Wahunsonacock Powhatan, Chief of the Powhatan

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Wahunsonacock Powhatan, Chief of the Powhatan

Nicknames: "Emperor Wahunsomacock Powhattan", "Powhatan"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Werowocomoco, Pamunkey River, Virginia
Death: Died in King William, VA, American Colonies
Place of Burial: VA, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Running Stream "Don Luis", Weroance / Ensenore of the Powhatan and PauPauwiske Morning Scent Flower Mangopeesomon, of the Powhatan
Husband of Ohalasc Powhaten; Opehencan Ough Powhatan; Alpanchamo Powhatan; Opichapam Itoyatin Powhatan; One Other Powhatan and 1 other
Father of Kecatough Powhattan; Matachanna Powhattan; Tahacope Powhatan; Tatacoope Algonquian Powhattan; Parahunt Powhattan and 12 others
Brother of Morning Flower Powhatan; Kecatough Powhattan; Cleopatre Powhattan; Opechancanough Mangopeesomon Powhatan; Opichapam Itoyatin Sasawpen Powhatan, Chief and 5 others
Half brother of Catataugh; Powhatan; Kocoum and Japasaw Iopassus Powhatan, Chief of the Powhatan

Occupation: Chief and leader of the Powhatan Nation, Chief of a federation of Algonquian Indian tribes that lived in the tidewater region of VA, Chief of Powhatan
Managed by: Carter Castilow
Last Updated:

About Wahunsonacock Powhatan, Chief of the Powhatan

Powhatan. The ruling chief and practically the founder of the Powhatan confederacy (q. v.) in Virginia at the period of the first English settlement. His proper name was Wahunsonacock, but he was commonly known as Powhatan from one of his- favorite residences at the falls of James r. (Richmond). According to Smith, of some 30 cognate tribes subject to his rule in 1607, all but six were his own conquests. At the time of the coming of the English, Powhatan is represented to have been about 60 years of age, of dignified bearing, and reserved and stern disposition. His first attitude toward the whites was friendly although suspicious, but he soon became embittered by the exactions of the newcomers. On the treacherous seizure of his favorite daughter, Pocahontas (q. v.), in 1613, he became openly hostile, but was happily converted for the time through her marriage to Rolfe. He died in 1618, leaving the succession to his brother, Opitchapan, who however was soon superseded by a younger brother, the noted Opechancanough. -------------------- Chief Powhatan was the chief of the Algonquian Indian Tribe. His tribe was located in the region between the James and York River in Virginia.

He had several wives and many children, however Pocahontas was his favorite daughter. -------------------- Chief or Emperor Powhatan -------------------- When the English began exploring and, later, colonizing North America, they were both aware of and fascinated by the native people they encountered. Fortunately for students of history, some of these explorers and settlers chose to commit their observations to paper. Although archeology and oral traditions play a role in our appreciation of the largely-vanished culture of the Powhatan Indians in Virginia, it is the accounts of such Englishmen as John Smith, William Strachey, Robert Beverley, and George Percy which provide the detail of the everyday life of these people.

Even though the English viewed the Powhatan Indian culture as savage and primitive, we can still utilize the facts and details presented by one group of people commenting on and describing another. Since the English found the Powhatans so different from themselves, they took great pains at recording those differences for the education of their contemporaries.

The 104 Englishmen who landed at Jamestown on May 13, 1607 chose that settlement site partially because on-one else was presently occupying the small peninsula, an unhealthy, if highly defensible, area. This lack of inhabitants was hardly the case for most of Tidewater Virginia, as the English were soon to discover. Although it is difficult to estimate, modern historians number the native population of 1607 Tidewater Virginia at 13,000 to 14,000. Powhatan settlements were concentrated along the rivers, which provided both food and transportation; the folk who inhabited them spoke a now-extinct form of Algonquian, a language which was common with many native peoples from present-day New York south to Florida.

The undisputed ruler of Tidewater Virginia was Wahunsonacock, usually referred to by this title as "Powhatan." John Smith describes Powhatan as "a tall well proportioned man, with a sower look, his head somewhat gray, his beard so thinne, that it seemeth none at all, his age (as of 1608) neare sixtie, of a very able and hardy body to endure any labour."

Powhatan had inherited six tribes located not far from present-day Richmond. By 1607, he had added considerably to his domain which, at its peak, numbered over 30 tribes. Each tribe was governed by a werowance, a chief who owed allegiance and tribute to Powhatan. Although Powhatan maintained residences amongst all the tribes, his usual dwelling-place was a Werowocomoco, on the north side of the York River.

In addition to his councilors, whom he kept about him always, Powhatan also had a extensive family. Because of the large amounts of tribute collected (estimated by one settler as eight parts out of ten of all that his people produced) Powhatan could support over a hundred wives and the resulting offspring, the most famous of whom was Matoaka, better known by her nickname "Pocahontas."

Powhatan's people lived in villages, which could number as many as one hundred homes. some villages were protected by wooden palisades; each house boasted an extensive and carefuly-tended garden, in which was sown such staples as corn, beans, peas, squash, pumpkin, sunflowers and maypops (passionflower). Tobacco, primarily used for ceremonial purposes, was grown apart from the rest of the crops.

