The mystery behind the "lost colony" of Roanoke has finally been answered, disappointingly.

The first attempts to form a permanent English settlement on modern-day North America began in the late 1500s. Here's the Wikipedia summary of events:

The English, led by Humphrey Gilbert, had claimed St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1583 as the first North American English colony by royal prerogative of Queen Elizabeth I. Roanoke was second. The first Roanoke colony was established by governor Ralph Lane in 1585 on Roanoke Island in what is now Dare CountyNorth CarolinaUnited States. Following the failure of the 1585 settlement, a second colony led by John White landed on the same island in 1587, and became known as the Lost Colony due to the unexplained disappearance of its population.

The spooooooky mystery began when White returned to England for supplies in 1588; got delayed by the Anglo-Spanish War; and didn't make it back to Roanoke Island until 1590, at which point … no one was there. The entire settlement — 100-plus people, and their belongings — were just gone without a trace. Except for one telling detail: the word "CROATOAN" carved into a palisade.

Cue Roanoke-inspired horror stories in the work of writers like Stephen King and Harlan Ellison, and in media such as American Horror Story and even Batman and X-Men comics.

But now the truth has finally been revealed, thanks to the relentless efforts of an archaeologist named Scott Dawson. After excavating soil throughout the islands in and around Roanoke, Dawson and his team have gathered sufficient evidence to show that those lost inhabitants … shacked up with the Indigenous people on nearby Croatoan Island. Just like they fucking said they did.

From The Virginian Pilot:

Records from Jamestown also helped Dawson understand more about the tribes' political structure.

The evidence shows the colony left Roanoke Island with the friendly Croatoans to settle on Hatteras Island. They thrived, ate well, had mixed families and endured for generations. More than a century later, explorer John Lawson found natives with blue eyes who recounted they had ancestors who could "speak out of a book," Lawson wrote.

The two cultures adapted English earrings into fishhooks and gun barrels into sharp-ended tubes to tap tar from trees.

Sure, this was two centuries before America officially became "America." But it's a depressingly perfect microcosm of colonialist attitudes: the leader of a European settler expedition who cannot fathom the idea of other white people consensually intermingling with Native Americans, and thus creates a skewed historical narrative that gets passed down for centuries when he could have just looked at the god damn facts in front of him.

'The mystery is over': Researchers say they know what happened to 'Lost Colony' [Jeff Hampton / The Virginian Pilot]

Image: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons