Sophia called on Frederick to show her husband what he had learned.  To her dismay and, indelibly, to Douglass’s, Hugh Auld was not delighted with the boy’s display of intellectual promise.  He understood, if his wife did not, just what a dangerous pursuit she had been engaged in, and exploded with what Douglass shrewdly called “the first … antislavery lecture to which it had been my lot to listen.”  As Douglass recalled it, Auld said, “If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell”; “he should know nothing but the will of his master, and learn to obey it.” “Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world”; ”if you teach that nigger … how to read the bible, there will be no keeping him”; “it would forever unfit him for the duties of a slave”; and “… learning would do him no good, but probably, a great deal of harm—making him disconsolate and unhappy.”  “If you learn him how to read, he’ll want to know how to write; and, this accomplished, he’ll be running away with himself” (McFeely 30-31).
These words sank deep into my heart, stirred up sentiments within that lay slumbering, and called into existence an entirely new train of thought.    From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom.  It was just what I wanted, and I got it at a time when I the least expected it.    I was saddened by the thought of losing the aid of my kind mistress …  Though conscious of the difficulty of learning without a teacher, I set out with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost of trouble, to learn how to read.  The very decided manner with which he spoke, and strove to impress his wife with the evil consequences of giving me instruction, served to convince me that he was deeply sensible of the truths he was uttering.    That which to him was a great evil, to be carefully shunned, was to me a great good, to be diligently sought; and the argument which he so warmly urged, against my learning to read only served to inspire me with a desire and determination to learn.  In learning to read, I owe almost as much to the bitter opposition of my master, as to the kindly aid of my mistress (Douglass 49-50).
Frederick’s self-taught education began when he acquired a used Webster’s spelling book from a pile of trash in an alley he used on his way home on an errand to a grocery store.  Previously, he had noticed that the men who built the ships at the nearby shipyard placed letters on certain boards, and those boards were always carried to specific places on the ship.  Boards marked “L.F.” went to the left and front of the ship.  Boards marked “S.F.” went to the right (starboard) and front of the ship.  Boards marked “L.A.” and “S.A.” went to the left and right rear (aft) of the ship.  Those letters he recognized now in the spelling book.  Soon he knew the entire alphabet from memory.  He knew that letters combined in different ways spelling words, but matching those combinations to words that people spoke was his greatest problem.  He solved the problem by enlisting the help of his young street friends.
The plan which I adopted and the one by which I was most successful, was that of making friends of all the little white boys whom I met in the street.  As many of these as I could, I converted into teachers.  With their kindly aid, obtained at different times and in different places, I finally succeeded in learning to read.  When I was sent on errands, I always took my book with me, and by doing one part of my errand quickly, I found time to get a lesson before my return.  I used also to carry bread with me, enough of which was always in the house, and to which I was always welcome; for I was much better off in this regard than many of the poor white children in our neighborhood.  This bread I used to bestow upon the hungry little urchins, who, in return, would give me that more valuable bread of knowledge (Douglass 53-54).
With bribery and trickery, Frederick eventually learned to pronounce written words by rote memory and by the combined of letters.
Often he would confront the younger boys on their way home from school with direct questions.
“What did you study today?  Where is that in my book?  Read it out loud.”  Then he might reward them with bread.
On other occasions he would use subterfuge.  “Do you see this word?  It’s a big word, isn’t it?  I bet you don’t know it.”
At the age of twelve he was reading newspapers.
Discarded newspapers were always available for his use in this important port city.  At times he would smuggle them into the Auld house to read surreptitiously, and, occasionally, he was discovered.
By this time Sophia Auld’s natural kindness had been replaced by “tiger-like fierceness.”
The first step in her downward course was in her ceasing to instruct me.  She now commenced to practice her husband’s precepts.  She finally became even more violent in her opposition than her husband himself.  She was not satisfied with simply doing as well as he had commanded; she seemed anxious to do better.  Nothing seemed to make her more angry than to see me with a newspaper.  She seemed to think here lay the danger.  I have had her rush at me with a face made all up of fury, and snatch from me a newspaper, in a manner that fully revealed her apprehension.  She was an apt woman; and a little experience soon demonstrated, to her satisfaction, that education and slavery were incompatible with each other.
