Were the Susquehannocks really giants?

When Captain John Smith first met the Iroquoian-speaking Susquehannock Indians on his 1608 voyage up the Chesapeake Bay, he described them as giants. Smith claimed one warrior’s calf measured 27 inches in circumference.

Depiction of a Susquehannock man on the Smith Map (1624). The handwritten caption reads (in modern English): "The Susquehannocks are a giant-like people and thus attired."
Depiction of a Susquehannock man on the Smith Map (1624). The handwritten caption reads (in modern English): “The Susquehannocks are a giant-like people and thus attired.”

When we read Smith’s account, it’s easy to picture seven-foot-tall Native Americans roaming the forests surrounding the Susquehanna River, especially when many of you reading this are six feet tall yourself.

Fact or Fiction?
Fact or Fiction?

So the question is, were the Susquehannocks true giants?

Marshall Becker’s 1991 research does confirm that the 16th-century Susquehannocks were, in fact, taller than most Native Americans of their time; however, they were not nearly as large as Smith leads readers to think.

Becker conducted a forensic analysis of 13 complete Susquehannock skeletons plus long bones from 18 other individuals. The investigation revealed that the males in this skeletal population were, on average, around 5 feet, 7 inches. The women were 5 feet, 3 inches tall.

By modern standards, this is not exceptionally tall. Today in the United States, the average height of a male is 69.1 inches. That’s around 5 feet, 9 inches tall.


However, the Susquehannock’s average 5 feet, 7-inch height is nearly four inches taller than the average Englishman in the 1600s. Becker believes the Susquehannocks’ high protein and maize-based diet was responsible for their greater size. The idea of the Susquehannocks being giants was likely further enhanced when the malnourished Europeans stood next to the well feed Indians.

While it’s true that Smith and his men were probably looking up at the natives they met, the Susquehannocks were perhaps the only true giants in John Smith’s imagination.

John Smith Map, 1612
John Smith’s 1612 map

Learn More

How the Susquehannocks became known as the Conestoga

Would you be surprised to know that the Native American tribe known as the Susquehannocks never referred to themselves by that name? Click here to read learn how the Susquehannocks became known as the Conestoga.

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10 thoughts on “Were the Susquehannocks really giants?

  1. The forensic study lacks historical accounts of contact and artifacts that proved Susquehannick indians were well over 6.5 and 7.5 feet!

    1. The studies have been covered up because they do not fit “the narrative” I personally know researchers who have seen first hand 7-8 foot tall skeletons uncovered in Pennsylvania, never to be seen again once certain museums got their hands on them. Really getting tired of all the cover ups and making people look like conspiracy theorists, when they are not.

      1. I found multiple skeletons in weather deteriorated mounds in wap wallopen. One was closer to 11 ft.

      2. YOU are correct Todd , I own properties with the Large ancient Burials , in removing the cap only, many 10,000+ yr. old artifacts- dated by Lithics ! Our burials match up to Conneaut Ohio burials – http://solomonspalding.com/SRP/saga2/1878Ast1.htm#pg017a
        And YES IT IS A 100 YEAR COVERUP CONTINUING TODAY !!!https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.327817968337106&type=3
        Our twice documented Mound is twice the size of Monks Mound Cahokia !!!

  2. There were thousands of giant skeletons found page 507 of Historical collections of virginia 1845 “Page -507-

    Human bones of extraordinary size—thigh bones three feet in length, and skeletons seven feet in length—have been discovered on Flint run, in this county, on Hawksbill creek, Tuscarora creek, and in Hardy county. (See p. 300.) Capt. Smith’s ” Generall Historie,” vol. I., p. 120, gives an account of a prodigious giant tribe of Indians, the Sasquesahanocks, whom he met with at the head of Chesapeake Bay. This relation has been rejected as incredible, and considered as on a footing with the stories of Baron Munchausen, or Sinbad the Sailor ; but these evidences would seem to confirm it.*”

    there are also hundreds and hundreds of articles on newspapers archives reporting artifacts found and sent to the smithsonian.

  3. Don’t know anything for sure!
    However we had people of exceptional hight before!
    So yes inspite of what you thiink there could have been 7 feet tall Indians! And more!
    There have been tall people all over the world!
    The Vikings were tall men!
    Some of the scots were big strong men of olden times!

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