Chesapeake Bay - Native Americans - The Mariners' Museum
The Mariners' MuseumChesapeake Bay - Our History and Our Future
Native AmericansColonial PeriodOyster Wars20th CenturyEconomyLighthousesWatermenResourcesCreditsSponsorsHome


Post Contact

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


Chesapeake Bay -
Our History and Our Future
has been made possible
in part by:
Bank of America

What kind of religion did they have?

On of the Religeous men in the towne of Secota
On of the Religeous men in the towne of Secota
The Powhatans believed in many gods. Every aspect of their life related to one or more of their gods. Every morning began with a bath, a prayer and an offering to the gods. Their priests, or kwiokosuk were highly respected as medicine men, priests, and tribal councilors.

There is a story of creation as told to an English sea captain by a native chief along the coast of Virginia in the early 1600s:

The Great Hare

The chief of all the gods was a Great Hare, and he dwelt in a place toward the rising sun. The Great Hare thought how he wanted to people the earth. He made many different kinds of men and women, but he put them all into a very large bag.
Some giants came to visit the Great Hare. When they discovered what was in the bag, they wanted to eat all the people for a fine feast. The Great Hare was so angry at these cannibals, that he drove the giants away from his house.

Their manner of prainge with Rattels abowt te fyer
Their manner of prainge with Rattels abowt te fyer
The godlike Hare went about making the water and filling it with fish. He made the land and placed upon the land a great deer to feed from the land.
Now there were four lesser gods who were the four winds seated at each corner of the world. They were jealous of the deer sharing their land. They fashioned hunting poles which they used to kill the great deer. After they dressed the meat and had a delicious feast, they departed to their four corners. When the Great Hare saw what jealousy had caused, he took up the hairs of the slain deer and scattered them over the earth, chanting many powerful words and charms. Every tiny hair became a new deer.
Then the Great Hare opened the bag which held the men and the women. He placed a man and a woman upon the earth in one country and a man and a woman in another country. And so the world became filled with many different kinds of people.
( First People, The Early Indians of Virginia
by Keith Egloff and Deborah Woodward, published by The Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Richmond, Va., 1992)

At a time when Iopassus, the lesser weroance of Patawomeck, was visiting Sameul Argall's ship, the Bible was being read. Iopassus told William Strachey, through interpretation by Henry Spelman,"pretty fabulous tale indeed."

Ther Idol Kiwafa
Ther Idol Kiwafa
We have (said he) five gods in all; our chief god appears often unto us in the likeness of a mighty great hare; the other four have noe visible shape, but are indeed the four wynds which keepe the four corners of the earth (and then, with his hand, he seemed to quarter out the scytuations of the world). Our god, who takes upon him this shape of a hare, conceaved with himself how to people this great world, and with what kinde of creatures, and yt is true (said he) that at length he devised and made divers men and women, and made provision for them, to be kept up yet a while in a great bag. Nowe there were certaune spiritts, which he described to be like great giants, which came to the hare's dwelling-place (being towards the rising of the sun), and had perseveraunce of the men and women which he had put into that great bagg, and they would have had them to eat, but the godlye hare reproved those canibal spiritts, and drove them awaye.

Some other gods known to the area were:
        Ahone - the god who bestows all good things
        Oke - the fearful god who takes good things away




Native Americans | Colonial Period | Oyster Wars | 20th Century | Economy
Lighthouses | Watermen | Resources | Credits | Home

Navigation Bar