The Moon-eyed People

Most of present-day West Virginia was void of permanent Native American settlements when European colonists began their westward push. Why? The area is rich in game and other resources; why not live there?

In 1773, at the behest of Virginia Governor Lord Dunmore, Thomas Bullit travelled to present-day southwestern Ohio to seek permission from the Shawnee to establish settlements in the Can-tuc-kee lands (which included large portions of modern-day West Virginia). Shawnee chief Black Fish was unable to grant permission; he did not feel it was his to give, the land belonged to the ghosts of the Azgen, a tribe of “moon-eyed” people who were murdered by the ancestors of the Shawnee. Because of the ghosts, the Shawnee refused to settle on the land and only used it—respectfully—as hunting grounds.

Who were these moon-eyed people? According to many legends, they were a light-skinned, nocturnal people with large eyes. They had a sensitivity to light and could only see in the dark.

The Cherokee also have legends of moon-eyed people. According to Cherokee legends, the moon-eyes were nocturnal and lived in circular earthen houses. Long ago, as the Cherokee made their southward migration, they encountered the large-eyed white people and waged war against them. Like the Shawnee, the Cherokee also rid the land of these peculiar people.

There is another tradition in which the Creek tribe annihilated a group of moon-eyed people.  According to this legend, the strange people could not see during certain moon phases. The Creek used this to their advantage and attacked the moon-eyes when they were vulnerable.

Who were, or, what were, the moon-eyed people? Some say they were albinos; some claim they were Europeans—possibly descended from Madoc, the Welsh Prince; author Barbara Alice Mann, of Seneca descent, has written that the moon-eyed people were mound-building astronomers who merged with the Cherokee. What we do know, is that a group of people strange to the Native Americans were in present-day West Virginia long ago; they were eventually annihilated. The question then becomes, could the ghosts of the Azgen—the moon-eyed people—play a role in the paranormal in West Virginia?

Feature Image: By TranceMist (Flickr: The Legends of Fort Mountain) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons