Powhatan Community Church


  • A group of people living together in one place, esp. one practicing common ownership
  • a group of nations having common interests; “they hoped to join the NATO community”
  • A particular area or place considered together with its inhabitants
  • a group of people living in a particular local area; “the team is drawn from all parts of the community”
  • common ownership; “they shared a community of possessions”
  • All the people living in a particular area or place


  • A member of an American Indian people of eastern Virginia
  • the Algonquian language of the Powhatan
  • The Algonquian language of this people
  • Indian chief and founder of the Powhatan confederacy of tribes in eastern Virginia; father of Pocahontas (1550?-1618)
  • a member of the Algonquian people who formerly lived in eastern Virginia


  • A particular Christian organization, typically one with its own clergy, buildings, and distinctive doctrines
  • The hierarchy of clergy of such an organization, esp. the Roman Catholic Church or the Church of England
  • a place for public (especially Christian) worship; “the church was empty”
  • A building used for public Christian worship
  • perform a special church rite or service for; “church a woman after childbirth”
  • one of the groups of Christians who have their own beliefs and forms of worship

powhatan community church

powhatan community church – The Powhatan

The Powhatan Indians of Virginia: Their Traditional Culture (Civilization of the American Indian Series)
The Powhatan Indians of Virginia: Their Traditional Culture (Civilization of the American Indian Series)
Among the aspects of Powhatan life that Helen Rountree describes in vivid detail are hunting and agriculture, territorial claims, warfare and treatment of prisoners, physical appearance and dress, construction of houses and towns, education of youths, initiation rites, family and social structure and customs, the nature of rulers, medicine, religion, and even village games, music, and dance.
Rountree’s is the first book-length treatment of this fascinating culture, which included one of the most complex political organizations in native North American and which figured prominently in early American history.

Pocahontas, age 21, 1616

Pocahontas, age 21, 1616
Pocahontas (c. 1595 – March 21, 1617)[2] was a Virginia Indian[3] woman who married an Englishman, John Rolfe, and became a celebrity in London in the last year of her life. She was a daughter of Wahunsunacawh (also known as Chief or Emperor Powhatan), who ruled an area encompassing almost all of the tribes in the Tidewater region of Virginia (called Tenakomakah at the time).

Pocahontas’s formal names were Matoaka (or Matoika) and Amonute[4]; Pocahontas was a childhood nickname referring to her frolicsome nature (in the Powhatan language it meant "little wanton", according to William Strachey[5]). The eighteenth century historian William Stith claimed that "the Indians carefully concealed [her real name] from the English, and changed it to Pocahontas, out of a superstitious Fear, lest they, by the knowledge of her true Name, should be enabled to do her some hurt."[6] After her baptism, Pocahontas went by the name Rebecca, becoming Rebecca Rolfe on her marriage.

In May 1607, when the English colonists arrived in Virginia and began building settlements, Pocahontas was between twelve and fourteen years old,[7] and her father was the leader of the Powhatan Confederacy. One of the leading colonists, John Smith, subsequently recounted that he was captured by a group of Powhatan hunters and brought to Werowocomoco, one of the chief villages of the Powhatan Empire. According to Smith, he was laid across a stone and was about to be executed (by being beaten with clubs), when Pocahontas threw herself across his body: "Pocahontas, the Kings dearest daughter, when no intreaty could prevaile, got his head in her armes, and laid her owne upon his to save him from death".[8] She earned respect from the other people and the English Settlements.[9]

John Smith’s version of events is the only source, and, since the 1860s, skepticism has increasingly been expressed about its veracity. One reason for such doubt is: despite having published two earlier books about Virginia, Smith’s earliest surviving account of his rescue by Pocahontas dates from 1616, nearly ten years later, in a letter entreating Queen Anne to treat Pocahontas with dignity.[9] The time gap in publishing his story raises the possibility Smith may have exaggerated or invented the event to enhance Pocahontas’s image; however, in a recent book, J.A.O. Lemay points out that Smith’s earlier writing was primarily geographical and ethnographic in nature and did not dwell on his personal experience; hence, there was no reason for him to write down the story until this point.[10]

