© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

Powhatan in Jamestown

Powhatan (unknown-1618) was a Pamunkey Indian chief and the father of Pocahontas. He was also the leader of the confederation of Chesapeake tribes surrounding the English settlement at Jamestown. This confederation consisted of 30 tribes and some 9000 people.

Unintimidated by the small English presence at Jamestown, Powhatan seemed interested in trading with the English and even integrating them within his confederation. He provided the corn essential to the colony's early survival and, according to some historians, staged a formal adoption ceremony aimed at making John Smith one of his sub-chiefs. He also approved the marriage of his daughter, Pocahontas, to John Rolfe.

While periodic violence disrupted the relationship between the Pamunkeys and the English, an extended period of peace followed the marriage between Pocahontas and Rolfe. After Powhatan's death in 1618, he was succeeded by his brother, Opechancanough. Opechancanough grew increasingly unsettled by the growth of the English colony, and launched a massive raid against Jamestown in March 1622, killing 347 settlers.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...