||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:
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." 
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." 
Powhatan County, Virginia is named in his honor.
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:
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: 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. 
A previous version of this profile claimed additional children, for whom there is no evidence; they have been detached:
'A First Book in American History' by Edward Eggleston
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