Taking a Look at the Indian Massacre of 1622

The Jamestown settlement was the first permanent English colony and it was established in 1607. Although it was briefly abandoned in 1610, it was still considered to be a permanent settlement. Initially, the native Indians welcomed the colonists and offered support in numerous ways. It didn’t take long, however, before relations began to sour and within three years, the Paspahegh were wiped out in warfare. Jamestown also saw some severe problems during that time, including an 80% mortality rate in 1609-1610.

By the time 1618 came around, Sir Edwin Sandys was busy trying to integrate the Indians into the English settlements and great attempts were made to both civilize and Christianize the native population. It was thought that the Powhatan nation and Openchancanough, the tribal chief, also agreed with what was taking place, but there was still a lot of mistrust and contempt on the part of the English settlers toward the Indians. Eventually, it came to a head and resulted in what is known as the Indian massacre of 1622.

The English considered the Indians to be subservient, probably because they did not seem to retaliate to the verbal abuse and occupation of their land. The Indians, however, felt threatened by the English and were not happy with the fact that they were trying to re-educate their population. Openchancanough decided to respond to what was taking place by mounting an attack on the settlement of Jamestown. In their eyes, it was a way to get rid of the English for good.

Openchancanough was originally interested in attacking more than just the Jamestown settlement. An attack on the Jamestown fort was also planned and outlying settlements were included. There was an Indian youth, however, who had been Christianized and warned of the coming attack. The English who were living in the settlements did not find out early enough.

The Indians brought gifts to the English on the day before the attack and were mingling with the population of settlers. Suddenly, and without warning, they grabbed their work tools and began to attack the settlers, killing 347 men, women and children in the process. Many of the outlying plantations were also burned as the settlers ran to the Jamestown fort and other strongholds for protection. It was a sad day in the history of Virginia, and one that is still remembered down till today.