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Friday, 31 October 2014


Hi Dear friends and followers, for today's Native American legend we visit the Powhatan. 

Earlier, we looked at the Iroquois Confederacy and how its Five Nations, the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca, made peace with one another and mutually worked for their prosperity. Their articles of confederation and concepts of self-government are the basis for the United States Constitution.

At about the same time, maybe 250 miles (400 kilometres) to the south, on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, another confederation was holding sway. It came to be known as the Powhatan Confederacy.  They also controlled what is now known as the Tidewater Area of Virginia, and north to Washington, DC.

Its members were Native North Americans belonging to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). Their area embraced most of tidewater Virginia and the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay. Wahunsonacock, or Powhatan, as the English called him, was the leader of the confederacy when Jamestown was settled in 1607.

The Powhatan are said to have been driven north to Virginia by the Spanish, where their chief, Powhatan's father, subjugated five other Virginia tribes. With Powhatan's own conquests, the empire included, among some 30 peoples. The Pamunkey, Mattapony, Chickahominy, and others are likewise commemorated in the names of the streams and rivers of eastern Virginia.

The tribes of the confederacy provided mutual military support and paid taxes to Powhatan in the form of food, pelts, copper, and pearls. Many of the confederacy’s villages, which consisted of long dwellings covered with bark or reed mats, were palisaded; they were situated near fields in which women cultivated corn (maize), beans, squash, and other vegetables. Men were occupied with hunting and warfare.

They were a sedentary people, with some 200 settlements, many of them protected by palisades when the English arrived. They cultivated corn, fished, and hunted. Of his many capitals, Powhatan favored Werowocomoco, on the left bank of the York River near modern Purtan Bay, where Capt. John Smith first met him in 1608.

The English soon seized the best lands, and Powhatan quickly retaliated. To appease him, he was given a crown, and a coronation ceremony was formally performed by Christopher Newport in 1609. Peace with Powhatan was secured when his daughter Pocahontas married (1614) John Rolfe.

On Powhatan's death in 1618, Opechancanough, chief of the Pamunkey, became the central power in the confederacy, and he organized the general attack (1622) in which some 350 settlers were killed. English reprisals were equally violent, but there was no further fighting on a large scale until 1644, when Opechancanough led the last uprising, in which he was captured and murdered at Jamestown.

In 1646 the confederacy yielded much of its territory, and beginning in 1665 its chiefs were appointed by the governor of Virginia. After the Iroquois, traditional enemies of the confederacy, agreed to cease their attacks in the Treaty of Albany (1722), the tribes scattered, mixed with the settlers, and all semblance of the confederacy disappeared. In 1990 there were about 800 Powhatan in the United States, most of them in eastern Virginia.

Here is the only legend that I could find that is at all attributable to the Powhatan People:


So many moons ago that one cannot count them, all of our people lived underground. We lived in total darkness. Our animals lived with us.

One of our animals was very brave! This was a ground mole. One day the mole crawled far, far away from all of us. It crawled up and up. After a long time, it saw a hole. The mole crawled through that hole and saw light! It saw trees and rivers and sky! Here there was no darkness. Here there was beauty and light all around.

The mole crawled back through the hole as fast as it could. The mole told our people of the wonders it had seen. Alas, the light had made it blind. (That is why all moles are blind to this very day.)

Our people were so excited! There was light out there! There was beauty! We could hardly wait to climb out and see for ourselves!

And that is just what we did. Person after person climbed through that hole.

Our people saw the world and all of its beauty for the first time.
More and more people came out of the hole into the wonderful world.

But then a terrible thing happened! A very fat person got stuck in the hole! Our people tried pushing. Our people tried pulling. Push, pull, push, pull-push and pull some more!

But that fat person was stuck for good!

So, all of our people did not leave the darkness. But we who did kept walking on and on.

Soon, we came to a river. A beautiful bird flapped its wings three times. The waters of the river parted. We walked across the dry path of the river.

Many, many of us crossed the river. But lo! After a while the bird flew away. The waters came back together. Some of our people could not get across.

After several moons, we came to a very high mountain. Some kindly deer led us across the rocky, high mountain. But pretty soon, some eagles chased the deer away. Many of my people did not cross the mountain.

Those of us who did make it across the mountain soon found ourselves in the thickest forest in the world! We could not even see each other because of all the trees! We tried to stay together, but we could not. A few of us went this way. A few of us went that way. All over the 

place we were scattered. And that is why to this very day we all live in different places.

Copyright 1983, Commonwealth Studies Program, Virginia Department of Education

Thank you again for dropping in to read this Native American legend. I hope you have enjoyed it. I would appreciate knowing what your thoughts are on this topic. Thank you and have a wonderful week.

ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

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