Sunday, December 27, 2015

Description of Chief Powhatan

Capt. John Smith trading with the Indians

America and West Indies: May 1607


Description of the now discovered river and country of Virginia; with the likelihood of ensuing riches by England's aid and industry.

" Brief description of the people. Their King is called "Great Pawatan," and has at least 20 kingdoms under his dominion. Dress. General appearance. Not a grey eye among them. The women do all the work. The men hunt and go at their pleasure. Habitations. Forty or fifty dwell together in a hatto or small village. Mode of living. Proper lusty straight men, run exceedingly swiftly. Warfare. Entertainment. So practised in the art of stealing that while looking in your face they will with their toes take a chisel, knife, or any light thing, and hold it an injury to have the thing stolen taken from them. Naturally given to treachery, but were found "in our travel up the river" rather a most kind and loving people. Sacrifice tobacco to the sun. Have many wives "to whom as near as I could perceive they keep constant." Pawatan has most wives. The great disease reigns in the men generally. Observed great respect "when they saw us at prayer." A very witty and ingenious people."     

 Source: Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies, Volume 1, 1574 to 1660

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