Although the gardens were an important food source, the Powhatans' diet was far more extensive. John Smith remarked that for the bulk of the year, Powhatans relied on other sources of food. The waterways afforded a rich diet of fish and shellfish and the woods yielded nuts, fruits and berries. Since the dog was the only animal domesticated by the Powhatans, hunting was an important way to supplement the diet, and was a task relegated to the men of the tribe. At a very young age, a boy was taught the use of the bow. Rather than a recreational activity for the wealthy, as hunting was perceived by the English, Powhatans considered it a very serious business, an important way of securing food and clothing.

The hard work of Powhatan women was more often remarked upon by the English. Whether she was gathering wood, making pottery, preparing food, dressing hides, caring for the garden or making clothing, a Powhatan woman was seldom at rest.

Some of the most detailed descriptions of Powhatan people concerns their appearance. According to John Smith, the native Virginians were "Generally tall and straight," an observation confirmed by archeological analysis, which estimates that the average Powhatan stood at about six feet. William Strachey, another 17th-century author, recorded that Powhatans were "Generally of a cullour brown or rather tawny."

Costume varied according to sex, age and status. The most common article of apparel for men was a breech-clout of skin worn between the thighs. According to Smith, "The common sort have scarce to cover their nakedness but with grasse, the leaves of trees, or such like. . . The better sort use large mantels of deare skins not much different from the Irish mantels." A man of high status might wear a shirt-like garment made of fringed deerskin or a mantle of turkey feathers. The hair was shaven from the right side of the head (to reduce the risk of entanglement in the hunter's bowstring); the hair on the other side of the head was allowed to grow long and often pulled into a knot and decorated with everything from shells to the dead hand of an enemy. Men used body paint in preparation for war or games.

Werowances (chiefs) wore fine clothes and many ornaments of pearl, rare shell beads and copper, the precious metal of the Powhatans. George Percy described the headdress of one werowance: "a crown of deares haire colloured red, in fashion of a rose fastened about his knot of haire, and a great plate of copper on the other side of his head; with two long feathers in fashion of a pair of horns placed in the midst of his Crowne."

In his History and Present State of Virginia (1705), colonist Robert Beverley opined that Powhatan Indian "women are generally beautiful, possessing an uncommon delicacy of shape and features." The skirt was the ubiquitous garment for women; those of higher-status swathed themselves in fringed deerskin. The hair of a married women was worn long and plaited in the back; a young girl had her head on the front and sides shaven close, with the rest of the hair growing long and braided down the back.

George Strachey remarked at length on the use of tattooed decorations by the Powhatan Indian women, commenting that they "have their armes, breasts, thighes, shoulders, and faces, cuningly ymbrodered with divers workes, for pouncing and searing their skyns with a kind of instrument heated in the fier. They figure therein flowers and fruits of sondry lively kinds, as also snakes, serpents."

Although early interaction between the English and Powhatans was sometimes violent and exploitive on both sides, leaders of both peoples realized the mutual benefit which could be derived from peaceful relations. Powhatan craved the trade goods brought by the English, which would give him increased status, make his peoples' lives easier and also help him to expand his empire to the west. The English needed food, allies and knowledgeable guides to help them locate raw materials, precious metals and the much-sought trade route to the Far East. The marriage of Powhatan's favorite daughter Pocahontas to settler John Rolfe in 1614 ensured a few peaceful years between the Powhatans and the English.

This brief time of peace ended in 1617 with the death of Pocahontas during a trip to England and, the next year, of her father. Opitchapan, Powhatan's brother, served briefly as chief, and then retired in favor of Opechancanough, the powerful and aggressive werowance whose land centered around present-day West Point. Opechancanough resented the English, and, although Powhatan had been assured the Jamestown settlement was merely a temporary one, the new chief saw all too clearly that the English were in Virginia to stay. Thanks to the introduction of a successful strain of tobacco by John Rolfe, the colonists had a way to achieve a profit and, consequently, the need for greater and greater tracts of land on which to grow their crop.

On March 22, 1622, Opechancanough's carefully-orchestrated plan to dismay and perhaps even rout his enemy was executed by his warriors throughout the small English settlements in Virginia. Although some areas, including Jamestown, escaped unscathed, within a few hours as many as 400 English settlers had lost their lives and the colony had received a near-fatal blow.

The surviving settlers' reaction to the Powhatan uprising was retaliation, and the English, better armed and organized than the Powhatans, set to with a vengeance. The Virginia Company instructed the settlers to wage a total war against the Powhatan people, doing whatever it took to subdue them utterly. For over a decade, the English killed men and women, captured children and systematically razed villages, seizing or destroying crops.

After the uprising, the colonists recovered and expanded their territory, even as the Powhatan empire declined both in power and population. Even so, in 1644, Opechancanough rallied his small forces to make a final attempt at routing the English from his people's land. The attack, launched on April 17, 1644, resulted in the death of hundreds of colonists, but, like the attempt made 22 years earlier, did not achieve its objective. The English captured Opechancanough, by then an old and feeble man, and brought him to Jamestown, where he was shot in the back by a soldier against orders.

As in 1622, the English retaliated. Finally, in 1646 and 1647, treaties were made with Opechancanough's successor which severely restricted the Powhatan people's territory and confined them to small reservations. Tribute was to be offered to the English king of "Twenty beaver skins att the going away of geese yearely." The Powhatan's land was further reduced in a treaty of 1677.

