In Camilla Townsend's novel Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma, what was Powhatan's dilemma? Who held the balance of power for the first 15 years of Jamestown, and why?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As Townsend makes clear right throughout the book, the Powhatan were constantly faced with a serious dilemma. They knew that the English settlers wanted their land but at the same time couldn't be too aggressive towards them, as they knew that the English had superior firepower.

That being the case,...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

As Townsend makes clear right throughout the book, the Powhatan were constantly faced with a serious dilemma. They knew that the English settlers wanted their land but at the same time couldn't be too aggressive towards them, as they knew that the English had superior firepower.

That being the case, they had no choice but to adopt a very subtle strategy which involved a fair amount of compromise, but not so much that it would weaken the Powhatan's already weak bargaining position. So for instance, the Powhatan would warn the colonists not to display the use of their weapons as they, the Powhatan, would steal them and use them against the English. As this was the last thing the English wanted, they wisely heeded the warning.

The English undoubtedly held the balance of power during the early years of the Jamestown settlement. However, through the kind of compromise and expert negotiation that we've just examined, the Powhatan were able to ensure that the colonists didn't always get their own way.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team