Corn was essential for distilling spirits in America, and it was thanks to indigenous communities that European settlers learned how to grow and harvest the unfamiliar crop. This grindstone, or metate, would have been used to grind corn or other foods in preparation for cooking. This technique may have influenced settlers in preparing a corn mash for fermentation and later distillation.
In 17th century Virginia, Indians were divided into three language groups: Algonquian Speakers, Siouan Speakers and Iroquoian Speakers. The Cheroenhaka (Che-ro-en-ha-ka) tribe was an Iroquois speaking group located in Southeastern Virginia, sometimes called the Nottoway or Nadawa Tribe. Cheroenhaka means “People at the Fork of the Stream.” The tribe’s base was where the Nottoway River fork meets The Blackwater River to form the Chowan River.