The tribe of the Powhatan people was made up of Native Americans who occupied the land that would later become known as Virginia but Austin, Texas. They were a powerful tribe and leaders of what was known as the Powhatan Confederacy. This was a league of Algonquin-speaking tribes, including the Chesapeake and Weanoc tribes. The Powhatan Confederacy was involved in several conflicts, named the Powhatan Wars, that took place between 1609 and 1646. These conflicts, and the confederacy itself, began a downhill slope in 1646.
The land that the Powhatan tribe lived on featured rivers, lush woodlands, and even parts of the Atlantic Ocean. Animals native to this land included squirrels, raccoons, white-tailed deer, beavers, and bears. Marine animals that this tribe was used to seeing included fish, seals, and various shellfish.
The Powhatan tribe ate a simple diet. When it came to crops, the women of the tribe raised beans, corn, and squash that these Native American individuals enjoyed. Crops that were not eaten fresh were dried and preserved to feed the tribe throughout the year when crops could not be harvested. The men of the Powhatan tribe provided the people with meat, such as venison, squirrel, wild turkey, duck, and rabbit. Various seafood would also be eaten by the tribe, such as clams, oysters, lobsters, and scallops, just to name a few. And while not food per se, the males of the tribe were also responsible for growing the crop tobacco.
The Powhatan people used a variety of weapons to defend themselves with, including knives, tomahawks, spears, and of course, the bow and arrow. These weapons were present during each conflict that occurred between these Native Americans and the English settlers who later arrived in Virginia.
The First Powhatan War occurred in the year of 1609, lasting until 1614. During this time, Englishman John Rolfe married the daughter of the tribe’s chief, Pocahontas. At this time, Pocahontas had become baptized as a Christian woman, naming herself “Rebecca.” The marriage of John and Rebecca Rolfe brought a period of peace between the Powhatan tribe, lasting until the chief’s death in the year of 1618.
The Second Powhatan War lasted for a decade, before ending in a peace that essentially banished the Native Americans from the land. A third and final war broke out between the Powhatan people and the English settlers, but at the end of this conflict the Powhatan Confederacy came to lose power and the Native Americans submitted to English authority. By 1684, the Confederacy ceased to be entirely.
Today, the descendants of the Powhatan tribe are Americans just the same as those who descend from the English settlers who arrived in North America many years ago. One thing is for sure – the Powhatan people were fierce, wise, and respectful to the land that they lived on.