Village Life

The Powhatan Indian Village at Jamestown Settlement is representative of how the Powhatans were living at the time of the English colonization of Virginia. Larger villages where chiefs (werowances) lived, had such specialized structures such as a chief's house, a temple, storage buildings, individual wetus and perhaps a palisade.

 

Many Powhatan Indians resided in longhouses called "yehakins" with wooden frames for sleeping lining the inside walls of the houses which would house one nuclear family. An indoor fire was used for warmth and for cooking in inclement weather. Many houses had storage racks to hold equipment and foodstuffs.

In the individual village, activities centered around maintaining daily life. During the spring and summer months, much time was spent by women and children in the fields, planting and weeding crops of corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers. In the early fall, the crops were harvested with many being dried for later use. Throughout the winter months, the Powhatans relied heavily upon gathering of edible wild plants, roots, nuts, berries and grains.

 

Powhatan men fished with spears, traps, and nets made of cordage. They sought both fresh and saltwater varieties. Along with fishing, the Powhatan tribe depended upon what they could gather until summer when the crops could begin to be harvested.

 

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