navigation bar Houghton Mifflin Social Studies United States History: Early Years
Biographies Unit Biographies

Powhatan 1547-1618
Chief of the Powhatan Confederacy

Powhatan (pow uh TAN) founded a confederacy of American Indian groups, the Powhatan confederacy. A confederacy is a union of people, parties, or states. The Powhatan confederacy included groups located on the Mid-Atlantic coast.

In 1607, colonists from England settled on Powhatan's homeland. Powhatan was suspicious of them, but had his followers give them food and teach them how to plant corn. The English were not so friendly. They took winter supplies of corn from the people of the confederacy, who nearly starved to death.

The colonists kidnapped Pocahontas, one of Powhatan's daughters. They believed that if they held her, it would keep Powhatan from fighting them. Pocahontas married an Englishman while she was held captive. Powhatan kept peace with the English after the marriage.

Comprehension Check

What did Powhatan do as a result of Pocahontas's marriage?

Critical Thinking

Explain what happened as a result of Pocahontas's marriage to an Englishman.