Wahunsonacock Powhatan, Chief of the Powhatan

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Wahunsonacock Powhatan, Chief of the Powhatan

Also Known As: "Emperor Wahunsomacock Powhattan", "Powhatan", "CHIEF HILL 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 One Other Powhatan; Ohalasc Powhaten; Alpanchamo Powhatan and Nonoma Matatiske Winanuske
Father of Cleopatra T. Powhatan; Matachanna Powhattan; Tahacope Powhatan; Parahunt Powhattan; Secotin Sonacock Powhattan and 9 others
Brother of Morning Flower Powhatan; Opechancanough Mangopeesomon Powhatan; Opichapam Itoyatin Sasawpen Powhatan, Chief; Apachamo Kekataugh (Catataugh) Powhatan; Opussunaquonuske (Opachisco) Powhatan and 4 others

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 He died in 1618, leaving the succession to his brother, Opitchapan, who however was soon superseded by a younger brother, the noted Opechancanough.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"

-------------------- The Powhatan (also spelled Powatan and Powhaten) is the name of a Virginia Indian confederation of tribes. It is estimated that there were about 14,000–21,000 of these native Powhatan people in eastern Virginia when the English settled Jamestown in 1607. They were also known as Virginia Algonquians, as they spoke an eastern-Algonquian language known as Powhatan or Virginia Algonquin.

In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, a mamanatowick (paramount chief), named Wahunsunacawh (a.k.a. "Chief Powhatan"), created a powerful organization by affiliating 30 tributary peoples, whose territory was much of eastern Virginia, called Tsenacommacah ("densely-inhabited Land"), Wahunsunacawh came to be known by the English as "Chief Powhatan". Each of the tribes within this organization had its own weroance (chief), but all paid tribute to Chief Powhatan.

After Chief Powhatan's death in 1618, hostilities with colonists escalated under the chiefdom of his brother, Opechancanough, who sought in vain to drive off the encroaching English. His large-scale attacks in 1622 and 1644 met strong reprisals by the English, resulting in the near elimination of the tribe. By 1646, what is called the Powhatan Paramount Chiefdom by modern historians had been largely destroyed. In addition to the ongoing conflicts with the ever-expanding English settlements and their inhabitants, the Powhatan suffered a high death rate due to infectious diseases, maladies introduced to North America by the Europeans to which the Native Americans of the United States had developed no natural immunities.

By this time, the leaders of the colony were desperate for labor to develop the land. Almost half of the English and European immigrants arrived as indentured servants. As colonial expansion continued, the colonists imported growing numbers of enslaved Africans for labor. By 1700, the colonies had about 6,000 black slaves, one-twelfth of the population. It was common for black slaves to escape and join the surrounding Powhatan; white servants were also noted to have joined the Indians. Africans and whites worked and lived together; some natives also intermarried with them. After Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, the colony enslaved Indians for control. In 1691, the House of Burgesses abolished Indian slavery; however, many Powhatan were held in servitude well into the 18th century.

In the 21st century, eight Indian tribes are recognized by the state as having ties with the original Powhatan complex chiefdom. The Pamunkey and Mattaponi are the only two peoples who have retained reservation lands from the 17th century. The competing cultures of the Powhatan and English settlers were united temporarily through the marriage of Pocahontas and John Rolfe. Their son Thomas Rolfe was the ancestor of many Virginians; thus, many of the First Families of Virginia have both English and Virginia Indian ancestry.

History

Naming and terminology The name "Powhatan" (also transcribed by Strachey as Paqwachowng) the name of the village or town that Wahunsunacawh came from. The official title Chief Powhatan used by the English is believed to have been derived from the name of this location. Although the specific situs of his home village is unknown, in modern times, the Powhatan Hill neighborhood in the East End portion of the modern-day city of Richmond, Virginia is thought by many to be in the general vicinity of the original village. Tree Hill Farm, which is situated in nearby Henrico County a short distance to the east, is also considered as the possible site.

"Powhatan" was also the name used by the natives to refer to the river where the town sat at the head of navigation. The English colonists chose to name it instead for their own leader, King James I. Many features in the early years of the Virginia Colony were named in honor of the king, as well as his three children, Elizabeth, Henry, and Charles.

