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Strachey's A Dictionarie of the Indian Language

Smith's Vocabulary of Indian words

Weroances and Their Tribes

English Observers

William Strachey' s Description of Critters in the Chesapeake Bay

Henry Spelman, Relation of Virginia, 1609


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What did they do for fun?

Two of the Powhatans' favorite pastimes were music and dancing, which the people enjoyed most evenings. The dancing was accompanied by hand-clapping or playing of musical instruments. The main instruments used were rattles made of gourds. Drums, made of deep wooden platters and covered with animal skin, were used in the dances as well as in war. Strachey described another instrument as "some furre or leather thing in his left hand, vpon which he beates with his right."

Their danses which they ...
Their danses which they ...
Men and women often danced together in a circle around someone or something. One dance that honored the early Jamestown colonists was the "welcome" dance. One person danced a solo in the center of a circle of people who were seated. As each person got up to take his or her turn at dancing, the previous person sat down in the circle. When the last person was finished dancing, then all of the dancers got up and danced in a ring. Dancing was a very important part of most of the Powhatans ceremonies.

Storytelling was also a favorite pastime of old and young alike. The storytellers were greatly revered in their tribes for their abundant knowledge. Because there was no written language, this was the only way each tribe kept their history. The stories that were told were records of their culture and of mythical tales that conveyed moral truths. The stories also taught tribe members how to survive and uphold beliefs and traditions.




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