Further skepticism has arisen from the fact that in his True Travels of 1630, Smith told a very similar story of being rescued through the intervention of a beautiful young girl after he was captured by Turks in Hungary in 1602; Karen Kupperman suggests that he "presented those remembered events from decades earlier" when telling Pocahontas’s story.[11] A different theory suggests that even if Smith’s version of events was accurate from his perspective, he may in fact been involved in a ritual intended to symbolize his death and rebirth as a member of the tribe.[12][13] However, David A. Price notes that this is only guesswork, since little is known of Powhatan rituals, and there is no evidence for any similar rituals among other North American tribes.[14]

Whatever really happened, this encounter initiated a friendly relationship with Smith and the Jamestown colony, and Pocahontas would often come to the settlement and play games with the boys there.[15] During a time when the colonists were starving, "every once in four or five days, Pocahontas with her attendants brought him [Smith] so much provision that saved many of their lives that else for all this had starved with hunger."[16] As the colonists expanded further, however, some of the Virginia Indians felt their lands were threatened, and conflicts arose again.

In 1608, Pocahontas is said to have saved Smith a second time. Smith and some other colonists were invited to Werowocomoco by Chief Powhatan on friendly terms. They were treated kindly and traded with the Indians, but they missed the tide and had to spend the night. That night, Pocahontas came to Smith’s hut and told him that her father was planning to send men with food who would kill them when they put down their weapons to eat. She had been told not to inform them, but she begged the Englishmen to leave. Being forewarned, the English kept their weapons ready by them even while eating, and no attack came.[17]

In 1609, an injury from a gunpowder explosion forced Smith to return to England for medical care. The English told the natives Smith was dead, that he had been captured by a French pirate, that the pirate ship had been wrecked on the Brittany coast, and that it had gone down with all hands.[18] Pocahontas believed Smith was dead until she arrived in England several years later, the wife of John Rolfe.[19]

According to


The first house of worship where I ever saw the word African and Church connected. This is an AME (African Methodist Episcopalian) Church in downtown Hampton. I wonder if the architecture is African inspired? I used to walk by this Church when I was a tween to go to Fun-O-Rama at a community center up the street from here.

powhatan community church

Pocahontas, Powhatan, Opechancanough: Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown
Pocahontas may be the most famous Native American who ever lived, but during the settlement of Jamestown, and for two centuries afterward, the great chiefs Powhatan and Opechancanough were the subjects of considerably more interest and historical documentation than the young woman. It was Opechancanough who captured the foreign captain “Chawnzmit”—John Smith. Smith gave Opechancanough a compass, described to him a spherical earth that revolved around the sun, and wondered if his captor was a cannibal. Opechancanough, who was no cannibal and knew the world was flat, presented Smith to his elder brother, the paramount chief Powhatan. The chief, who took the name of his tribe as his throne name (his personal name was Wahunsenacawh), negotiated with Smith over a lavish feast and opened the town to him, leading Smith to meet, among others, Powhatan’s daughter Pocahontas. Thinking he had made an ally, the chief finally released Smith. Within a few decades, and against their will, his people would be subjects of the British Crown.
Despite their roles as senior politicians in these watershed events, no biography of either Powhatan or Opechancanough exists. And while there are other “biographies” of Pocahontas, they have for the most part elaborated on her legend more than they have addressed the known facts of her remarkable life. As the 400th anniversary of Jamestown’s founding approaches, nationally renowned scholar of Native Americans, Helen Rountree, provides in a single book the definitive biographies of these three important figures. In their lives we see the whole arc of Indian experience with the English settlers – from the wary initial encounters presided over by Powhatan, to the uneasy diplomacy characterized by the marriage of Pocahontas and John Rolfe, to the warfare and eventual loss of native sovereignty that came during Opechancanough’s reign.
Writing from an ethnohistorical perspective that looks as much to anthropology as the written records, Rountree draws a rich portrait of Powhatan life in which the land and the seasons governed life and the English were seen not as heroes but as Tassantassas (strangers), as invaders, even as squatters. The Powhatans were a nonliterate people, so we have had to rely until now on the white settlers for our conceptions of the Jamestown experiment. This important book at last reconstructs the other side of the story.


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