Although portions of Virginia's longest river upstream from Columbia were much later named for Queen Anne of Great Britain, in modern times, it is called the James River. It extends from Hampton Roads westerly to the confluence of the Jackson River and Cowpasture River near the town of Clifton Forge. (The Rivanna River, a tributary of the James River, and Fluvanna County, each survive as named in legacy to Queen Anne). However, the only water body in Virginia to retain a name which honors the Powhatan peoples is Powhatan Creek, located in James City County near Williamsburg.

Powhatan County and its county seat at Powhatan, Virginia were honorific names established years later, in locations west of the area populated by the Powhatan peoples. The county was formed in may, 1777.

Complex chiefdom Likewise, perhaps more significant misnomers are the terms "Powhatan Confederacy" and "Powhatan Confederation." This grouping of tribes is clearly not best-defined in modern terms as a confederacy. That word is generally thought of as a grouping of entities each with greater individual power than the group when united. In many uses, a confederacy is distinctly different in structure from a centralized greater power than the parts, such as the current federal structure of the United States.

Many historians attribute to a minor level the failure of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War in part to the weakness of the central government in comparison to the Union. (It is important for a reader to note that most historians do not consider this difference as one of the major weaknesses leading to the Southern loss. However, the term Confederacy has become associated with the principal of states' rights versus the central U.S. government).

Using the word "confederacy" to define the Powhatan tribes extant in 1607 can therefore, be misleading when seeking to understand these people, their governments and their culture. It is true that the various tribes each held some individual powers locally. Each had a chief known as a weroance (male) or, more rarely, a weroansqua (female), meaning “commander,”. As of 2010, we do not know to what degree most of the various tribes belonged to the group by choice or perhaps by coercion or even greater force.

As early as the era of John Smith, the individual tribes of this grouping were clearly recognized by the English as falling under the greater authority of the centralized power (whatever it is labeled) led by the chiefdom of Chief Powhatan (c. June 17, 1545 – c. 1618), whose proper name was Wahunsenacawh or (in 17th century English spelling) Wahunsunacock.

At the time of the 1607 English Settlement at Jamestown, he ruled primarily from Werowocomoco, which was located on northern shore of the York River. This location of Werowocomoco, itself only rediscovered in the early 21st century, was very central to locations of the various tribes. The improvements discovered during archaeological research at Werowocomoco have reinforced the paramount chiefdom of Chief Powhatan over the other tribes in the power hierarchy. Such issues in other cultures and the definitions are covered at some length by author Robert L. Carneiro in his 1981 work on anthropology, The Chiefdom: Precursor of the State. The Transition to Statehood in the New World.

The center of power held by Chief Powhatan (and his several successors) is much more concisely defined as a "complex chiefdom." To refer to this complex chiefdom, the term "Powhatan Paramount Chiefdom" has become favored. Over time, this and other revisions to the knowledge and information available about the Powhatan peoples native to Virginia will undoubtedly be made as research work at Werowocomoco and elsewhere continues in the 21st century.

Chief Powhatan builds his chiefdom Wahunsunacawh had inherited control over just six tribes, but dominated more than thirty by the time the English settlers established their Virginia Colony at Jamestown in 1607. The original six constituent tribes in Wahunsunacock's group were: the Powhatan (proper), the Arrohateck, the Appamattuck, the Pamunkey, the Mattaponi, and the Chiskiack.

He added the Kecoughtan to his fold by 1598. Some other affiliated groups included the Youghtanund, Rappahannocks, Moraughtacund, Weyanoak, Paspahegh, Quiyoughcohannock, Warraskoyack, and Nansemond. Yet another closely related tribe in the midst of these others, all speaking the same language, was the Chickahominy, who managed to preserve their autonomy from the Powhatan Paramount Chiefdom. The Accawmacke, isolated by the Chesapeake Bay from Powhatan domains, were nominally tributary, but enjoyed autonomy under their own Paramount Chieftain or "Emperor", Debedeavon (aka "The Laughing King").

In his famous work Notes on the State of Virginia (1781–82), Thomas Jefferson estimated that the Powhatan Confederacy occupied about 8,000 square miles (20,000 km2) of territory, with a population of about 8,000 people, of whom 2400 were warriors. Later scholars estimated the population of the paramountcy as 15,000.

The English settlers in the land of the Powhatan The Powhatan Confederacy were the Indians among whom the English made their first permanent settlement in North America. This contributed to their downfall. Conflicts began immediately; the English colonists fired shots as soon as they arrived (due to a bad experience they had with the Spanish prior to their arrival). Within two weeks of the English arrival at Jamestown, deaths had occurred.

