Wahunsenaca Powhatan

Wahunsenaca Powhatan (abt. 1545 - abt. 1618)

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Weroance Wahunsenaca "Mamanatowick, Paramount Chief, Chief Hill, Wahunsonacock, Ottaniack, Mamauatonick" Powhatan
Born about in Algonquin Empire, Virginiamap
Son of [father unknown] and
Husband of — married [date unknown] in Virginiamap
Husband of — married [date unknown] in Virginiamap
Husband of — married [date unknown] in Virginiamap
Husband of — married [date unknown] in Virginiamap
Husband of — married [date unknown] in Virginiamap
Husband of — married [date unknown] in Virginiamap
Husband of — married [date unknown] in Virginiamap
Husband of — married [date unknown] in Virginiamap
Husband of — married [date unknown] in Virginiamap
Husband of — married [date unknown] in Virginiamap
Husband of — married [date unknown] in Virginiamap
Husband of — married in Werowocomoco, Orapax, Virginiamap
Husband of — married in Virginiamap
Descendants descendants
Died about in Pamunkey River, King William, Virginiamap
Profile last modified | Created 12 Oct 2010 | Last significant change: 1 Dec 2018
00:20: Jillaine Smith edited the Biography for Wahunsenaca Powhatan. [Thank Jillaine for this]
This page has been accessed 15,250 times.

Categories: Powhatan | US Southern Colonies Native Americans | Pamunkey Indian Reservation Cemetery, King William, Virginia | Anglo-Powhatan Wars | First Anglo-Powhatan War | Namesakes US Counties.

Wahunsenaca Powhatan was a Native American member of the Powhatan tribe.
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Powhatan was the father of Pocahontas. Powhatan had inherited the leadership of a few tribes, which he built into a loose empire controlling Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers. This corresponds to Eastern Virginia, most of Maryland, and Delaware. Each Powhatan tribe had its own village, with houses of bark over wooden frames. They planted corn and tobacco, hunted and fished. Every few years, the local land would be depleted, so they would abandon the old village and rebuild a few miles away.

In 1607, English colonists of the Virginia Company arrived, hoping to make their fortune. Initially, they built a wooden fort, James Fort, which gradually became the English colonial village of James Towne, or Jamestown. Relations in the early days were chaotic. On any given week, the settlers at James Fort could be fighting with one of Powhatan's tribes, while trading peacefully with others. Powhatan lived long, and allegedly had 100 wives, with one child by each. There were a dozen known children of his; Pocohantas was his favorite. King James had Powhatan coronated Emperor of Virginia. (This made Pocahontas a princess, theoretically outranking the English nobility when she visited England.)

John Smith wrote:

"What he commandeth they dare not disobey in the least thing. It is strange to see with what great feare and adoration all these people doe obay this Powhatan. For at his feet, they present whatsoever he commandeth, and at the least frowne of his browe, their greatest spirits will tremble with feare: and no marvell, for he is very terrible and tyrannous in punishing such as offend him." [1]


John Smith described Powhatan as follows: "...their Emperor proudly [lay] upon a bedstead a foot high upon ten or twelve mats, richly hung with many chains of great pearls about his neck, and covered with a great covering of Rahaughcums [raccoon skins]. At his head sat a woman, at his feet another, on each side, sitting upon a mat upon the ground, were ranged his chief men on each side [of] the fire, ten in a rank, and behind them as many young women, each a great chain of white beads over their shoulders, their heads painted in red, and [he] with such a grave a majestical countenance as drove me into admiration to see such state in a naked savage." [2]

Powhatan was also written about by Norman Wood who described the Chief, based on English reports, as "tall, well-proportioned man with a sower looke, his head somewhat gray, his beard so thinne that it seemeth none at all, his age neare sixtie, of a very able and hardy body, to endure any labor." [3]

Powhatan County, Virginia is named in his honor.


See article by Helen Rountree wrote about Powhatan "marriage" customs.