From this time I was most narrowly watched.  If I was in a separate room any considerable length of time, I was sure to be suspected of having a book, and was at once called to give an account of myself.  All this, however, was too late (Douglass 53).
Works Cited:
Douglass, Frederick.  Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.  New York, Penguin Books USA inc., 1968.  Print.
McFeely, William S.  Frederick Douglass.  New York, W. W. Norton & Company, 1991.  Print.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Writing "Alsoomse and Wanchese" -- Research While Writing
Despite all the many months of research that I did to learn the history of the settlement of Roanoke colony 1584-1590, the culture of the Algonquian natives, and the geography, vegetation, birds, animals, and fish of the area prior to my writing the first chapter of this novel, I found it necessary to stop at certain places in my subsequent narration to research specific information that directly related to particular events.  Here are two examples.
Treating a Particular Arrow Wound
Their immediate reaction was to duck and crouch. Wanchese heard before he saw that Rakiok had been hit. The left thigh. He was lying-half sitting on his right hip bone, right palm partially supporting his weight, his right leg bent underneath his left. The arrowhead had passed entirely through! The shaft was visible front and back!
The conjuror, naked except for the fold of rabbit skin hung from his waist band and the tobacco bag hung over his right hip, stood. Without explanation he disappeared behind the weroance’s longhouse.
“He will grind the roots of cattails into a salve.” Mesickek engaged Rakiock’s eyes. “You are fortunate the arrow did not strike your bone. He has removed such arrows as yours. You will survive. …”
I had to research the removal of arrows from body parts to write this and the scene that follows.  The best source I found was the detailed account of arrow wounds and treatments found in Dr. Joseph Howland Bill’s “Notes on Arrow Wounds,” written in 1862.  Dr. Bill made these important observations:
Arrows inflict wounds “with a fatality greater than that produced by any other weapons.
The worst thing a friend could do was to try to remove the arrow by pulling on the shaft, which would cause the arrowhead to be left behind forcing the doctor to search for the projectile.
To avoid inevitable infection, each arrowhead had to be removed.   
It was much easier for the doctor and patient if the shaft was left intact until a doctor could remove the head and shaft as one piece.
The bowmen knew that a hit to the trunk was likely to be fatal and is where they aimed. 
“Arrow wounds of the abdomen are generally fatal. An arrow can scarcely pass through the abdomen and fail to open a vessel or wound an intestine.”
You may read this entire article by accessing this link:
The easiest wound to treat was that caused by an arrow passing entirely through a limb without severing a blood vessel or nerve.  The shaft of the arrow would be broken off in front of the entry hole and the remaining part of the shaft would be pulled through the limb and out the exit hole made by the arrowhead.  This is what is done in the following scene.
The conjuror produced a flint knife. “Hold the shaft below the arrowhead,” he ordered. Wanchese stepped forward. “You,” he said to Osacan. “Hold this end with the feathers.” He placed the edge of his knife on the shaft an inch from the nearest fletched feather.
            It took awhile. Rakiock’s face was stone hard. His enlarged eyes stared.
            The section removed, the conjuror moved the tip of his left index finger over the new end. Satisfied he had removed any sharp edges, he smoothed over the length of the shaft the cattail salve he had prepared. Afterward, he spread much salve on the middle part of the strip of deer skin. He gripped then, just below the arrowhead, the section of the shaft that had passed through Rakiock’s thigh.
            “When I remove this,” he said to Wanchese, ”you are to place the deerskin over the bleeding wound. There will be much blood. Be sure the salve is over the wound.”
            He pulled; Rakiock gritted his teeth; the arrow shaft came out. Blood spurted. Wanchese placed the deer skin, held it tightly against the leg.
            The conjuror wound a strip of deer gut around the deer skin and tied it. He wound another strip around the skin on the other side of the wound. After tying it, he reached into his pouch and took out more tobacco leaves. Dancing, chanting, gazing skyward, he spread the leaves again around his patient. Finished, he retrieved his knife and wooden bowl and disappeared behind the longhouse.