By 1669, the population of Powhatan Indians in Tidewater Virginia had dropped to about 1,800 and by 1722, many of the tribes comprising the empire of Chief Powhatan were reported extinct. Several tribes lost their reservations and some opted to blend into the colonial scene as best they could. By the beginning of the 20th century, only the Pamunkey and Mattaponi peoples retained their reservations.

Today, the Pamunkey and Mattaponi reservations, located near West Point, have endured as two of the oldest in the United States. Many Virginia Indians were encouraged by those tribes' example of courage and determination, and, in the early 20th century, began to reorganize their tribes. Crafts, dances, oral tradition and other almost-forgotten aspects of the Powhatan Indian culture were shared with other Virginians. In 1983, the Virginia Council on Indians was established, consisting of nine tribal representatives and three at-large members. In the same session of the General Assembly, six tribes were officially recognized; by 1990, two more tribes were given official status. Today, the Virginia Indian community is a strong one which takes pride in its heritage and responsibility for teaching others about its unique culture, which impacts on the life of every American today.

-------------------- Chief Powhatan (c. June 17, 1545 – c. 1618), whose proper name was Wahunsenacawh or (in seventeenth century English spelling) Wahunsunacock, was the leader of the Powhatan (also spelled Powatan and Powhaten), a powerful tribe of Virginia Indians[1], as well as an associated confederacy of numerous tribes speaking Algonquian languages, known as the Powhatan Confederacy. He lived in Tenakomakah— which is now Tidewater Virginia—at the time of the first English-Native encounters. The Powhatan was the father of Pocahontas and other children.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chief_Powhatan -------------------- Powhatan. The ruling chief and practically the founder of the Powhatan confederacy (q. v.) in Virginia at the period of the first English settlement. His proper name was Wahunsonacock, but he was commonly known as Powhatan from one of his- favorite residences at the falls of James r. (Richmond). According to Smith, of some 30 cognate tribes subject to his rule in 1607, all but six were his own conquests. At the time of the coming of the English, Powhatan is represented to have been about 60 years of age, of dignified bearing, and reserved and stern disposition. His first attitude toward the whites was friendly although suspicious, but he soon became embittered by the exactions of the newcomers. On the treacherous seizure of his favorite daughter, Pocahontas (q. v.), in 1613, he became openly hostile, but was happily converted for the time through her marriage to Rolfe. He died in 1618, leaving the succession to his brother, Opitchapan, who however was soon superseded by a younger brother, the noted Opechancanough. -------------------- Chief Powhatan was the chief of the Algonquian Indian Tribe. His tribe was located in the region between the James and York River in Virginia.

He had several wives and many children, however Pocahontas was his favorite daughter. -------------------- Chief or Emperor Powhatan

-------------------- The group of Native North Americans, belonging to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock. Their area embraced most of tidewater Virginia and the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay. Wahunsonacock, or Powhatan, as the English called him, was the leader of the confederacy when Jamestown was settled in 1607. The Powhatan are said to have been driven N to Virginia by the Spanish, where their chief, Powhatan's father, subjugated five other Virginia tribes. With Powhatan's own conquests, the empire included, among some 30 peoples, the Pamunkey, Mattapony, Chickahominy, and others likewise commemorated in the names of the streams and rivers of E Virginia. They were sedentary Native Americans, with some 200 settlements, many of them protected by palisades when the English arrived. They cultivated corn, fished, and hunted. Of his many capitals, Powhatan favored Werowocomoco, on the left bank of the York River, where Capt. John Smith first met him in 1608. The English soon seized the best lands, and Powhatan quickly retaliated. To appease him, he was given a crown, and a coronation ceremony was formally performed by Christopher Newport in 1609. Peace with Powhatan was secured when his daughter Pocahontas married (1614) John Rolfe. On Powhatan's death in 1618, Opechancanough, chief of the Pamunkey, became the central power in the confederacy, and he organized the general attack (1622) in which some 350 settlers were killed. English reprisals were equally violent, but there was no further fighting on a large scale until 1644, when Opechancanough led the last uprising, in which he was captured and murdered at Jamestown. In 1646 the confederacy yielded much of its territory, and beginning in 1665 its chiefs were appointed by the governor of Virginia. After the Iroquois, traditional enemies of the confederacy, agreed to cease their attacks in the Treaty of Albany (1722), the tribes scattered, mixed with the settlers, and all semblance of the confederacy disappeared. By the early 1970s some 3,000 Powhatan lived in the eastern part of Virginia. See F. G. Speck, Chapters on the Ethnology of the Powhatan Tribes of Virginia (1928).

http://www.nativeamericans.com/PowhatanConfederacy.htm

http://www.kentuckykinfolkorganization.com/descendantofSamuelBurks.html

http://www.hicom.net/~econstud/gene/fam00279.htm -------------------- Powhatan Confederacy, group of Native North Americans belonging to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). Their area embraced most of tidewater Virginia and the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay. Wahunsonacock, or Powhatan, as the English called him, was the leader of the confederacy when Jamestown was settled in 1607. The Powhatan are said to have been driven N to Virginia by the Spanish, where their chief, Powhatan's father, subjugated five other Virginia tribes. With Powhatan's own conquests, the empire included, among some 30 peoples, the Pamunkey, Mattapony, Chickahominy, and others likewise commemorated in the names of the streams and rivers of E Virginia. They were a sedentary people, with some 200 settlements, many of them protected by palisades when the English arrived. They cultivated corn, fished, and hunted. Of his many capitals, Powhatan favored Werowocomoco, on the left bank of the York River near modern Purtan Bay, where Capt. John Smith first met him in 1608. The English soon seized the best lands, and Powhatan quickly retaliated. To appease him, he was given a crown, and a coronation ceremony was formally performed by Christopher Newport in 1609. Peace with Powhatan was secured when his daughter Pocahontas married (1614) John Rolfe.

