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  • Writer's pictureRain Bennett

Ep. 55: The Lost Colony with Scott Dawson

Updated: Nov 28, 2020

We’re back with Season 5 of the Storytelling Lab and kicking it off with Scott Dawson, a local historian, author, amateur archaeologist, and expert on the mysterious Lost Colony. Scott is a native of Hatteras Island whose family roots on the island trace back to the 1600s and his mission is to tell the true story of 'America's oldest mystery.' In this episode, Scott takes us back in time to discuss the famous “CROATOAN” carving, his archeological findings, and the importance of inclusivity and keeping our ancestral stories alive. 



As a native eastern North Carolinian, I’ve always been fascinated by the stories of our coastline.

Outer Banks, NC

Hell, it was almost a requirement. 

As I became a filmmaker in my 20s, I knew I wanted to tell some of these stories from my own perspective, so I started a small collection of history books from the area.

I ran across one called Croatoan: The Birthplace of America in a museum gift shop on the Outer Banks and added it to my collection. It was signed by the author, Scott Dawson, whom I’m found and followed on Facebook soon after. 

Scott leading an archaeological dig

Scott had been leading a search to find the whereabouts of the Lost Colony and was making his case that they went to what is now known as Hatteras Island -- then known as “Croatoan” which just so happens to be what they wrote on a palisade, ostensibly indicating where they went.

As our own fate would have it, we collaborated on a Travel Channel show called Expedition Unknown. I was a local producer hired to help the LA crew navigate the nuances of eastern North Carolina and I actually got a reluctant Scott to agree to be on the show. 

Archaeological dig in Buxton, NC

After working together and building a rapport, I saw a great opportunity

to help tell Scott’s story and help scratch the itch I had developed years ago to dive into one of our greatest NC legends. Scott and his team granted my crew access that no other media outlet has had, as we filmed two weeks with them on an archaeological dig in Buxton.

I’d love to tell you what we saw, but instead I invited Scott on my podcast to talk about it.

For the first time in 10 years of digging and finding incredible evidence, Dawson is telling it all in his new book, The Lost Colony and Hatteras Island.

Scott’s mission is one of history and heritage. For years, he’s seen Hatteras Island and the Outer Banks get more and more developed and maintain less and less of the things that made the islands authentic and unique. 

Along the way, the truth got distorted to serve the tourist-based economy (nothing sells like a mystery, right?) and Dawson dedicated his life to revealing that truth even with no formal training. All he had was passion.

As Scott says,

“I don’t think you need a suit to tell the truth.” 

What Scott and I have both found is that for political, economic, and even racial reasons, the story of Walter Raleigh’s “Lost Colony,” has been buried long ago and the mystery has been elevated to keep people coming back to the Outer Banks.

Scott loves eastern North Carolina, and he wants tourists to continue loving it as well.

But not at the expense of erasing the history of his people.

If you’re into early American history, archaeology, adventure, or just taking back control of a narrative forced by the powers that be, you will love this episode!

Some of the highlights of our conversation:

  • Scott’s Book: The Lost Colony and Hatteras Island

  • Telling the real story of the Lost Colony 

  • History of voyages before the Lost Colony

  • Native American history: Croatoan Tribe 

  • Native American language families 

  • Looking at history through a different lens 

  • Scott’s link to the Croatoan tribe

  • Primary sources

  • Fort Raleigh Found? - News Article about a fort Scott found in 2007

  • Tracking down the “Lost Colony” - the process

  • Started collecting stories of people who had been living on the island for a long time 

  • Importance of recording stories 

  • Hatteras Island and Genealogical Society

  • Scott’s grandmother’s interest in Hatteras history 

  • Bringing in archeologists to dig on Hatteras island 

  • Mark Horton

  • The vast amount of native american artifacts on the Outer Banks 

  • Digging in Buxton 

  • Finding native american burial grounds 

  • Taking artifacts and figuring out their stories

  • Forces working against this story 

  • The Lost Colony outdoor drama 

  • Mark’s beef with the National Parks Service

Follow Scott on Instagram @scott.d.dawson.56

And order his book at Amazon

For more storytelling tips and tricks, 

Follow me on Instagram @rainbennett

Follow me on Twitter @rainbennett

Visit my website

Links and Resources:

As always, I hope you enjoy the episode!

Peace and Love,


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