The settlers had hoped for friendly relations and had planned to trade with the Virginia Indians for food. Captain Christopher Newport led the first English exploration party up the James River in 1607, when he met Parahunt, weroance of the Powhatan proper. The English initially mistook him for the paramount Powhatan (mamanatowick), who was in fact his father, Wahunsunacawh.

On a hunting and trade mission on the Chickahominy River in December 1607, Captain John Smith, later president of the colony, was captured by Opechancanough, the younger brother of Wahunsunacawh. Smith became the first Englishman to meet the paramount chief, Powhatan. According to Smith's account, Pocahontas, Wahunsunacawh's daughter, prevented her father from executing Smith.

Some researchers have asserted that a mock execution was a ritual intended to adopt Smith into the tribe, but other modern writers dispute this interpretation. They point out that nothing is known of 17th-century Powhatan adoption ceremonies. They note that an execution ritual is different from known rites of passage. Other historians, such as Helen Rountree, have questioned whether there was any risk of execution. They note that Smith failed to mention it in his 1608 and 1612 accounts, and only added it to his 1624 memoir, after Pocahontas had become famous.

In 1608, Captain Newport realized that Powhatan's friendship was crucial to the survival of the small Jamestown colony. In the summer of that year, he tried to "crown" the paramount Chief, with a ceremonial crown, to make him an English "vassal." They also gave Powhatan many European gifts, such as a pitcher, feather mattress, bed frame, and clothes. The coronation went badly because they asked Powhatan to kneel to receive the crown, which he refused to do. As a powerful leader, Powhatan followed two rules: "he who keeps his head higher than others ranks higher," and "he who puts other people in a vulnerable position, without altering his own stance, ranks higher." To finish the "coronation", several English had to lean on Powhatan's shoulders to get him low enough to place the crown on his head, as he was a tall man. Afterwards, the English might have thought that Powhatan had submitted to King James, whereas Powhatan likely thought nothing of the sort.

After John Smith became president of the colony, he sent a force under Captain Martin to occupy an island in Nansemond territory and drive the inhabitants away. At the same time, he sent another force with Francis West to build a fort at the James River falls. He purchased the nearby fortified Powhatan village (present site of Richmond, Virginia) from Parahunt for some copper and an English servant named Henry Spelman, who wrote a rare firsthand account of the Powhatan ways of life. Smith then renamed the village "Nonsuch", and tried to get West's men to live in it. Both these attempts at settling beyond Jamestown soon failed, due to Powhatan resistance. Smith left Virginia for England in October 1609, never to return, because of an injury sustained in a gunpowder accident. Soon afterward, the English established a second fort, Fort Algernon, in Kecoughtan territory.

In November 1609, Captain John Ratcliffe was invited to Orapakes, Powhatan's new capital. After he had sailed up the Pamunkey River to trade there, a fight broke out between the colonists and the Powhatan. All of the English ashore were killed, including Ratcliffe, who was tortured by the women of the tribe. Those aboard the pinnace escaped and told the tale at Jamestown.

During that next year, the tribe attacked and killed many Jamestown residents. The residents fought back, but only killed twenty. However, arrival at Jamestown of a new Governor, Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, (Lord Delaware) in June 1610 signalled the beginning of the First Anglo-Powhatan War. A brief period of peace came only after the capture of Pocahontas, her baptism, and her marriage to tobacco planter John Rolfe in 1614. Within a few years both Powhatan and Pocahontas were dead. The Chief died in Virginia, but Pocahontas died while in England. Meanwhile, the English settlers continued to encroach on Powhatan territory.

After Wahunsunacawh's death, his younger brother, Opitchapam, briefly became chief, followed by their younger brother Opechancanough. In 1622 and 1644 he attacked the English to force them from Powhatan territories. Both these attempts were met with strong reprisals from the English, ultimately resulting in the near destruction of the tribe. The Second Anglo–Powhatan War that followed the 1644 incident ended in 1646, after Royal Governor of Virginia William Berkeley's forces captured Opechancanough, thought to be between 90 and 100 years old. While a prisoner, Opechancanough was killed, shot in the back by a soldier assigned to guard him. He was succeeded as Weroance by Necotowance, and later by Totopotomoi and by his daughter Cockacoeske.