On Powhatan's death in 1618, Opechancanough, chief of the Pamunkey, became the central power in the confederacy, and he organized the general attack (1622) in which some 350 settlers were killed. English reprisals were equally violent, but there was no further fighting on a large scale until 1644, when Opechancanough led the last uprising, in which he was captured and murdered at Jamestown. In 1646 the confederacy yielded much of its territory, and beginning in 1665 its chiefs were appointed by the governor of Virginia. After the Iroquois, traditional enemies of the confederacy, agreed to cease their attacks in the Treaty of Albany (1722), the tribes scattered, mixed with the settlers, and all semblance of the confederacy disappeared. In 1990 there were about 800 Powhatan in the United States, most of them in E Virginia.

-------------------- Powhatan Confederacy, group of Native North Americans belonging to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). Their area embraced most of tidewater Virginia and the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay. Wahunsonacock, or Powhatan, as the English called him, was the leader of the confederacy when Jamestown was settled in 1607. The Powhatan are said to have been driven N to Virginia by the Spanish, where their chief, Powhatan's father, subjugated five other Virginia tribes. With Powhatan's own conquests, the empire included, among some 30 peoples, the Pamunkey, Mattapony, Chickahominy, and others likewise commemorated in the names of the streams and rivers of E Virginia. They were a sedentary people, with some 200 settlements, many of them protected by palisades when the English arrived. They cultivated corn, fished, and hunted. Of his many capitals, Powhatan favored Werowocomoco, on the left bank of the York River near modern Purtan Bay, where Capt. John Smith first met him in 1608. The English soon seized the best lands, and Powhatan quickly retaliated. To appease him, he was given a crown, and a coronation ceremony was formally performed by Christopher Newport in 1609. Peace with Powhatan was secured when his daughter Pocahontas married (1614) John Rolfe. On Powhatan's death in 1618, Opechancanough, chief of the Pamunkey, became the central power in the confederacy, and he organized the general attack (1622) in which some 350 settlers were killed. English reprisals were equally violent, but there was no further fighting on a large scale until 1644, when Opechancanough led the last uprising, in which he was captured and murdered at Jamestown. In 1646 the confederacy yielded much of its territory, and beginning in 1665 its chiefs were appointed by the governor of Virginia. After the Iroquois, traditional enemies of the confederacy, agreed to cease their attacks in the Treaty of Albany (1722), the tribes scattered, mixed with the settlers, and all semblance of the confederacy disappeared. In 1990 there were about 800 Powhatan in the United States, most of them in E Virginia.

-------------------- Chief Powhatan (c. June 17, 1545 – c. 1618), whose proper name was Wahunsenacawh or (in seventeenth century English spelling) Wahunsunacock, was the leader of the Powhatan (also spelled Powatan and Powhaten), a powerful tribe of Virginia Indians[1], as well as an associated confederacy of numerous tribes speaking Algonquian languages, known as the Powhatan Confederacy. He lived in Tenakomakah— which is now Tidewater Virginia—at the time of the first English-Native encounters. The Powhatan was the father of Pocahontas and other children.

Powhatan. The ruling chief and practically the founder of the Powhatan confederacy (q. v.) in Virginia at the period of the first English settlement. His proper name was Wahunsonacock, but he was commonly known as Powhatan from one of his- favorite residences at the falls of James r. (Richmond). According to Smith, of some 30 cognate tribes subject to his rule in 1607, all but six were his own conquests. At the time of the coming of the English, Powhatan is represented to have been about 60 years of age, of dignified bearing, and reserved and stern disposition. His first attitude toward the whites was friendly although suspicious, but he soon became embittered by the exactions of the newcomers. On the treacherous seizure of his favorite daughter, Pocahontas (q. v.), in 1613, he became openly hostile, but was happily converted for the time through her marriage to Rolfe. He died in 1618, leaving the succession to his brother, Opitchapan, who however was soon superseded by a younger brother, the noted Opechancanough.

He had several wives and many children, however Pocahontas was his favorite daughter. --------------------

Powhatan. The ruling chief and practically the founder of the Powhatan confederacy (q. v.) in Virginia at the period of the first English settlement. His proper name was Wahunsonacock, but he was commonly known as Powhatan from one of his- favorite residences at the falls of James r. (Richmond). According to Smith, of some 30 cognate tribes subject to his rule in 1607, all but six were his own conquests. At the time of the coming of the English, Powhatan is represented to have been about 60 years of age, of dignified bearing, and reserved and stern disposition. His first attitude toward the whites was friendly although suspicious, but he soon became embittered by the exactions of the newcomers. On the treacherous seizure of his favorite daughter, Pocahontas (q. v.), in 1613, he became openly hostile, but was happily converted for the time through her marriage to Rolfe. He died in 1618, leaving the succession to his brother, Opitchapan, who however was soon superseded by a younger brother, the noted Opechancanough.

