Wahunsenaca Powhatan
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Wahunsenaca Powhatan (abt. 1545 - abt. 1618)

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 1590 in Virginiamap
Husband of — married about 1610 in Werowocomoco, Orapax, Virginiamap
Descendants descendants
Died about in Pamunkey River, King William, Virginiamap
Profile last modified | Created 12 Oct 2010
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Wahunsenaca Powhatan was a Native American member of the Powhatan tribe.
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Contents

Biography

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]

Appearance

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.

Wives

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
  • Ashetoiske
  • 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:

Children

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. Parahunt (son)
  5. Mattachanna (daughter)
  6. Cleopatra (a name probably given or misinterpreted by the English)
  7. Pocahontas/Matoaka

A previous version of this profile claimed additional children, for whom there is no evidence; they have been detached:

Sources

  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. (Powhatan d 1618), Encyclopedia of Virginia

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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Comments: 27

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Whatever that book is, it is fiction. The Powhatan did not have a written language. All we know about them is what was written by Spanish visitors to the Jamestown area about 1560 and 1572 (and who did not interact with Powhatan) and English people after they arrived in the Jamestown area in 1607. Powhatan was described as having as many as 100 wives. This was for political reasons. After each wife had a child she was sent back to her village or tribe and the child remained with Powhatan to be educated. The tribes of the Powhatan Confederation were matrilineal, so this gave Powhatan a family member and political ally in all of the local tribes and villages. The names of only a handful of his wives and children were recorded by the English, specifically those whom they encountered. Powhatan's parents are completely unknown. He had at least three "brothers" although they may not have actually been siblings, and two sisters whose names are unknown

Don Luis was a young man from another tribe who was taken by the Spanish about 1660 and returned about 1672. He has no known connection to Powhatan, and is not either Powhatan himself or Powhatan's father. Japasaw was a younger man than Powhatan.

If you are interested in learning about Powhatan and his world, two of the best books are by Helen Rountree: "Pocahontas, Powhatan, Opechancanough: Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown," and "Pocahontas People."

posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
edited by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Nice Website listing many" facts" https://www.warpaths2peacepipes.com/famous-native-americans/powhatan.htm

From site this is for Schoolbooks mostly : (Not saying they necessarily got the facts correct :) "Lifespan of Powhatan: 1547 – 1618 Alternative Name: Wahunsonacock Place of Birth: Algonquian Powhatan Village on the James River in the lands known as the Virginia Colony Date of Birth: June 17, 1547 Date of Death: April 1618 Place of Death: Orapax Village, New Kent, Virginia Father: Great Powhatan Nemattanon Don Luis DeVelasco Japasaw Mother: PauPauwiske Morning Scent Flower Powhatan Relatives: Chief Powhatan was the father of Pocahontas Siblings: Siblings: Chief Wahunsenacawh, Opichapam Itoyatin, Opechancanough, Opechancanough Mangopeesomo Apachamo Kekataugh, and Wowincho "

Have read that although not married to all his partners it is estimated that he may have had as many as 50 to 100 partners. The Native American view of marriage was very different than the Christian views. Often the women were gifted to the Elder Leader or Beloved man for a night, week, whatever. It may be unknowable how many children he had. Also, Chief is also a term by the English.

posted by Loretta Morrison
edited by Loretta Morrison
Wahunsenaca still has three fictitious children - Mehta, Secotan, and Mantequos - attached. Can we remove them?
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Thanks for catching this. I've detached them and added notations to their profiles.
posted by Jillaine Smith
YES! There is no point to having fictitious children.
posted by Tom Coley
Per Strachey's account, Parahunt should be moved to the list of documented children, perhaps with the notation "(or brother)."
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
The theories advanced in these books are not supported by actual documentation or scholarly research. As noted on this profile only a dozen wives and six children of Powhatan are recorded anywhere. The only child of Powhatan with documented descendants is Pocahontas.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Please read sources:

Chief Wahunsonacock Powhatan Some Shawnee Descendants By JD Weeeks

OUR INDIAN ANCESTRY DAVIS HESS BURKS CAMPBELL DUNLAP AND ASSOCIATED LINES BY LILLIAN JOHNSON GARDINER & MARION KNOWLES ALBRIGHT.

Maryland Historical Society Documents Jamestown Records 1630-1641

Colonial Virginia by William Cridlin Secretary of Virginia Historical Pageant Assoc. 1923 p. 123

The History of Virginia by Robert Beverly - London 1722 2nd Edition p. 50-51.

And FamilySearch.org records to verify of People, Marriages, and Census Records.

What Proof is needed to complete this Family Tree? Are all the Historical Records False? Are All the Descendants wrong?

Chief Powhatan was called “Emperor” by White men, and he declared himself equal to the English King, therefore stated “I am a King too”. This is likely where the titles “King & Princess” originated.

posted by Anonymous B
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.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Okay; we have the wives set; now on to the children.
posted by Jillaine Smith
Oholase/Oholasc isn’t on Strachey’s list, but she is recorded elsewhere as the mother of Tatahcoope. Rountree, Three Indian Lives.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Thanks for merging her away, Jeanie. I also don't see Oholase on Strachey's list.
posted by Jillaine Smith
William Strachey named 12 wives, Paupauiske is not on the list.
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.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Rachelle, can you provide a link to this letter?
posted by Jillaine Smith

Wahunsenaca is 19 degrees from Jaki Erdoes, 14 degrees from Wallis Windsor and 14 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.