Paper linking Croatan Indians, the Lost Colony garners awards

The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, VA, April 29, 2003

    A research paper based on genealogy of the Croatan Indians and their interactions with early English colonists has won awards at two educational symposiums in North Carolina.

    Fred Willard, an anthropology and archaeology student at East Carolina University and director of the Lost Colony Center for Science and Research, wrote his paper as part of the university's honors program, combined with an interdisciplinary minor in the study of the 1587 Lost Colony.

    The recent presentation of his paper at North Carolina Central University in Durham was awarded first place, Willard said.

    "I was very, very humbled to win," he said.

    Willard, a resident of East Lake, has been invited to make his presentation at the sixth annual conference of the Association for the Advancement of Educational Research Dec. 2 to 6 at Ponte Verda Beach, Fla.

    The central premise of the research is a hypothesis that the Lost Colony, a group of 112 men, women and children English colonists that mysteriously disappeared in 1587 from Roanoke Island, actually migrated only 50 miles inland and had gotten help from the Croatan Indians. Despite the long-thought belief that the Croatan no longer existed, Willard said he has traced deeds, historic maps and records, Indians sites and oral history indicating that descendants of the Croatan survive in northeastern North Carolina.

    Although Willard's research has gained credibility through the award, the paper still has not undergone the scholarly scrutiny it will once it is published, said Charles Ewen, anthropology professor at East Carolina University and director of the school's Phelps Archaeology Laboratory.

    "It's one of those things where, I don't think anybody is going to stand up and say 'This is hogwash,'" Ewen said. "But it brings up some interesting questions to debate."

    The paper will be published in the near future.

    Willard had won second place for his presentation of the paper at an earlier undergraduate research symposium competition at ECU on March 23.

    "I think we're on the right track," Ewen said about Willard's research results. "And I hope to help him follow them up."

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