Chief Powhatan was the chief of the Algonquian Indian Tribe. His tribe was located in the region between the James and York River in Virginia.

When the English began exploring and, later, colonizing North America, they were both aware of and fascinated by the native people they encountered. Fortunately for students of history, some of these explorers and settlers chose to commit their observations to paper. Although archeology and oral traditions play a role in our appreciation of the largely-vanished culture of the Powhatan Indians in Virginia, it is the accounts of such Englishmen as John Smith, William Strachey, Robert Beverley, and George Percy which provide the detail of the everyday life of these people.

Even though the English viewed the Powhatan Indian culture as savage and primitive, we can still utilize the facts and details presented by one group of people commenting on and describing another. Since the English found the Powhatans so different from themselves, they took great pains at recording those differences for the education of their contemporaries.

The 104 Englishmen who landed at Jamestown on May 13, 1607 chose that settlement site partially because on-one else was presently occupying the small peninsula, an unhealthy, if highly defensible, area. This lack of inhabitants was hardly the case for most of Tidewater Virginia, as the English were soon to discover. Although it is difficult to estimate, modern historians number the native population of 1607 Tidewater Virginia at 13,000 to 14,000. Powhatan settlements were concentrated along the rivers, which provided both food and transportation; the folk who inhabited them spoke a now-extinct form of Algonquian, a language which was common with many native peoples from present-day New York south to Florida.

The undisputed ruler of Tidewater Virginia was Wahunsonacock, usually referred to by this title as "Powhatan." John Smith describes Powhatan as "a tall well proportioned man, with a sower look, his head somewhat gray, his beard so thinne, that it seemeth none at all, his age (as of 1608) neare sixtie, of a very able and hardy body to endure any labour."

Powhatan had inherited six tribes located not far from present-day Richmond. By 1607, he had added considerably to his domain which, at its peak, numbered over 30 tribes. Each tribe was governed by a werowance, a chief who owed allegiance and tribute to Powhatan. Although Powhatan maintained residences amongst all the tribes, his usual dwelling-place was a Werowocomoco, on the north side of the York River.

In addition to his councilors, whom he kept about him always, Powhatan also had a extensive family. Because of the large amounts of tribute collected (estimated by one settler as eight parts out of ten of all that his people produced) Powhatan could support over a hundred wives and the resulting offspring, the most famous of whom was Matoaka, better known by her nickname "Pocahontas."

Powhatan's people lived in villages, which could number as many as one hundred homes. some villages were protected by wooden palisades; each house boasted an extensive and carefuly-tended garden, in which was sown such staples as corn, beans, peas, squash, pumpkin, sunflowers and maypops (passionflower). Tobacco, primarily used for ceremonial purposes, was grown apart from the rest of the crops.

Although the gardens were an important food source, the Powhatans' diet was far more extensive. John Smith remarked that for the bulk of the year, Powhatans relied on other sources of food. The waterways afforded a rich diet of fish and shellfish and the woods yielded nuts, fruits and berries. Since the dog was the only animal domesticated by the Powhatans, hunting was an important way to supplement the diet, and was a task relegated to the men of the tribe. At a very young age, a boy was taught the use of the bow. Rather than a recreational activity for the wealthy, as hunting was perceived by the English, Powhatans considered it a very serious business, an important way of securing food and clothing.

The hard work of Powhatan women was more often remarked upon by the English. Whether she was gathering wood, making pottery, preparing food, dressing hides, caring for the garden or making clothing, a Powhatan woman was seldom at rest.

Some of the most detailed descriptions of Powhatan people concerns their appearance. According to John Smith, the native Virginians were "Generally tall and straight," an observation confirmed by archeological analysis, which estimates that the average Powhatan stood at about six feet. William Strachey, another 17th-century author, recorded that Powhatans were "Generally of a cullour brown or rather tawny."

Costume varied according to sex, age and status. The most common article of apparel for men was a breech-clout of skin worn between the thighs. According to Smith, "The common sort have scarce to cover their nakedness but with grasse, the leaves of trees, or such like. . . The better sort use large mantels of deare skins not much different from the Irish mantels." A man of high status might wear a shirt-like garment made of fringed deerskin or a mantle of turkey feathers. The hair was shaven from the right side of the head (to reduce the risk of entanglement in the hunter's bowstring); the hair on the other side of the head was allowed to grow long and often pulled into a knot and decorated with everything from shells to the dead hand of an enemy. Men used body paint in preparation for war or games.

Werowances (chiefs) wore fine clothes and many ornaments of pearl, rare shell beads and copper, the precious metal of the Powhatans. George Percy described the headdress of one werowance: "a crown of deares haire colloured red, in fashion of a rose fastened about his knot of haire, and a great plate of copper on the other side of his head; with two long feathers in fashion of a pair of horns placed in the midst of his Crowne."

In his History and Present State of Virginia (1705), colonist Robert Beverley opined that Powhatan Indian "women are generally beautiful, possessing an uncommon delicacy of shape and features." The skirt was the ubiquitous garment for women; those of higher-status swathed themselves in fringed deerskin. The hair of a married women was worn long and plaited in the back; a young girl had her head on the front and sides shaven close, with the rest of the hair growing long and braided down the back.