I also had to research how Native Americans treated wounds.  I discovered that broadleaf cattail was used as a food source, a construction material, and a medicine.  It has been called the "supermarket of the swamps."  Tribal wars had been waged over control of broadleaf cattail marshes.  Broadleaf cattail was most commonly used as a wound dressing, its rhizomes grounded into a salve.
Narrating a Fight Scene
Later in my narrative, Wanchese is compelled to fight to the death a Nansemond warrior.
Upon Tesicqueo’s signal the opposite end of the circle opened and ten or twelve warriors danced within.  They were brandishing invisible  spears, clubs, and arrows. Their warbling cries were high-pitched, shrill. They weaved about him, their footfalls in rhythm to the beating of the drums. They swooped in at him thrusting their weapons at him. He would have enjoyed sending one of them sprawling with a swift forearm to the neck; but, outwardly, he was stoic. Save your energy for Megedagik. Be calm. He had been taught during his manhood training that a warrior must control his muscles so as to receive blows better, so as not to be stiff but instead be quick in reflex.
He would need to be very quick.  And smart.
He knew how to fight.
I had no idea how Native Americans at that time fought without weapons.  I again made use of Google.   Here is information that I used in the fight scene.
            Fight low, in a crouch, stay on your feet, try to be relaxed rather than stiff.
Strike pressure points to temporarily or permanently disable your opponent: eyes, temples, base of the nose, jaw, ears, Adam’s apple, sternum, groin, knees, shins, toes.
Use low kicks to the legs.  High kicks open up your groin and the grabbing of your legs.  In close, use elbow strikes.
Pull on fingers, or bend them backwards. 
Various tactics to use to fight somebody bigger than you.  I won’t go into details.
Best of all, use a choke hold.
Up on the balls of his feet, taking swift, short steps, Wanchese moved to his right. He, too -- knees substantially bent, chest nearly parallel to the ground – was in a deep crouch. Keep yourself loose, he reminded himself. Wait for his attack.
It came. Megedagik went for Wanchese’s neck. Wanchese struck the Nansemond warrior’s left hand away with his right. With his other hand Megedagik grabbed Wanchese’s left wrist. Bringing it toward him, Wanchese struck Megedagik’s leftt eye with the side of his right hand.
Megedagik stepped back. They stared at each other.
Megedagik closed. Wanchese drove his right knee into Megedagik’s lower left leg. Megedagik closed his arms around Wanchese’s upper body, straightened him, locked his hands, and squeezed.
Suddenly, Wanchese could not breathe. He reached for, found Megedagik’s left ear. He gripped it, twisted it, yanked, felt it tear. Screaming, Megedagik released him. Gasping for breath, Wanchese bent low. His ribs throbbed.
Megedagik came at him. Wanchese delivered a blow to his sternum. It didn’t slow him. Grabbing Wanchese’s long hair, Megedagik spun him, encircled him with his arms, his left hand gripping his right wrist.
Wanchese drove his right heel downward, striking the warrior’s left shin bone. He did it a second time. He felt a loosening of the grip. With his right hand, Wanchese gripped Megedagik’s left middle finger, pried it loose, bent it back. Megedagik’s adjacent fingers loosened. He cried out. Wanchese stomped Megedagik’s left toes with his left heel.
Again he was loose. His heart pounded, his breathing quick, emphatic.
Megedagik reached for Wanchese’s left shoulder, Wanchese struck the hand away with his left hand, and Megedagik struck the bridge of Wanchese’s nose with a glancing right fist.
Wanchese staggered backward, reached downward and backward with his left hand to regain equilibrium. Megedagik was on him. Wanchese went down, grabbed Megedagik’s legs above the ankles, pinned them, and rolled right. Megedagik toppled. Wanchese sprung opward, caught Megedagik rising, whipped the fingers of his right hand, stabbing and digging, across the warrior’s eyes.
Megedagik pushed him away, shook his head.
Wanchese’s nose throbbed. Liquid was exiting his nostrils.
Megedagik closed. He drove his right fist at Wanchese’s nose. Wanchese ducked and stepped left. He struck Megedagik’s right rib cage with his right fist.
Again Megedagik backed off. Saliva drooled down his chin.
That’s enough detail.
Writing a historical novel is not a continuous day after day process.  I have had to make lengthy stops to research important information related to the actions of my characters.