First, a bit of background: Princess Nicketti is the name given to a Virginia Indian woman believed by some to have been the daughter of Opechancanough, a leader of the Powhatan Indians and the brother of the paramount chief Powhatan. While the name has been referenced almost exclusively on twenty-first-century genealogy websites by people claiming family relationship, no scholarly evidence exists that Princess Nicketti ever lived. A careful search of seventeenth-century records in Virginia yields no one by that name, male or female. And no name of a child of Opechancanough was ever recorded in that century.
Ms. Farmer writes (emphasis added):
While I have much respect for Dr. Rountree’s work on this I don’t think she’s correct in dismissing oral histories surrounding her [Princess Nicketti] so cavalierly. I go into more detail about this at the following link.
The long and the short of it is this.
Part of the oral history of the Nicketti story is that of her supposed husband “Trader” John Rice Hughes/John Richard Hewing. Those two very very similar oral histories were passed down in seemingly unrelated families for hundreds of years. The Nicketti story was also passed on in the same manner by yet another seemingly unrelated group. Their overlapping details [include] Nicketti [being] married to a trader, [and] Hughes/Hewing [being] married to a prominent Indian woman. The general areas and times also match.
It is incredible to think that all those people would conspire to lie for centuries. So there should be a kernel of truth to them, a historical person.
Rountree thinks that [this] person [i.e., Nicketti] is [actually] Nec[o]towance. Nec[o]towance was a man. Oral history is rarely that wrong. More likely the real person is the one known to history as “Queen betty” who is mentioned even in your own encyclopedia.
Betty was a prominent Indian woman. She would have been related to Powhatan, Pocahontas, etc. etc. She makes way more sense than Nec[o]towance.
Please acknowledge the possibility that identifying Ann with Betty and Nicketti with Nec[o]towance is not gospel truth but simply a scholarly opinion at best.
Just for the record, there is very little in the encyclopedia we would claim as gospel truth (c.f. “History is not what’s true, but what we argue is true”).
Now, Helen Rountree responds (emphasis added):
It seems to me that Hontas Farmer is very disappointed that I can’t back up the 20th century claims for Nicketti. That’s all I say in the article (I just checked over it): that there are no 17th century documents about such a person, so that only oral history is left. I don’t pooh-pooh oral history. I don’t accuse anyone of lying—that’s Farmer’s perception, with heightened sensitivity showing through. And my wording on the identity with Necotowance (“may be”) ought readily to show that I’m not even expressing an opinion, there: I’m only making a suggestion. My comment on the Indianness of “Nicketti” is based on 40 years’ familiarity with Virginia Algonquian names, personal names and place names alike. And like Vine Deloria (who puts it better), I’ve dealt with dozens of people who insisted that they were descended from an Indian princess.
I’d be more at ease [acknowledging] Farmer’s argument about the tradition in two unrelated families if I could see her genealogical evidence for the non-relationship.
So we’ll leave it there, except to say thank you to Hontas Farmer for her feedback and to Helen Rountree for her response.
PS: My own theory: Nicketti = Kenickie.
IMAGE: The wife of an Indian weroance, or chief, carries a gourd while her eight- to ten-year-old daughter waves a European rattle and holds a well-dressed doll in this colored engraving by Theodor de Bry based on a watercolor painting by John White (The Mariners’ Museum).