George Strachey remarked at length on the use of tattooed decorations by the Powhatan Indian women, commenting that they "have their armes, breasts, thighes, shoulders, and faces, cuningly ymbrodered with divers workes, for pouncing and searing their skyns with a kind of instrument heated in the fier. They figure therein flowers and fruits of sondry lively kinds, as also snakes, serpents."

Although early interaction between the English and Powhatans was sometimes violent and exploitive on both sides, leaders of both peoples realized the mutual benefit which could be derived from peaceful relations. Powhatan craved the trade goods brought by the English, which would give him increased status, make his peoples' lives easier and also help him to expand his empire to the west. The English needed food, allies and knowledgeable guides to help them locate raw materials, precious metals and the much-sought trade route to the Far East. The marriage of Powhatan's favorite daughter Pocahontas to settler John Rolfe in 1614 ensured a few peaceful years between the Powhatans and the English.

This brief time of peace ended in 1617 with the death of Pocahontas during a trip to England and, the next year, of her father. Opitchapan, Powhatan's brother, served briefly as chief, and then retired in favor of Opechancanough, the powerful and aggressive werowance whose land centered around present-day West Point. Opechancanough resented the English, and, although Powhatan had been assured the Jamestown settlement was merely a temporary one, the new chief saw all too clearly that the English were in Virginia to stay. Thanks to the introduction of a successful strain of tobacco by John Rolfe, the colonists had a way to achieve a profit and, consequently, the need for greater and greater tracts of land on which to grow their crop.

On March 22, 1622, Opechancanough's carefully-orchestrated plan to dismay and perhaps even rout his enemy was executed by his warriors throughout the small English settlements in Virginia. Although some areas, including Jamestown, escaped unscathed, within a few hours as many as 400 English settlers had lost their lives and the colony had received a near-fatal blow.

The surviving settlers' reaction to the Powhatan uprising was retaliation, and the English, better armed and organized than the Powhatans, set to with a vengeance. The Virginia Company instructed the settlers to wage a total war against the Powhatan people, doing whatever it took to subdue them utterly. For over a decade, the English killed men and women, captured children and systematically razed villages, seizing or destroying crops.

After the uprising, the colonists recovered and expanded their territory, even as the Powhatan empire declined both in power and population. Even so, in 1644, Opechancanough rallied his small forces to make a final attempt at routing the English from his people's land. The attack, launched on April 17, 1644, resulted in the death of hundreds of colonists, but, like the attempt made 22 years earlier, did not achieve its objective. The English captured Opechancanough, by then an old and feeble man, and brought him to Jamestown, where he was shot in the back by a soldier against orders.

As in 1622, the English retaliated. Finally, in 1646 and 1647, treaties were made with Opechancanough's successor which severely restricted the Powhatan people's territory and confined them to small reservations. Tribute was to be offered to the English king of "Twenty beaver skins att the going away of geese yearely." The Powhatan's land was further reduced in a treaty of 1677.

By 1669, the population of Powhatan Indians in Tidewater Virginia had dropped to about 1,800 and by 1722, many of the tribes comprising the empire of Chief Powhatan were reported extinct. Several tribes lost their reservations and some opted to blend into the colonial scene as best they could. By the beginning of the 20th century, only the Pamunkey and Mattaponi peoples retained their reservations.

Today, the Pamunkey and Mattaponi reservations, located near West Point, have endured as two of the oldest in the United States. Many Virginia Indians were encouraged by those tribes' example of courage and determination, and, in the early 20th century, began to reorganize their tribes. Crafts, dances, oral tradition and other almost-forgotten aspects of the Powhatan Indian culture were shared with other Virginians. In 1983, the Virginia Council on Indians was established, consisting of nine tribal representatives and three at-large members. In the same session of the General Assembly, six tribes were officially recognized; by 1990, two more tribes were given official status. Today, the Virginia Indian community is a strong one which takes pride in its heritage and responsibility for teaching others about its unique culture, which impacts on the life of every American today.

Chief or Emperor Powhatan

-------------------- The group of Native North Americans, belonging to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock. Their area embraced most of tidewater Virginia and the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay. Wahunsonacock, or Powhatan, as the English called him, was the leader of the confederacy when Jamestown was settled in 1607. The Powhatan are said to have been driven N to Virginia by the Spanish, where their chief, Powhatan's father, subjugated five other Virginia tribes. With Powhatan's own conquests, the empire included, among some 30 peoples, the Pamunkey, Mattapony, Chickahominy, and others likewise commemorated in the names of the streams and rivers of E Virginia. They were sedentary Native Americans, with some 200 settlements, many of them protected by palisades when the English arrived. They cultivated corn, fished, and hunted. Of his many capitals, Powhatan favored Werowocomoco, on the left bank of the York River, where Capt. John Smith first met him in 1608. The English soon seized the best lands, and Powhatan quickly retaliated. To appease him, he was given a crown, and a coronation ceremony was formally performed by Christopher Newport in 1609. Peace with Powhatan was secured when his daughter Pocahontas married (1614) John Rolfe. On Powhatan's death in 1618, Opechancanough, chief of the Pamunkey, became the central power in the confederacy, and he organized the general attack (1622) in which some 350 settlers were killed. English reprisals were equally violent, but there was no further fighting on a large scale until 1644, when Opechancanough led the last uprising, in which he was captured and murdered at Jamestown. In 1646 the confederacy yielded much of its territory, and beginning in 1665 its chiefs were appointed by the governor of Virginia. After the Iroquois, traditional enemies of the confederacy, agreed to cease their attacks in the Treaty of Albany (1722), the tribes scattered, mixed with the settlers, and all semblance of the confederacy disappeared. By the early 1970s some 3,000 Powhatan lived in the eastern part of Virginia. See F. G. Speck, Chapters on the Ethnology of the Powhatan Tribes of Virginia (1928).

