How and why did the relationship between the Colonists and the Powhatan end in violence?
Powhatan and his people were living along the coast when the colonists arrived in Virginia to create the settlement that would be known as Jamestown. When the White people came on the land, Powhatan was not happy about their arrival. He did not trust them. History contradicts itself in different versions telling about the initial relationship Powhatan had with the colonists. Some sources state that he and his people tried to help the settlers, but other sources indicate that Powhatan and his people were not kind to the colonists.
One thing that is known is that Powhatan and John Smith established a working relationship, after John Smith arrived and was captured by Powhatan. Powhatan saw him as a leader and agreed to trade with him. John Smith also held great respect for the chief's son and daughter. During this time, the various nations of Powhatan's people united and formed the Powhatan Confederacy.
John Smith returned to England leaving the colonists behind. The colonists were ill-equipped to weather through the harsh winter. When their supplies were gone, they were starving so some of them stole rations from the Powhatan Tribe. Powhatan attacked the colonists and waged war against them. The colonists were greatly outnumbered. Although the settlers lost more lives than the Natives, many of the native children, when seized were put to death by the colonists. The war continued until an agreement of peace was established in 1614.
Cultural differences served as a catalyst between the Colonists and the Natives. The settlers identified the Natives as savages. The Natives did not trust nor understand the concepts of land ownership as identified by the colonists. Powhatan was correct in his concern over the arrival of the White man because they brought disease and a plight to the Natives that would end eventually lead to the removal of the land they lived on and death to many of the people.
The colonization of the new land brought people looking for land and wealth. The Native tribes had no idea how many White men would come from across the seas. Unfortunately, war was inevitable when resources are desired by both parties.