While visiting Jamestown in the early 1600s, writer William Strachey asked about the wives of Powhatan, then wrote them down in the following order, using his own spelling:[4]

  • Winganuske
  • Athetoiske
  • Amopotoiske
  • Ottopomtacke
  • Attosomiske
  • Ponnoiske
  • Appomosiscut
  • Appimmoiske
  • Ortoughnoiske
  • Oweroughwough
  • Ottermiske
  • Memeoughquiske

While the following wife was not named by Strachey, she was identified as mother of a known child of Powhatan:


The names of only six children of Powhatan are known:[5] With one exception, the names and family groups (clans) of the mothers of these children are not known; typically, each wife gave Powhatan a single child and then was sent back to her village. [6][7]

  1. Pochins (son)
  2. Tatahcoope (son of wife Oholasc/Oholase),
  3. Nantaquod/Naukaquawis (son),
  4. Mattachanna (daughter)
  5. Cleopatra (a name probably given or misinterpreted by the English)
  6. Pocahontas/Matoaka

A previous version of this profile claimed additional children, for whom there is no evidence:


  1. http://www.biography.com/people/powhatan-9445885
  2. The Complete Works of John Smith (1580-1631). Ed. Philip L. Barbour. Chapel Hill: University Press of Virginia, 1983. Vol. 1, p.53.
  3. http://journals.aol.com/ondamitag/NorthernHistorically/entries/2008/08/01/powhatan-or-wah-un-so-na-cook.-part-1-of-2/5171
  4. William Strachey, Historie of Travaille Into Virginia Britania p 54
  5. Helen C. Rountree, Pocahontas, Powhatan, Opechancanough, Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown, (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2005), p 35
  6. [1]
  7. [2] (Pocahantas')

See also:

  • The Complete Works of John Smith (1580-1631). Ed. Philip L. Barbour. Chapel Hill: University Press of Virginia, 1983. Vol. 1, p.53
  • The Native American Story of Captain John Smith and Powhatan

'A First Book in American History' by Edward Eggleston

http://books.upress.virginia.edu/detail%2Fbooks%2Fgroup-2284.xml?q=author%3A%22Rountr a.

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No known carriers of Wahunsenaca's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests.

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Images: 6
Image of Chief Powhatan From John Smith's Map
Image of Chief Powhatan From John Smith's Map

Map of Powhatan Paramount Chiefdom
Map of Powhatan Paramount Chiefdom

John Smith Map of Virginia
John Smith Map of Virginia

Powhatan's Mantle
Powhatan's Mantle

Wahunsenacawh Powhatan
Wahunsenacawh Powhatan

view all


On 9 Aug 2018 at 18:59 GMT Kathie (Parks) Forbes wrote:

Regarding the children, Mehta and Mantaquos seem to be invented by Don Greene; Secotan is the name of an Indian tribe, not a person; Amopotoiske is a wife not a child; Parahunt was a real person, but not a child of Powhatan.

On 9 Aug 2018 at 18:52 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

Okay; we have the wives set; now on to the children.

On 9 Aug 2018 at 18:08 GMT Kathie (Parks) Forbes wrote:

Oholase/Oholasc isn’t on Strachey’s list, but she is recorded elsewhere as the mother of Tatahcoope. Rountree, Three Indian Lives.

On 9 Aug 2018 at 18:02 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

Thanks for merging her away, Jeanie. I also don't see Oholase on Strachey's list.

On 9 Aug 2018 at 17:50 GMT Jeanie (Thornton) Roberts wrote:

William Strachey named 12 wives, Paupauiske is not on the list.

On 9 Aug 2018 at 17:02 GMT Kathie (Parks) Forbes wrote:

I don’t find Paupauiske on any list of wives. Winganuske seems to be duplicated/combined with Amopotoiske who also seems to have a duplicate.

On 28 Jul 2018 at 14:35 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

Rachelle, can you provide a link to this letter?

On 27 Jul 2018 at 20:08 GMT Rachelle McClendon wrote:

Open letter from 5 tribes asks to spell his name Wahunseneca.

On 9 Mar 2018 at 18:43 GMT Kirt Fetterling wrote:

Powhatan-1 and Powhatan-273 appear to represent the same person because: Please merge these two files, as it is a clear duplication since they site the same sources.. Since we cannot delete, the only way to remove the duplication is merge, and remove any duplication, or invalid data. Thanks

On 22 Sep 2017 at 12:11 GMT Jeanie (Thornton) Roberts wrote:

I have just adoped the majority of these wifes and will begin the merging process soon.

more comments

Wahunsenaca is 26 degrees from Rosa Parks, 23 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 18 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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