-------------------- Him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chief_Powhatan -------------------- Notes for Wahansonacock Powhatan: Wahunsonacock Powhatan , the father of Matoaka (otherwise known as Pocahontas), oversaw a loose empire of tribes around the Chesapeake Bay area in what is now Delaware, Maryland, and eastern Virginia. In 1607, the Virginia Company of colonists encountered Powhatan's tribes both peacefully and at odds. The encounter with John Smith that spawned the Pocohontas story is mostly myth, but exemplifies the best and worst of that early meeting of cultures. Chief Powhatan was coronated Emperor of Virginia by King James, but when he died in the spring of 1618, the succeeding generation would see their native lands usurped by the colonists. Powhatan purportedly had many children, most unrecorded. It is believed that we descend from his youngest daughter, Cleopatra, whose daughter Nicketti married a Scotsman named Hughes, and their daughter Mary Elizabeth married Nathaniel Davis.

Chief of the Algonquian Indians in the Tidewater region of Virginia. There are those that claim that Powhatan was the son of an Indian princess and a Spaniard who came with DeSoto and his men to the islands near Florida. When Powhatan was about 15 years old King Phillip of Spain had him brought there to educate him, but he stayed there only a few years.

The Powhatan Confederacy stretched from the Potomac river south along the Virginia coast into upper North Carolina, and west to the fall line of the rivers. The Powhatans were a part of the late Woodlands culture of the southeastern part of the United States. Their tongue was a derivative of Algonquian on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay and the Hudson and Delaware river basins. They were polytheistic in their faith, with the major deities being Okeus, responsible for the evil in the world, and Ahone, a god of good. In her wonderful work "Pocahontas," Grace Steele Woodward writes that Okeus was annually appeased from his evil with human sacrifice; "the priests would gather the entire Powhatan community in the woods, and after chanting their supplications... around a great fire, would present two or three of the Powhatan children to the god. Okeus would then mysteriously communicate to the priests the names of those to be sacrificed, and not even the son of a werowance was spared from death on the sacrificial altar if he was unfortunate enough to be selected." The beneficent god Ahone was praised by the Powhatans bathing in the rivers or streams each morning at sunrise and then standing arms raised inside a circle of dried tobacco to call their prayers. Grace Woodward tells us the colonists reported these chants as the men howling "like wolves" and foaming at the mouth. They also practiced a ritualistic torture, she notes, dismembering the living bodies of captives and tossing the pieces on a fire, or sometimes bashing the captive's head on a stone block with a mallet or club. "Scalps salvaged from the ceremony were hung on a line stretched between trees-- to be admired and appreciated."

By the time of the arrival of the Europeans in the late 16th century, the Powhatan chief, Wahunsonacock, was called by the tribe's name, Powhatan. He is described by Captain John Smith in his "General Historie...." in the early 1600s as "a tall well proportioned man with a sower look, his head somewhat gray, his beard so thin it seemeth none at all, his age near sixtye of a very capable and hardy body to endure any labor." Succession of the ruler passed from brother to brother and so on, then to sisters and their heirs.

Woodward says the name of Pocahontas' mother was unknown to the colonists. Others have reported her to be Winganuske Matatiske.

Much of the information in this section tracing the purported linkage between Abadiah Davis and Wahunsonacock (Powhatan) comes from the research of Leona M. Simonini , of Lake Almanor Peninsula, California , who has graciously shared her work with me. I cite her as Leona throughout.

Leona says: (quoting from NJ Floyd's work)(more in Notes elsewhere):

"The writer, feeling confident that the original tradition was correct, made an exhaustive search for information on that any many similar matters, and finally found, in the old library of the Maryland Historical Society, an item of three lines in a fragment of Jamestown records covering eleven years-- 1630 to 1641--which furnished in a positive and indisputable form the proof sought. During the period, covered by the fragment, matters became so bad between the Whites and Indians, that Opechancanough was induced to agree upon a line being established which neither White nor Indian, excepting truce-bearers, should cross under penalty of being shot on sight. To insure strict obedience to the compact, a law was passed at Jamestown imposing a heavy penalty on any of the people crossing the line without a special permit from the Governor's Council and the General Court. This accounts for the item alluded to, which is given verbatim et literatim. In the Council record it reads:

'December 17th 1641,--Thomas Rolfe petitions Governor to let him go see Opechankeno to whom he is allied, and Cleopatra, his mother's sister.'

The record of the General Court was evidently intended to be a verbatim copy, though they differ somewhat in phraseology and spelling:--

'December 17th 1641--Thomas Rolph petitions Gov. to let him go to see Opechanko, to whom he is allied, and Cleopatre, his mother's sister.' "

When I (the ed.) was in Oxford in 1999, I found in the Ashmolean the following curious display in the Tradescant Room, Room Number 27, upstairs. (The notes are paraphrased from Ashmolean Museum notes, unless they are quotes.)