The Treaty of 1646 marked the effective dissolution of the united confederacy, as white colonists were granted an exclusive enclave between the York and Blackwater Rivers. This physically separated the Nansemonds, Weyanokes and Appomattox, who retreated southward, from the other Powhatan tribes then occupying the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck. While the southern frontier demarcated in 1646 was respected for the remainder of the 17th century, the House of Burgesses lifted the northern one on September 1, 1649. Waves of new immigrants quickly flooded the peninsular region, then known as Chickacoan, and restricted the dwindling tribes to lesser tracts of land that became some of the earliest Indian reservations.

In 1665, the House of Burgesses passed stringent laws requiring the Powhatan to accept chiefs appointed by the governor. After the Treaty of Albany in 1684, the Powhatan Confederacy all but vanished.

Capitals of the Powhatan people

The capital village of "Powhatan" was believed to be in the present-day Powhatan Hill section of the eastern part of Richmond, Virginia, or perhaps nearby in a location which became part of Tree Hill Farm.

Another major center of the confederacy about 75 miles (121 km) to the east was called Werowocomoco. It was located near the north bank of the York River in present-day Gloucester County.

Werowocomoco was described by the English colonists as only 15 miles (24 km) as the crow flies from Jamestown, but also described as 25 miles (40 km) downstream from present-day West Point, measurements which conflict with each other. In 2003 archaeologists initiated excavations at a site in Gloucester County that have revealed an extensive indigenous settlement from about 1200 (the late Woodland period) through the early Contact period. Work since then has added to their belief that this is the location of Werowocomoco. The site is on a farm bordering on Purtain Bay of the York River, about 12 nautical miles (22 km) from Jamestown. The more than 50 acres (200,000 m2) residential settlement extends up to 1,000 feet (300 m) back from the river. In 2004, researchers excavated two curving ditches of 200 feet (60 m) at the far edge, which were constructed about 1400 CE. In addition to extensive artifacts from hundreds of years of indigenous settlement, researchers have found a variety of trade goods related to the brief interaction of Native Americans and English in the early years of Jamestown.

Around 1609, Wahunsunacock shifted his capital from Werowocomoco to Orapakes, located in a swamp at the head of the Chickahominy River, near the modern-day interchange of Interstate 64 and Interstate 295. Sometime between 1611 and 1614, he moved further north to Matchut, in present-day King William County on the north bank of the Pamunkey River, not far from where his brother Opechancanough ruled one of the member tribes at Youghtanund.

Characteristics

The Powhatan lived east of the fall line in Tidewater Virginia. They built their houses, called yehakins, by bending saplings and placing woven mats or bark over top of the saplings. They supported themselves primarily by growing crops, especially maize, but they also fished and hunted in the great forest in their area. Villages consisted of a number of related families organized in tribes led by a chief (weroance/werowance or weroansqua if female). They paid tribute to the paramount chief (mamanatowick), Powhatan.

According to research by the National Park Service, Powhatan "men were warriors and hunters, while women were gardeners and gatherers. The English described the men, who ran and walked extensively through the woods in pursuit of enemies or game, as tall and lean and possessed of handsome physiques. The women were shorter, and were strong because of the hours they spent tending crops, pounding corn into meal, gathering nuts, and performing other domestic chores. When the men undertook extended hunts, the women went ahead of them to construct hunting camps. The Powhatan domestic economy depended on the labor of both sexes."

All of Virginia's natives practiced agriculture. They periodically moved their villages from site to site. Villagers cleared the fields by felling, girdling, or firing trees at the base and then using fire to reduce the slash and stumps. A village became unusable as soil productivity gradually declined and local fish and game were depleted. The inhabitants then moved on. With every change in location, the people used fire to clear new land. They left more cleared land behind. The natives also used fire to maintain extensive areas of open game habitat throughout the East, later called "barrens" by European colonists. The Powhatan also had rich fishing grounds. Bison had migrated to this area by the early 15th century.

The Powhatan people today

State and federal recognition As of 2010, the state of Virginia has recognized eight Powhatan Indian-descended tribes in Virginia. Collectively, the tribes currently have 3,000-3,500 enrolled tribal members. It is estimated, however, that 3 to 4 times that number are eligible for tribal membership. Two of these tribes, the Mattaponi and Pamunkey, still retain their reservations from the 17th century and are located in King William County, Virginia.

Since the 1990s, the Powhatan Indian tribes which have state recognition, along with other Virginia Indian tribes which have state recognition, have been seeking federal recognition. That recognition process has proved difficult as it has been hampered by the lack of official records to verify heritage and by the historical misclassification of family members in the 1930s and 1940s, largely a result of Virginia's state policy of race classification on official documents.

