Powhatan Confederacy (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Wahunsonacock makes political alliance with native tribes in the Virginia region against encroaching European settlers.
The term “Powhatan” is used in several ways. It was the name given to a group of tribes of Virginia Indians; the name of an Indian village; the “throne name” of a chief; and the name of the man who created the Powhatan Confederacy in eastern Virginia. Geographically, the Powhatan Confederacy extended north to Alexandria along the Potomac River, south to the Neuse River in North Carolina, west along Virginia's fall line, and east to the Atlantic Ocean. Although historians have consistently referred to the chief of the Powhatan Indians and the ruler of the Powhatan Confederacy as Powhatan, his birth name was Wahunsonacock. This discrepancy was caused by the English, who either did not know his birth name or found it more convenient to call him Powhatan because he had so many names.
It has been suggested that Powhatan or his father came from the south. This contention is supported by the fact that Powhatan succeeded his father as chieftain, a practice in opposition to the matriarchal system of succession practiced by the Algonquians of eastern Virginia. Upon his father's death, Powhatan inherited control over six tribes in eastern Virginia: the Arrohattoc (Arrohateck), Appomattoc(Appomattox), Mattapanient (Mattaponi), Pamunkey, Youghtanund, and Powhatan. By the time of Jamestown's...
(The entire section is 1517 words.)
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