Probably the most important North American Indian relic to survive anywhere in the world is the "robe of the King of Virginia," or, as the 1656 Tradescant catalogue notes: "Pohatan, King of Virginia's habit all embroidered with shells, or Roanoke." How it was acquired is unclear, though the father and son, Tradescant, both had ties to Virginia. The wrap is of four full deerskins sewn together with sinews. It depicts, in shell decoration, a human figure flanked on each side by animals, possibly a deer and a large cat, all bounded by numerous spiral shell decorations. The current theories, says the Ashmolean guide, suggest it to be a hanging rather than a wrap.

About the Tradescant Room of artifacts, the museum says: "The exhibits from the cabinet of curiosities established at Lambeth by John Tradescant the elder (died 1638) and maintained by his son of the same name (died 1662) were later inherited by Elias Ashmole: it was these items that formed the basis of Ashmole's benefaction to the University of Oxford and which led to the founding of the Ashmolean Museum in 1683. The mixture of natural and man-made rarities (of which only a fraction survives today) was typical of the age. The Tradescants were ahead of their time in opening their privately owned museum to the fee-paying public and this practice was continued at the Ashmolean - Britain's first public museum. In this gallery what has survived of their collection is exhibited along with other objects given to the University in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. "

Truman Adkins writes on 11 Dec 99 that " ...the Powhatan "Confederacy" was called by the people Tsenacomaco. It's Paramount Chief at the time of the settlement of Jamestown was Wahunsonacock, whom the English chose to call Powhatan, as he had his "seat" among the Powhatan people, one of 33 tribes that made up the group. This tribe faded thru history, their descendants selling their remaining lands using the surname Powhite, as in the Powhite Parkway in Richmond, Virginia.

"The following information was provided me (Truman Adkins) by Leona Simonini in California who is a descendant of Cleopatra, the name given by the English to the sister of Pocahontas: Winganuske Matatiske b. 1571, their children: Mantequos (son) Taux (son) Parahunt (son) Pochins (son) Matoaka, Pocahontas, Rebecca, m. John Rolfe

Nonoma, their children: Matachanna (daughter) m. Kwiokos Uttamatomakkin Tomocomo, he was Chief Powhatan's Priest Counselor. He and his wife accompanied Pocahontas and John Rolfe on their trip to England. Matachanna was married a total of 3 times, others unknown. Cleopatra m. Opechancanough who was her father's brother and her uncle. Nanontack (son)

Ponnoiske, don't have any children for her.

Amopotoiske, don't have any children for her. (ed.: the Amonsoquaths say she is Pocahontas' mother.)

Regent Oholasc Quigoughcohtan, b. 1579, their children: Tahacoope Quiqoughcohannock (son) m. Ottopomtacks.

"Today there are two reservations remaining in Virginia, both in King William County, the Pamunkey, where Powhatan is buried, and the Mattaponi (as well as the Cherokee). The Commonwealth recognizes eight tribes in addition to the above two-- there are the Upper Mattaponi, Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Nandsemond, Rappahannock, all of whom are Powhatan, and the Monacan to the west of the area of Tsenacomaco.

An excellent book on the Powhatan's struggles thru the centuries is Helen Rountree's POCAHONTAS'S PEOPLE, published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

Truman Adkins, Fieldale, Henry Co., Virginia"

There is also an unpublished script this listing of Wahunsonacock's various wives in addition to Nonoma:

Wahunsonacock and WINGANUSKE Wahunsonacock and ASHETOISKE Wahunsonacock and AMOPOTOISKE, see note above for the Amonsoquath belief Wahunsonacock and OTTOPOMTACKE Wahunsonacock and ATTOSSOCOMISKE Wahunsonacock and PONNOISKE Wahunsonacock and APPOMOSISCUT Wahunsonacock and APPIMMONOISKE Wahunsonacock and ORTOUGHNOISKE Wahunsonacock and OWEROUGHWOUGH Wahunsonacock and OTTERMISKE

Sources Much of the above was gleaned from notes by Pat M. Stevens (pat@patmstevens.com ), Leona M. Simonini (leesim@psln.com) Sources:

Title: For the spelling of Wahunsonacock, Lee Miller's from her work "Roanoke," 2001 Title: Capt. John Smith reported that Powhatan was "in his sixtyes" by the Jamestown settlement Title: I have seen his birth date spread from the early 1540s to as late as 1555; with 1545 I follow Smith's report in the previous note Title: He dies the same year Sir Walter Raleigh is executed by King James Title: John Rolfe reported his death in June, 1618, according to Grace Steele Woodward in her "Pocahontas"

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Wahunsonacock Powhatan, Chief of the Powhatan's Timeline

1545
June 17, 1545
Werowocomoco, Pamunkey River, Virginia
1566
1566
Age 20
1574
1574
Age 28
Werowocomoco, Orpax, Virginia
1580
1580
Age 34
1580
Age 34
1589
1589
Age 43
1591
1591
Age 45
Virginia
1592
1592
Age 46
Virginia, United States
1592
Age 46
VA, American Colonies
1593
1593
Age 47
Richmond, Henrico, Virginia