After Virginia passed stringent segregation laws in the early 20th century and ultimately the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 which mandated every person who had any African heritage be deemed black, Walter Plecker, the head of Vital Statistics office, directed all state and local registration offices to use only the terms "white" or "colored" to denote race on official documents and thereby eliminated all traceable records of Virginia Indians. All state documents, including birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, tax forms and land deeds, thus bear no record of Virginia Indians. Plecker oversaw the Vital Statistics office in the state for more than 30 years, beginning in the early 20th century, and took a personal interest in eliminating traces of Virginia Indians. As a follower of the eugenics movement and, by modern day standards, a white supremacist, Plecker falsely surmised that there were no true Virginia Indians remaining as years of intermarriage has diluted the race. Over his years of service, he conducted a campaign to reclassify all bi-racial and multi-racial individuals as black, believing such persons were fraudulently attempting to claim their race to be Indian or white. The effect of his reclassification has been described by tribal members as "paper genocide".

Initially, the Virginia tribes' efforts to gain federal recognition encountered resistance due to federal legislators' concerns over whether gambling would be established on their lands if recognition were granted, as it would raise federal tax concerns and also casinos are illegal in Virginia. In March 2009, five of the state-recognized Powhatan Indian tribes and the one other state-recognized Virginia Indian tribe introduced a bill to gain federal recognition through an act of Congress. The bill, "The Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act", included a section forbidding the tribes from opening casinos, even if casinos became legal in Virginia. The House Committee on Natural Resources recommended the bill be considered by the US House of Representatives at the end of April, the House approved the bill on June 3, 2009. The bill was then sent to the Senate's Committee on Indian Affairs, who recommended it be heard by the Senate as a whole in October. On December 23, 2009, the bill was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under general orders, which is where the bill is currently. The bill currently has a hold on it placed for "jurisdictional concerns" as Senator Tom Coburn (R-Ok) believes requests for tribal recognition should be processed through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a process the Virginia tribes cannot utilize because of Walter Plecker. The bill died in the Senate.

In February 2011, the six Virginia tribes started the process again to try to gain federal recognition. They introduced a bill in the US House of Representatives and a companion bill in the Senate on the same day. As of April 2011, the bills are in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the Subcommittee Indian and Alaska Native Affairs, respectively.

Powhatan language Powhatan language The language of the Powhatan Indians is now dormant and much of the vocabulary bank is forgotten. Attempts have been made to reconstruct the vocabulary of the language using sources such as word lists provided by Smith and by 17th-century writer William Strachey.

Powhatan Renape The Powhatan Renape are a band of Powhatan descendants who relocated to present-day New Jersey and are officially recognized by that state. The actual term "Renape" is a common Algonquian word mean "true humans", as in the name Lenape (Lenni Lenape) — the native inhabitants of the land that is present-day New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

No cognate of Renape was ever recorded for Virginia Algonquian, although the form Renapoaks was recorded for Carolina Algonquian by Ralph Lane in 1586 (as a term used by the inhabitants of Roanoke Island for all those on the mainland).

The Powhatan Renape are presently struggling to retain their lease of >250 acres in New Jersey. It appears that the State will be taking back all but 5 acres. PhillyNews Article - Sep.2010

Powhatan and film

The Powhatan people are featured in the Disney animated film Pocahontas (1995). They also appeared in the straight-to-video sequel Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998). An attempt at a more historically accurate representation was the drama The New World (2005), but it still relied on the myth of a romance between Pocahontas and John Smith. Her husband was John Rolfe in reality.

In fact, she married her father's bravest Patawomeck warrior, Kocoum after Captain Smith went home to England. Three years later, Samuel Argall abducted her for ransom because her tribe stole weapons and agricultural tools from the colony.

Some of the current members of Powhatan-descended tribes complained about the Disney film. Chief Roy Crazy Horse of the Powhatan Renape Nation said the Disney movie "distorts history beyond recognition."

Read more: http://www.notablebiographies.com/knowledge/Powhatan.html#ixzz3Gd7fkcB0

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Wahunsonacock Powhatan, Chief of the Powhatan's Timeline

1545
June 17, 1545
Werowocomoco, Pamunkey River, Virginia
1574
1574
Age 28
Werowocomoco, Orpax, Virginia
1580
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
1593
Age 47
1593
Age 47
Virginia